“On the phone, I’m being insulted, I’m being called a racist. I received about forty death threats calling for me to be strangled, to be burned. My storefront has been tagged, ”breathes Michael Taylor, a proven boss at Senza Nome. Since last May 18, this restaurateur based in the heart of Poitiers (Vienna) has been facing a “blackout of hatred” caused by a “blackface”. a racist practice – popularized and then fought in the United States – consisting of grimacing his face in black.
Coming to celebrate a girl’s funeral with friends, a client dressed up that evening with a Creole outfit, make-up features. “She mentioned her Martinique origins, a kind of tribute to her grandmother, and said it wasn’t racist,” says Michael Taylor, who immediately sensed a slip. He remembers the media storm linked to Antoine Griezmann. In 2017, the footballer disguised himself as an American basketball player, made up from head to toe as a black man, before apologizing.
“It appealed to me, so I asked him the question,” says the 30-year-old, who also inquired about the opinions of other clients: “Martiniqueans come to visit the Futuroscope!” I asked them if it bothered them. Apparently not. ”So Michael Taylor resumed his service before an altercation broke out on the terrace. It was a Poitevine passer-by, offended by the scene, who denounced this “blackface”. A video was shot, immediately posted online on social media: for the restaurateur, the beginning of a nightmare.
Supported by SOS Racism: “This restaurateur has nothing to blame”
“Some said it was an event hosted by my restaurant to entertain the band, that I had a waitress,” said Michael Taylor, who was shocked to see more than 2,400 negative reviews on Google in two days. as much on TripAdvisor. Comments denigrating his establishment have never ceased. “I opened in October 2020, almost two years of fucking work in the air,” he says, disgusted. But the customer should take responsibility… »
SOS Racism supports Michael Taylor. “This restaurateur has nothing to complain about.” Her attitude has been exemplary, ”insists Cheikh Diaby, the chairman of the Poitevin committee, who points to the client’s only gesture:“ This attitude can only be a source of disorder. If the goal is to make fun of an accent, skin color, or background, it is a racist offense. Poitiers Mayor Léonore Moncond’huy also contacted Michael Taylor to support him. The candidate did not wish to speak publicly on the subject or respond to the Parisian-Today in France.
In France, only racist acts and remarks are punishable by law. Considered as such, the “blackface” is not formally banned by any text. Sheikh Diaby suggested that Michael Taylor “work hand in hand” and set up anti-racism and discrimination awareness workshops for hotel and restaurant professionals “before the summer holidays”. The restaurateur now works “with the ball in his stomach” but does not intend to close: “It would be a failure and would be right to leur”