Between Mcdonald’s and the Afro-Americans, a complex relationship

Entre McDonald’s et les Afro-Américains, une relation complexe

Many companies have declared the United States their support for the protests against the racism towards African-Americans, including the most emblematic of them: the fast-food chain Mcdonald s.

“Today, we stand on the black communities across America,” reads a message posted in June on the social networks, which listed the names of several African Americans killed by the police.

“It was one of ours. It was one of ours. They were all of ours,” continues the message of the giant fast-food.

For Marcia Chatelain, professor of history and african-american studies at Georgetown university in Washington, the support of Mcdonald’s to the demonstrations in support of civil rights is not a surprise.

But as she writes in her book, “Franchise: the golden Arches in America black”, the relationship between Mcdonald’s and the american Black is particularly complicated.

This is the story of empowerment in the face of the limits of american capitalism, and inequality.

“Mcdonald’s remains true to its brand,” told AFP Ms. Chatelain, the group has always taken a position especially when it could strengthen its base of consumers.

Resurrect from its ashes

With close to 39 000 restaurants in 119 countries and a turnover of 21.1 billion by 2019, the company is part of the largest fast food chains in the world. It is also a symbol of american capitalism.

It has taken root in the lifestyle changes that have taken place in the United States after the Second world War.

His involvement within the black communities is the result of the riots that hit many american cities in 1968, stresses the professor.

“The opening of franchised restaurants by people of the african-american community has helped make incredibly rich people who have then contributed to the philanthropy, whether in universities or black to help the local community,” she explains.

This thrust formed part of a trend, accentuated under former president Richard Nixon, to capitalism, black, where we encouraged the creation of wealth afro-american through the business world.

But this approach has not necessarily eliminated the racism which has exacerbated the wealth gap racial,” notes Marcia Chatelain, also falling within the discriminatory practices in lending.

The franchises owned by black people have offered to Afro-Americans from many jobs “readily available”, accessible without a degree, without specific training.

But the employees of Mcdonald’s do not have access to health care, to paid leave for illness or to help care for children, which exacerbates staff turnover, which itself becomes an argument for the direction of the group in order to not create social benefits.

Today, the company faces a range of social demands, including a minimum wage of 15 dollars an hour.


In the 1980s, the advertisements of Mcdonald’s were promoting the recruitment of employees and directors of the afro-americans.

In January, two officers have filed a lawsuit, accusing the group of practicing “racial discrimination “intentional”.

According to Business Insider, franchises, black have earned the past year $ 68,000 net per month less than the average.

According to the National Black Mcdonald’s Operators Association, the number of franchises that are led by African-Americans to move backwards: 222 the end of 2017, compared to 304 at the end of 2008.

“One has the feeling that Mcdonald’s took a step back,” says Ms. Chatelain.

In the spring, many other companies have supported, such as Mcdonald’s demonstrations for racial justice triggered by the murder by police of George Floyd, a black person in Minneapolis.

For Marcia Chatelain, this is an opportunity for all american workers to lobby for better wage conditions.

“If Mcdonald’s was really interested in the quality of life of the Blacks and wanted to report that the life of Blacks is important, they could start with their employees,” she said.

“This is an incredible opportunity to make more than donations, thinking of the sick leave paid, the custody of children, access to health care benefits, as well as to the increase of wages,” she concludes.

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