In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, The Borgata, an Atlantic City casino, created a special menu for its guests. Under the headline “Main Entrée” read, “Fried Chicken, Maccaroni & Cheese, Sweet Potato Casserole, and Collard Greens.” For dessert—Home-style Pecan Pie. This left many outraged at the level of stereotyping on the menu.
Many people posted on Twitter about the holiday meal, calling the menu “racist.”
“Borgata has to be clueless,” one patron tweeted. “And has no PR department. And is run by whites.”
Another tweeted, “This is what Borgata is serving #itisracist.”
Borgata quickly responded to the backlash on their Twitter page. “We intended to honor the weekend by offering some of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s favorite foods, as reported by many sources.”
The Senior Vice-President of Borgata, Joe Lupo, says that the casino meant no offense and that the menu was simply geared towards the holiday like others they have celebrated in the past—like Chinese food on the Chinese New Year and Mexican food on Cinco De Mayo.
Lupo claims that the casino restaurant’s manager developed the menu choices.
“Our general manager of the restaurant is an African-American female who wanted to come up with the menu to celebrate and honor Dr. King, said Lupo. We allow our managers to run their restaurants. She did research and came up with an authentic recipe. It’s very clear these were his favorite foods,” Lupo added.
There are several documented sources that report that these dishes were MLK’s favorites.
Borgata’s only intention, and her only intention, was to honor the weekend, Lupo continued. We were surprised that there were so much negative comments, but we probably could have communicated better that it was done so that it was his favorite foods.”
Those who are familiar with the southern background of King and who are aware of staple southern foods did not find the menu to be all that racist. Someone graciously Tweeted, “He was from the South. Standard Southern comfort food, (To be honest) it sounds delicious.”
Others felt that the restaurant should have considered the response the menu might receive. Though their intention was to create a fun vibe for the holiday, one Twitter user commented to the casino, “That clearly wasn’t the effect. Do you plan on addressing this egregious lapse in judgment?”