Cook defends fried chicken choice for Black History Month menu
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By Mara Schiavocampo
5:05 PM on 02/04/2010
It may have seemed like an innocent tweet. But when you have more than a million followers, it's never that simple.
Questlove, the drummer for the Roots - now the house band for The Jimmy Fallon Show - was grabbing a bite at the NBC commissary Thursday, when a certain lunch special caught his eye. He snapped a photo of the sign, and tweeted it.
Underneath the picture he included the caption "Hmm HR?" - signaling that he may have been offended by the idea that Black History Month should be honored with fried chicken and collard greens. Some of his 1.3 million followers agreed, posting comments like "They wrong...Somebody get Al Sharpton on the phone" - while others didn't see the big deal, writing "It is a representation of Black food historically."
Within minutes the sign was gone from the commissary - though the meal continued to be served - and NBC posted a tweet of their own, saying "The sign in the NBCU cafeteria has been removed. We apologize for anyone who was offended by it."
One person who doesn't understand how offense could be taken: Chef Leslie Calhoun. It was her decision to select the menu items and create the sign. TheGrio caught up with her minutes after the tweet fiasco erupted and she seemed genuinely upset by the whole thing. Calhoun is an African-American and employee of Flick, a catering service that runs the NBC commissary. She said that for the last eight years she's been seeking approval from Flick management for a special Black History Month menu, and had finally been told that every Thursday for the month of February, she could serve whatever she chose.
"I don't understand at all. It's not trying to offend anybody and it's not trying to suggest that that's all that African-Americans eat. It's just a good meal," she said, adding, "I thought it would go over well."
As for Questlove, he's opted to give tweeting a break. About two hours after posting his twitpic, he typed "i think I need a twitter break. i done started something. and now I must put out fire." Looks like for now, he'll go back to using his fingers for drumming.
This isn't the first time this year that fried chicken and collard greens on a menu have created a stir. Last month, Denver Public Schools experienced a backlash after announcing they would serve fried chicken and collard greens in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
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