US company Quaker Oats recently announced that it will be renaming one of its own syrups and foods brand Aunt Jemina due to its racial stereotype connection to black people.
The American company’s brand came under attack and criticism over its own Aunt Jemina product which has had a logo for over 130 years now that features a black woman named after a character from minstrel shows in the 1800s that mocked African-Americans.
According to Quaker Oats, efforts done to change the brand and address the issues were “not enough” and its high time it did so in wake of the recent national debate over racism that was sparked off after the death of George Floyd.
According to Quaker Foods North America’s chief marketing officer Kristin Kroepfl, the company is working “to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives”.
“We also must take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers’ expectations,” Ms Kroepfl said.
“We are starting by removing the image and changing the name.”
Reports of the story first appeared on NBC News and later on spread bringing wide media attention towards the company that has been operating since 1877 when it was first founded. The company has not offered more details on when the changes are expected.
US company Quaker Oats facing criticism over its racial stereotype brand Aunt Jemina
Apart from changing the branding, the company has also decided to donate at least $5 million over the next five years to support African American communities under the Aunt Jemima brand.
Aunt Jemima is a brand of pancake mix, syrup, and other breakfast foods owned by the Quaker Oats Company of Chicago, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, which made its debut in 1889.
The branding on the product has for a long time been linked to racial stereotypes around slavery, which is surprising that after all these years, Quaker decides to make changes to its brand right now even though it has been a pressing issue for centuries.
The question still remains whether other products that have similar branding linked to racial stereotypes such as Mrs. Butterworth’s and Uncle Ben‘s rice will see themselves take a similar move.
According to the company’s website, the Aunt Jemina logo was based on storyteller, cook and missionary Nancy Green. However, Green who is portrayed in the logo was born into slavery in Kentucky in 1834, according to the African American Registry non-profit database.
On Wednesday, Mars Inc said it was considering possible changes to the branding of its Uncle Ben’s rice, which entered the market in the 1940s. It should also be noted the terms ‘uncle’ and ‘aunt’, were used in the Southern US states to refer to black people instead of the more formal ‘Miss’ or ‘Mister’.
Hopefully, the same action is taken against all other companies that have continuously played naive and denied all accusations concerning their products being racial in nature.
Geroge Floyd’s death created an opening for many people to voice out their concerns over years of buried resentment, issues and other forms of racial discrimination that have rocked the United States. With the world fighting back against the coronavirus pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests and other concerning matters in regards to race have emerged from their silent graves.
Author: Allan Bangirana
Allan Bangirana has a taste for all kinds of topics and usually writes about tech, entertainment, sports and community projects that make a difference in society.