Last month, an Italian restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico named Paisano’s made headlines after using the phrase “black olives matter” on one of its signs. A pun on the Black Lives Matter movement—and mounted in the wake of the killings of two African-American men in Louisiana and Minnesota—the sign was widely criticized as being racially insensitive, and the restaurant eventually took the slogan down.
But despite all the controversy the first time around, Paisano’s owner, Rick Camuglia, doesn’t seem to have learned his lesson. The restaurant has outdone itself, now selling “Black Olives Matter” t-shirts and hats, KOAT first reported on Monday.
“It’s just something to do that’s kind of fun now,” Camuglia told local ABC affiliate. “It’s a little bit different than selling pasta.”
According to the New York Daily News, the hats go for $25, while the t-shirts—which use a picture of olive for the “O” and a slice of pizza for the “V”—are being sold for $20.
“We've gotten calls from Australia, Spain, France, you name it," Camuglia said. “It's gone so viral.”
Indeed, it has. As a result of Camuglia’s ill-advised marketing campaign, #BlackOlivesMatter was trending nationally on Twitter Monday, with users making more #problematic puns and memes online.
The fracas over the "Black Olives Matter" merchandise has caused some customers to boycott the restaurant, according to reports, and local leaders have called Camuglia out for taking advantage of the country's heightened racial tensions.
"Many people are very much against any kind of usage of that term or playing on that term or punning on that term, because people’s lives are at stake,” Finnie Coleman, a University of New Mexico professor who teaches a course on Black Lives Matter, told KOAT.