UPDATED 6/24, 2:00 p.m. ET: IKEA issued an official apology for the Juneteenth menu at its Atlanta store.
“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,” a company spokesperson told People. “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.”
IKEA added that “we got it wrong,” and sincerely apologized. “We are committed to educating ourselves and putting a process in place that will allow us to thoughtfully honor Juneteenth in the future.”
Per TMZ, Georgia State NAACP President James Woodall does not accept IKEA’s apology. Atlanta’s NAACP President, Richard Rose, tells TMZ that the insensitive menu could be the result of a lack of diversity among its employees.
See original story below.
Employees who spoke to CBS Atlanta affiliate WGCL-TV but didn’t want to be filmed, said that the store’s management sent out an email last week, featuring the menu for customers and employees which was supposed to “honor and persevere Black Americans.” The initial menu also featured mac and cheese and collard greens. Employees said the move “caused a lot of people to be upset,” and added that “people actually wanted to quit, people weren’t coming back to work.”
“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,” one employee explained.
After the menu started circulating, 33 people reportedly called out from work, prompting the store manager to send an internal email shortly after apologizing for the menu.
“I truly apologize if the menu came off as subjective,” the apology read. “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 manager—who they say didn’t work with Black employees to set up the menu—reportedly said she changed the menu later, adding collard greens, corn bread, mashed potatoes and meatloaf. But employees claim that wasn’t the case, and that she only pushed it off by a day, as it still featured “fried chicken, mac and cheese and collard greens.”
Customers also felt the menu was insulting, with one telling the outlet that they were “frankly disappointed in the learning process,” adding that “you shouldn’t learn after you have insulted all of your black employees.”