*I sure hope you won’t judge me too harshly. But I downright howled when I first saw this it was so funny.
Carondelet High School for Girls in Concord, California is in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons: the Black History Month lunch menu they recently announced.
OK, allow me to set up a fictionalize account of how this may have went down:
The school administrators have called a meeting to discuss how they will recognize Black History Month. When out of the blue a high-pitched voice exclaims, “I know, why don’t we have the cafeteria serve fried chicken, cornbread and watermelon!”
To which all in attendance reply in unison: “That’s a great idea!”
Now, either these folks are absolutely clueless when it comes to cultural sensibilities or they just got lazy and threw together the first thing that came to mind after the word Black.
I know. I know. But listen, in and of itself there is nothing wrong with the food. Is it possible, in this day and age, that they just don’t know? Is it possible, they thought they were doing a “good thing?”
If I’m naive for even thinking this, what does that make them?
Dumb perhaps? Heck, I don’t know. But certainly not smart.
Apparently the students at this private school had been brainstorming ways to celebrate Black History Month. It’s doubtful this lunch menu was what they had in mind because they, along with their parents were pissed at the school administration once it was announced.
According to NBC affiliate KNTV- TV, Principal Nancy Libby responded to the criticism.
“I’d like to apologize for the announcement and any hurt this caused students, parents or community members,” Libby said in the letter. “Please know that at no time at Carondelet do we wish to perpetuate racial stereotypes.”
OK, I’m stickin’ with clueless based on that last quote.
However, University of San Francisco professor, Dr. James Taylor‘s eloquent statement puts it in greater perspective. He empathizes with why some students and teachers would be offended, even though the lunch may have been well-intentioned.
“Chicken, watermelon, collard greens. These stereotypes of black southern culture come from the same place that the “N-word” comes from,” says Dr. Taylor. “This is not like this food represents some heroic moment in [the] African American experience, what it represents is the degradation and its stereotyping of African Americans,” he concludes.
Ruth Wilson, chair of the African-American Studies Department at San Jose State University, said the food isn’t offensive, per se — in fact, fried chicken is an American mainstay, thanks in large part to Kentucky Fried Chicken’s Colonel Sanders.
The reason this particular meal sparks bad feelings, she said, is because blackface-era cartoons and plays showed African-Americans eating these foods in ugly caricature depictions.
Check out the NBC news story here.
Thanks to NBC Bay Area for excerpts in this story.