据Fox 2 报道，41岁的消防队新人罗伯特·帕蒂森，带着个大西瓜作为新人入队给好队友的见面礼，还在西瓜上粘了个粉色的装饰小花（←真是有心）。
The rookie, 41-year-old Robert Pattison, brought the fruit topped with a pink bow to the Engine 55 firehouse – and quickly offended some African-American firefighters, FOX 2 reported.
He was fired after the incident, which he claimed was not meant to be offensive, according to the news outlet.
"It's not mandatory, it's voluntary," he says. "The usual gift is doughnuts, but you are allowed to bring whatever you want to bring in."
“There is zero tolerance for discriminatory behavior inside the Detroit Fire Department,” Fire Commissioner Eric Jones said in a statement, adding that Pattison “engaged in unsatisfactory work behavior which was deemed offensive and racially insensitive to members of the Detroit Fire Department.
“After a thorough investigation, it was determined that the best course of action was to terminate the employment of this probationary employee,” Jones said.
The stereotype that African Americans are excessively fond of watermelon emerged for a specific historical reason and served a specific political purpose. The trope came into full force when slaves won their emancipation during the Civil War. Free black people grew, ate, and sold watermelons, and in doing so made the fruit a symbol of their freedom. Southern whites, threatened by blacks’ newfound freedom, responded by making the fruit a symbol of black people’s perceived uncleanliness, laziness, childishness, and unwanted public presence.
The fruit symbolized many of the same qualities as it would in post-emancipation America: uncleanliness, because eating watermelon is so messy. Laziness, because growing watermelons is so easy, and it’s hard to eat watermelon and keep working—it’s a fruit you have to sit down and eat. Childishness, because watermelons are sweet, colorful, and devoid of much nutritional value. And unwanted public presence, because it’s hard to eat a watermelon by yourself.
But Southern whites saw their slaves’ enjoyment of watermelon as a sign of their own supposed benevolence. Slaves were usually careful to enjoy watermelon according to the code of behavior established by whites. Emancipation, of course, destroyed that relationship.
1869年，这可能是第一幅讽刺黑人和西瓜的插画，来源Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper
D. W. Griffith’s white-supremacist epic film The Birth of a Nation, released in 1915, included a watermelon feast in its depiction of emancipation, as corrupt northern whites encouraged the former slaves to stop working and enjoy some watermelon instead.
It may seem silly to attribute so much meaning to a fruit. And the truth is that there is nothing inherently racist about watermelons. But cultural symbols have the power to shape how we see our world and the people in it.
Fried chicken isn't racist. Eating fried chicken isn't racist.
According to Claire Schmidt at the University of Missouri, it started with Birth of a Nation, the 1915 film on the founding of Ku Klux Klan. In one scene:
[A]group of actors portraying shiftless black elected officials acting rowdy and crudely in a legislative hall. (The message to the audience: These are the dangers of letting blacks vote.) Some of the legislators are shown drinking. Others had their feet kicked up on their desks. And one of them was very ostentatiously eating fried chicken.
"That image really solidified the way white people thought of black people and fried chicken," Schmidt said.
“Just want to let everyone know he’s a real amazing dude and it was all good intentions,” firefighter Tadarius Spearman wrote on a social media post. “And our ENTIRE class (is) supporting him in this. Especially us AFRICAN AMERICANS and that’s all that needs to be said. Stay up brother.”