As previously reported, an Atlanta IKEA received backlash from employees after creating a Juneteenth lunch menu deemed racially insensitive. Fried chicken, watermelon, mac and cheese, potato salad, collard greens and candied yams were all on the grub list. More than 30 employees called out of work on the federal holiday in protest, which resulted in an apology email from the manager. This did little to curb the criticism and now the corporation as a whole has issued an additional apology.
“We got it wrong and we sincerely apologize,” an IKEA spokesperson told People. “We are committed to educating ourselves and putting a process in place that will allow us to thoughtfully honor Juneteenth in the future.”
Regardless of their admission, IKEA’s full statement seemingly contradicts certain details shared by anonymous employees of the Atlanta store where the incident took place. The employees said the menu was allegedly crafted without the input of Black coworkers. Yet, according to People, an IKEA spokesperson said the lunch did include recommendations from Black workers.
“In addition to offering Juneteenth as one of our paid holidays nationally, our IKEA Atlanta store has recognized Juneteenth with our co-workers for the past four years,” an IKEA spokesperson said. “To honor the day, a lunch menu was created with the best of intentions, including recommendations from Black co-workers. We value our co-workers’ voices and changed the menu after receiving feedback that the foods that were selected are not reflective of the deeply meaningful traditional foods historically served as part of Juneteenth celebration.”
In earlier reports, an employee said the change to the menu was delaying it 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.”
Juneteenth became the federal holiday ‘Juneteenth National Independence Day’ last week, commemorating the official end of slavery in the United States. President Joe Biden signed the bill calling it “one of the greatest honors” of his presidency thus far.
“By making Juneteenth a federal holiday, all Americans can feel the power of this day and learn from our history—and celebrate progress and grapple with the distance we’ve come (and) the distance we have to travel,” the president said during the signing.
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