Aunt Jemima brand acknowledges its racist past; will be retired

WION Web Team
New York, New York, United States of America Published: Jun 17, 2020, 07:49 PM(IST)

Aunt Jemima Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

This is happening in the aftermath of the nationwide, rather global, reckoning on race following the death of George Floyd, a black man, in police custody.

Quaker Oats is retiring the Aunt Jemima brand and logo, acknowledging its racial origins.

In a statement provided to CNN Business, the Pepsi-owned company said, "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."

This is happening in the aftermath of the nationwide, rather global, reckoning on race following the death of George Floyd, a black man, in police custody.

The news was first reported by NBC News.

The more than 130-year-old brand's origin and logo is based off the song "Old Aunt Jemima" from a minstrel show performer and reportedly sung by slaves. The company's website said the logo started in 1890 and was based on Nancy Green, a "storyteller, cook and missionary worker." However, the website fails to mention Green was born into slavery.

The brand was earlier also called out for racist past. In a 2015 opinion piece published in the New York Times, Cornell University professor Riché Richardson said the logo is "very much linked to Southern racism."

Richardson said the Aunt Jemima logo is based on a "'mammy,' a devoted and submissive servant who eagerly nurtured the children of her white master and mistress while neglecting her own."

The company also ran racist ads for several decades, with actresses personifying the mammy stereotype.

In 2017, the husband of the late B Smith called on the company to change it and said it was the epitome of "female humiliation."

The Aunt Jemima brand was purchased by Quaker Oats in 1926. PepsiCo bought Quaker Oats in 2001.


 

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