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Fojol Brothers Racism Charges Media Frenzy Roundup

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Fojol Brothers
Fojol Brothers
Photo: janez0rz/Flickr

Last week, some local activists turned the fire on the Fojol Brothers food trucks, accusing them of racism and engaging in a "brownface minstrel act" for dressing up in turbans and mustaches to peddle their Indian food. The story has now made its rounds throughout local media and commenters are going berserk everywhere, weighing in on why some find the truck offensive, as well as whether anyone should be offended by it at all. Here's a roundup of the media's take on the Fojol Brothers controversy — including an apology from owner Justin Vitarello — and all the comments threads where people are duking it out.

1) Fojol Bros. Food Trucks Criticized For Stereotyping: The Washington Post ran a piece about the incident in the Saturday Style section that concluded in an apology from the Fojol Brothers' Justin Vitarello, who told Tim Carman, "I apologize to anyone who is offended by this. That’s not the intent, and it never will be." [WaPo]

2) Twitter Sounds Off on Fojol Bros. Controversy: Carman followed up the story with a post about the Twitter reactions to the whole thing. [WaPo]

3) Friday Question of the Day – Do You Find the Fojol Bros. Costumes Offensive, Funny or Harmless?: Prince of Petworth runs a poll in which about half of his readers find the Fojol Brothers harmless and another 15 percent find their costumes funny. Only 18 percent report back that the think the trucks are offensive. Then, of course, the comments section goes bananas. [PoP]

4) Racism Charges Leveled Against Fojol Brothers Food Trucks: Don Rockwell commenters spent last week debating the subject, including Dino owner Dean Gold, who kicked off his commentary by writing, "I find the Fojols very disturbing and I have always been surprised at the lack of comment on that. I take them to be dumbshit hipsters {and there are many a kind of hipster} too ignorant or too insensitive to realize the history of whites in blackface or Micky rooney in yellow. And it saddens me that no issue has been made before now." [Don Rockwell]

5) Are The Fojol Bros. Racist?: The City Paper's City Desk takes on the racism question and concludes, "On the spectrum of racism running from "Can I touch your hair? It's so nappy-looking!" to deep historical and structural racial inequities, this isn't necessarily the highest priority. But the made-up ethnicities are clearly drawn from Asian and East African stereotypes—and it's unsettling and offensive and lazy all at once." [WCP]

6) Food Truck Costumes Offend Some: NBC covers the story, interviewing Drew Franklin, the man who started this whole thing, as well as some locals who both support the truck and those who find it offensive. [NBC]

7) Fojol Brothers Food Truck Denies Racism Charge (UPDATED): The Huffington Post piece that started this whole thing has a raging debates in the comments section and notes that an anti-petition open letter has been written by a Fojol supporter arguing that "their food is great, their service is stellar, and their aesthetic is well-meaning, plus avoids the obvious racial faux-paus of donning face color and mocking accents." [HuffPo]

8) Online Petitions Accuse Fojol Brothers of Racism: And, of course, Eater commenters have gotten into the debate as well, with some arguing it's offensive, others arguing that people are just looking for ways to be offended and the most recent commenter bringing the Redskins into the mix. [Eater Comments]

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