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RENO, Nev. (AP) — Madeleine Pickens wanted the African-American chef she recruited from the country club she owns in Southern California to cook “black people food” — not “white people food” — at her rural Nevada dude ranch and wild horse sanctuary, according to a federal lawsuit accusing her of racial discrimination.

Armand Appling says the wealthy philanthropist and ex-wife of Oklahoma energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens told him fried chicken, BBQ ribs and corn bread would be perfect for the tourists who pay nearly $2,000 a night to stay in plush cottages, ride horses and take Wild West “safaris” on ATVs at her Mustang Monument Wild Horse Eco-Resort.

Appling alleges he was fired 2014 in retaliation for complaining about a hostile work environment. He says Pickens’ stereotypical references were commonplace at the Elko County ranch stretching across 900 square miles on the edge of the Ruby Mountains about 50 miles west of the Utah line.

Among other things, he says Pickens, who is white, instructed him to terminate two other black kitchen staffers — one she referred to as her “bull” or “ox” and another who had “too much personality.” He says she told him they didn’t “look like people we have working at the country club” and didn’t “fit the image” of the staff she wanted at the ranch.

Pickens’ lawyers argue that even if all the allegations are true, none of her comments were racially motivated. At worst, Pickens’ remarks “reflect a non-racial personality conflict and amount to discourtesy, rudeness or lack of sensitivity,” they wrote in recent court filings.

U.S. District Judge Miranda Du said during a hearing in Reno last week that Appling’s lawyers have failed so far to prove the sort of racial hostility needed to win such a civil rights claim. She dismissed the original lawsuit that was filed in February but gave them until Jan. 13 to refile an amended complaint seeking unspecified damages from Pickens’ nonprofit, Save America’s Mustangs.

“It takes a lot to prove these allegations,” Du told California attorney Willie Williams on Thursday.

Du agreed with Pickens’ lawyer, Dora Lane of Reno, that the only comment that specifically referred to race was the reference to “black people food.”

Lane said categorizing foods by ethnicity is commonplace in the restaurant industry. Some restaurants serve Mexican food, others Chinese or Thai food, she said.

“The suggestion that such categorizations are inherently offensive is nonsense,” Lane argued in earlier court documents. “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.'”

Williams said Pickens’ comments about the fired employees “not fitting in” reinforces a long history of African-Americans not being allowed into elite, private-club settings. Pickens owns the exclusive Del Mar Country Club north of San Diego where Appling worked before she hired him for a 5-month stint in Nevada.

“In many cases, the people fighting to keep African-Americans out of these private clubs would use code phrases like ‘they do not fit the image,'” Williams said in court documents. He added the use of the words “ox” and “bull” implies ownership of property, given “America’s long history of slavery where they were considered personal property of their owners.”

Lane argued it was a complimentary reference to physical strength and “was not accompanied by any overtly racial slurs.”

“Indeed, Appling does not allege that he ever heard any overtly racial epithets, such as the ‘N-word,'” she wrote in court documents.

But Williams told the judge last week the comments must be viewed in the context of racial stereotypes.

Du agreed that Lane’s arguments focus on the “plain meaning of words” while seemingly ignoring the context of comments made about “African-Americans in history and stereotypes that could give rise to racial animas.”

“If the alleged comments were not directed at him, but others who look like him, it may affect his work environment,” the judge said.

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(Photo Source: AP)

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14 thoughts on “Dude Ranch Owner Asked Chef For ‘Black People Food’

  1. I agree. This is nothing to be upset about. “black people” food is SOUL FOOD even we call it black food. And there is food that is viewed ‘white people food” even they will say that. And then we have orgin food like Italian, Japanese, Jamician, Mexican, Cuban, etc food and then there is Southern food and Northern food.

    • All I know is, if you invite me to a picnic, and when I show up there’s no watermelon, fried chicken and potato salad, I’m not staying. I don’t give a damn what you call it.

  2. on said:

    I’m African-American and I take no offense to this. I think it’s a compliment to ask for FLAVORFUL dishes like only We know how to cook. Let’s stop being so sensitive people. There are REAL fights out there for us to fight. Some we can fix ourselves in our OWN neighborhoods.

  3. specialt757 on said:

    Soooooo fried chicken, BBQ ribs and cornbread is considered black people food? What is considered white people food?

    • Food that is plain with hardly no season or very little flavor, Mayo, Apple pie, etc. This fall under white people food even whites will tell you this.

      • specialt757 on said:

        Maybe Lane should have chosen her words more carefully by calling it “soul food”, I certainly agree I like all the things she said, but also like mayo and apple pie and never once considered it white people food. But I get it, this guy knew what he was dealing with when he first started to work there. He didn’t have to continue to work for her if he thought she was a white racist B I T C H.

  4. Oops I meant to say misfits not unfits. On another topic: I’m with comedian Kathy Griffin regarding Megyn Kelly. I read Megyn’s book, and it’s a good read. However it baffling why Megyn would discuss her issues with Trump, i.e., where he said something about blood coming out of whatever, or wherever, and other horrible things about her; and Megyn having to get protection because of of haters, and then according to Kathy Megyn turns around and praises Trump at a women’s breakfast. I don’t get it. Why do so many people suck up to Trump. For the record; I did not buy her book; I borrowed it from the library. I also read Kathy Griffin’s book…..and it’s hilarious!

  5. Sorry…..but this Dude Ranch story isn’t even worth repeating. How about a ‘Good News’ story, or a story about how Trump stretching the truth helped get him elected, how he belittles women, people with disabilities, African Americans (he came across like ALL of us live in horrible neighborhoods, and are unemployed), that ALL Mexicans are rapists, and not law abiding (there are criminals, and people that are unfits in all ethnicities. but common sense tells me that most people that are here illegally would not call attention to themselves by committing crimes…..duuuuuuh). I can’t wait for Trump to take office January 20th, so we can see what he’s really about. Will someone please tell Trump…..that being president isn’t a reality show. Also,,,,,the MEDIA NEEDS TO START HOLDING TRUMP ACCOUNTABLE FOR HIS INCONSISTENCIES

    • I see education wasn’t on your Resolutions list this year. Get to steppin’ fool, before your azz get the Trayvon treatment.

    • yes, he’s the president-elect, was not voted in by the people but the electoral college. trump is awful. what can we do about it? impeach him? the vice president is probably scary. why are people billionaires and don’t do anything incredible to save the world while people are sleeping on sidewalks at the same time? 80 billion for the maker of facebook when the technology already existed? what’s he doing? crazy world.

      so if pizza is italian food, well non italian people can make it every day of the week. soul food is barbecue, fried fish and chicken, greens and mac and cheese, sweet potato pie and for some reason a slice of boring old white bread and maybe kool aid. you can say its southern white people food if you want, but why be insulted at a tradition of good old fashioned stick to your ribs soul food? you want to make a poached salmon with micro greens and cilantro pesto with a soy ginger demi glaze? no one’s saying you can’t, for crying out loud!

  6. Mac Ben on said:

    Stupid jerk should not have been working as a slave at her dude ranch in the first place. By doing so you set us back 200 years!

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