On this episode of companies that do too damn much for Black History Month, a food vendor decided to serve chicken and waffles with a choice of watermelon as a dessert to New York middle school students. Parents and students criticized the menu as being racially insensitive, per NBC News.
“If they had served chicken and waffles by itself, I don’t know that we would be having this conversation. But the moment you add in the watermelon, that changed the whole complexion, literally,” said Wilbur Aldridge from the Nyack NAACP via CBS.
Nyack Middle School students raised concerns after lunch was served causing their parents to issue complaints to both the school and the food service behind the mess, Aramark. The company issued a statement to NBC apologizing for their foolery saying it was a “mistake” and that they didn’t intend the menu to be a “cultural meal.” They also said their team should have been “more thoughtful in its service.”
Thoughtfulness is always the missing piece, isn’t it? It’s never a matter of considering how Black people themselves want to be celebrated. Instead we end up with a sloppy combination of racial stereotypes and pan-African flag colors because someone didn’t care to find a more genuine way to honor Black History.
On even a more embarrassing note, this isn’t the first time Aramark has gotten in trouble for a stunt like this. Yet, they still haven’t learned their lesson.
Read more from NBC News:
Aramark has been behind similar menus on past holidays commemorating Black people that sparked controversy at two universities going back more than a decade. In 2011, Aramark served chicken and waffles on Martin Luther King Day at the University of California, Irvine.
It said at the time, according to the Los Angeles Times, that the company would conduct cultural sensitivity training for all managers and chefs.
Students at New York University demanded the school cut its ties with Aramark after its Black History Month menu in 2018 included barbecue ribs, cornbread, collard greens, Kool-Aid and watermelon-flavored water, according to The New York Times.
NYU sought to cut its ties with Aramark in 2019 and searched for other vendors, according to the Washington Square News, after students protested against the company’s practices. The university’s dining services are now partnered with Chartwells, according to its website.