The Keith Lee saga continues to make national headlines. Days after ADW’s initial report, multiple national media outlets such as New York Times, Rolling Stone, TMZ, and Buzzfeed have all covered the story of Lee’s take on Atlanta restaurants.
Lee samples a variety of restaurants which include mom-and-pop businesses and major food chains. Some of his content has received over 500 million likes. When a restaurant recieves a stamp of approval from Lee, it often equates to a surge in business.
However, several Atlanta-based restaurants have felt Lee’s wrath. In many ways, it proved that Atlanta’s influence can work both ways.
Atlanta has always remained at the forefront when it comes to how its culture impacts society. From the days of Martin Luther King Jr. and the historic Civil Rights movement, to the more recent hip-hop takeover, Atlanta’s impact has resonated globally.
The city has served as an example of how Black leaders such as Maynard Jackson and Andrew Young could carve out a space that became known as the “Black Mecca.”
And Hollywood has found Atlanta to be a welcoming space with figures such as Tyler Perry and the multiple TV shows that’s filmed in the city.
However, Atlanta, in many ways, has become a victim of its own progress. A city that has experienced years of success and forgets the people who make it successful.
There are spaces where separation is obvious. Atlanta became Atlanta because we were all “very important people,” not just a select few who happen to know the person who creates the VIP list.
Some businesses have adopted this mentality of separatism, treating customers differently by their social status.
This can occur in a city like Atlanta because there are only a few watchdogs who will call out the issues. So the mistreatment is allowed to continue until an outsider like Lee comes in and calls it out.
Lee has produced more scathing food reviews for popular restaurants such as one owned by Gordon Ramsey. But the consistency of poor service or misguided rules by Atlanta-based restaurants proved that it wasn’t a single issue, it’s a cultural problem.
Atlanta can only continue to be a leading city of Black influence if it goes back to what made the city exceptional.
In the words of Maynard Jackson, “if they’re not using the power they have to change things for the better, they are a waste. The prize is a better way and a better day for all people.”