Cultural cuisine minefield

Racism or ridiculousness?

I think it depends on how often those two items appear on a menu throughout the year.

If they’re an “every other Thursday” or “8 times a year” type of menu item that happened to include Black History month, then utter ridiculousness. Likewise, if collard greens are only in season during that part of the year, ridiculous. (Sorry, I’m from NY. I know nothing of collard greens.)

Didn’t read the link, but did they have watermelon for dessert? Certain foods have been used in insulting caricatures over the years, and while the dietary planner may not be prejudiced, it does seem insensitive because of those old cartoons that can still bring some insult.

Perhaps the school could have reached out in advance to the Black Student union, indicated that they would like to acknowledge Black history month through a few menu items, and did they have any suggestions. The opposite happened when the schools my s’s attended didnt have matzo during passover. Would have been appreciated.

Likewise, my kids public school menu seldom offers a meat free item on Fridays in Lent. Seriously-- how hard is it to include pizza on the menu?

So what should they have served for Black History Month? Do they have other ethnic menus? Do they serve tacos for Mexican day? Because I’ve never eaten a taco in Mexico. Or chop suey in China. Or pizza in Italy.

Thats just it. Its not for us or the foodservice to discern. The fact that they wanted to acknowledge it and include something in their menu items seems nice, and perhaps some suggestions could have been provided by the black student union, just as the religious organizations could have helped with lent and passover. It seems to be ann attempt to be inclusive, not exclusive or offensive.

^I am not sure how you mean those to be equivalences. But i think avoiding historic cartoonish depictions should be rather easy.

Wasn’t there some kerfuffle when some golfer suggested fried chicken to be served at Augusta when Tiger Woods won? Yes, they should have known that some would be offended. OTOH, if they wanted food for Black History Month, what other food should they have served? Soul food restaurants do serve fried chicken and collard greens. Do the Irish get upset when corned beef and cabbage and beer are invariably offered in pubs on St. Patrick’s Day? Or pitchers of margaritas advertised on Cinco de Mayo?

And yes, they do serve pizza in Italy. I think the marguerita pizza was invented in Naples.

I agree that they did a very clumsy job. But having a few menu items to acknowledge something, a religious holiday or a calendar event, should be able to be handled sensitively. Surely there must be a way. If they can offer seasonal items or items at certain holidays, hopefully there could be a way to acknowledge something they are trying to do.

I think this article explains it well:

It is lazy to ignore history–especially in a month it’s supposed to be being celebrated.

Agree those stereotypes should be avoided. But does that mean the idea of trying to honor black history month in any way should be avoided?

how so? I think we can acknowledge historic truths and study inequalities without perpetuating them.

I dont have the answer as to how. Maybe cookies with images of famous AAs on them. I dont know. Thats why checking with the Black students union would have been my suggestion. OK, I guess dining should just ignore Black history month. Unfortunate message , IMO :frowning:

I think this kerfluffle shows how people interpret anything regarding race (and often religion) in the worst light and that tendency reflects the depth of the underlying hatreds. Serving fried chicken and collard greens should be fine; both are Southern specialties that Black Americans not only historically eat but celebrate in numerous restaurants, etc. across the US. Soul food. But we can’t look at that nice context when what’s in our heads is a mess of nastiness.

What if other items that are typically served in a soul food restaurant were offered as well ? Would it then have been considered insensitive ?

I’m completely confused by the person who has never seen a taco in Mexico. ???

Back in the 70’s in our university town was a very popular soul food restaurant called “Mama Lo’s”. Guess the specialties? Fried chicken, collard greens, cornbread, mashed potatoes with gravy. She fed a lot of students! Actually that wasn’t just specialties–that was the menu.

Never seen a taco in Mexico or never ate one? I’ve had tacos in Mexico, gyros in Greece, pizza in Italy (skip the horse meat), jerk chicken in Jamaica, haven’t been to China yet but will try the specialties.

There was a soul food join for a very short time near us… not much more than a food truck really. Wish it was still around ! We live in an area with not a lot of good eateries

Mama Lo (and yes, she was real) would have been more insulted today to think someone would be offended by the serving of her food choices in Black History month. She had a lot of pride and passed it along. A good role model to a lot of young people.