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."
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.
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."