IKEA Finally Responded To Their Juneteenth Mistake

Yesterday, the management of an Atlanta-based IKEA attempted to address the fallout of their horribly executed Juneteenth menu that caused over 30 of their workers to call out of work. For many employees, the foods selected for the celebration were deemed offensive. A spokesperson for IKEA gave People a statement about how they had 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." The company also reiterated how they now treat Juneteenth as a paid holiday and that the Atlanta branch had recognized the holiday's existence for the past four years.

More notable than IKEA's general apology was the pushback the company gave against the idea that the menu's creation had not involved any of their Black employees. "There were Black co-workers involved in the creation of the menu," a spokesperson informed CBS 46, one of Atlanta's local news stations, "Out of respect for their privacy, we cannot go into more detail, and we take this as an important learning and shared responsibility." This directly addressed one of the complaints included in the station's initial report that "none of the coworkers who sat down to create the menu, no one was black," as one employee put it. 

It's not clear whether the apology and clarification will win over the workers that management insulted with their bungling. In fact, as the New York Post reports, James Woodall, the president of Georgia's NAACP chapter, called this response "an empty, performative gesture." The Atlanta branch president, however, only considered it an insensitivity derived from the store's lack of diversity in management.

The huge problem with IKEA's holiday menu

In case you missed it, the issue with the Juneteenth menu was that the foods it included went against the whole point of Juneteenth. In an email acquired by TMZ, the management of the IKEA outlet said the celebratory menu would consist of fried chicken, watermelon, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, collard greens, and candied yams. A Juneteenth table, according to Oprah Daily, should feature red foods like red velvet cake, barbecue, and potato salad.

Fried chicken doesn't belong and, as one anonymous employee stated to CBS, "They used to feed slaves watermelon during the slave time." Since then, both fried chicken and watermelon have become caricature foods used often in racist depictions of Black people, as The Atlantic noted. Some outlets like Oprah Daily, PW Perspective, and Rev. Dr. Ronald Myers, the head of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, consider watermelon emblematic of the holiday because it subverts the history of the food. As the Rev. Dr. Myers told The Daily Texan, "Watermelon and red soda water are the oldest traditional foods on Juneteenth."

However, IKEA management should have given workers the opportunity to celebrate the holiday with a menu created by them, not one imposed on them. The celebration of an emancipated community should give the community the entire say in that celebration. The food shouldn't come from on high by the management of a Swedish furniture store.