On Monday, rapper Waka Flocka confirmed rumors that he will be the spokesperson for Burger King’s controversial new product: the Black Person Burger. At a press conference, Mr. Flocka’s publisher called this move “a great way to introduce the nonincarcerated to Waka Flocka Flame.” Waka himself made a statement as well, but almost no one was able to understand it. Those in his inner circle who are familiar with his particular mixture of mumbling, grunting, and yelling say he is also thrilled about this lucrative business opportunity. Burger King executives hope that adding Mr. Flocka to their roster of celebrity representatives will “hit just the right note with our valued urban demographic.”
Soon after the announcement, clips from the new commercial were leaked online. The commercial shows a typical Burger King restaurant with several patrons smiling and enjoying their food. One of them comments, “This burger is hot and full of flavor, just how I like it.” He then bumps fists with another customer before grabbing a basketball from midair, dribbling it out of the restaurant, and scoring a slam dunk. The scene returns to Burger King where another customer now approaches the counter and asks, “Can I get a Black Person Burger?” Suddenly, Waka Flocka pops up from behind the counter and the bass line from his hit song “Hard in the Paint” starts to play. Everyone stops what they are doing, and, sprouting dreadlocks, picks up a burger and begins to shake their hair in a truly violent manner. The scene pans out as a voice announces, “Black Person Burger. It goes hard in the paint.”
Responses from the African-American community range from ambivalence to outrage. Several prominent scholars immediately spoke out calling the ad “racist” and “confusing,” noting that many white supremacist groups have voiced their support for the burger, mistakenly thinking it was actually made out of the meat of black people.
“First Mary J. Blige is singing about chicken, and now this?” responded Reverend Al Sharpton, referencing Blige’s recent commercial for a Burger King chicken snack wrap. “What’s next, Denzel Washington developing his own line of watermelon?“
People have also leveled criticism at Waka Flocka for agreeing to star in the ad. “This outrageous marketing strategy offends me as both an artist and an individual,” tweeted hip-hop star Gucci Mane. “For shame, Waka. For shame.” The NAACP has urged black people to boycott both Burger King and Waka Flocka until they issue official apologies. Oprah added fuel to the fire when she went on record saying, “Who’s Waka Flocka?”
Online, the commercial instantly went viral with users commenting that it was “hilarious” and “a totally accurate portrayal of all black people in every situation.” But not all commentary was positive. “This RACIST ad makes me sick to my stomach. Yuck,” read one popular Youtube comment from user AfroSheenQueen. “And also, all those dreads shaking around are a clear HEALTH CODE VIOLATION. Double yuck!!”
The heated debate spilled over to Twitter in a matter of minutes. “#WhitePersonBurger” became a trending topic. Top tweets included “#WhitePersonBurger: White bread, mayo,” “#WhitePersonBurger: Vegan,” and “#WhitePersonBurger: Oppression on rye toast.”
Burger King stands by its product and claims that it was “just responding to the needs of the urban community.”
“We love black people and that’s why we wanted to make something just for them,” says advertising executive Whitey Vanderbilt. “I have a cousin that’s really tan and a half-Asian sister-in-law. I know the struggle. I even spent a night in jail once. We really wanted to get this right. That is why we made sure to consult actual black people and get their input on the ad. We had to reach into our janitorial staff to do it, but it was worth the effort.”
The full ad campaign will premiere in early August, right after the newest episode of “The Game” on BET.