Oh, What a Racist Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich…

Oh, What a Racist Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich…

by Victoria Simpson

According to various online sources, the principal of a school in Portland, Oregon has allegedly taken a step in history and assigned opinions to food.

In a call to have a more ethnically sensitive menu served to her students at Harvey Scott School- a school of 500 students in Northeast Portland’s Cully neighbourhood- Principal Verenice Guiterrez has labeled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as racist. Her exact statements are uncertain. The communications specialist who wrote the original story, Ben Velderman, claims he doesn’t know if Ms. Guiterrez actually called the lunch meal racist, as the headline claims, but points to a Portland Tribune news article in his defense, which talks about race and white privilege and the sandwich.

Principal Guiterrez hopes to end the practice of serving pb & j’s to her student body, many of whom come from cultures that don’t have bread as a mainstay in their diet, such as the Mexican and Somalian cultures. Harvey Scott’s diverse student body is more accustomed to eating torta, pita and other bread substitutes in Guiterrez’s eyes, and therefore, she says, the serving of PB&Js is a display of white privilege that doesn’t belong at her school.

Portland Public Schools has an ongoing contract with Pacific Educational Group, whose founder is author of the book, “Courageous Conversations About Race: A Strategy for Achieving Equity in Schools.” Since 2007, The Portland School District has spent more than $1 million to increase diversity and equity training in the classroom.

Whether the sandwich is a sign of white privilege or not, it seems like maybe it’s a good move to serve students healthier meals that they may actually prefer over peanut butter and bread.


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