Society

West Yorkshire Cafe Owner Put Up Sign to Warn Customers She Is Black

| by Amanda Schallert
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A woman in West Yorkshire has put up a sign on the front door of her cafe to warn customers that she is black.

Martha-Renee Kolleh, the cafe owner, said she is tired of people in the town of Osset walking into her store, seeing her and then leaving, according to BBC News.

A Wakefield Council spokesman and local labor councillor Tony Richardson both said they were not aware of the problems of racism Kolleh had faced while in Ossett, according to Mirror News.

Kolleh said she did not aim to accuse everyone in Ossett of being racist by hanging her sign, which reads, "I am a black woman... If you are allergic to black people, don't come in." 

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But she said she has consistently had bad experiences with customers who appeared to judge her based on the color of her skin.

"I put [the sign] there because of the way people treat me in Ossett,” Kolleh said. “They just open the door of my cafe and once they take a look at me they walk out.”

She added that when one of her white employees works the cafe, more people enter the store and purchase food, as opposed to when she — and her skin color— are visible to customers.

Kolleh, a single mother of three children, may have to close the cafe in the fall if she does not gain more business, she said. She has run the cafe for the past two years.

Some townspeople have reacted positively to the sign while others have taken its advice and walked away from the cafe.

"Some people find it amusing, they were laughing and said 'oh yes it's about time you put that up', so I think they all realise what's going on here," Kolleh said.

Richardson said he does not believe racism is an issue in Ossett.

"I am absolutely certain there is not a problem in Ossett. I have met thousands of people in Ossett and they are wonderful people, very diverse," Richardson said.

About 98 percent of the people in Osset are white, according to a 2011 census.

Sources: BBC News, Mirror News