Roommates, the following story is the perfect example of what can happen when we all band together with a common goal for a boycott!
Back in October, rapper #TI aka #TipHarris led protesters on a boycott of Atlanta-area restaurant called Houston’s near Lenox Mall. There were multiple reports of black people who felt that they had been discriminated against while attempting to dine-in. Rapper Wacka Flocka’s mom Deb Atney blasted the restaurant on Instagram for refusing to seat her and six others which helped the movement gain even more momentum.
What many do not know is that the boycott was originally started by actress Ernestine Johnson and her fiancé Jay Morrison. Ernestine had been denied service which prompted her to rally with others in order to make some changes! Thanks to rapper TI stepping in, their movement garnered national attention which ultimately got them what they wanted.
If you don't STAND for something you will FALL for anything. Period! Yesterday we set an example of what it looks like when we UNIFY. When we REMIND people how much POWER we possess and how OUR dollars keep this city's establishments in business. . You have to TEACH people how to TREAT you. Disrespect, disregard and discrimination of ANY form will not be tolerated in this city! If you don't understand the message SEEK the KNOWLEDGE! . . Super big thank you to my fam @troubleman31 for answering the call to action and always representing & standing up for the city! @debra4mizay @yandysmith @richforever @majorgirl @jennysdrake and everyone else who let their voice be heard yesterday and answered our call we salute you! My man @mrjaymorrison is a true leader and we will continue to lead by EXAMPLE. . . This is bigger than us! @houstonslenox never tried to contact any of us to apologize or speak about the issue like any other civilized business would have! Nor have they addressed any of the other COUNTLESS of tasteless occurrences that have taken place. We are not finished at all. #HoustonsWeStillHaveAProblem
Speaking with The Shade Room, Ernestine and Jay let us know that TI had announced an official end to the boycott last week. The three of them were able to meet with the higher ups at Houston’s parent company, Hillstone, where they came up with solutions and policies which would prevent any type of discrimination for happening again.
“TI reached out to us to help lead the demonstrations and speak on behalf of the city of Atlanta and the collective.” Ernestine tells us. “We didn’t want to make all this noise and then just go away, so he came in at the perfect time to strategize.” Next, Jay and Ernestine explained that after they were able to get attention from Hillstone, they along with the rapper and NAACP attorney Gerald Griggs attended meetings with them where they discussed removing management who was consistently accused of discrimination as well as implementing diversity training.
“It was very important for us to make sure that some changes were made in the culture of the restaurant,” says Jay. “Tip came to every meeting and was so engaged and very solution-oriented. We were able to come to an agreement for the employees who were repeatedly accused of racial discrimination to be moved out of the Lenox location.”
“Adding minority inclusion to the company’s structure was a must for us and they agreed! They are implementing diversity training and are even changing the dress code. I mean, everyone should be respected equally and we were elated to know that they were eager to listen to us and do what they could to prevent this from happening in the future.”
Houston’s released a statement on Friday affirming the news which you guys can view below!
Since October, Hillstone has had productive discussions with Mr. Clifford “Tip” Harris, Mr. Jay Morrison, Ms. Ernestine Johnson, and their representatives regarding our Houston’s Restaurants in Atlanta, the business reasons for some of our dining policies, and how those policies are perceived by some guests in this great City of Atlanta. These conversations prompted Hillstone to evaluate potential issues to ensure the same high quality dining experience for all guests. We appreciate the good faith and professionalism demonstrated during our meetings, and the valuable time these individuals have devoted to this process. The passion Hillstone’s guests have for our restaurants and the communities we serve is a source of immense pride. We always try to exceed guests’ expectations, and are disappointed when guests feel we have fallen short of our own high standards. We are grateful for this opportunity to reaffirm an important core value: Hillstone does not and will not tolerate discrimination on any level and is committed to ensuring that guests from all backgrounds are treated fairly and feel welcome. Our belief is in equal treatment of all. Hillstone’s commitment to inclusiveness is vital to our long-term success and we will continue to work and be actively engaged to foster a strong inclusive culture. Hillstone is proud of the diversity of our guests and staff, and looks forward to continuing to improve on the quality food and service that all of our guests in Atlanta have come to know over the last 40 years. To any of our guests who felt their past dining experiences fell short of the high standards of hospitality Hillstone strives to maintain, we sincerely apologize.
TSR STAFF: Talia O. @theclosetratchet on IG