Burger King, the global chain of hamburger fast food restaurants, is in the middle of a racial controversy generated by a commercial featuring Grammy Award-winning R&B singer Mary J. Blige.
The spot “Chicken Snack Wraps” commercial features Blige singing about Burger King’s new “crispy chicken” product in a manner that some have criticized as a stereotypical representation of African Americans.
The chain, which just announced it's going public by selling a 29% stake for $1.4 billion in cash to London-based shell corporation 3G Capital, has since then pulled the ad from its YouTube channel (claiming at first it was because of “music licensing issues”) and apologized to fans of MJB for “poor judgment.”
The singer, who said she thought at first she was participating in a “fun and creative project,” has also apologized to her fans and distanced herself from the controversy by claiming the ad was “unfinished” and that she didn’t agree to the release of that particular version.
The controversy comes on the heels of the national uproar generated by the presumably racially-motivated fatal shooting of Sanford, Fla., unarmed African American teenager Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, a 28 year-old neighborhood watchman of Hispanic descent who claims he was acting in self-defense.
The case has divided the nation along racial lines according to a USA Today/Gallup poll with 73% of African Americans saying George Zimmerman would have been arrested by now if Trayvon was white, and 52% of whites saying race made no difference in the case.
Wheigh in: Is the MJB Burger King commercial racist?