IKEA Gets Slammed For Serving Fried Chicken and Watermelon To Employees in Celebration of Juneteenth
Juneteenth is officially a national holiday. While the holiday is now a nationwide celebration, many people have been celebrating it for a long time.
Swedish company IKEA has been celebrating Juneteenth at their store in Atlanta for the past 4 years. This year, in honor of the holiday, IKEA decided to treat employees to a special lunch menu. While the store claims that they asked Black employees for their input on the menu, none of the people who made the final decision about the menu were Black. The final menu, which was emailed to employees ahead of the holiday, was considered offensive by many of the store’s employees.
What was on the menu? According to an anonymous store employee, the menu in the email included fried chicken, watermelon, mac and cheese and collard greens along with other soul foods.
After receiving the email with the Juneteenth lunch menu, some employees wanted to quit. The same employee told CBS46, “It caused a lot of people to be upset. People actually wanted to quit, people weren’t coming back to work.” A total of 33 people ended up not showing up for work that day.
An IKEA employee told WGCL-TV, “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 slave time.”
The IKEA store manager sent out another email in which she apologized for the insensitivity of the Juneteenth menu. She wrote, “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.”
The store ended up changing the menu and serving the food for lunch the day after Juneteenth. The modified menu included items like meatloaf, mashed potatoes and cornbread.
An IKEA employee took a picture of the food served in honor of Juneteenth, and it still included many items on the original menu. The picture included fried chicken, collard greens and mac and cheese.
Besides apologizing to the employees, IKEA also issued an apology to the community. A spokesperson wrote, “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. 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 celebrations. We got it wrong and we sincerely apologize. We are committed to educating ourselves and putting a process in place that will allow us to thoughtfully honor Juneteenth in the future.”
What do you think IKEA should have served for lunch in honor of Juneteenth? How do you usually celebrate Juneteenth?