INDIANAPOLIS — The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has issued an apology after facing backlash online for offering a watermelon salad in its cafeteria to honor Juneteenth.
The museum was apparently offering the salad, labeled “Juneteenth Watermelon Salad”, in its cafeteria to celebrate the US federal holiday that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans.
A visitor to the museum named Jonelle Slaughter recently posted a photo of the salad in a Facebook comment under a post from the museum advertising its Juneteenth Jamboree.
“So y’all decided ‘hey let’s celebrate by perpetuating offensive stereotypes’,” Slaughter wrote in the caption. “Y’all really thought this was a good idea?”
The comment has since garnered over 70 replies and a separate post from Slaughter regarding the salad has over 25 more. Most of the comments are in support of Slaughter, with people saying the salad perpetuates negative stereotypes about Black people and that offering it does the opposite of the holiday’s intended purpose.
“Not acceptable,” replied Facebook user Cherlisa Starks-Richardson. “Clearly not enough research was done because if so this would not have been a choice at all. There needs to be more education on the behalf of your staff of what stereotypes are behind certain foods such as watermelon and Black history overall. This is beyond offensive.”
Others in the comments said that there should not be themed food for the holiday at all.
“That’s the thing. There is no special food for Juneteenth,” Phoenix Nebula wrote. “It’s the day slaves were freed. Food was not one of their concerns.”
The Children’s Museum’s official Facebook account has since replied to Slaughter’s original comment thanking her for bringing the issue to their attention. The comment also said the museum will be immediately pulling the salad from its food court until a sign explaining the meaning behind the dish is made to accompany it.
“There should have been a label explaining the history and meaning behind this menu item and it should not have been on the shelf before that label was ready,” the museum’s comment read. “There’s a lot of research that goes into the food choices we make for special events. Watermelon, along with other red foods, are a staple of Juneteenth Celebrations, including our food court manager’s family Juneteenth celebrations.”
Still, others in the comment section said they believe this is not an adequate response.
“Pull it period,” wrote Carmen Rangel. “Don’t even throw it back on the shelf even with explanation.”
When reached out for official comment, the museum said the following:
“As a museum, we apologize and acknowledge the negative impact that stereotypes have on communities of color. The salad has been removed from the menu. We are currently reviewing how we may best convey these stories and traditions during this year’s Juneteenth celebration as well as making changes around how future food selections are made by our food service provider.
Our food service provider uses the food and beverage menu to commemorate and raise awareness of holidays like Juneteenth. The team that made this selection included their staff members who based this choice of food on their own family traditions. As we work to create a culture of empowerment and inclusivity, we know there will be stumbles along the way.
As a museum, we have put a significant effort behind sharing the critical and diverse stories of a wide range of individuals. We also have placed a strong emphasis on expanding DEAI initiatives throughout the museum. We resolve to do better, and continue bringing all voices forward in our work.”
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
It is unclear at this time when the salad will be available again at the museum. This article will be updated with more information as it becomes available.
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