An all-boys Catholic high school in Massachusetts apologized for observing Black History Month by serving fried chicken to the students.
“We are deeply troubled and disheartened by our failure in this instance and take full responsibility for it,” read a statement from Jacob Conca, head of Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood. “I offer my sincere apologies for the harm that our actions may have caused.”
Conca explained that the suggestion to serve fried chicken had been made by an African American cafeteria worker who “asked to share a piece of her culture by creating menu items that represent historically Southern Black cuisine.”
Some of the students were offended by the incident.
“Honestly, I think it’s just a big stereotype. It could be seen as a little racist,” said senior Liam Baker to WCVB-TV. “It’s the first day of Black History Month. They couldn’t have come up with a better thing than fried chicken for African cuisine? It doesn’t really make much sense.”
Student body vice president Michael Earls called on the administration to “first acknowledge that their ignorance perpetuated a racist stereotype and issue a formal apology.”
Others said the incident was blown out of proportion.
“It’s over-hyped. We eat chicken every single day for school,” said senior Oliver Waddleton. “We’re learning more about Black history. It’s something that every single school should do.”
Officials at the school said they were trying to educate their students about how some African American women who were freed after the Civil War were able to gain further economic independence by selling fried chicken.
“Regrettably, our message was poorly communicated resulting in some perceiving it as the propagation of a negative stereotype,” reads a statement from the school. “We are saddened by this outcome. Going forward, we will strive to ensure that all members of our community understand the significance of our efforts to celebrate Black History Month.”
Similar outrage ensued among black employees at an Atlanta area Ikea when the store announced a menu with fried chicken and other stereotypical food as a part of their celebration of Juneteenth, the holiday commemorating the end of slavery in America. A store manager apologized for the incident and said it was a sincere attempt to represent African American culture and tradition.