Can a bottles of water be racist? Residents in one New York neighborhood say they absolutely can.
Furious Brooklyn residents are taking issue with spring water being sold in 40-ounce bottles, designed to look exactly like malt liquor bottles, the New York Daily News reports.
The product, called “Ounce Water” is made by a company founded in 2015 by Sons of Anarchy star Theo Rossi and his wife Megan, and marketed with the tagline “Get Ounced” with the intention of reaching urban consumers.
Advocates for residents of the city’s public housing say the upstart company’s marketing ploy to make the water bottles look like Colt 45, Olde English and Private Stock — all alcoholic beverages that have always been heavily targeted to generations of people in lower income Black neighborhoods — is racially insensitive.
Local activists say Ounce Water attempts to build a brand “based on the alcoholic products that are murdering our community,” are in poor taste and need to be stopped.
“In a community that has been ravaged by alcohol and drugs, we are confused as to why someone would create a product that so closely resembles a malt liquor bottle,” said a statement members of the activist group Breukelen RISE sent to the company. “We cannot get behind this product staying on the shelves in our community.”
— soulPhoodie (@soulphoodie) March 6, 2019
“It leaves a sour taste in my mouth and I’m not going to buy it,” said Thora Lashley, a 50-year resident of the Breukelen Houses in the Canarsie area of Brooklyn.
“It’s the way they presented it,” she continues. “We didn’t have problem with Aquafina or Deer Park water because they came in regular bottles. If I was to see a young teenage boy walking around with a 40 ounce bottle of the water, I’d be disgusted and I would go and buy him a different kind of water.”
After protests from the community, last week the malt liquor inspired products were removed from Canarsie’s Food World Supermarket on E. 107th Street, and replaced with normal 20-ounce bottles from the same company.