It seems like the national spotlight that all these protests and demonstrations have put on systemic racism has all the corporations scrambling to show their “Black Lives Matter” solidarity and, if necessary, rebrand their own products to make sure they’re racism-origin free. Quaker Oats announced Wednesday that they will be changing the name and image of their Aunt Jemima syrup and pancake mix because they “recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype.”
From NBC News:
The 130-year-old brand features a Black woman named Aunt Jemima, who was originally dressed as a minstrel character.
The picture has changed over time, and in recent years Quaker removed the “mammy” kerchief from the character to blunt growing criticism that the brand perpetuated a racist stereotype that dated to the days of slavery. But Quaker, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, said removing the image and name is part of an effort by the company “to make progress toward racial equality.”
“We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype,” Kristin Kroepfl, vice president and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods North America, said in a press release. “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.”
Kroepfl said the company has worked to “update” the brand to be “appropriate and respectful” but it realized the changes were insufficient.
In addition to changing the Aunt Jemima brand, Quaker Oats announced that it will donate at least $5 million over the next five years “to create meaningful, ongoing support and engagement in the Black community.” In all honestly, that couldn’t possibly be a vaguer description of who or what they’ll be donating to...but whatever.
In case any of you are still on some “Hey, what’s the big deal? It’s just syrup!” shit, singer-songwriter Kirby Maurier did a decent job of explaining things in a TikTok video where she lets it be known that “Black lives matter, people; even over breakfast.”
According to NBC, Quaker Oats said it will be announcing the new name for their products at a later date and that the new packaging will appear sometime in the fall.
It’s nice to see that Quaker Oats and other corporations are starting to understand that caricature isn’t what we have in mind when we say “representation matters.”