McDonald’s collaborates with Travis Scott, while its former Black executives sue for racial discrimination

What do you call a Quarter Pounder with bacon, a Sprite, and fries with barbecue sauce? The Travis Scott meal, a recent collaboration between McDonald’s and the rapper, which sells for $6 and has boosted sales for the Golden Arches, sending its stock price skyward. But the PR-friendly combo has also collided with McDonald’s corporate culture at a strange time: the company is facing two lawsuits filed by Black executives and franchise owners, who accuse McDonald’s of racial discrimination. The first, filed by two former executives who were demoted from their positions as senior vice presidents for reasons they say were rooted in race, claims that the company “conducted a ruthless purge” of Black leaders and franchise owners. The second, filed by a group of 52 Black franchise owners, alleges that McDonald’s forced them to open in low-income, high-crime areas, offered less financial support than white owners received, and suffered harsher internal reviews. Marcia Chatelain, a historian who has written widely about the company’s uneasy history with race relations, sees the Travis Scott meal as a ploy to target young customers of color, a significant demographic for the chain. At the same time, McDonald’s has seen its Black leadership drop, from 42 Black employees in upper-level positions in 2014, to just seven by last year.

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