Not All Waffles Are Racist

“Are you going to cater to the whims and prejudices of people who have no intelligent knowledge of what they condemn?” Such pragmatism is sorely needed and necessary in times such as these.

In her day, civil and women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony not only saw slavery at its peak but lived long enough to see it abolished. As a member of a Quaker family committed to social equality, she was collecting anti-slavery signatures at the age of 17. With her wealth of experience and innate sense of integrity, her quote above denoted that she no doubt saw the dangers of bending to the will of any given group.

With the recent cancellation of iconic names, logos and faces from society such as Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben and the Cream of Wheat chef, what happened at Rockland County New York’s Nyack Middle School last week should be of no surprise.

On Monday, February 1st, a major food service known as Aramark decided to change the posted lunch they were to deliver (Philly Cheese Subs and broccoli) to Chicken and Waffles w/bananas, looking to avoid the oversight of giving students the same thing two days in a row (they had Philly Cheese, etc., on Tuesday).

Though bananas were the original menu ‘fresh fruit,’ watermelon was now available through a USDA program. Unfortunately for Aramark, the Chicken, Waffles and watermelon combination happened to fall on the first day of Black History month.

Let the faux racial outrage begin.

CNN frames it this way:

“The lunch menu offered on February 1 at Nyack Middle School in Rockland County was “inexcusably insensitive and reflected a lack of understanding of our district’s vision to address racial bias,”

David A. Johnson, the school’s principal, wrote in a letter to parents. “We are extremely disappointed by this regrettable situation and apologize to the entire Nyack community for the cultural insensitivity displayed by our food service provider,” Johnson wrote. The incident is the latest example of Black people continuing to battle misguided stereotypes about their fondness for certain foods and racist tropes against them, experts say.

James Montesano, the interim superintendent for Nyack Public Schools, told CNN the district has a longstanding commitment to equity.

“It is our hope that this incident on February 1st will be an opportunity to expand collective knowledge – beyond ‘sensitivity training’ – regarding the racialized systems in which we all live; and ultimately work towards undoing the negative impacts of these systems on our students, staff and school community,” Montesano said in a statement.

In [another] statement, Aramark apologized for the “unintentional insensitivity” shown by the company but said the menu was not intended as a cultural meal.

“We apologize for the unintentional insensitivity shown on February 1, the first day of Black History Month. While our menu was not intended as a cultural meal, we acknowledge that the timing was inappropriate, and our team should have been more thoughtful in its service,” the company said.

“This was a mistake and does not represent the values of our company, and we are committed to doing better in the future,” Aramark added.”

[smartslider3 slider=13]


Even as the smoke clears from this unintentional burning ember categorized as a four-alarm fire, one might ask: What exactly was the harm that was done? After all, contrary to Nyackians’ opinion, both Chicken & Waffles as well as watermelon are cultural delicacies that have been enjoyed by the Black community for
many, many years.

Would this be an insult if that same company served, say, rice, beans and tortillas on Cinco De Mayo? Probably
not. In fact, it would most likely be considered respect for the Latin community and its people. Imagine that- honoring an ethnic group with a food they enjoy!

This was not a case of cultural appropriation, or some disgusting racist prank in which someone was harmed, or their rights and/or civil liberties were under attack. This is simply what happens when the actions that Ms. Anthony spoke of come to pass.

Much like the pacifier that we continue to pick up when our toddler repeatedly drops it from crib to floor, this catering behavior is taught, trained, pampered, cultivated and perpetuated.

Sorry….Not Sorry

Of course, Aramark’s explanation concerning the chained series of unfortunate events and sincere apologies fall on deaf ears. They had previously committed the ‘cardinal sin’ at New York University of serving students ribs, collard greens, and Kool-Aid for Black History Month.

This was “inexcusably insensitive and reflected a lack of understanding of our district’s vision to address racial bias,” says one. “We need to educate the folks who are in those spaces of doing these things on cultural competency, right, and knowing that adding these items together is going to cause harm for the students in the school and families and community,” says another.

They must “participate in training that aligns to the Nyack School District’s vision and commitment to equity-driven work,” offers a third. Don’t be fooled. This is just another “Boy who cried racism” example of the race baiters’ traps being intentionally sprung. To be clear, this writer casts no blame on those in power, nor on the race
baiters like Benjamin Crump, Roland Martin and Joy Reid. This particular blame, much like many of the societal ills in the Black community, falls squarely on the shoulders of those in said communities perpetuating the insanity by picking up the race batons that are thrown- and running with them.

Copy */
Back to top button