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IKEA is the latest brand to face a public lashing after it included fried chicken and watermelon on the menu of its celebratory Juneteenth event.
The Ikea store in question is located in Atlanta. And while managers attempted to create a menu befitting of the momentous occasion, the store’s Black employees took offense.
According to CBS News, most of the store’s employees failed to show up for the event… while some even contemplated handing in their resignations.
“You cannot say serving watermelon on Juneteenth is a soul food menu when you don’t even know the history — they used to feed slaves watermelon during the slavery time,” an anonymous worker told the news outlet. “It caused a lot of people to be upset. People actually wanted to quit. People weren’t coming back to work.”
The store manager sent an email of apology to CBS:
“I truly apologize if the menu came off as subjective. It was created with the best of intentions by a few of our coworkers who believed they were representing their culture and tradition with these foods of celebration.”
While fried chicken itself is not racist, how fried chicken is has become synonymous with Black people is a stereotype the community is eager to shake.
According to Claire Schmidt at the University of Missouri, the white supremacy propaganda flick “Birth of a Nation,” released in 1915, is the cause of it all.
There is a scene in the movie depicting Black elected officials acting crudely in a legislative hall, warning white people of the dangers of electing Black people into office. While some are drinking, others are seen scoffing back fried chicken.
The roots of watermelon become a crude Black stereotype has roots just as deep.
The kid’s song, “Pop Goes the Weasel,” from 1916, was originally titled “N***er Love a Watermelon Ha! Ha! Ha!”
Not everybody was offended.