Quaker Oates has announced that Aunt Jemima syrup and pancakes will be going through a rebrand, complete with a new name and image.
To say this is a long-overdue move is like telling someone they should turn off the oven after the house has already burned down, but we're glad this change is happening anyway. Kristin Kroepfl, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Quaker Foods North America, said, "We recognize Aunt Jemima's origins are based on a racial stereotype."
There might be some of you reading this that are wondering why this depiction of a black woman is so problematic. Well, it's not just that she's a black woman and if the ad above with the caption "lawsee" didn't make it clear enough, then we'll let this video explain:
According to Riche Richardson, an associate professor at Cornell University, "It's an image that harkens back to the antebellum plantation ... Aunt Jemima is that kind of stereotype that is premised on this idea of Black inferiority and otherness." In fact, the very name Aunt Jemima came from an old minstrel song in "which white actors in blackface mocked and derided Black people." The character itself is based on "mammy ... a devoted and submissive servant who eagerly nurtured the children of her white master and mistress while neglecting her own."
Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia
It's interesting, because as Kristin Kroepfl also acknowledged, "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." She's right. Racism isn't like a bad tattoo that you can just cover up by turning it into a Pikachu, drawing a picture of a Pikachu. If your foundation is racist, then everything around it will always be racist, and as such, the only solution is to eliminate racism. With the tattoo metaphor, that means taking a laser to your lower back, but as far as pancakes are concerned, it means doing a rebrand.
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Top Image: Flickr