Fried chicken, watermelon, and cornbread – what’s not to love for the lunch menu of Black History Month at an all-girls Catholic school?
Well, when you’re Principal Nancy Libby of Carondelet High School for Girls in Concord, California, you’ll wind up having to hold an assembly to discuss the incident as a means of appeasing upset students and parents. Buttered up apology letters from Principal Libby were sent to the students’ homes that read:
“I’d like to apologize for the announcement and any hurt this caused students, parents or community members. Please know that at no time at Carondelet do we wish to perpetuate racial stereotypes.”
So is this all okay to do?
Maybe not, as it leaves the fowl bitter taste of alluding perpetuated stereotypes in one’s mouth; it’s because blackface-era cartoons always portrayed lewd caricatures of African-Americans eating these foods.
“Quite offensive because they put everything that we’ve accomplished into a menu,” Dr. Doris Limbrick, principal of Acts Christian Academy in East Oakland told KPIX 5.
Yet, there’s always room for the neutral perspective: Professor James Taylor of the University of San Francisco saw why some students and teachers would find the choice of cuisine offensive, despite no ill-will:
“Chicken, watermelon, collard greens — these stereotypes of black Southern culture that come from the same place where the N-word comes from.”
But others like Elizabeth Williams of the Contra Costa County Equal Opportunity Commission and a member of the NAACP mentioned that the food wasn’t offensive at all; these delectable delicacies deserve devouring and decompressing.
“What is the big deal?” Williams told CBS SF. “Historically and even now, we like our chicken and I’m not going to stop eating my fried chicken, nor my cornbread, nor my watermelon.”
“Let’s move on. Let’s be more progressive. Let’s not be so insulted about something so minute.”
But how did this all happen? Who allowed such food items to be placed on the menu and why?
Last Thursday, further damage control came from the school’s Director of Communications Christina Ditzel in the form of a PDF letter posted on the school’s website. Essentially, there was a communication gap; even without the approval of administrative knowledge or permission, the menu was still dished out.
Image via WikiCommons