Middle school apologizes for serving chicken & waffles and watermelon on first day of Black History Month

As a foreigner, once again confused by the USA. Food is now somehow racist? Really? People get offended by waffles now?

It’s complicated. There is a long, ugly history of racist caricatures of Black people in America (see below), and watermelon in particular often played into that. It’s a stereotype that is hard to overlook in light of the history (you would not believe how many old-timey jokes there were with “they just love watermelon” as the punchline), but is easy to overlook if you don’t know the history.

To put it in a foreign perspective, imagine that everyone just assumes that you must love a certain food from your country and eat it every day. That would get pretty tiring pretty quick.


Thanks. I looked it up after I posted.

Was thinking of your last line. I live in Shanghai and eat dumplings almost every day. So do most people here. If I could find Shanghainese dumplings back in Canada, I’d be ecstatic. Did anyone ask the kids if they were happy with chicken and waffles? Imagine many would.

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It’s not the dumplings that are an issue; it’s the unspoken but implied “Hey, dumpling boy!”

Not everyone is going to take it that way, but the ones who do take it that way aren’t exactly in the wrong.

Or if people in Shanghai associated Canadians with poutine to the point where poutine became a kind of synecdoche for Canadians in general. I mean, who doesn’t like poutine? But you want to be able to go into a restaurant without the waiter saying, “And I assume that monsieur will be having the poutine?”


What a burn :smile::smile::smile::smile::smile:


I’d probably say yes. Poutine is awesome.

Now imagine you’re part of a historically marginalized and abused group of people, held up for ridicule and shame for centuries, demonized and literally treated as property while being mocked with a food that is repeatedly and stereotypically associated with you as the punchline to yet another dehumanizing joke. It’s not about fried chicken and waffles. It’s about a culture of hatred that has reduced Black people to a set of stereotypes for generations.


Not even mentioning how far out of season watermelon is in February and how wretched that melon will be.


Yeah, you probably would, wouldn’t you? You dumb Canucks just can’t get enough of your poutine. “Oh, three kinds of fat? That sounds good, how aboot some more, eh?” Bunch of backwater morons.

Now imagine hearing that and worse every day, and tell me if “and of course you’ll be having poutine, right?” still sounds nice to agree to.


Maybe. But there is this.

The full name was Wells’ Restaurant, but to those in the know it was just plain Wells’. For more than 40 years, until it closed in 1982, it was one of the hot spots of Harlem.

The Apollo, the Harlem Club, the Savoy - those were the places people went first. Wells’ was for after. Its kitchen was busiest at 2 A.M., fixing Joseph T. Wells’s purposely ambiguous dinner-breakfast specialty: fried chicken and waffles.

‘People from Paris, when they’d come, would get chicken and waffles,’’ Mr. Wells, who is 75, recalled the other day. '‘And the jazz greats - you name ‘em, they’ve been here.’’

Probably not something a middle school cafeteria should attempt to try.


See also Ireland & Potatoes.


This ain’t rocket science, for fuck’s safe.

It’s not about the food itself; it’s about the malicious intent.


Are you ridiculed, disrespected, and denied educational and work opportunities there because ‘people like you’ like to eat dumplings?


open knowledge swimming GIF


There is that, but chicken and waffles in Penn Dutch Country is estimated to have begun in the 1600s colonial period, at least two centuries prior.

Like folks have pointed out above, it’s mostly about assigning racist connotations rather than appropriation.


From the current statement by this school’s principal.

The vendor has agreed to plan future menu offerings to align with our values and our long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion.

A statement from the vendor when this happened in 2018.

We are also re-training all employees to ensure a regrettable incident like this is not repeated. Again, we apologize for the mistake and commit to do better in the future.’ – Victoria Pasquale, Regional Vice President, Aramark

I guess they didn’t really mean it. A quick read of their wiki entry says this is a horrible company, especially when it comes to their prison food services. Not sure why anyone does business with them.

Oh wait, money.


Thank you for taking the time to respond with the additional history. I’m from the uk and never knew that both watermellons and fried chicken were used as punchlines for offensive jokes against black people.
cut and paste from the guardian article I found while you were posting your reply.

Blockquote Black people’s association with watermelon dates back to the US abolition of slavery. After emancipation, many Black people grew the fruits and sold them, and they became symbols of their freedom. White people who opposed the end of slavery then used watermelons to belittle Black people, according to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Meanwhile, because enslaved people perfected techniques to make fried chicken, that food, too, has been used to mock Black people in the US, professor Marcia Chatelain – who teaches history and African American studies at Georgetown University – wrote in the Washington Post in 2019.

And for anyone thinking coincidence from same article

Blockquote School administrators added that the school’s food vendor, Aramark, provided a different meal than what had been scheduled. Students were supposed to be served cheesesteaks, broccoli and fruit on 1 February, according to a menu posted on the school’s website


Boris Johnson gave the world “watermelon smiles”.