ATLANTA — IKEA is under fire after one of its stores listed fried chicken and watermelon on a menu for its employees in celebration of Juneteenth, and now the store manager is apologizing.
An Atlanta-based IKEA store sent an email to its employees about the celebration, telling them to watch for “a special menu” that would include fried chicken, watermelon, mac and cheese, potato salad, collard greens and candied yams, according to a picture of the email that was circulated on social media.
An employee who wanted to remain anonymous told WGCL-TV in Atlanta, “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 email said the celebration was meant “to honor the perseverance of Black Americans and acknowledge the progress yet to be made,” but employees said the menu was racially insensitive, WGCL-TV reported.
According to employees, WGCL-TV reported, 33 people called out from work, prompting the store manager — who was not named — to respond in an internal email Saturday.
It read, in part, “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.”
An employee told WGCL-TV that of the people who created the menu, “no one was Black.”
IKEA Atlanta released an official statement that read:
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.IKEA spokesperson.