On Nov. 29, the popular downtown restaurant, Loose Change, put out a sign advertising their new Tijuana Chicken “Sanderwich” and made posts on several social media accounts advertising the sandwich. The description of the sandwich was blatantly racist and quickly received backlash.
“Tijuana Chicken Sanderwich,” the sign read. “Big enough to feed a caravan. Built High with smoked chicken, lettuce, tomato, pepperjack, bacon + guac. Bordered with a side of pub chips. So good, it should be illegal.”
Words such as “feed a caravan,” “built high,” “bordered” and “illegal” were either written in different colors or underlined. The sign itself and the posts made on Facebook and Twitter immediately received backlash, with students, alumni and members of the community making their outrage obvious. Clemson’s chapter of The Southern Poverty Law Center called it an, “apathetic, callous advertisement” and urged Loose Change to educate themselves on the people they’d offended.
On Nov. 30, less than a day later, the posts containing the description were deleted and two apology posts were put in their places.
“We apologize for our sign yesterday,” the first post said. “Apparently we offended a group of people with our sandwich description yesterday. Our description was intended to increase awareness about the situation in Tijuana.”
“World wide Bar Rules:,” the second post said. “No speak of age, politics or religion in the bar. We broke one those rules yesterday and we sincerely apologize for offending any and everyone. We will choose our words more carefully going forward.”
Many people replied to the first post with tips on how to do a proper business apology and criticized Loose Change’s attempt to do so. The additional negative feedback eventually led Loose Change to delete their first apology post and send out a third apology.
“We are truly sorry for offensive sign yesterday,” the third and final post said. “It is my hope that people may understand my staff and I are truly good and compassionate people. I made a bad decision for which I will have to live with. Thank you for your time and we are truly sorry for the offensive sign.”
The sentiment that while people were offended, it was not the fault of anyone at Loose Change, who are genuinely good people, was mirrored by Loose Change’s reply to criticism from the #2 Barstool Clemson Twitter account, which was displayed in a Yelp review online.
The criticism simply featured the picture of the sign, which has become quite infamous in the past week.
“Who approved this ad?” the caption said. It was followed by a palm-to-forehead emoji and @ed Loose Change’s twitter account.
“It was about a fucking sandwich,” Loose Change’s reply said. “These people need to chill out. If anyone of the nay sayers had even been to loose change they would know that no bit of our staff or establishment is at all racist. The sign was in bad taste and that is realized now. Mistakes happen.”
A “call me hand” emoji ended the post.
Nearly a week later, on Dec. 5, all the posts on Loose Change’s social media accounts concerning the sign have been deleted, including the apologies. Any negative Yelp reviews have also been taken down. Loose Change continues to post about deals and events happening each day, and several comments and replies to their posts reference the sign.
It is clear that Loose Change prefers to forget about the sign altogether, but members of the community and university seem unwilling to allow this.
"As a former patron of Loose Change, I was incredibly disappointed and shocked to see this establishment promoting the xenophobic and discriminatory ideas that underline this sign," Hannah Ghafary, a senior visual arts major, said. "This joke, made in incredibly poor taste, came at the expense of real people facing real problems, and if Loose Change wanted to make any statement as an organization regarding this current issue to the young, impressionable people that walk by their store front every day, I wish it would've been a statement of acceptance and positivity instead."
With many thoughts and opinions about Loose Change and their sign circulating campus, a question of ethics concerning businesses and politics emerges. Loose Change might be a business, but the people managing and working at the restaurant obviously have their own political views and opinions. Those views thus made an appearance in the description of a sandwich, whether intentionally or not. This raises the question of where the line between politics and businesses must be drawn. How can businesses and corporations remained unbiased, when they are led and operated by humans who are opinionated by nature?
Do you have an opinion about Loose Change and their sign that you want to share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your thoughts. Also, check out a pre-existing opinion piece on the topic here.