MURRELLS INLET, SC (WMBF) – SBB, the Murrells Inlet biker bar at the center of Bike Week, is taking heat on social media for two shirts being sold at the bar that many on social media are calling racist and offensive.
One shirt reads: "THIS SHIRT IS MADE OF 100% COTTON AND YO MAMMA PICKED IT," while the other depicts Buckwheat from The Little Rascals on a motorcycle, with a speech caption: "BUCKWHEAT SAY BURN OUT O' TAY!" and the words: "THIS WEEK BIKE WEEK. NEXT WEEK BUCK WEEK. SUCK BANG BLOW," underneath.
Buckwheat is an African-American character – the shirt is apparently referencing the Atlantic Beach Bikefest, also called "Black Bike Week" by organizers, which happens the week after Bike Week and brings sports bike enthusiasts to the Myrtle Beach area.
Tru Sol, an African-American band, was scheduled to play at the bar Friday night. Dorian Samuel, founder of the band that performs R&B, Motown and classic beach music, said he was really disappointed and his feelings were hurt about the shirts.
Samuel said he had received calls to boycott the bar because of the shirts, but said they will be performing.
"I understand that people are going to say, 'Don't patronize this business,'" Samuel said. "I totally get where everybody's coming from. I feel the pain, but if I don't go, then the shirt has won and we don't want the shirt to win,"
He added that the band is trying to bring people together, and boycotting the bar would defeat that purpose.
"Our goal was to bring people together and that's what we strive for each and every day, no matter white, black, rich, poor," Samuel said.
Samuel said his band has performed at SBB several times and he has a good relationship with the manager of the bar. When he received a text message with pictures, he immediately reached out to the biker bar.
"He did apologize, and said the T-shirts were there before he got there," Samuel said. "He also said once they sell the T-shirts, they would no longer be there."
Bill Barber, general manager of SBB, said it was a mistake made by staff, that was blown up by social media.
He said new employees hired to operate the bar's gift shop brought the shirts out of storage.
"They didn't know exactly what to put up," Barber said. "They just took all the stock up there and just stocked the floor. So as soon as we found out about it, we took them off."
Barber admitted the T-shirts were sold at SBB under the previous owners some 15 years ago. However, once the new owners bought the bar in 2014, the shirts were not supposed to be sold.
"I didn't even know we had them back there," Barber said. "Honestly, we thought they were all gone."
Barber said the bar is 20 years old and the derogatory line of shirts were sold about two or three years after it opened.
"We were upset about it when we found them on the floor," he said. "We didn't expect people to get quite so mad because it from 15, 16 years ago."
A Facebook post with photos of the two shirts made by Brandon Jahmal Anderson at 5:20 p.m., Thursday had 161 reactions, 268 shares, and 109 comments as of 10 p.m., Friday.
SBB has received several one-star reviews in the last day, with many calling attention to the shirts being sold.
"You guys should be ashamed of the shirts you made. It is distasteful, rude, and ignorant," said Kendra Ramsey in a one-star review posted Friday morning. "I am a biker and I frequent your establishment. However, I assure you that myself, my friends, or my club will no longer support you with our business."
Yolanda L Gore stated in another review: "I'm so disgusted by the racist shirts your establishment is selling. Who in their right mind thought this was a great idea? Going to make sure I let others. Y'all should be ashamed."
Bike Week, also called the Harley Spring Bike Rally, is a week-long event centered in the Murrells Inlet area that begins Friday and attracts thousands of Harley Davidson bikers each year. The Atlantic Beach Bikefest happens a week after, bringing thousands more sports bike enthusiasts to Atlantic Beach and the Myrtle Beach area.