Note to self: serving soul food in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. is apparently NOT okay... or at least that's the lesson I'm taking away from the latest political-correctness kerfuffle going down at the University of California - Irvine.
While many schools have recently come under fire for not serving enough health-conscious options, UC Irvine is getting a lesson in culturally sensitive cuisine. The LA Times reports:
A last-minute decision to serve fried chicken and waffles at a campus dining hall in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. was a regrettable choice and lacked sensitivity, UC Irvine officials acknowledged Wednesday.
The meal was served at Pippin Commons on Jan. 17, the first day of UC Irvine's 28th annual Martin Luther King Jr. symposium. ...
The menu and a sign in the dining hall reading "MLK Holiday Special: Chicken and Waffles" were pulled together at the last minute by a chef and other cafeteria staff members, said UC Irvine spokeswoman Cathy Lawhon.
The culinary choices were made without any university oversight, Lawhon said.
While the university seems to be working to distance itself from the... er, incident... UC Irvine student Ricardo Sparks, a co-chair of the Black Student Union, has filed a formal complaint with the school's administration.
"It's just another in a long line of small events on our campus that aren't meant to be taken in a certain way, but are at least questionable in their cultural legitimacy," John Murillo III, director of communications for the Black Student Union, told the Times. "It takes all the radicalism and activism that we tried to do with the symposium and then [the cafeteria] serves chicken and waffles and takes away from all the stuff that we did."
Officials at the university are agreeing, saying the chicken & waffles menu on MLK day did not show "good taste." While the menu's intention was to offer comfort food, Lawhon admitted it "probably wasn't the most sensitive thing."
The chef has not been formally reprimanded, but officials with Aramark Corp., the company which runs campus dining services, said they would conduct "cultural sensitivity training" for managers and chefs.
"I understand people have prejudice and ignorance," Sparks said. "But this is out in the community and nobody is saying anything about it."