The manager of an Atlanta IKEA store is apologizing after receiving backlash from Black employees over its Juneteenth menu. Among the cafeteria’s offerings for Juneteenth were fried chicken and watermelon.
An email obtained by CBS News said that the special menu was to “honor the perseverance of Black Americans and acknowledge progress yet to be made.” The outlet reported that as many as 33 of the home furniture and decor store’s Black employees didn’t show up for work on Juneteenth and some considered quitting.
“You cannot say serving watermelon on Juneteenth is a soul food menu when you don’t even know the history –– they used to feed slaves watermelon during the slavery time,” one employee who spoke under the condition of anonymity told WGCL-TV. Other items on the menu were collard greens and mac and cheese.
A group of employees spoke anonymously to the outlet, accusing the store of being racially insensitive and ignorant. They added that the store’s management team needs to do some more research on Black culture.
“I truly apologize if the menu came off as subjective,” the manager wrote after the employees called off from work. “It was created with the best of intentions by a few of our coworkers who believed they were representing their culture and tradition with these foods of celebration.” The employees who spoke to WGCL-TV refuted the manager’s claims and said that no one making the decisions about the menu was Black.
“None of the coworkers who sat down to create the menu –– nobody was Black,” an employee said.
Customers also criticized the menu choices, one shopper saying they’re “disappointed.”
“I’m just frankly disappointed in the learning process –– you shouldn‘t learn after you have insulted all of your Black employees,” they said.
Juneteenth was made a federal holiday last week after President Joe Biden signed legislation formally recognizing the day.