Local business making headlines for logo some say is racially charged

By Brigida Mack - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - It's been their logo for 13 years, ever since Damien and Jermaine Johnson, two brothers opened their first barbershop they named No Grease.

But recent successes have thrust them, their business and it's logo back into the spotlight

"It wasn't to offend anybody," said Jermaine Johnson, who design who created the logo. "It's not pro-Black. It's not anti-White. It's No Grease."

Both say they knew going in the logo might ruffle a few feathers.

"Sometimes, we don't like our history but it's part of American history," said Damian Johnson. "So we embrace it and we understand it."

But not everyone embraces it. Critics say the logo is demeaning and takes you back to minstrel times when Black and White actors performed in black face.

But the brothers don't see it that way.

"We used the image reversed, said Damian Johnson. "Saying that we're not gonna shuck and jive. We're not gonna paint our face with the black grease. We're gonna do business as men and we're gonna do business at it's highest level."

The level is pretty high. The Johnson brothers recently started the Urban Business Network, a group aimed at galvanizing Charlotte's black business owners. Their business is also up for a Hoodie award this year. The national awards recognize black businesses and are the brainchild of comedian, actor and radio personality Steve Harvey.

WBTV took an informal poll to find out what the public thought of the logo and we got mixed reactions. Some found the logo offensive and others, had no problem with it.

Despite that, critics remain and say the logo could undermine all the success the Johnson brothers have had. But the two men point to their longevity to quiet any naysayers.

"13 years of steady growth," said Jermaine Johnson. "13 years of giving back to the community."

The brothers say they have no plans to change the logo.

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