Some say the minstrel-like image, in a window at Asian-owned C&C Beauty & Beyond store at 5300 Memorial Drive in Stone Mountain, harkens to the racist “blackface” era of American theater, in which white performers donned black makeup to create caricatures of black people.
Minister Muhammad Abdullah of Decatur called the poster “offensive.”
“It’s an outrage,” he said. “It’s despicable. It’s horrible. It should be removed.”
Alfanso Mallory, who heard about the window display in the Memorial Bend Shopping Center and stopped by to see it, said it reminded him of the dark days of slavery and segregation when white people dressed in blackface and made fun of black people.
“That’s how they portrayed black folks, with big white lips and wide mouths,” he said. “They put the accent on the lips and the eyes. It reminds you of that time.”
The poster said “Outre” on one bottom corner and on the other, “Surprise Quality You Won’t Believe.”
Store manager Larry Moon, who is Asian and runs the store, said Monday that the poster had been on display for two and a half weeks.
He said he hadn’t received any complaints about it and didn’t understand why African-Americans could be upset about the images.
Moon said the poster was sent to him by Outre Hair Co., a Carlstadt, N.J.-based company that packages a brand of human and synthetic hair sold by the store.
“They just send us whatever they have,” he said. “If people really think that way, I can call the company and have them send us another.”
On Tuesday, Peter Chi, the store’s owner, contacted CrossRoadsNews to say he never intended to offend.
“I am sorry,” he said. “I just didn’t know our history. If something is bothering our community, we will take it down. ”
Chi, who operates eight C&C stores that sell human and synthetic hair, wigs, hair dyes, shampoos and makeup, said he has been doing business in the community for more than 20 years and that the community is very important to his business.
“I always tried to satisfy my customers and have not done anything wrong intentionally,” he said. “Now we understand. I apologize.”
Brittany Kelley, who was walking by the store window on Monday, said the window poster looked scary.
“The makeup is ugly,” said Kelley, who is 24. “I just don’t like white lips. It just looks evil.”
Her friend Marquitta Brown, 23, said she didn’t know what the images meant.
Brown said she actually liked the store because it always displays images of African-Americans while some other hair stores don’t.
“That one is just not cute to me,” she said.
Naomi Brown of Lawrenceville, who was on her way from the store, said she didn’t like the makeup on the models but wasn’t offended.
“The white lips look scary,” she said.
Blackface, which was a form of theatrical makeup used in minstrel shows and later in vaudeville, created a stereotyped caricature of black people as the “happy-go-lucky darky on the plantation” or the “dandified coon.”
From the 1830s to the early in the 20th century, blackface minstrel shows were the national art of the time. In later years, blacks also dressed in blackface for stage shows that demeaned their race.
The era ended in the United States with the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
Chi said he didn’t believe that Sun Taiyang Co. Ltd./Outre Hair Co. intended to offend when it sent the poster to the store for display.
“I don’t think there was any harm in their minds,” he said. “They just didn’t know it.”
Chi said that he would remove the poster. By Wednesday morning, it was gone.
Representatives from Outre Hair Co., which distributed the poster, did not return a telephone call.
A man who answered the telephone said the managers were away on a business trip.