Restaurant takes heat for ‘offensive’ picture of coal miners in ‘blackface’

Coal and a pick axe
Photo credit Alexei Poselenov |

PHOENIX (1010 WINS) -- A customer is demanding that a Phoenix restaurant remove a picture that features a group of coal miners with their faces covered in soot.

The complaint surfaced in an op-ed piece for

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The author, Air Force veteran Rashaad Thomas, says he told the owner of the restaurant that he found the picture offensive.

"Yet, the photograph remained on the wall. He said he would talk to the other owners and get back to me. While leaving, I asked him had he spoke with the other owners. He had not spoken with them, but mentioned Google said it's coal miners after work," he said.

Thomas later concedes that the picture is in fact a photograph of a group of coal miners after work, but says that, "the context of the photograph is not the issue." Thomas says what matters is that he found it offensive.

"For me, the coal miners disappeared and a film honored for its artistic merit, despite being the most racist propaganda films ever, D.W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation” (1915) surfaces, in which white actors appeared in blackface. The white owner saw coal miners in the photograph. Therefore, it was not offensive," he wrote.

He also slammed the restaurant for 'ignoring' his concerns.

"At the downtown Phoenix restaurant, my concern that the photograph of men in blackface was a threat to me and my face and voice were ignored," he said, "A business’ photograph of men with blackened faces culturally says to me, “Whites Only.” It says people like me are not welcome."

Some on Twitter were quick to question Thomas' claims.

Thomas adds that 'art can be a trickster' and that, 'people view artwork once and subsequently see something different.'

The restaurant was not identified.