The 41-year-old singer and father of four made headlines recently after an employee at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen referred to him as “white boy.”
The incident happened at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Dec. 30, where the musician claimed a handful of African-American employees mocked his name after he had ordered — calling him “Bow-Bow,” “Boo-Boo,” and “Bo-Bo.” Mistakenly ringing his order in twice, one of the group called for him when his food was ready for a second time. That’s when Bice allegedly heard an employee yell, “He’s already got his — that white boy there.”
“If the tables had been turned and I, as a white male, treated any person of ethnicity any way resembling how she spoke to and treated me, I’d be considered insensitive and racist,” Bice wrote in a lengthy Facebook post about the incident. “Why is it that three or four Popeyes employees can openly mock a courteous PAYING customer in front of an airport terminal of people without any recourse and no apology?”
“I’m not a bigot — I love everybody,” he told Fox-5 on Tuesday. “If the tables had been turned and I used something as insensitive like that… I would be boycotted, there would be people not buying my albums, there would be people coming and picketing my shows and everything else.”
Bice left a complaint on Popeyes’ corporate number, but took to social media about the incident after his call went unanswered. This time, he threatened legal action.
“All I want is an apology,” he told Fox-5. “I don’t care if you’re Bo Bice, Bo Jackson, or Bo Diddly. When you’re walking through that airport, you should be treated the same. And when you’re giving your money to an establishment, you should be treated the same as anybody.”
In response, Mack II Inc. — which owns the Popeyes airport franchise — issued a statement to Fox-5, owning up to what happened and saying the company is “very sorry that the incident occurred and for any pain or embarrassment that Mr. Bice experienced.
“The company does not condone the behavior of one of our associates and we took corrective action as soon as we were made aware of the incident,” the company continued. “Also, we will require re-training of our associates to ensure this isolated incident does not occur again. In addition, Mr. Bice has been issued an apology by the General Manager. We value all of our customers regardless of race, religion, age, disability, gender, etc.”
Bice said he has since dropped any plans for legal action. Reflecting back on the incident in another Facebook post on Wednesday, he stands by his decision to speak out about his offense — and feels the backlash he’s received about it on social media is an opportunity to address race relations in America.
“We have a major problem with racial prejudice in our country and society,” he wrote. “Look through the comments of hate and ignorance that have been pouring in and tell me there isn’t a problem with race relations going on in our society, folks.”
He also added that he spoke with the manager at the Popeyes’ location and insisted that the employee who called him “white boy” — a woman named Shawana — not be fired. Instead, she has been suspended.
“I told her that she needs some sensitivity training and the behavior pattern of these employees needs to stop,” he said. “You’re welcome, Shawan [sic]. I hope you get your attitude under control and that the training your team receives helps to stop this from happening to others. I hope you get back to work soon!”
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