School Blames Black History Fried Chicken Menu On Cafeteria Worker

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When it’s not on the menu for Juneteenth, it’s the star of the show during Black History Month. It’s the fried chicken menu.

A Massachusetts high school issued an apology this week after serving up fried chicken on the first day of February as part of its Black History Month programming.

The head of the mostly-white Xaverian Brothers Catholic High School –– just 25 miles outside of Boston –– apologized for the incident, but blamed a Black woman cafeteria worker for the whole thing.

“We are deeply troubled and disheartened by our failure in this instance and take full responsibility for it,” school leader Jacob Conca told The Boston Globe in a statement. “I offer my sincere apologies for the harm that our actions may have caused.”

In the midst of the apology, however, Conca said the incident was spurred by an unidentified Black cafeteria worker who reportedly “asked to share a piece of her culture by creating menu items that represent historically Southern Black cuisine.”

The problem is that while fried chicken was used by a group of Black women, known as waiter carriers, to gain financial freedom, like watermelon, the food in our community was used by white to drive harmful, racist narratives about Black people –– something Conca failed to acknowledge in the apology.

(Click HERE for William R. Black‘s article in The Atlantic on the roots of the other food stereotype Black people are typically associated with: watermelon.)

Despite ignoring the racist stereotype, Conca said the school “saw this as an educational opportunity for our young men and worked with our Office of Community, Culture and Equity,” on the rollout. According to The Globe, the school even announced the menu options over the loud speakers.

“It’s the first day of Black History Month. They couldn’t have come up with a better thing than fried chicken for African cuisine?” senior Liam Baker told WCVB. “It really doesn’t make much sense.”

Michael Earls, another Xaverian student, said the school “must acknowledge that their ignorance perpetuated a racist stereotype.”

Conca said the school is “taking the necessary steps to both learn from this mistake and appropriately move forward.”

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