Officials at the Carondelet High School for Girls in Northern California are apologizing to outraged parents after a lunch menu change kicked up quite a stir.
According to NBC’s Bay Area affiliate, some students got together and decided that they wanted to come up with ways to observe Black History Month during a lunchtime celebration. The school later announced that they would be serving fried chicken, watermelon and cornbread in honor of the event—something that left other students and parents upset for obvious reasons.
Officials at the girls school held an assembly earlier this week to address controversy and issued an apology letter to students and parents.
“I’d like to apologize for the announcement and any hurt this caused students, parents or community members,” Principal Nancy Libby wrote in the letter. “Please know that at no time at Carondelet do we wish to perpetrate racial stereotypes.”
University of San Francisco professor James Taylor weighed in on the controversy and said that while the menu selection may have been well-intentioned, it’s pretty obvious why so many were offended.
“Chicken, watermelon, collard greens — these stereotypes of black Southern culture that come from the same place where the N-word comes from.”
Chair of the African-American Studies Department at San Jose State University, Ruth Wilson, also chimed in, expressing that while the foods themselves weren’t offensive, the history behind the stereotypical association of these foods with African-Americans sparked negative feelings.
Fried chicken, cornbread and watermelon have since been removed from the menu.