Apparently R&B legend Eddie Levert can be counted among those who are not fans of the recent chicken sandwich hype that’s been taking over the internet.
While accepting his award for being recognized at Black Enterprise’s Black Men XCEL summit, The O’Jays band member shared his personal critique about the fried chicken sandwich frenzy that’s been going over the past two weeks, saying that it’s not a great look for the younger generation, according to Black Enterprise.
“It’s not just about me and the popularity and the records and all of that. This is about my people and that’s what I want to convey to the younger people — that this is not just about you and the bling and the cars,” Levert said at the four-day summit that honors men of color. “This is about our culture and about what we need to represent our people and how we need to represent our people.”
The “For the Love of Money” singer then goes on to say that buying the chicken sandwich does not represent the Black community and the culture well.
“It would be a different thing if they owned the franchise,” Levert said. “I could understand it if we were going to make money from that and it was going to benefit our culture. “But you’re making a mockery of who we are and it shames me.”
He was the only award recipient that brought up the popular topic during their speeches. Levert was honored at the annual event, alongside, Marc Morial, National Urban League President, Jerome Bettis, NFL Hall of Famer and entrepreneur, and Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was not present. Jackson’s son, Jonathan Jackson, accepted the award for the civil rights activist.
The Popeyes chicken sandwich has indeed been a nationwide fad, controversy or both since Twitter users started posting about it in late August. The #ChickenWars has not only taken place online, but at restaurants as well. One man has even gone to the extent of suing the fast food chain for not being able to purchase one because on it was sold out.
At least two other celebrities have chimed in on the popularity of the sandwich. Singer John Legend posted a pointed response to a Twitter user saying the suggestion that more Black people stand in line to buy Popeyes than go to the voter polls is nonsense. “Popeye’s would kill for lines like the ones outside of black polling stations,” he responded, also blaming voter suppression in places like Georgia for hindering Black voting.
Singer Janelle Monae wound up apologizing to her followers when she tweeted “Perhaps we put voting booths at every Popeyes location? While we wait on that sammich you can register and vote @popeyes holla.” That unleashed a tirade of criticism against her from others.
But, there has been some good that has come about amidst the frenzy.
David Ledbetter, a 17-year-old North Carolina teen went viral for handing out sample ballots and voter registration forms to people waiting in line to buy the chicken sandwich at a Popeyes restaurant in Charlotte, N.C.
“We were seeing how long the lines were [at Popeyes] and figured we would try to go get individuals to vote,” Ledbetter told CNN. “I was just hoping that the individuals would register to vote.”