History Behind The Controversial Image On Beyonce’s Coat At The All-Star Game

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While everyone is up in arms about the discovery that Queen Bey has pores, there’s another controversy brewing about a piece of apparel she wore to the NBA All-Star Game.

Beyoncé rocked a Scooter LaForge custom painted trench coat. Scooter is known for his pieces that feature caricatures, but critics of this particular artwork note that the big red lips, teeth, and bright eyes are reminiscent of the logo for Coon Chicken Inn—based on the Sambo art of the first half of the 20th century.

The resemblance between the logo and coat’s image is undeniable, and you’ve got to wonder if Bey took note.
 So what’s the history behind the racist image on Bey’s coat.

 The Coon Chicken Inn was a chain of three restaurants founded by Maxon Lester Graham and Adelaide Burt in 1925 with $50.00.  The Coon Chicken Inn’s famous logo was of a “Coon,” or a racist caricature of an African American male rooted in nineteenth century minstrel theater and early twentieth century advertising. The restaurant’s “Coon” logo wore a porter’s uniform. The face was complete with a winking left eye and enlarged red lips forever gaping to expose the words “Coon Chicken Inn” etched on the rows of shining white teeth.

The “Coon” logo appeared on every dish, silverware piece, menu, matchbox (the image even appeared on the matchsticks!), and children’s fan produced for the restaurant. The doors of the Coon Chicken Inn’s delivery car were plastered with the “Coon” logo and the entrance to the restaurant itself featured a 12-foot-high “Coon head” by which patrons would enter the restaurant through a door in the head’s mouth and chin.

The Coon Chicken Inn sold southern fried Coon Chicken sandwiches, and items like the Baby Coon Chicken special. African Americans were used as waiters, waitresses, and cooks but blacks weren’t always invited to frequent as customers. The restaurant had a dance floor. Sometime in early July, 1927, around 6 p.m., the restaurant caught fire. However, with the help of about 50 people, the Coon Chicken Inn re-opened within days.

Owners Graham and Burt would open locations in Seattle and Portland with a cabaret and orchestra performing for customers.  Despite protests from the African American community, the Seattle branch remained open until late 1949.

Today, items featured at the Coon Chicken Inn restaurants are up for auction on the Black Memorabilia market.

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15 Comments

  • MackDanny February 21, 2015 - 10:07 pm Reply

    Wow !!! SMFH.

  • رافع عبدالرحمن February 21, 2015 - 10:17 pm Reply

    sorry, but how blacks in 1920 could have stood up to this “Coon chicken” while in 2015 the state of Mississippi has “coon colors” flying in its state flag and black folks just sit and take it

    • mbailey585 February 22, 2015 - 7:39 pm Reply

      History has slowly been rewritten, or buried so deep that its not as simple as what it seems on the surface. The root of racism in America has never been formally addressed by the people who need to understand it the most, and any idea of progress is masked by the 10% of Blacks that actually make it and who the media chooses to highlight. The disparities in education are still as wide as they ever were–and when you lack education, in many cases, you lack self-awareness.

  • 나디아 재화 February 22, 2015 - 7:17 am Reply

    I think Beyonce might be too much of an airhead to even understand where rain comes from. Trying to understand the symbolism of her coat to her would probably be something similar to banging your head against a brick wall…

    • Kim Ulmer February 23, 2015 - 3:35 am Reply

      agreed.

  • Gil Laury February 22, 2015 - 11:22 pm Reply

    It seems like the more money people of color make, the more disconnected they willfully become. Why? Simple….how dare you challenge the agendas of the hands that feed you.

  • Jonduangee February 23, 2015 - 3:30 am Reply

    Whoever suggested she should rock that to the mainly black event the all star game knew exactly what it meant. You right she probably didn’t catch it! Don’t see how the fuq you could not see how foul it was to rock that at that particular event but I don’t know maybe the money gets in the way!

    • Kim Ulmer February 23, 2015 - 3:37 am Reply

      exactly!

  • Regi February 23, 2015 - 6:33 am Reply

    She is far to shallow to even recognize the imagery and the meaning behind it.

  • CL Nicholson February 23, 2015 - 4:35 pm Reply

    Wow – a famous woman wears art deco sweater that may or may not be a minstrel & black Twitter loses their minds. Maybe she’s fully aware of the art’s history and is making a statement. Maybe it’s something totally different and its just the angle it was shown. Maybe she really is a vapid moron. Has any reporter bothered to ask her? Or are we simply going to go off a think piece full of trigger language? Sigh – the New Media needs gateway keepers, for reals.

  • Lynette Permenter- Wright February 23, 2015 - 7:25 pm Reply

    All the while NBA All Star Week was upstaging NYC Fashion Week; both Kanye & Beyonce were dangling below the low end!

  • jerome taylor February 23, 2015 - 8:09 pm Reply

    I’m sure Bey knew all about the symbol on the coat and what it represents!! She obviously love to be the center of attention whether good or bad! As they say, any type of exposure is still good exposure! She craves attention 24/7!!!

  • Dennis C Latham February 23, 2015 - 10:23 pm Reply

    not the same image – and both eyes are open on the character on her coat and the coon chicken dude …. has one eye opened ….. no white teeth on byonce …… although I know they are sell outs – but the images don’t match …. over exaggeration ..

  • Anthony Allen February 24, 2015 - 12:30 am Reply

    Shes a clown period for not knowing .

  • Y. Harris June 22, 2017 - 3:01 pm Reply

    It’s not only people of color who become more disconnected as they become more affluent. Don’t get it twisted.

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