Professor Commends Triad Theater For Responding ‘Swiftly and Fairly’ After Upsetting Incident

UCLA Professor Robin D.G. Kelley, who had criticized the Triad Theater on 72nd Street last week after a technician searched the bags of a group of jazz musicians, has written a new post on Facebook asking people to give the theater credit for its response afterwards.

The initial incident provoked an outcry on social media. The technician was white and the musicians were black and Kelley wrote on Facebook that “the racism was startlingly overt.” His daughter included his Facebook post in a tweet, and nearly 2,000 people retweeted it. The Triad was soon downgraded on Yelp after several people gave it one-star reviews.

Triad owner Peter Martin said the technician made a mistake, but insisted it wasn’t racially motivated and said the technician was distraught over what happened. He apologized to the band, and a diverse array of staff members vouched for the Triad.

Kelley has since posted on his Facebook page that The Triad did the right thing, and urged people to “stop beating them up.” He has deleted the original Facebook post.

“Just want to reiterate that The Triad (NYC) responded swiftly and fairly to the poor treatment meted out to the James Brandon Lewis Trio. Turns out the main culprit was a freelancer and what happened was not consistent with the theater’s policy. Please spread the word so people stop beating them up. Rarely do institutions like these actually do something, and when they do we should acknowledge it.”

Kelley also urged people to support the band, the James Brandon Lewis Trio. Kelley’s daughter also said on twitter that the Triad’s apology “should be recognized” and told people not to boycott.

Martin said Kelley’s Facebook post was “nice to see and hopefully people will spread the word.”

He’s still anxious about his business’ future, though. “So far the Professor’s and his daughter’s update has only received under 10 shares and retweets while the initial article he wrote was shared 1981 times,” he wrote.
NEWS | 21 comments | permalink
    1. Jerome B says:

      The boy who cried wolf. Why should we ever listen to or read anything Kelley has written about racism? The damage to the venue has already been done. Shameful.

      • lynn says:

        I agree! Plus his daughter knew exactly what the outcome would be when she posted negative comments on Twitter. Once something goes viral there’s no taking it back.

    2. Juan says:

      Nice step by the professor, but apologizing for screaming fire in a crowded theater would have been a much more appropriate response. As was hashed out very thoroughly in the other thread, this was almost definitely not an incident of racism, and he is doing a lot of damage by using the term so casually.

    3. Ben David says:

      People prefer to hate and cry racism at every turn, even when there obviously is none, over spreading good words and apologies. How sad for America.

    4. Cato says:

      Yeah! Let’s get that toothpaste right back into that tube!

    5. disgusted says:

      Dear Mr. Kelley,

      Perhaps next time you should consider the implications of your flippant response before trying to ruin somebody’s livelihood. As far as I’m concerned, you can take your “esteemed” reputation and shove it.

    6. Adam says:

      When half the population of America has been brainwashed into thinking everyone is a racist and everything that happens is racism, this is what happens. Welcome to America 2018!

    7. nyc10023 says:

      Well, how generous of him to do a follow-up post. Notsomuch with an apology for what he caused, mind you, but with a gentle pat on the back to the Triad for being “swift and fair”

      This man should be commended.

    8. Upper Westsider says:

      Why do incidences like this always have to be due to racism? Can’t it just be plain old stupidity?

    9. Whiteness says:

      I legitimately wonder how many of the comments on this thread are by white people. Let’s have some self-consciousness.

    10. shewrites says:

      Try being Black and having your every move watched and criticized. Try shopping and having someone follow you through a store. Try driving an expensive car, only to be pulled to the side of the road for the smallest infringement. Try walking down the street and having white people cross to the other side because they feel “threatened”. Hell, try hailing a cab in New York City. Go ahead. I’ll wait. And then you tell me how freaking easy it is to be Black in America. People are racist. Everyone? No. But in this climate, it’s really hard to tell. You people are amazing. And frightening. I hope you’re teaching your children to be better people than you are.

      • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

        thank you, SHewrites. that needed to be said. thanks for interjecting some reality into this discussion.

        I’ll write more downthread.

      • Bob Lamm says:

        Thank you for posting this. From an elderly white boy who is appalled–but, alas, not surprised–by so many comments on the West Side Rag.

    11. Valerie Bowling says:

      As a person who’s developed thousands of conferences over 20 years, AV equipment occasionally goes missing and blame goes all over the place, sadly no matter race, religion, sex, etc. The Triad Theater is a little gem on the upper west side and it’s all about supporting diverse voices in the arts and offers affordable prices so all can get access. Shame on Yelp for jumping to irresponsibly responding to an over-reacting social media storm. I’m pleased the professor recognized the swift action of the theater’s management and best wishes to all, thanks.

    12. Christian says:

      Not all racism is deliberate. Racism is real and pervasive. It looks like this was an unfortunate incident all around but the vitriolic outrage I’m seeing in these comments makes me worry a lot more than Mr. Kelley’s initial assumption.

