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Black History Month lunch menu sparks outrage, school apologizes

School officials at a Northern California school have been forced to apologize after a proposed lunch menu to celebrate Black History Month sparked controversy and angered some parents, students and faculty.

Watermelon and Fried Chicken

What was supposed to be a black history festivity at the Carondelet High School for Girls in Concord that was supposed to take place on Feb. 7, 2014. quickly turned ugly after the menu consisting of fried chicken, cornbread and watermelon was announced by a student to the entire school in a public address on Monday.

According to USA TODAY Network, Carondelet communications director Christina Ditzel said the announcement was a "shock to the administrators, the students, and the teachers," and the administration denies approving the menu.

And according to the Huffington Post, Principal Nancy Libby agreed to remove all of the food items from the menu after the Black Student Union requested that watermelon be removed.

Libby said:

I'd like to apologize for this announcement and any hurt this caused students, parents or community members. Please know that at no time at Carondelet do we wish to perpetrate racial stereotypes.”

So whether it’s when pro golfer Fuzzy Zeller said: “Tell him (Tiger Woods) not to serve fried chicken next year, got it. Or collard greens or whatever in the hell they (African-Americans) serve,” or when another pro golfer, Sergio Garcia, made the comment about offering Tiger Woods over to dinner so they can “serve fried chicken,” the issue of certain foods being racist in regard to the black community is not new.

But what is truly racist? Is it the food, or is it the insincere stigma that has been attached to the food by the most primitive elements of society? So is it the watermelon, or is it the old, slave master mentality?

It would appear that it is the old, slave master mentality, because all ethnic groups, including whites, happily and without judgment consume these kinds of foods at an extremely high rate.

But due to the history of slavery and Jim Crow in this county, serving fried chicken or watermelon to blacks is certainly more contentious than serving the exact same foods to any other ethnic group.

So doesn't it seem to make sense that when a consumption stereotype that was handcrafted for the humiliation of black people is often selected to be offered to blacks or to be an honorable representation of black culture it appears to be more purposeful than accidental?

So instead of having another routine diversity meeting, maybe the principal should consider tackling the muddy, historical propaganda of these foods and how it was used to humiliate black people creating racial stereotypes that still exist today in what many of the parents of students who attend Carondelet are calling a “teachable moment,” which would fall more along the lines of the actual intent of Black History Month.

Because one could make the argument that the school just saying that it does not condone racism without actually using the power of its education hallmarks to systematically debunk racism holds about as much political weight as a cowardly silence on the issue.

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