An Ikea store in Atlanta is apologizing after offering a lunch menu of fried chicken, watermelon, macaroni and cheese, and collard greens to honor "the perseverance of Black Americans." Employees spoke out, claiming the menu was created without input from Black employees was sent to workers, and that it was sent via email on Friday, the eve of Juneteenth, the new federal holiday commemorating the date in 1865 that the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free. They described the menu as racially insensitive and demeaning, a collection of racist tropes, per Indy100. "It caused a lot of people to be upset. People actually wanted to quit. People weren't coming back to work," one employee told WGCL, which reported some 33 employees responded by calling in sick.
Employees said the meal—which management claimed was to honor "the perseverance of Black Americans and acknowledge the progress yet to be made," per Indy100—was ultimately delayed by a day while management updated the menu. A revised menu said collard greens, cornbread, mashed potatoes and meatloaf would be served, per WGCL. But an employee said the final spread included fried chicken and macaroni and cheese, just as the menu first described. In a Tuesday statement, a store rep said the menu was "created with the best of intentions, including recommendations from Black co-workers," per WGCL. A company spokesperson says "out of respect for their privacy, we cannot go into more detail." The statement added: "We got it wrong and we sincerely apologize." (Read more Juneteenth stories.)