    13. Weird That Way says:

      Well, these are trying times. People get outraged and sometimes jump to conclusions. I happen to appreciate the Professor’s new comments, and the Triad also acted honorably.

    14. wombatNYC says:

      Is YELP still a thing? I thoiught thye went the way of Yahoo and Hotmail. 🙂

    15. Bruce E. Bernstein says:

      it is beyond ironic that Dr. Kelley has basically been vindicated, and yet so many commenters are vilifying him.

      Before going further, I’ll note again that this isn’t about Peter Martin and the Triad. The Triad seems to be a fine organization, and Martin handled this incident professionally, decently, and correctly, as Dr. Kelley has stated. “Props” to Mr. Martin.

      The issue is not the Triad. The issue is the prevalence of racist attitudes on the UWS, and the comments above only serve to illustrate that prevalence.

      the facts of the case, as detailed by Dr. Kelley, have been agreed to: no one has disputed them. (the only mistake of fact Kelley made was regarding the usual pay procedure of the Triad.) All the staffers from the Triad who have written have described this as an egregious incident; no one denies that the musicians were treated unfairly, outside of the standards of the Triad. The musicians have been apologized to; Kelley has been apologized to; restitution to the musicians has been offered, in the form of an all-expenses paid new gig; the freelancer who was responsible was suspended, pending an investigation.

      it was clear that there was disparate treatment of the musicians. many commenters invented facts without reading what Kelley wrote, for example, whether it was “logical” to suspect the musicians, because they presumably would have used the disappeared mic. But they had not used it and never saw it. Why were they the only ones confronted and searched?

      the disagreement with Dr. Kelley is in regards to his INTERPRETATION of what happened. he attributes it to racism and racial profiling; Martin disagrees, though we don’t know what other Triad staffers (staffers of color) think.

      Kelley is a black man in his late 50s who has spent a lifetime chronicling racism; living in a racist society; and, in fact, as an activist, fighting racism. Does his testimony matter to you?

      Do you think he was imagining an attitude?All too often, we hear now that African-Americans who point out racism are just exhibiting “confirmation bias” and, even further, as stated many times above, they are “the real racists.”

      there is a word for this: gas-lighting. You are trying to convince the victims that what they are perceiving is just a figment of their imaginations.

      some more insightful commenters above, especially Shewrites, have effectively chronicled the almost daily racial disparities that African Americans face in this city. I’ll add one she left out. it was just five years ago that it was the POLICY of the NYPD to stop-and-frisk African-American males, based on no evidence or suspicion beyond their race (“racial profiling”). And i suspect many of the commenters who are vilifying Dr. Kelley would like to return to this policy.

      Finally, during the Civil Rights era, it was all too common for leaders like Dr. King and Thurgood Marshall to be accused by whites of being “the real racists” for chronicling racial injustice. “Our negroes are happy, why are these outsiders stirring up trouble?” I am not comparing Kelley to King or Marshall, though he is significant modern writer on issues of racial injustice. But I AM saying that the venom expressed towards him for documenting what happened, and giving his interpretation of it, is all part of a longstanding pattern.

      In factually documenting what happened, Kelley did both the Triad and the UWS a service. We all should be thanking him, not vilifying.

    16. Bruce E. Bernstein says:

      I just read over the Yelp reviews for the Triad, going back to 2013.

      Peter Martin is obviously working very hard to make the Triad profitable, he responded to almost every negative review going back years (the vast majority were positive), and tried to address whatever issuesexisted and have unhappy customers contact him. i feel his pain on this incident.

      I’ve been to the Triad and we’re lucky it’s in the neighborhood.

      Once again, my complaint is not with Martin and the Triad but with the commenters vilifying Dr. Kelley. In doing so, they are doing no favors to the Triad. rather, they are rubbing salt in an open wound.

    17. Bruce E. Bernstein says:

      the following article from today’s NY Times is about a Black candidate for State Assembly in Madison, Wisc. who was reported to the police in the following way, while campaigning in a predominantly white residential neighborhood:

      “They are waiting for drugs at the local drug house — would like them moved along.”

      I couldn’t read this without thinking of the threads on this subject, and of the way Dr. Kelley has been denigrated and belittled by so many UWSers for reporting accurately and eloquently what he saw and heard.

      You could say all the same things about the Wisconsin case, and so many others: “it wasn’t because she was Black.”

      but these things just don’t seem to happen to whites, or happen very very rarely.

      what can we do to educate West Siders? we will never reach everyone. But judging from the comments, there are way too many who need some education about “implicit bias.” Here is how the article ends:

      “Ms. Stubbs [the candidate] said she and her family had been widely supported online, and her story has led to more conversations about race and implicit bias, something she has advocated more training for.

      “We must talk about racism,” she said. “When we are quick to say it doesn’t exist, it’s very dangerous.”