If you happened to be inexplicably unaware, the United States is undergoing a seismic series of shifts as far as race relations are concerned. From the racially instigated massacre in South Carolina's Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church to the highly publicized epidemic of police brutality inflicted on minorities, it seems painfully obvious that things are coming to a head.
All that being said, you probably didn't expect for a run-of-the mill pizzeria—let alone one located in New York City—to become the newest subject of scorn in the often bloody national dialogue on race.
That is, until Pizza by Certé released their specialty pie for the summer month of August, playfully named the "Pic-A-Nika." Sounds harmless enough, right? Picnics are a pretty non-divisive act that folks of all colors and creeds can unabashedly enjoy—false etymology rumors relating to lynching aside.
So, the Pic-A-Nika pizza can probably be excused as just an awkward reference to the warm-weather pastime—unless and until you happen to throw the pizza's toppings into the mix, which include but are not limited to: Southern fried chicken, sea-salted watermelon, and a crust made of sunflower seeds.
— Octazûrè Prometheon (@AzureParagon) August 14, 2015
You don't have to have a major in post-colonial theory to realize that the addition of the aforementioned ingredients paints the name in a totally new and insensitive light. Unsurprisingly, that's what the Internet thought too. On Twitter today, Drake's Queen wrote: "But how dare they name a fuckin pizza , pic-a-nica and it's topped w fried chicken , watermelon , and crusted w sunflower seeds ??? Wtf ???" Twitter user @msiamastar posted a photo of several black women, apparently outside the pizzeria's midtown location, with their arms aloft and fists clenched in the black-power sign. She tweeted: "Black women warriors screwed Pic-a-nica pizza shop in NYC. The nerve of Whiteness. #FindYourSpine #BlackLivesMatter"
The pizza place claims to be caught completely off guard. They took to Facebook and posted an apology:
"To the people of New York City and to those who were offended by the sign. And specifically and especially to the Black Community, we are (gravely,deeply, truly) sorry. When we named the pizza "Pic-a-Nika" we disrespected an entire community, perpetuated a hurtful ideology and brought embarrassment to ourselves . . . . Thank you to everyone who left comments on our social media pages. Moving forward, we promise to do our due diligence to be more socially aware considerate. Pizza by Certé; is committed to treating everyone, employees and customers alike, with dignity and respect. We WILL make amends." [sic throughout]
Edward Sylvia, the chef and owner of the restaurant, also shared a video on Facebook. He explains, or perhaps futilely hoped to explain, that the name was simply a twist on on how an Italian person would say the word "picnic".
After initially declaring that they were not going to change the name of the pizza, the pizza business's managers eventually relented. According to Raw Story, "The restaurant has since changed the name of the pizza to a much simpler "Picnic Pizza," although some are still calling on the pizzeria to drop the item from their menu."
But when we spoke with Victor Guzman, manager of Pizza by Certé, today, he told us that the item was simply off the menu, and that while Pic-A-Nika was the special of the month, it will no longer be served. He sounded overwhelmed—and not in a good way—by the unforeseen response the pizza received.
So the Pic-A-Nika Pizza is a thing of the past. You'll have to look elsewhere for your pizza with Southern fried chicken, baby arugula, sea-salted watermelon, goat, ricotta and bleu cheese on a sunflower seed crust. Or nowhere at all.