This Italian Restaurant’s “Black Olives Matter” T-Shirts Are No Laughing Matter

Some things are better left unsaid — offensive slogans included. In recent WTF news, Italian restaurant Paisano’s is selling “Black Olives Matter” T-shirts after a recent controversy surrounding the questionable phrase. Yes, this statement is a “play on words” of Black Lives Matter, a movement created in 2012 by queer black and Afro-Latina women in response to the systemic racism that has led to a continuous string of murders, assaults, and other crimes against black people.

The “Black Olives Matter” debacle actually started about a month ago when restaurateur Rick Camuglia decided to promote his restaurant’s new dish by displaying the slogan on a marquee outside of his restaurant. Of course, Camuglia started to get complaints from customers that the sign was offensive and in poor taste, but the Paisano’s owner insisted he was only doing it for laughs and to help sell his black olive tapenade relish. He even thanked his supporters and said the controversy helped him sell more pizzas.

Now, Camuglia has decided to capitalize on the attention he received from “Black Olives Matter” and create merchandise. He made black, white, and green T-shirts and hats with the phrase, and the restaurant’s Facebook page is currently promoting the apparel to its fans. Why? Because it can. The Paisano’s owner told his local news station that “Black Olives Matter” has gone “inexplicably viral” and it was simply something fun to do. Wow.

There are a couple of points to be made about this story. First, Camuglia knew exactly what he was doing when he posted the sign. I know he said he didn’t want to stir any racial controversy, but any person with a grain of common sense knows that a stunt like this is going to piss people off, especially when there are almost daily reports of unnecessary violence against black people.

There were other creative options he could have used to sell his product, but he chose this one because he knew shit would hit the fan. So, I suppose he accomplished his goal and got his pockets lined at the same time. But, it’s all good y’all, because he has a black supporter. I guess he thought posting a picture with a black guy would somehow make “Black Olives Matter” seem less offensive. Ummm… no.

CREDIT: Paisano's/Facebook

If Camuglia didn’t want to stir the proverbial pot, then why is he taking it a step further and selling T-shirts? He started off by saying he didn’t mean to offend anyone and even went on to change the sign, but now he’s back on his bullshit again and selling T-shirts and hats. It only proves that he doesn’t see anything wrong with twisting a phrase created out of pain and frustration to make a quick dollar.

And, it’s interesting how he’s had so much support from different countries. One of the key issues highlighted in the Black Lives Matter movement is how there is anti-blackness all around the world. So, I am sure there are lots of people who are lining up to purchase anything which makes light of a movement centering on black people and created by women from marginalized groups.

Will I lose any sleep over “Black Olives Matter”? Hell nah. But it’s a reminder of how insensitive people can be when certain issues are not centered on their own lives and experiences. Also, black olives belong in the garbage.