The owner of Black Dinah Chocolatiers in Westbrook has decided to change its name, citing a need to make a statement as antiracism protests grip the state and the world.
The chocolatier was named after Black Dinah Mountain on Isle au Haut, where the company started before moving to the mainland.
In a Facebook post, owner Kate Shaffer said she’s been doing a lot of thinking in the past couple weeks “about racism, antiracism, racial justice and the powerful movement that is in our play in our country at the moment” and how it relates to her place and her company’s place in it. The protests emerged quickly after George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed in Minneapolis on May 25 during an arrest.
“A friend said, ‘If you believe in racial justice, in equality, in antiracism, and you’re not talking about it right now, it’s time to ask yourself what’s keeping you on the sidelines,’” Shaffer wrote.
She said the answer was obvious. While the company name gave her and others positive associations, not everyone felt the same way.
“As our customer base grew, so did our perspective,” Shaffer said. “Last fall, we began, as a team, to make a plan to transition to a new name. It was a long-term goal.”
She said the time is right to make the change now. The company isn’t disclosing the new name but plans to change it by mid-July.
While one Facebook commenter said Shaffer should consider getting out of the “chocolates” business altogether, another expressed mixed feelings.
“From a 40-year island friend who understands the trail and the history, but who has always felt a bit unwelcomed by its name, thank you, Kate, for pushing through with this decision,” wrote Jessica Bergen.
Sasha Laurita said other names need to be changed as well, citing the 1934 renaming of Negro Island off Camden to Curtis Island.
“Rockport still sports Indian Island. Time for a change on that one, too,” Laurita wrote.
Watch: Hundreds gather in Portland for protest