Aunt Jemima Set To Change Packaging & Name Due To Racial Stereotyping
Quaker Oats has announced its plans to rebrand Aunt Jemima syrup and pancakes after facing years of backlash for using a racial stereotype as the product’s logo. Both the packaging and the name are going to be redesigned by the end of this year.
The women pictured on Aunt Jemima products has been changed over the years, but Quaker Oats acknowledged in a press release sent out on Wednesday that, “Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype,” these origins date back to the era of slavery.
In the statement, Quaker Foods North America’s vice president and chief monetary officer Kristen Kroepfl said, the brand, which has been around for over 130 years has, “evolved over time with the goal of representing loving moms from diverse backgrounds who want the best for their families.” However, it “has not progressed enough to appropriately reflect the confidence, warmth and dignity that we would like it to stand for today.”
In the wake of George Floyd’s death, a black man who was killed in police custody by an officer kneeling on his neck, there have been protests across the country calling for both social and political change. Many have looked at brands, especially Quaker Oats, to address racial insensitivities that are used in everyday life.
Twitter user @MartinSGoldberg wrote, “Honestly, isn’t it high time already that Quaker Foods end the blatantly racist brand “Aunt Jemima”? For Gods sake, she was a stereotyped character out of a minstrel show.”
Honestly, isn’t it high time already that Quaker Foods end the blatantly racist brand “Aunt Jemima”? For Gods sake, she was a stereotyped character out of a minstrel show.
— Martin Goldberg (@MartinSGoldberg) June 12, 2020
User @pemberley23 added, “I’ve boycotted your products for decades because you insist on using slave imagery.”
— Louise C (@pemberley23) June 11, 2020
In the press release Kroepfl 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.”
“We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype. While work has been done over the years to update the brand in a manner intended to be appropriate and respectful, we realize those changes are not enough.”
Kroepfl closed by explaining that the brand will, “continue the conversation by gathering diverse perspectives from both our organization and the Black community to further evolve the brand and make it one everyone can be proud to have in their pantry.”
Aunt Jemima has been subject to controversy for a long time, especially in recent years. In 2014, a family that claimed to be the descendants of Anna Short Harrington sued Quaker Oats for $2 billion. Harrington was the woman that the image of Aunt Jemima was based off of and her family claimed that the company did not compensate their distant relative for her portrayal and that recipes were stolen from her. The lawsuit was soon dismissed by a Chicago judge.