A cafe owner in Texas says she just wanted to have a fun special meal to celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday — but she ended up angering her customers by offering a meal that’s based on racist stereotypes.
Local news station WFAA reports that Sabrina Pyle, owner of the Azle Café in Azle, Tex., was hit with an immediate backlash on social media Monday after she put up a post on Facebook wishing everyone a “Happy MLK Day,” then encouraging customers to “come have some chicken and waffles with a side of watermelon.”
Racist caricatures have long associated black people with watermelons in order to portray them as docile animals who would happily gorge themselves in watermelon patches all day instead of doing “real work,” as the following example shows:
Pyle insists she didn’t know anything about the ugly history of using watermelons as a racist symbol to disparage African-Americans, however, and said she was simply trying to create a fun offer for MLK Day using what she thought was a playful stereotype.
“I wasn’t thinking about the historical (context),” she told WFAA. “I was thinking, we have margaritas and tacos on Cinco de Mayo, so, let’s have some fun with Martin Luther King Day.”
She quickly took the post down after receiving such a quick rebuke from Facebook users, however, and acknowledges that she made a mistake.
“I just did something distasteful,” she said. “I just didn’t think it through.”
Watch WFAA’s report on Pyle’s MLK Day special below.