New York University is under fire after it served “Kool-Aid and watermelon water” during Black History Month.
Nia Ashari Harris, a sophomore, noticed the stereotypically Black items on the menu and sent an email to the all of the Deans of the school as well as NYU Dining Services, according to The Washington Square News, the school’s newspaper. “Earlier today, I walked into Downstein [a dining hall] and noticed that the theme was Black History Month. The menu was interesting with ribs, collard greens, cornbread, smashed yams, and macaroni and cheese,” the paper quoted her email. “However, the most interesting part of the meal happened to be the drinks. As beverage choices today, there was red Koolaid and watermelon flavored water.” [Full disclosure: this reporter graduated from NYU but never experienced anything like this during Black History Month]
Later in her email, which she posted to Facebook, she noted, “Obviously the negative racial connotation and history of Koolaid and watermelon is why I took it upon myself to write to you today. Not only was this racially insensitive, this was just ignorant.”
NYU president Andrew Hamilton told the paper in a statement that the food director was suspended and an investigation was being conducted. ““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.”
Aramark issued its own apology, according to the paper. “We apologize for an inexcusable menu mistake that occurred at Downstein. We are extremely disappointed by the insensitive and offensive actions taken by our employees who did not follow policy and processes…We have suspended the employee pending a full investigation.”