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A popular Miami Beach hotel apologized after creating a luncheon menu for Black History Month with some food options that some considered tone-deaf and racist.
Last week, employees at W South Beach got a luncheon flier that included fried chicken and watermelon salad as some of the items. The options offended some of the workers, who asked the NAACP for help out of fear of losing their jobs.
“I believe we are more than watermelon and fried chicken. We have overcome years of inequities and still are fighting for the very same rights and privileges of others, so don’t put us in this box,” said Daniella Pierre, president of the Miami-Dade chapter of the NAACP.
“But they were pained and angered to even see the menu that officials were calling for to celebrate Black History Month,” she said.
Pierre calls the serving of watermelon insensitive and tone-deaf. The fruit is a symbol of the perception of Black people after they were freed from slavery.
“So to reference watermelon, at least back in the Jim Crow days, back in our earlier history, it would be symbolic to those who are childish in nature, those who are unclean,” Pierre said.
Rick Ueno, general manager of the W South Beach, told NBC 6 that the menu will change, adding “the hotel apologizes for a luncheon flyer that was shared with employees. We deeply regret any offense it caused. We believe that diversity, equity and inclusion is fundamental to how we do business.”
The NAACP says the apology is necessary, and that it “regrets such mistakes” are still being made during Black History Month.
“An apology is always the first step, but if that’s the only thing you’re going to do, you’re not really acknowledging a mistake has been made,” said Trelvis Randolph, President of the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. Bar Association. “You haven’t committed yourself to make sure these mistakes aren’t made in the future.”