Facing a boycott backed by two Chicago aldermen, a Northwest Side bakery owner on Thursday afternoon apologized for comments some Puerto Ricans had called racist.
TipsyCake proprietor Naomi Levine posted the apology on Facebook, calling the comments “insensitive” and acknowledging she “never took any time to develop a real understanding of the very community and the history of the people that I have had the fortune of living among for the past six years.”
Levine moved her business into a Humboldt Park storefront, 1043 N. California Ave., in 2006. Her baking facilities remain there but last year she moved the retail shop to 1944 N. Damen Ave. The shop stands in the middle of Bucktown, a higher-rent neighborhood.
Explaining the move on a local Internet show this month, Levine laughed about Humboldt Park gunshots. “We really wanted Bucktown for a location as opposed to the Humboldt Park [shop],” she said on the show, “so that [we could have] any type of client, not feeling nervous.”
Levine also told the host about a pastry she had nicknamed “Humboldt Crack” because “the cops would knock on the door and ask to taste the crack.”
The interview went viral and sparked outrage.
“You’re making an attack on a community that I personally have worked so hard to sustain,” said Juanita García, who helps run an alternative high school in the neighborhood. “I’m choosing to raise my child in this community.”
On Thursday afternoon, Alds. Roberto Maldonado (26th Ward) and Proco Joe Moreno (1st) blasted Levine and called on community members to make their bakery purchases elsewhere.
García praised Levine for apologizing but said she couldn’t call off the boycott on her own. She said she would speak with other neighborhood activists about it.
Levine did not return calls from WBEZ.