Sabrina Pyle, the owner of the Azle Cafe in Tarrant County, Texas, offered a special on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 16, that many considered to be racist (video below).
According to WFAA, Pyle's now-removed Facebook posting said: "Happy MLK Day guys! Come have some chicken & waffles w/a side of watermelon."
Pyle said that she removed her special after a friend pointed out the racial implications.
"But after she brought it to my attention, I did take it down," Pyle told the news station. "I just did something distasteful. I just didn’t think it through."
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Black people eating watermelon and fried chicken is a Jim Crow-era stereotype that was often used in caricatures.
In December 2014, The Atlantic recalled the racist history of watermelons in relation to African-Americans:
The trope came into full force when slaves won their emancipation during the Civil War. Free black people grew, ate, and sold watermelons, and in doing so made the fruit a symbol of their freedom.
Southern whites, threatened by blacks' newfound freedom, responded by making the fruit a symbol of black people’s perceived uncleanliness, laziness, childishness, and unwanted public presence.
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This racist trope then exploded in American popular culture, becoming so pervasive that its historical origin became obscure. Few Americans in 1900 would’ve guessed the stereotype was less than half a century old.
"I wasn’t thinking about the historical [context]," Pyle stated.
Facebook user Brad Pelt called Pyle's posting "disgusting," and shared it online.
"You have a responsibility on social media," Pelt told WFAA. "You don’t just scroll past things like that."
Pyle recalled the reaction that she got when her posting went viral: "It got blown way out of proportion, way fast. Like the one I got today: 'You should know better, you racist scum, I will never eat there.'"
Pelt has since deleted his share of Pyle's post.
"I took the post down because I didn’t want people harassing her, her business, her family or her employees," Pelt stated.
Pyle denied that she is a racist: "It shouldn’t have gotten that out of hand, no, not at all. I am by far not racist."