The owner of Darb’s Tavern & Eatery in Mason, Mich., is attempting to apologize after staff members decided it was a cute idea to give a biracial co-worker a watermelon for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, complete with “Happy 1/2 MLK” and “Happy Black Day” written across the fruit.
According to the Lansing State Journal, the incident was brought to the public after Kelly Martin Aimery posted a Facebook status over the weekend that included pictures of the watermelon and expressed her outrage at her daughter’s treatment.
According to Aimery, this is not the first time her daughter has faced this kind of inappropriate behavior in the workplace, noting that her daughter’s boss sometimes calls her “halfsy.”
“I’ve sat and stewed on this and am furious about this. Decided to post and see what everyone thinks. My daughter got this on MLK Day because her work, including her boss, thought this was OK. It is NOT. Come on people. This is awful on so many levels. She is biracial, hence the Happy 1/2 MLK Day. This is on top of many comments her boss feels free to say to her including “halfsy”. PLEASE SHARE #NOTOKAY #racismstillexists #letsmoveforwardnotback,” Aimery wrote.
Most of the commenters under the post found the situation uncalled for and unacceptable, because anyone with two brain cells to fire off would be able to see that.
Aimery declined to speak to the State Journal for the story, stating that she planned to consult a lawyer first.
In the meantime, the owner and manager of Darb’s Tavern, Rob Hearit—who apparently saw the “gift” (as he puts it) and not only did not put a stop to it but also signed it himself—is suddenly noticing how wildly inappropriate the whole thing is.
“A wonderful minority employee at Darb’s was recently given a watermelon as ‘gift’ from our employees that, while intended to be a friendly joke, was in poor taste and offensive, to say the least. Many of you have expressed your outrage over this incident, and you are right,” Hearit wrote in a statement on the bar’s Facebook page.
“As owner and manager I take full responsibility. I saw the ‘gift’ and I didn’t stop it,” he continued. “In fact, in a lapse of judgement, I also joined our employees in signing it. While I thought it was an innocent inside joke between employees who are friends, as the owner I should have recognized the inadvertent message, stepped in and stopped this behavior.”