Private School Celebrates Black History Month By Offering A Deliciously Racist Menu Of Fried Chicken And Watermelon

450622855As offensive as this whole idea of serving your student body a menu of fried chicken, collared greens, corn bread and watermelon to celebrate ‘Black History Month’ is you have to laugh because what bonehead came up with this idea? Seriously, I would have loved to be a fly on the wall to hear how this planning went down at Carondelet High School for Girls in Concord located in California, because I have a feeling at some point someone asked WHAT DO BLACK PEOPLE EAT? 

Wait, I remember seeing something when I was growing up that may help us out there, hang on, let me find it.. 

And then some asshole whipped out some super offensive advertisement from the 1900s.

Or else rang up Paula Deen to get her opinion.

 Hey perfect and then after lunch we can all put on a little minstrel show and air a screener of Song Of The South!

After the amazingly lame lunchtime celebratory menu was pulled, according to the NBC Bay Area:

“I’d like to apologize for the announcement and any hurt this caused students, parents or community members,” Principal Nancy Libby said in the letter. “Please know that at no time at Carondelet do we wish to perpetrate racial stereotypes.”

University of San Francisco professor James Taylor said he can see why some students and teachers would be offended, even though the lunch may have been well-intentioned.

“Chicken, watermelon, collard greens — these stereotypes of black Southern culture that come from the same place where the N-word comes from,” he said.


I’m not sure how this was well-intended. It’s like two steps away from having the cafeteria workers serve these kids while wearing black face. I’m sort of shocked they didn’t also include the typical meal of a slave with these other items, but I guess salt herring and cornmeal doesn’t have a lot of nutritional value.

The article suggests this all could have been avoided by asking black students and parents and asked them what was appropriate. I have a feeling considering they were celebrating Black History Month the menu could have included celebratory foods like pizza and cake or maybe a taco bar or sushi. You know, PARTY FOODS.  It isn’t like fried chicken and watermelon don’t have their place in black history, but they have just as much of a place in WHITE history too, especially in the south. The difference is watermelon was used throughout the early 1900s in horrible tropes that depicted black people as lazy simpletons who could be made happy by throwing them a watermelon to gnaw on.

You would think adults in charge of educating kids would be aware of this little fact.

(Image: getty images)

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  • Kay_Sue

    This is the kind of story that makes me laugh and then feel a vague sort of shame, because it’s hilarious and yet awful that someone would think this was appropriate at all. *shakes head*

    • Eve Vawter

      totally, and it made me miss the Paula Deen food twitter hashtag

    • Kay_Sue

      I never got the appeal of Paula Deen to begin with. I can’t deal with that much butter. I just can’t.

      Although, you’ll have to pry her cookware out of my cold, dead fingers, because *nothing* sticks to that shit.

    • JulySheWillFly

      Except your cold, dead fingers, apparently.

    • Kay_Sue

      You make a good point. That would be the one thing that did stick to them. Through sheer force of willpower.

    • Eve Vawter

      uh huh

    • Kay_Sue

      …that was…unnecessarily disturbing.

      I don’t think I”ll ever get that image out of my head.

    • Eve Vawter

      You are welcome

    • Muggle

      whhhyyyyyy :(

    • TwentiSomething Mom

      What is she licking off? Bacon grease?

    • Rachel Sea


    • Tinyfaeri

      NoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo. NO. Nope. No.

    • Zettai

      Unrelated but for an older guy Robert is RIPPED. I bet Gail Kim wanted to DDT Paula here through.

    • Sara610

      Eve. Seriously. WHY?

      I will never be able to un-see that.

    • AmazingE

      Hells yeah, I love my Paula Deen skillet. It’s heavy as hell, but it works like a champ.

    • Paul White

      and hungry. I want some chicken now :X

  • Aimee Ogden

    So much side-eye for that elementary school. And the professor who “can see” how some people might find it problematic, well gosh buddy, did you have to break out the binoculars for that one??

  • AmazingE

    I’ll probably get raked over the coals for this, but fried chicken and watermelon is really pretty tasty.

    • Sara610

      Oh, totally! They’re awesome. They’re just not appropriate as a representative meal celebrating “Black History Month”. If it had been the end-of-the-year picnic and they served watermelon and fried chicken, I have a feeling there would be no problem.

    • Kay_Sue

      Exactly. That they are delicious is unquestionable. It’s just the context that makes this racist…

    • AmazingE

      Yeah definitely not appropriate for celebrating black history, I agree. Although the fact that at some point someone did think it was appropriate kind of made me chuckle. People don’t always realize just how dumb they are.

