A simple meal idea turned into racial controversy at a California private school this week, when administrators okay-ed a school menu that offered fried-chicken, cornbread and watermelon.
According to administrators at Carondelet High School for Girls, in Concord, Calif., the menu was supposed to honor Black History month, but instead it offended both students and parents alike.
Based on reports, the menu was first put together by a small group of the students, and although it was approved by some of the school’s decision makers, it didn’t get total approval, and eventually made it to print.
And once students came home and told their parents what was happening, many called the school to complain, and soon after a letter of apology was sent.
Nancy Libby, the school’s principal said she highly regrets the menu being put together and she’s truly sorry for anyone being hurt or offended. “I’d like to apologize for the announcement and any hurt this caused students, parents or community members,” she said. “Please know that at no time at Carondelet do we wish to perpetrate racial stereotypes.”
Shortly after the story caught wind, a local newspaper called The Atlantic Wire, took to its website to explain why so many black people in the area were offended, because some still might be confused why a menu with fried chicken and watermelon could be considered racist.
“A slice of watermelon isn’t racist in and of itself,” read the site. “But when people talk about black people loving watermelon, they’re talking about a lot more than food. They’re talking about a stereotype with a lot of racist history, history still embraced by some of the worst people on the Internet.”
“History is important, any Black History Month celebration that ignores the experiences and portrayals of black people in this country is shallow at best. If you want to acknowledge black history this month, learn it.”
Which is why Libby is organizing a public meeting and discussion on race at Carondelet, so that people who want to acknowledge Black History month know how to do it respectfully, and she’s also holding the meeting to ease some of the racial tensions in the area that have surfaced since the controversy arose.