Aunt Jemima announces a makeover to denounce racial stereotypes
People are waking up, and so is Quaker Oats on their 130-year-old racist depiction of black women.
Following the now viral TikTok video from singer Kirby, talking about the reinforced racist stereotypical history of Aunt Jemima, its parent company Quaker Oats quickly went on the backpedal.
— KIRBY (@singkirbysing) June 15, 2020
Quaker Oats, owned by Pepsico, released this morning that the Aunt Jemima brand will take their logo off their pancake box by the end of the year after recognizing that it is a racial stereotype dating back to when they first launched the pancake mix 130 years ago.
The company said to NBC News on June 17 that this is a step towards “progress on racial equality.”
Aunt Jemima’s origin is a dark one.
It is reportedly from a song that was sung by slaves called ‘Old Aunt Jemima’ that was then adopted by Minstrel productions, shows where white people would use burnt cork or grease paint to dress themselves and then depict for their entertainment and profit from denigrating African Americans.
However, the company’s website says the logo began in 1890 with a woman who was a black storyteller and cook named Nancy Green. Coincidentally, the company fails to mention that this woman was born into slavery.
Though their logo has changed over the decades to provide a more updated character, the company said they realized that it was not enough.
“As we work 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,” Kristin Kroepfl, vice president and chief marketing officer of Quaker Oats, said in a press release.
This is not the first time Aunt Jemima has come under criticism, as it has in the past from pieces in The New York Times.
The new packaging will come out in fall of 2020, and a new name for the food brand will be announced at a later date. Additionally, the company will donate at least $5 million over the next five years "to create meaningful, ongoing support and engagement in the Black community."
Perhaps Americans don’t realize that perpetuating systemic racism is all around us. On the other hand, maybe these companies knew all along. They have clearly shown to stay quiet about these matters until they’ve been targeted and don’t want their profit affected by their ancient oppressive techniques.