    • Andrea

      I guess yes the whole thing is offensive. But fried chicken and watermelon sounds like the lunch from heaven to me!
      *stares balefully at her wilted salad*

    • AmazingE

      I’m jealous. I don’t even have wilted salad in my house right now. Grocery day is tomorrow though, so I’m thinking I might just have to actually make fried chicken now, because I can’t get it out of my head. Maybe a watermelon salad too, just because.

    • Eve Vawter

      Fried chicken is SO hard to make

    • Kay_Sue

      Not in my Paula Deen signature porcelain enameled no stick chicken fryer….

    • AmazingE

      I wouldn’t say it’s hard, just labor intensive and time consuming, which is why I make it so rarely.

    • SDS

      Labor intensive + time consuming = hard, no?

    • jane

      Used boneless chicken. Then it’s super easy because you don’t have to have exactly the right temperature for exactly the right amount of time to avoid raw-by-the-bone-burnt-on-the-outside. The hard part is getting over the guilt of pouring 4 cups of oil into a pan and not thinking “I probably should just have a salad…”

    • AmazingE

      I say that to myself every single time, and I use lard instead of oil, even though I know it’s super bad for you. It just tastes way too good.

    • Alexandra

      In my (southern) family we saved up bacon drippings in a coffee can and used them for smearing on things such as potatoes and chicken before deep frying them. DAMN I miss being a kid with a fast metabolism!

    • Rachel Sea

      No it isn’t, you just need practice, and a great recipe.

    • Eve Vawter

      I got that fancy Thomas Keller mix and it did not work so good :(

    • Rachel Sea

      Mixes are awful, it’s gotta be from scratch.

    • Eve Vawter
    • Sandy

      You people. It’s lunch time and all of this talk of decent food is making the leftovers I brought for lunch sound less and less appetizing.

    • Rachel Sea

      Maybe it’s the filter, but the batter on the chicken in those pictures looks soggy and thin. Buttermilk fried chicken should be crisp and golden.

    • Rachel Sea

      Here, this is my family’s fried chicken recipe, adapted for modern ingredients, courtesy of my great-grandfather’s housekeeper, Ida.

      4 pounds chicken pieces
      1 cup buttermilk
      3 large eggs
      2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
      2 tablespoons kosher salt
      2 teaspoons pepper
      3 cups vegetable oil

      Pat chicken pieces completely dry and set aside.

      Combine buttermilk, eggs, and a few dashes of Tobasco in a bowl; whisk to blend well.

      On a platter or large baking tray combine the flour, salt, and pepper.

      Dip a chicken piece in the egg mixture; let excess drip off into bowl. Dredge chicken pieces in the flour mixture to coat thoroughly. Remove to a plate or tray.

      Smooth out surface of flour mixture, dip clean dry fingers into the egg mixture, flick drops of the egg mixture onto the flour mixture.

      Redredge the chicken to pick up the extra batter, re-egging the surface of the flour as needed.

      Heat oil to 350° in a large cast-iron skillet. Fry chicken, a few pieces at a time, for about 10 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and cooked through. With a slotted spoon, move to paper towels to drain; sprinkle with salt.

    • pineapplegrasss

      That is a good recipe from Rachel Sea. I’m going to try to add the buttermilk to the egg next time :) If you want simpler and just want to use flour and egg, the trick is to dip in egg, then flour, then egg again. Idk why this makes a better crispy coating, but it does. You can season your flour any way you like, like cayenne pepper or whatever. Start with legs, they’re easier.

    • Rachel Sea

      You can make the batter endlessly crispy by dipping the pieces from egg to flour to egg to flour.

      I’m jonesing for fried chicken now.

    • pineapplegrasss

      Oh me too. We are definitely frying chicken this weekend :) As I hate doing it and its always a treat for all the boys. Sometimes my husband comes home from the grocery store with one of those packages of 5000 chicken legs and a sheepish grin

    • Muggle

      Compared to the godawful shit my school served, fried chicken and watermelon would have been a very welcome change.

      Though North Carolina isn’t *quite* so southern where those things aren’t closely associated with black stereotypes anyway, so it would have been good for about 5 seconds before some racist little shit with a questionably legal Confederate flag tattoo commented on it.

    • Rachel Sea

      I would very happily eat all of those things right this minute, because they are freakin’ delicious, but any school that would be so stupid as to embrace the stereotype would probably screw it up.

  • Karen

    I live in and went to college in Virginia. One of my college friends was from Alabama, and he said his high school was about 70% black (he was white). One day in history class, he made some remark about eating fried chicken and watermelon, and a black student became extremely angry at him, calling him racist. After class my friend asked me, “Do you guys never eat fried chicken up here?” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Well in Alabama all we ever ate was fried chicken and greens. So why was that chick all upset?”

