When Marcus Baskerville, head brewer and owner of San Antonio's Weathered Souls started the Black Is Beautiful social justice campaign
last June, the participation guidelines were simple.
Other brewers could make their own version of a stout using Weathered Souls' base recipe, so long as they donated at least a portion of the proceeds from their specialty beer to a local organization that promotes social equality.
Now, another local brewer is under fire for how it interpreted that rule.
Social media users have called out downtown's Back Unturned Brewery for purportedly forwarding proceeds from its charitable brew to brewery owner Ricardo Garcia's personal trainer, who happens to be Black.
Both Back Unturned and the trainer, who goes by Coach JT — the Current
was unable to confirm his birth name at press time — have since explained in separate social media posts that the money didn't pay for training sessions. Instead, it was intended to help the trainer start a nonprofit helping Black athletes, they said. But more on that later.
tried to reach out directly to Garcia via Back Unturned's Facebook account, but the manager of its page said the brewery had no comment. Coach JT was also unavailable for comment at press time.
Baskerville, however, did respond to inquiries and said he'll be meeting with Garcia and Coach JT in coming weeks to work through issues related to the donations and show "the error of their ways." More on that later as well.
Social media frenzy
The controversy started Thursday, when Baskerville reached out to Back Unturned owner Garcia to ask how much the other brewer had donated on behalf of the Black Is Beautiful initiative — and to which charitable organization the money went.
That’s when things get weird.
Baskerville posted a series of now-deleted screenshots of the conversation
, in which Back Unturned’s owner Garcia allegedly replied that he didn’t “feel the need to disclose percentages or anything of that sort.”
Baskerville then went on to explain that he was asking for the data to record support of the initiative’s goal, and that it was “fine” if Back Unturned wasn’t able to donate 100% of the proceeds.
Garcia responded by blocking Baskerville. Others on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram said Garcia also blocked them after they asked for clarifying details.
Late Thursday evening, a public post by Back Unturned on its Facebook page confirmed
that the brewery’s Black is Beautiful proceeds did go to Garcia's personal trainer. The post also apologized for blocking users who made inquires via social media.
"Since October of 2020 I have been working with a local [B]lack business owner, Coach JT, to help the community based on the Black is Beautiful initiative,” the post read. “I am confident and trust he knows how to best utilize the proceeds for the [B]lack community. He is an amazing man and does so much for the community.”
The trainer himself posted an Instagram video Friday morning to assure followers that the money he received from Garcia would be used for a charitable initiative.
“The first question that everybody is asking is: did I receive the funds and did I know about it … the thing is, yes, I received the funds. I was ignorant to the fact of what the Black is Beautiful initiative was,” he says in the clip. “I think me receiving the funds came from a good place. … It just looks real bad, because I received funds from one of my clients, my good friend…”
Further, Coach JT says in the video that Garcia didn't use the funds to pay for personal training sessions as some speculated via social media. Rather, he donated the money to the trainer to help create a nonprofit that provides training and mentorship to underprivileged athletes of color.
“I think, in talking to Ricardo about [the nonprofit], I think that’s why he gave me the money — I don’t think that’s why, I know that’s why he gave me the money,” Coach JT says in the clip. “Does it line up 100% with the Black in Beautiful initiative? I would say, in retrospect, it does. But from the way [the money] was given, it looks really bad.”
Baskerville, Garcia and Coach JT will be meeting in the coming weeks to discuss how to move forward, the Weathered Souls owner said.
“Although there has definitely been some lack of transparency on [Back Unturned’s] end … [w]e will work with them directly to show them the error of their ways and work closely to make sure the money is going to a good cause that supports the initiative’s goals,” Baskerville told the Current
via text message.
Back Unturned Executive Chef Jared Cattoni posted a public statement to his personal Facebook page
which read, in part, "To be clear, the issue in question is not actually between Weathered Souls and Back Unturned, it is actually between Weathered Souls and our owner, Ricardo Garcia. After meeting with several members of our leadership team, we have determined that we do not stand behind how this situation was handled, but we do stand behind Ricardo in making things right."
A complete list of local breweries participating in Black Is Beautiful is available on the initiative’s website
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