Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, recently found itself at the center of controversy after promoting a Black History Month menu in the cafeteria that featured fried chicken, collard greens, and other stereotypical foods. Now, the school’s president is apologizing.
According to reports, a picture of the Black History Month menu started circulating around social media recently, and because of the food choices associated with it, many people said it was "disrespectful" and "offensive." The foods, which included fried chicken, collard greens, mashed potatoes and cornbread, are typically associated with racial stereotypes.
“I was really hurt … extremely hurt,” Billy Barabino, president of the Black Student Union at WSU, said, according to USA Today. “For me, it was a knock in the face for African (and) African-American individuals who have fought for us to be progressive. I was extremely offended by it because it minimizes who we are as a people.”
Now, Wright State University President David Hopkins has issued an apology via email that maintains the school’s commitment to creating a diverse environment for their students.
“I apologize to anyone hurt by the display,” Hopkins wrote in the email. “To our credit, the menu was quickly removed. But the larger question remains: Why was it done? I will find out. We will take steps to prevent this kind of behavior occurring in the future.”
Kimberly Barrett, vice president of multicultural affairs and community engagement at WSU, noted that she was happy the menu was promptly taken down once the issue first came to light and offered a reasonable explanation as to why this mistake may have been made.
“I think many times, in attempts to be inclusive and to honor diversity, people who might be in the majority community, or in communities other than the ethnic groups they’re trying to honor, sometimes get it wrong,” Barrett said.
Chartwells Higher Education Dining Service, the company that made the menu in question, says that it tries to honor holidays and national events by serving authentic foods, but also acknowledges that, “in no way was the promotion associated with Black History Month meant to be insensitive.”
Photo Source: Dayton Daily News, Wikimedia Commons