By Spenser Hickey
Assistant Copy Editor
Chartwells’ Feb. 6 “Black History Dinner” in Smith Hall has sparked some controversy.
On the menu was pulled barbecue pork, collard greens, baked beans, and macaroni and cheese.
Gene Castelli, Chartwells resident district manager, said the celebration was no different from the special Mardi Gras menu, and that holidays have foods associated with them, like Memorial Day’s link to hamburgers and hot dogs.
“Food creates memories, creates emotions that are tied into certain events throughout the year,” he said.
Castelli said Chartwells chefs picked out the food, but he didn’t know who was directly responsible for determining the menu. He said Chartwells Supervisor Beverly Coleman prepared similar menus for Welch Hall in previous years.
When Coleman was in charge of the themed menus, they were called “Soul Food Night.” Castelli said she used her own recipes in those instances.
Senior Andrew Dos Santos, co-president of Black Men of the Future, heard the menu was being brought back and worried about what foods would be on the menu. He considers the most recent menu a stereotype of the African-American community.
After seeing this year’s menu, he said he doesn’t think it’s okay.
“When (other students) see this food, they think this is what black people eat,” he said.
Senior James Huddleston, co-president of BMF, said he’d prefer if the menu had been called “Soul Food Day,” as in the past, instead of “black history,” since soul food is “an actual genre of food.”
Sophomore Garrison Davis said the menu didn’t offend him because it was in Smith, which he thinks tries to please all cultures, but fails.
Castelli said he hadn’t heard anything from African-American students, but that he and Chartwells would be open to criticism.
“(I)f the African-Americans don’t like it, if they came to me and said, ‘We don’t want you serving this food,’ we’d go, ‘Hey, what do you want to see us serve?’” he said. “We’d ask for input.”
Castelli said he thought allegations that the menu was “racist” are “ridiculous.”
“Food isn’t racist,” he said. “People are racist, but food isn’t racist.”