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“Black People Food” Lawsuit Filed against Dude Ranch Owner
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Summary: An African-American chef is suing the owner of a dude ranch in Elko County for racial discrimination after being asked to serve the guests “black people food.”

The owner of a rural Nevada dude ranch has been sued by her African-American chef for asking for “black people food” to be served at the ranch. Madeleine Pickens recruited the chef, Armand Appling, from a country club she also owns in Southern California. The ranch, Mustang Monument Wild Horse Eco-Resort, serves also as a wild horse sanctuary.


Pickens is being sued for racial discrimination. Appling claims the wealthy philanthropist and ex-wife of Oklahoma energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens requested fried chicken, corn bread, and BBQ ribs to be served to the tourists who were paying around $2,000 a night. The tourists sleep in plush cottages, take Wild West “safaris” on ATVs and ride horses across nearly 900 square miles near the Utah border.

Appling argues that he was fired in 2014 after complaining about a hostile work environment. He claims in his lawsuit that Pickens, who happens to be white, asked him to terminate two other black kitchen staffers because they didn’t fit the image of a “country club.” He says she referred to one of the staffers as her “bull” and “ox,” while the other staff member as having “too much personality.”

Pickens’ lawyers argue that there is a lack of racial motivation behind her comments. If anything, they “reflect a non-racial personality conflict and amount to discourtesy, rudeness or lack of sensitivity.” U.S. District Judge Miranda Du agreed that the lawsuit lacked racial hostility required for a civil rights claim. She dismissed the original lawsuit but allowed them to refile an amended complaint seeking unspecified damages from her nonprofit Save America’s Mustangs.

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Pickens lawyer, Dora Lane noted that many restaurants categorize foods by ethnicity. She argued, “The suggestion that such categorizations are inherently offensive is nonsense. This is especially true here, given that Pickens’ alleged comments actually reflect a preference for ‘black people food’ rather than a racial animas against ‘black people’ or ‘black people food.”

Do you think it is racist to refer to fried chicken as “black people food?” Tell us if you think Pickens was discriminating racially in the comments below.

To learn more about racial discrimination cases, read these articles:




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