UNITY – In today’s political and racial climate words have a variety of meanings for different people.
Owners of a restaurant in Unity are finding there’s a lot of truth to that statement as the name of their establishment has come under fire.
Mammie’s Country Kitchen opened at the beginning of July.
For Diane Jones’ grandchildren, the word Mammie means a loving grandmother. However, for some at Unity College, the word Mammie is offensive and has racial overtones.
Recently, Unity College’s chief diversity and inclusion officer along with with the chief student success officer visited Jones at the Depot Street restaurant.
Jones stated “They came and paid me a visit two different times to let me know that my sign could be offensive to some people.”
According to Jones, the college representatives asked her to soften the sign by putting a picture of herself next to it.
Unity College president, Melik Khoury, has a different view of the circumstances. He said “They went as a neighborly gesture to say how can we use this as an educational opportunity.”
Khoury said the college would welcome Jones to its’ campus to educate the students and faculty as to why she chose this name for her restaurant.
Jones stated “She should have educated them in the correct way instead of just assuming something negative.”
The enrollment of 710 students at the college is about a third the size of Unity’s population of nearly 2,000 people.
Khoury added “We have a new business in town. It has a name that some find offensive. And we have an obligation as an educational institution to educate on what that means, because there is no room for discrimination.”
Some may say it’s a question of small town rumors run amok.
“I think my team was looking as a conversation to educate our students how to live in a global society has turned into what could be perceived by some as small town rumor mill.” said Khoury.
Others believe college officials are needlessly targeting the restaurant.
Unity selectmen Tony Avila said “People are going around causing havoc for them, in my opinion. You know, there’s no need of it.”