The Indiana Museum apologizes for presenting the “Juventus Watermelon Salad.”

Last year, June 19, 1865, commemorated the liberation of slaves in Texas, two years after the legal abolition of slavery in Jonathan – Texas. United States – officially became a federal holiday. Not surprisingly, some corporations and entities have set aside Jonathan for commercial purposes, with a particularly large Walmart attempts to cash in on holidays. And this week, the Indianapolis Children’s Museum apologized for an offensive menu item promoting the “Juventus Jamboree” scheduled for June 18.

In the comments section of the museum’s June 3 Facebook post about the event, a user shared a photo of the “Juventus Watermelon Salad” for sale at the museum’s food court.

“So you all decided, ‘Let’s celebrate by maintaining aggressive stereotypes,'” the comment reads. “Did you all really think that was a good idea? Smh.”

On Facebook, a user shared a photo of the museum’s “Juventus Watermelon Salad.” (Screenshot Valentina Di Liscia / Hyperallergic via Facebook)

The museum quickly retreated, removing the item from the menu and issuing an apology on Facebook with a statement claiming that the team behind the salad “included members of its staff who Make choices based on your family traditions. ” The problem, of course, is that apart from the personal eating traditions surrounding watermelon, the fruit also has an unusually painful history of racism against black Americans. The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) listed watermelon in a 2018 article entitled “Popular and Extensive Stereotypes of African Americans.”

“After independence, many South African Americans grew and sold watermelons, and this became a symbol of their independence,” the NMAAHC post reads. Many South whites reacted to this self-sufficiency by turning the fruit into a symbol of poverty; Stealing, fighting, or sitting on the street eating watermelon. The fruit was even dubbed a public nuisance, undermining the economic empowerment of black communities.

Some commentators on the museum’s Facebook post highlighted ways in which the organization could better work to harmonize its actions with anti-racism values, such as profiting from another menu item. Donate to an organization that confirms and raises the voices of the blacks or joins the celebration of Jonathan. Free

“It should be a free day at the museum so everyone can enjoy the celebration,” said one Facebook user. “It’s disgusting to celebrate behind a high-priced ticket.”

Responding to a request for comment from Hyperlergic, a spokesman for the Indianapolis Children’s Museum said, “We are deeply saddened by the inconvenience and discomfort caused by the food offer at our food court, and we apologize. Admittedly, this is what happened at our museum. We worked hard to renew our decades-long commitment to diversity, equality, access and inclusion in 2020, and yet we made that mistake. This work requires constant renewal, and we are actively engaged and invested in this process.

Levy, the museum’s food service partner, apologized for “a poor attempt to celebrate Jonathan”.

“With the full encouragement and support of the company, a diverse committee of our team members, including our black leadership, created the menu,” a Levy representative told Hyperallergic. “Our goal was to raise awareness using the recipes they researched and their personal events. As soon as we recognized the dynamic nature of the product and the label, we became intimidated.

This conflict points to a general problem of institutional resistance to staff diversity and the impatience of corporate culture to engage community and identity movements in the interest of profit. But the responsibility for strongly opposing racism is especially important when the audience is children, who are not only taught racism at home but also through popular culture, including food packaging and especially candy.

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