Does Aunt Jem need a brand update? Yes.
UPDATE TO CLARIFY: By “brand update” do I actually mean change the name and remove the image? Yes.
If all you care about is making sure “I get it” then move on, nothing to see here.
However, if you think it’s possible that I’m NOT a myopic simpleton, then you may find the following to be of some interest.
Last Tuesday, twitter had…more than a few…tweets about Aunt Jemima being a symbol of racism.
On Wednesday, Quaker Oats announced they are “retiring” the brand.
Aunt Jem is CANCELLED.
accused of perpetuating a racist stereotype.
Even the experts agree.
“It is urgent to expunge our public spaces of a lot of these symbols that for some people are triggering and represent terror and abuse.“
“Aunt Jemima kept Black woman in the space of domestic service associating them with serving food under a “plantation mentality.”
and “it would be misguided to lament the change by Quaker as a loss of representation for Black women.”
This particular “representation for Black women” was based on a real person, Nancy Green.
“Born a slave in Kentucky in 1834, Green lived in Mount Sterling throughout the Civil War and relocated to Chicago when the conflict ended. There, she became a cook for Judge Charles Walker, who recommended she represent R.T. Davis Milling Company’s pancake mix, according to Marilyn Kern-Foxworth’s book, “Blacks in Advertising, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.” Her fame grew after appearing at Chicago’s World’s Fair in 1893 before she died in 1923.” according to Courier-Journal.com
According to African American Registry:
“Mrs. Green was one of the first black corporate models in the United States…she became the advertising world’s first living trademark.”
She “Green was a hit, friendly, a good storyteller, and a good cook…”
“Her exhibition booth drew so many people that special policemen were assigned to keep the crowds moving. The Davis Milling Company received over 50,000 orders, and Fair officials awarded Nancy Green a medal and certificate for her showmanship.
She was proclaimed “Pancake Queen.” She was signed to a lifetime contract and traveled on promotional tours all over the country. Flour sales were up all year and pancakes were no longer considered exclusively for breakfast.”
She started at 56 years old. A woman. A Black woman. In 1893.
Nancy Green was Aunt Jemima.
and she BUILT that brand.
And now it’s been cancelled.
and Nancy Green’s achievements are not to be admired or celebrated.
Because, as Berry said, it is “misguided to lament” her “loss of representation for Black women.”
Because, as Richardson said, she is the “kind of stereotype that is premised on this idea of Black inferiority and otherness.”
She is not a positive representation for Black women?
She represents Black inferiority?
I may take some heat for this, but…
I don’t understand how Nancy Green’s origin as a slave and her physical appearance eclipses her achievements and their historical significance as a Black woman from 1893 until her death in 1923.
As I was writing this post, I found myself thinking of a quote from the following video:
“…race and ethnicity are closely connected to culture and in my experience, most people are proud of their culture. Refusing to acknowledge race is being insensitive the vast cultural differences across the world.”
Kristin Kroepfl, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Quaker Foods North America, said in a statement to NBC News. “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.”
I may take some heat for this, but…
Nancy Green’s legacy is part of American history. I hope Quaker’s rebrand of Aunt Jem finds its way to recognizing and honoring her.
Assuming the Twitterverse will allow it.