Amazon workers in Chicago are reportedly outraged after they were provided chicken and waffles to celebrate Juneteenth

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Amazon workers in Chicago are reportedly outraged after they were provided chicken and waffles to celebrate Juneteenth
Getty/Beata Zawrzel
  • Amazon workers in Chicago are reportedly outraged that local leadership offered employees a meal of chicken and waffles to celebrate Juneteenth, according to a report from CNBC.
  • Employees said in an online group that the meal was a "racist form of celebration," CNBC reports. The meal has become a racist stereotype that has roots in the film "Birth of a Nation."
  • An Amazon spokesperson told Business Insider that the local leadership that put on the event "had good intentions to honor Juneteenth by supporting a local small business owned by a member of the Black community."
  • Juneteenth, which falls on June 19, honors the end of slavery in the US. While it's not a federal holiday, several major US companies made Juneteenth a paid day off for employees.
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Workers at an Amazon warehouse in Chicago are reportedly outraged after the company offered employees chicken and waffles to celebrate Juneteenth.

According to a report from CNBC's Annie Palmer, the facility's leadership notified employees last Thursday on a sign in the employee break room that it would provide the meal for employees on June 19 as a way to honor "the Black community by supporting local Black businesses."

The decision to offer the meal was made by local leadership, including the site leader, who is Black, CNBC reports.

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The move angered employees, who reportedly took to a private group online to share their frustration, calling the decision a "racist form of celebration" and demanding a paid holiday to celebrate Juneteenth instead, according to CNBC.

The meal has become a racist stereotype that has roots in the film "Birth of a Nation," the silent movie from the early 1900s that portrays the Ku Klux Klan as heroic.

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Amazon told Business Insider that the decision to offer the meal was made by local leadership, including the site leader, who is Black, and that the restaurant is a favorite among employees.

"The leader who put on this event had good intentions to honor Juneteenth by supporting a local small business owned by a member of the Black community. After receiving some feedback from team members at the site, they've since decided to remove the sign in question," an Amazon spokesperson told Business Insider.

Juneteenth is an annual holiday that honors the end of slavery in the US. While it isn't currently a federal holiday, many companies in the US have declared Juneteenth a holiday for employees in the wake of George Floyd's death and the protests that have followed. Nike, Lyft, Uber, Twitter, and more all made June 19 a paid holiday for employees.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos sent a company-wide email last week alerting employees that he would be canceling all meetings on Juneteenth. He urged others to do the same and to use the day to "reflect, learn, and support each other," though he didn't declare the day a paid company holiday.

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