A Massachusetts private school's choice to promote fried chicken as a lunch to celebrate the start of Black History Month is creating controversy among the student body.
Students at Xaverian Brothers High School, an all-boys school in Westwood, heard the following announcement over the PA system Tuesday morning:
"In honor of Black History Month, one way we will celebrate is by highlighting a traditional meal each week that is a staple in Southern Black history. Today's lunch is fried chicken."
"Honestly, I think it's just a big stereotype. It could be seen as a little racist," said Xaverian senior Liam Baker. "It's the first day of Black History Month. They couldn't have come up with a better thing than fried chicken for African cuisine? It doesn't really make much sense."
"It's over-hyped. We eat chicken every single day for school," said fellow Xaverian senior Oliver Waddleton. "We're learning more about Black history. It's something that every single school should do."
Michael Earls, student body vice president for Xaverian's senior class, said in a statement that the administration "must first acknowledge that their ignorance perpetuated a racist stereotype and issue a formal apology."
Xaverian school officials said the effort was an attempt to educate students about Black history and culture, and that the meal was chosen by an African American food service employee.
According to the school, the announcement went on to note that after the Civil War, some newly-freed African American women gained economic independence by selling fried chicken.
"Regrettably, our message was poorly communicated resulting in some perceiving it as the propagation of a negative stereotype," reads a statement from Xaverian Brothers High School. "We are saddened by this outcome. Going forward, we will strive to ensure that all members of our community understand the significance of our efforts to celebrate Black History Month."