*A Georgia Ikea store has apologized for offering a special Juneteenth themed menu that included dishes associated with racist stereotypes about Black Americans.
The Atlanta branch of the furniture store reportedly emailed staff Friday about its plan to commemorate the annual holiday, which marks the long-delayed arrival of news about enslaved people’s emancipation in Texas in 1865. The lunch menu included fried chicken, watermelon, mac ‘n’ cheese, and collard greens, employees told Atlanta station CBS46. About 20 employees walked off the job in protest, an Ikea spokesperson said in a statement to The Independent.
The statement read: “To honor the day, a lunch menu was created with the best of intentions, including recommendations from black co-workers. We got it wrong and we sincerely apologize.”
Several anonymous employees told CBS46 the menu was racially insensitive and ignorant.
“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 slave time,” one worker told the station. “It caused a lot of people to be upset. People actually wanted to quit, people weren’t coming back to work.”
Staff members also accused Ikea of creating the menu without consulting any Black employees, though the retailer claims it did get recommendations from some Black staff.
Following backlash, the store manager issued an apology and revised the menu. However, employees charged that the original dishes were still available the day after the holiday.