The Tale of TOTC and the Creation of the Diversity Council - Summary
Latest Update - 09.30.17 - 11:00 pm ET After the latest episode of Bartender Journey was posted, NOLA Eater posted a story regarding an Industry Letter circulating calling for Brands to withdraw support. Melissa Young, the new President of MOJO911, LLC and Tales releases the official response. "As part of the recent leadership transition at MOJO and Tales of the Cocktail, factually incorrect information has been shared about the financial operations of MOJO and its contractual partnership with the NOCCPS."
Summary: Tales Founder Ann Tuennerman posted a FB live video in blackface with the caption : "Paul G Tuennerman interviewing me on Mardi Gras Morning from the Zulu Den. As he said ‘Throw a little Black Face on and you lose all your media skills.’ He did his best as the interviewer.” Responses ranged from outrage to the defense that this was part of New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition. Ann issued a public apology, Paul resigned from Tales and a Diversity Council was formed. Ann reinstates Paul without consulting the Diversity Council and co-chair Colin Asare-appiah resigns in protest with additional members announcing they will follow suit. Both Ann and Paul resign from Tales. Leadership is transitioned to Melissa Young, The People Ann Tuennerman: Tales of the Cocktail, Founder; Owner at MOJO911, LLC Paul Tuennerman: Tales of the Cocktail, Founder; Husband of Ann Tuennerman; Owner at MOJO911, LLC Ashtin Berry: New Orleans Bartender at Ace Hotel; public post on FB and interviewed Ann via FB live Josh Davis: Chicago Bartender at Bureau Bar and Velvet Lounge Colin Asare-appiah: Senior Portfolio Ambassador for Bacardi; Diversity Council Co-Chair Jasmine Haralson: Director for External Affairs and Board Secretary for the New Orleaans Redevelopment Authority; Diversity Council Co-Chair Jackie Summers: Friend of Bartender Journey team, prorpietor of Sorel Artisanal Liqueur, Diversity Council Member Diversity Council
Ann's Apology Statement "Earlier this week, I rode in a Mardi Gras parade with the Zulu organization, in which participants, both people of color and of all races, traditionally wear blackface makeup, and shared photos of myself in costume on social media. I now recognize how deeply offensive this is to many, and I am sincerely sorry. It was a naive and inconsiderate action, the consequences of which have made it clear that I have much to learn. Regardless of anyone’s intentions, we all have to take responsibility for our actions, especially those of us in positions of authority. As an industry leader, I assume full responsibility for my actions, and am ready to listen to all those who I have angered and hurt in the process."
Ashtin Berry's Facebook (link/video not available) - calls out Ann on video and performs a FB live video interview to allow Ann to respond
Josh Davis Statement Response"This has been one of the most emotionally draining weeks, as a black man who has dealt with the daily trauma of racism throughout my life. At this point I thought I had become desensitized to the hurtful actions of others, but this week proved that the pain I have often displaced and neglected is still present. I follow a personal code that respect is an humane action and should not be dependant on the color of your skin. It is this code that allows me to stand up against oppressive behaviors weather they be institutional, systemic, or individual. This week, while maybe unintentionally, that behavior was exhibited by one of our industry's most powerful leaders, Ann Tuennerman."
Jackie Summers: FB Post """Time for some facts. Hopefully this will add some clarity: The Diversity Council (on which I sit) was formed as a direct result of the blackface incident. The Council was not consulted on the decision to rehire Paul. Tales is a business, privately owned and operated by the Tunnemans. Advisors or no, they’re entitled to make any decision they see fit. The Council was informed of the decision to rehire Paul via teleconference, after the fact. Ann made clear the personal matters at stake, as well as her belief in forgiveness and second chances. As the Council did not have the opportunity to discuss this matter beforehand, reactions were both mixed and highly emotional. While Ann may have forgiven Paul, clearly many of the offended parties have not. The Council advised that a press statement be issued, in an attempt to get out ahead of any potential PR disasters. This suggestion was summarily dismissed. Colin Asare-appiah didn’t just resign. He dropped the emotional equivalent of a nuclear bomb on his way out. At a time when the country has seen more overt racism than it has in decades, Colin tearfully and forcefully laid out the great hopes he had for the Council, using his significant gravitas to sway many of us to support this noble endeavor, myself included. The heartbreak in his voice as he verbalized his disappointment in the disdain shown for the Council stuck like an arrow through the heart. Ann has issued an impassioned plea to the Council not to disband, pledging a renewed desire to listen and move forward together. While I consider whether or not to continue my own future involvement, my concern is that this sequence of actions may prove more divisive than the incident itself. This feels like putting a knife back into a wound that was just starting to heal. While I understand that Ann’s motives are both professional and personal, so are all of ours. It is their business and they really can do whatever they want, just not devoid of consequences. This could have been handled differently. Now Paul’s rehire has been complicated by the manner in which it was done, along with the resulting PR nightmare. I’m uncertain what steps could be taken to restore the trust of the many people affected."