Uncle Ben’s Rice Branding Will ‘Evolve’ Due To Racial Stereotyping
Mars Inc., the parent company of Uncle Ben’s rice, will “evolve” the brand in an effort to take a stand against racism. In a statement on Wednesday, Mars Inc. said, “now was the right time to evolve” the brand which will include visual changes.
The statement from Mars Inc. continued, “we know we have a responsibility to take a stand in helping to put an end to racial bias and injustices.” The company’s release followed a similar announcement by Quaker Oats, the parent company of Aunt Jemima’s syrup.
“Racism has no place in society. We stand in solidarity with the Black community, our Associates and our partners in the fight for social justice. We know to make the systemic change needed, it’s going to take a collective effort from all of us — individuals, communities and organizations of all sizes around the world,” the Mars statement continued.
Uncle Ben’s rice boxes feature a black man who was modeled after Frank Brown, a waiter at a Chicago restaurant where Gordon Harwell was dining when he had the idea for the company. Critics have expressed concern about using a black man as the face of a white company and have also noted that black men were called “boy” and “uncle” during the Jim Crow era.
On Wednesday, Quaker Oats announced that they will change the branding of their Aunt Jemima syrup. The syrup containers feature a black woman who was originally dressed as a minstrel character.
Brands have been under scrutiny in recent weeks following the death of George Floyd on May 25. Many companies and organizations have vowed to change and address any racist tendencies they might have.