A manager at an Atlanta IKEA store is apologizing after creating a menu they said was meant to honor Juneteenth but instead angered Black employees.
Employees who called out of work in protest deemed the menu–which was allegedly created by non-Black employees and featured fried chicken and watermelon–as insensitive. Some Black employees even considered quitting, according to CBS News.
Employees who requested anonymity due to fear of retaliation showed CBS Atlanta affiliate WGCL-TV an email sent to employees Friday that said the special menu for customers and employees was one way to “honor the perseverance of Black Americans and acknowledge the progress yet to be made.”
“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 said. “It caused a lot of people to be upset. People actually wanted to quit. People weren’t coming back to work.”
According to the employees who spoke to WGCL-TV, 33 people called out from work, which sparked an internal email response from the store’s manager.
The email read, “I truly apologize if the menu came off as subjective. 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.”
Employees said the decisions behind the creation of the menu should have included Black voices first.
“None of the coworkers who sat down to create the menu — nobody was black,” the employee said.
The store manager told employees and WGCL that the menu was amended after the issue was raised, but another employee said, “They just delayed the menu by a day, thinking that everybody who was upset stayed home on Juneteenth and wouldn’t notice on Sunday, which just added insult to injury.”
Customers also felt the menu was insulting.
“I’m just frankly disappointed in the learning process — you shouldn’t learn after you have insulted all of your black employees,” one customer said.
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