    I think it’s such a ridiculous stereotype. My friend is right: fried chicken, watermelon, and collard greens are southern foods, not “black people foods”. Hell, my white family eats tons of fried chicken and watermelon all summer long (I just eat the watermelon and greens, as I’m vegetarian). This is a stereotype that has never made sense to me. What the school did was wrong and atrocious by attaching the menu to Black HIstory Month, because it could easily just be another Tuesday meal without any ties to Black History Month.

  • pineapplegrasss

    I do think its a stereotypical lunch menu to serve, but what if they really were just trying to come up w/ a traditional African-American lunch? Yeah some dumb white guy came up with this, I get it. But, the schools serve other celebratory meals too, such as corned beef a cabbage on St Patricks day and whatnot. What menu should they have served to celebrate? It does sound like a traditional southern meal to me, and those kids probably would have loved it. I just think that finding offense in everything, all of the time, actually perpetuates the stigmatism and racism.

    • Sara610

      You make a fair point about, for example, serving corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s day, or dumplings and wonton soup on Chinese New Year. I think the issue is more charged here because racism enters more prominently into the discussion when you’re talking about Black History Month. St. Patrick’s day, for example, doesn’t have nearly the same history. Not to say that the Irish didn’t suffer from their fair share of prejudice, because of course they did, but I do think it’s a relevant factor and one that should have been considered more carefully.

      In terms of what would have been a better meal to serve, I spoke to that in another comment–but I think there were a lot of better ways the lunch could have been handled.

    • pineapplegrasss

      Yes, I do understand that, but I do think that oversensitivity played a role here as much as undersensitivity.

  • Robotic Arms Dealer

    What, no grape soda???


  • mee513

    Did I misread the article? I live in the area. This school is located in the East Bay Area, CA not North Carolina. On the local news, it was reported that the menu was planned in advance by the students. I wonder if a student adviser just missed this one.

    • Eve Vawter

      OMG I am the worst. I swear, I read NORTHERN CALIFORNIA as North Carolina :( I am so sorry, I fixed. *hangs head in shame forever*

  • Alicia Kiner

    Ok… so white girl here… obviously. And raised in the North too. But why is this particular food offensive? I totally get why blackface is offensive. I hate the “n word” and think no one should use it. at all. But this one completely perplexes me. We all eat, no matter what color our skin is. Asking vegetarians to eat this meal would be offensive, asking devout Jews to eat pork would be too, but I don’t really understand why this meal is racist? Feel free to pound away. I honestly am clueless here.

    • Sara610

      The problem isn’t with the food itself; I think it’s with the stereotype that fried chicken and watermelon are the “quintessential black-people foods” and are therefore an appropriate representative meal to serve at a picnic honoring Black History Month. It reduces the incredibly diverse and complicated identity of a huge group of people to a simplistic, over-generalized and stereotyped image.

      Personally, I think a better way to go would have been serving a variety of foods that represent the varied experiences not only of black Americans, but the various cultures around the world in which black people exist and have developed their own unique and complex food cultures, which are often inextricably linked to the social and political histories of those countries. I would even argue that within that context, fried chicken and watermelon could justifiably be included without a problem as ONE of the foods in such a celebration. I think Eve hit it on the head in her article–”Hey, what do black people eat? Fried chicken and watermelon!” I don’t know that it’s so much willfully racist as it is lazy and smacking of cultural entitlement, which really isn’t any better.

    • Alicia Kiner

      Thank you, that makes complete sense.

    • Rachel Sea

      Because it’s historically loaded, thanks to many thousands of images like this.

    • Locke

      I appreciate that you didn’t understand why this is seen as offensive. It goes to show that racism only exists as long as we (the human race) allow it to. Children aren’t born prejudice. They have to learn it.

  • Zettai

    When I hear stories like this I am not shocked by whoever came up with the idea, but the multitudes of people that APPROVED it. “Yeah Jim, chicken and watermelon sounds great! Blacks love that stuff! Agreed? Okay, let’s go to lunch.” Always amazes me.

  • auntiea

    You know, I feel like this story comes up every February. I’m almost certain I heard a similar story last year.

  • Sandy

    Really, the schools either need to go big with the themed meals – such as, I don’t know, picking one influential person per week and then making a meal that somehow corresponds to that specific person. Such as his or her openly stated favorite foods – including if that means having something like nachos, hot dogs, or chicken noodle soup. Or, if you’re not going to do it right, just duplicate January’s menu.

    However… once you remove the context of calling it a Black History Month meal… That sounds f*ckin’ delicious. Now I have an insane hankering.

  • tk88

    This story is so hilarious is almost sounds like a sketch show bit. I mean really, did no one say “You know…this might be a bit racist” before they published the menu? It’s pathetic people are still this stupid and insensitive, but I’m still having a hard time not laughing at said stupidity.