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Black History Month school menu causes outrage again

Fried chicken
Fried chicken
Public Domain/Howard Portnoy

How many times is this story going to be repeated? It’s Black History Month … check. A high school wants to celebrate black culture … check. They hit upon the plan of serving fried chicken and cornbread in the cafeteria … check. Students and/or parents get their skivvies all in a knot … checkmate!

This time the offending institution is Carondelet High School for Girls in Concord, Ca., where, according to NBC Bay Area, “administrators … are facing tough questions.” What questions? Why they are serving stereotypical food? Please tell me what they could possibly serve that would represent black culture that wouldn’t appear to be a stereotype? You can forget collard greens (along with all other types, including kale), black-eyed peas, ham hocks, and smothered pork chops. In fact, it would appear that all matters culinary are off-limits.

One wonders whether that inconvenient truth was addressed at an assembly to discuss the issue held yesterday by school officials.

Principal Nancy Libby followed up with an apology letter to parents reading in part:

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 perpetrate racial stereotypes.

Oh, yeah? Then go ahead and create a participatory event centering on some facet of black culture that doesn’t traffic in stereotypes. You can even ask for help from University of San Francisco professor James Taylor, who told NBC he could see why some students and teachers would be offended. And, no, the diversity assembly you plan to hold is not a suitable answer.

Meanwhile, parents interviewed by NBC said they hope the incident will become a teachable moment. I wouldn’t bet on it.

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