ITHACA, N.Y. — Cayuga Medical Center has issued an apology for an “offensive display” at their booth at the annual Chili Cook-Off. The “display” was a flag that flew over their booth Saturday stating “Medicine Man Chili” with an logo many community members found concerning.

Provided photo.

The flag has been used for seven years, according to a statement issued Wednesday by Cayuga Medical Center. However, after community concern was raised about the offensive flag, CMC said it will not use the display again and that it is “not reflective of our values.” CMC said it will be hiring an “external professional” to assess their cultural sensitivity and develop a comprehensive action plan “to assist us on our continuous journey toward an inclusive culture of respect.”

Since the Chili Cook-Off on Saturday, a picture of the flag has circulated on social media. Community members voiced concern that the image was racist and called on CMC to acknowledge the image was inappropriate and apologize.

Read the full statement of Cayuga Medical Center’s response to the concerns below:

“We extend our heartfelt apology for the offensive display that was part the Ithaca Chili-Cook-Off for the past 7 years. The display, which will never be used again, is not reflective of our values or who we are as a major employer in the region. We intend to work with our community to support cultural competency and education that will benefit our health system and the community.

As an immediate next step, we will be hiring an external professional to assess our cultural sensitivity and develop a comprehensive action plan to assist us on our continuous journey toward an inclusive culture of respect. The plan will include equity and inclusion training for our employees and other actions to support advancing Cayuga Medical Center forward. We will be providing regular updates on our progress to the community.”

Images provided.

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at koconnor@ithacavoice.com and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.