The Children's Museum of Indianapolis apologized Saturday for selling "Juneteenth watermelon salad."
The museum said it acknowledges the "negative impact that stereotypes have on communities of color."
TMZ reported the salad was part of the museum's efforts to commemorate Juneteenth.
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis apologized after including a watermelon salad as part of its Juneteenth menu, prompting accusations of racial insensitivity.
Criticism around the salad sparked after a museum-goer named Jackson Moon shared the image on Facebook, according to WTTV.
"Racially insensitive salads," Moon wrote in his Facebook caption, WTTV reported. The outlet reported the salads were found in the cafeteria and were part of the museum's Juneteenth efforts, which marked the end of chattel slavery in the US. Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021.
—TMZ (@TMZ) June 5, 2022
The museum publicly apologized in a statement shared on its website.
"As a museum, we apologize and acknowledge the negative impact that stereotypes have on communities of color. The salad has been removed from the menu," the statement read. "We are currently reviewing how we may best convey these stories and traditions during this year's Juneteenth celebration as well as making changes around how future food selections are made by our food service provider."
"Our food service provider uses the food and beverage menu to commemorate and raise awareness of holidays like Juneteenth. The team that made this selection included their staff members who based this choice of food on their own family traditions," it continued.
In a statement to TMZ, a representative from the museum also noted the connection between Juneteenth and the color red.
"Red foods have historically been served by some to remember the blood that was shed along the way to freedom," the statement read.
Online, critics of the salad suggested that watermelon played into negative stereotypes about African Americans.
According to The Boston Globe's Reneé Graham, watermelon emerged as a racist trope after the Civil War when newly-freed slaves grew and sold watermelon to gain financial independence.
"But white Southerners viewed any modicum of Black success as an affront to their own sense of dominance," Graham wrote. "It wasn't long before grotesque caricatures of Black people with the same foods they used to empower themselves appeared on silverware, sheet music, and salt-and-pepper shakers."
In May 2019, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts apologized after students were racially profiled during a school visit. A group of Black students on a field trip said a museum employee told them, "No food, no drink, no watermelon."
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