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McDonald's CEO Apologizes After Blaming Parents For Shooting Of Young Black Girl In Drive-Thru

McDonald's CEO Apologizes After Blaming Parents For Shooting Of Young Black Girl In Drive-Thru
Scott Olson/Getty Images

The CEO of McDonald's has apologized after texts he sent about a tragic incident that occurred at one of his restaurants were made public.

McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski was recently put on blast for texting racist comments in response to the shooting and subsequent death of a 7-year-old Black girl in a Chicago, Illinois McDonald's drive-thru.

The incident, which took place in April of this year, occurred when Jontae Adams and his 7-year-old daughter, Jaslyn Adams, pulled into a McDonald's drive-thru. While they were waiting to order, two men exited their car and fired shots into the Adams' car.

Jontae was wounded and Jaslyn, tragically, passed away from her wounds.

Recently, text messages were made public through a Freedom of Information Act request. They show a conversation between Kempczinski and Chicago Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

The conversation took place on April 19, one day after the shooting.

These texts show Kempczinski making ignorant and cruel comments to Lightfoot in which he blames Adams' death—as well as the March 29 police shooting of Black 13 year-old Adam Toledo—on bad parenting.

Kempczinski wrote:

"p.s. tragic shootings in last week, both at our restaurant yesterday and with Adam Toldeo (sic). With both, the parents failed those kids which I know is something you can't say. Even harder to fix."

To which Lightfoot, a Black woman, responded:

"Thanks, Chris. Great to see you in person,."
"Such a great work space, and your folks were terrific. I said to Joe I would be happy reach out to the operator to offer support. He and his team members have got to be traumatized. Terrible tragedy. Thanks again, Chris. MLL."

The public is outraged that Kempczinksi, a rich, White CEO, would blame Black children's deaths on "bad parenting."

Independent news magazine Education Week's Stephanie Fryberg and Megan Bang suggest parent-blaming is a response often used "to justify the systemic inequities and inhumane treatment of nonWhite and poor families" by those who would rather not confront the prevalence of systemic racism.

Baltazar Enriquez, President of the Mexican-American community non-profit organization Little Village Community Council, had a scathing response to Kempczinski's ignorance.

He said:

"If he really feels that it's the mothers' fault, of them being the culprits of their kids' deaths, then he should fund our communities with all the profits that he takes."

In response to Lightfoot's surprisingly cheery demeanor, Enriquez said:

"These big corporations are Lori Lightfoot's boss."

Even McDonald's employees are fuming over the incident.

In fact, Chicago McDonald's workers are currently protesting in response to Kempczinski's comments, which they called "ignorant, racist, and unacceptable."

In an interview, McDonald's employee Adriana Sanchez said:

"He doesn't know the circumstances of these parents. A large number of them are single mothers who are just doing their best and sacrifice."
"He can't relate because he's wealthy, and we are not, and he doesn't understand our struggle...Oftentimes we have to work two jobs because the wages are so low; we're forced to sometimes leave our kids at home alone to go to work."

The Twitter community is rightfully outraged about Kempczinski's racially offensive comments.

After the release of Kempczinski's messages, Lightfoot released a statement about the incident.

She said:

"Families do everything they can — moms, dads, grandparents — to love and support their children, and tragedies can still happen."
"Victim shaming has no place in the conversation."

Kempczinski, after facing the backlash from his actions, has since released a statement apologizing for his texts.

He said:

"(I was) thinking through my lens as a parent and reacted viscerally. But I have not walked in the shoes of Adam's or Jaslyn's family and so many others who are facing a very different reality."
"Not taking the time to think about this from their viewpoint was wrong, and lacked the empathy and compassion I feel for these families. This is a lesson that I will carry with me."