Black History Month offers an opportunity for the world to celebrate the achievements, contributions, and strides that Black people have made. You would think a prestigious institution like New York University holds this a month in high regard, but according to some students, that is not the case.
The university came under fire after one of their dining halls served a not-so-thoughtfully curated Black History Month menu of ribs, collard greens, mac and cheese, watermelon flavored water, and Kool-Aid. Several NYU students took offense to the stereotypical nature of the menu items, including African studies major Nia Harris who expressed anger on Facebook. "In 2018 I literally had to explain why displaying watermelon and koolaid in celebration of Black History Month was not only racially insensitive but just ignorant," Harris wrote in a post that includes a screenshot of a complaint sent to the school's dining services. "I've wanted to go to NYU since I was 7th grade, and it breaks my heart that at this allegedly 'diverse' and 'global' institution, black students are faced with issues like this one."
Another student by the name of Kayla Eubanks shared a video of the Black History month spread on Twitter, writing, "Are y’all serious? Y’all really thought it was okay to have watermelon water for the Black History Month Meal? I’m not as annoyed by the koolaid but this watermelon water was very intentional and coonish."
The backlash continued mounting to the point that NYU President Andrew Hamilton felt compelled to issue an apology. “We were shocked to learn of the drink and food choices that our food service provider — Aramark — offered at the Weinstein dining hall as part of Black History Month. It was inexcusably insensitive."
In response to the menu mishap, the director of Weinstein dining hall has been suspended pending an investigation into what happened. According to the NYU website, Aramark will be “putting in place sensitivity training for staff" to make sure these types of incidents are a thing of the past.