STILLWATER — A debate is happening in Oklahoma over Stillwater icon: Eskimo Joe's.
Two online petitions are circulating about Stillwater Restaurant Eskimo Joe's.
One petition urges Eskimo Joe's to re-brand their 'racially insensitive' name and mascot. Eskimo Joe's opened in 1975 and the cartoon mascot of Eskimo Joe and his dog Buffy immediately became popular on T-shirts, cups and other memorabilia.
The petition on Change.org demanding the rebranding of the restaurant said, "the term 'Eskimo' is racial slur."
The petition states similar branding is used for Mexico Joe's, showing Joe wearing a sombrero, poncho and accompanied by a donkey companion.
The other petition asks people to leave Eskimo Joe's alone and keep the tradition alive. Eskimo Joe's founder and CEO, Stan Clark, commented on the debate.
Everything we do is steeped in the tradition of unbeatable guest service, and we are always happy to hear feedback from our customers and our community. We are taking a close look at the opinions some people have expressed and are evaluating the path forward for our company and our brand.
The restaurant is asking people to share their ideas and opinions on the name with them.
For 45 years, everything we've done has been steeped in the tradition of unbeatable guest service. We are always happy to hear feedback from community & customers.— Eskimo Joe's (@eskimojoes) July 21, 2020
Got an opinion about our name/brand? Share it with us at https://t.co/8TVHiAl7Ey. Thank you all for your honesty. pic.twitter.com/ghwJluIbzI
Organizers of the petition said students in Stillwater are voicing their concerns, Oklahomans are seeing a problem and people new to Oklahoma are 'horrified.'
People of color shouldn't be seen as caricatures or used as mascots. It's damaging for children to see themselves depicted as ugly or dehumanized. These depictions parallel the racist ads, mascots, and cartoons of Native Americans, Asians, and Africans. The Inuit and Mexican people are not to be exploited for these restaurants' branding.
Organizers of the petition are not trying to close down Eskimo Joe's, or its spin-off, Mexico Joe's. They simply want the owner to re-brand the restaurants. This petition currently has over 1,000 signatures.
Another petition on Change.org is asking people to leave the Stillwater tradition alone. Organizers said, "these restaurants are far from racist and offensive."
Organizers said both Eskimo Joe's, established in 1975, and Mexico Joe's, established in 1987, have been traditions in the state for many years.
There are people literally signing a petition to attempt to try to get the name and logos of these restaurants changed claiming that they are racist and offensive to Eskimo people and minorities.
This petition currently has over 8,000 signatures.
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