Culture

Trader Joe’s Reverses Course, Will Keep Ethnic Food Names

Update July 31, 2020: Trader Joe’s will not be renaming ethnic food packaging that some find offensive. Instead, the grocery chain released a statement dismissing a petition signed by customers seeking a change to the packaging.

Trader Joe’s officials have changed the minds about renaming packaging of ethnic food.

In a very visible flip-flop, Trader Joe’s is no longer changing the packaging name of its ethnic products. The decision comes after mounting calls for the grocery chain to do better and change the name of ethnic products.

“In light of recent feedback and attention we’ve received about our product naming, we have some things we’d like to say to clarify our approach,” reads the statement on the Trader Joe’s website. “A few weeks ago, an online petition was launched calling on us to ‘remove racist packaging from [our] products.’ Following were inaccurate reports that the petition prompted us to take action. We want to be clear: we disagree that any of these labels are racist. We do not make decisions based on petitions. We make decisions based on what customers purchase, as well as the feedback we receive from our customers and Crew Members. If we feel there is need for change, we do not hesitate to take action.”

Looks like Trader Ming’s and Trader José are here to stay.

Original: If you’re feeling a little disenchanted by the progress of nationwide protests over racial inequality, you might find some light looking at the recent mass of rebranded products by companies. Protests online about companies who have amassed their wealth on products that promote racial stereotypes have prompted brands like Quaker Oats, PepsiCo, Colgate, and Nestlé to acknowledge their roles in perpetuating racial issues through their products and make changes. That’s right brands like Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s rice are changing. Now, Trader Joe’s is up for its reckoning.

Over 1,700 people have signed a petition pressing Trader Joe’s to make changes to some of their food products.

The petition, which was kicked off by Briones Bedell (high school senior from California) two weeks ago, accuses the grocery chain’s branding of being “racist.”

“The grocery chain labels some of its ethnic foods with modifications of ‘Joe’ that belies a narrative of exoticism that perpetuates harmful stereotypes,” the petition explains.

The petition points to the grocery chain’s international food items whose names include Trader Ming’s, Trader José, and Trader Giotto’s.

Those products and others reflect “a narrative of exoticism that perpetuates harmful stereotypes,” according to the petition, which on Sunday had been signed by more than 1,500 people. “They’re racist because they exoticize other cultures, present ‘Joe’ as this default normal, and then the other characters — such as Thai Joe, Trader José, Trader Joe San — falling outside of it,” Bedell wrote in the petition.

Bedell’s petition also underlined that Trader Joe’s approach to branding has roots in the “fetishization” of non-Western people.

“The Trader Joe’s company takes pride in the fact that the founder, Joe Coulombe, took inspiration in building the Trader Joe’s brand from a racist book and a controversial theme park attraction, both of which have received criticism for romanticizing Western Imperialism and fetishizing non-Western peoples. We learn directly from the Trader Joe’s website that the first Trader Joe’s store: “had a nautical theme and it was run by people who were described as “traders on the high seas.” At the time, Joe had been reading a book called “White Shadows in the South Seas,” and he’d been to the Disneyland Jungle Trip ride, and it all just…coalesced. To this day, Trader Joe’s Crew Members consider themselves “traders on the culinary seas” and are known for their bright, tropical-patterned shirts…'” the petition explains.

As the petition also points out, the 1919 book White Shadows in the South Seas follows the exploitive nature of trading companies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries which worked to enslave Polynesian islands.

In response to requests for changes, Trader Joe’s has said that they have already set in motion updates to replace “any variations with the name Trader Joe’s.”

“While this approach to product naming may have been rooted in a lighthearted attempt at inclusiveness, we recognize that it may now have the opposite effect — one that is contrary to the welcoming, rewarding customer experience we strive to create every day,” a spokeswoman for Trader Joe’s, said in a statement according to NYT. “Packaging for a number of the products has already been changed, but there’s a small number of products in which the packaging is still going through the process,”

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A Woman On TikTok Gave Her Followers Insight Into What It Feels Like To Be Paralyzed

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A Woman On TikTok Gave Her Followers Insight Into What It Feels Like To Be Paralyzed

Atsushi Tomura/Getty

In 2009, the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health reported that almost 5.4 million people in the United States live with paralysis. Still, despite how common this is, few people understand the condition of paralysis and how it affects a person’s daily life. Twenty-two-year-old Jessica Tawil, of New Jersey, recently set out to explain the experience on TikTok last year.

Since her first post in November, the TikToker has garnered over 1 million followers with content that focuses on her experience of being paralyzed from the waist down.

In a post shared on her TikTok page, Tawil explained an exercise that might give people a chance to understand the sensation of being paraplegic.

@jesstawil

#foryoupage #fyp #foryou #whatilearned #stemlife #needtoknow #weekendvibes #bekind #spinalcordinjury #productivity #disability #medical #paralyzed

♬ Epic Emotional – AShamaluevMusic

In a post shared on her TikTok page, Tawil shared an exercise with her followers that demonstrates how it feels to not be able to move a ligament. In this case, it’s your finger. According to Buzzfeed, Tawil came across the exercise after looking through posts related to disabilities. “I remember feeling so blown away because my legs felt the exact same way as my finger did,” she said.

“Not many people know too much about paraplegics and their capabilities, so I wanted to be that light to inform, educate, and even entertain people,” Tawil explained to BuzzFeed. “I want people to know what it’s like to be paralyzed … so that they can be a little bit more appreciative of what they have and remain humble.”

Tawil’s video demonstration currently has over 12 million views.

Tawil explained that a kidnapping and car accident led to her paralysis when she was in her teens.

Tawil explained that the accident took place on Nov. 15, 2014, when she went to a friend’s house in high school. When she arrived, Tawil discovered that men were present and instantly felt uncomfortable when she further learned that they had brought drugs and alcohol.

“When I eventually asked them to take me home, they took me to an abandoned road instead. When we got to this road, the driver stopped the car and put his foot on the gas and brake at the same time, doing a burnout with his wheels. He lost control of the car and crashed into a tree,” Tawil explained. “It was at this moment that I got whiplash, split my head open to the point where my skull was exposed, and sustained a spinal cord injury — leaving me paralyzed the moment we crashed,” she said. “Paramedics said that I lost the equivalence of a ‘Coca-Cola bottle of blood’ out of my head, and didn’t think I’d make it if they drove me to the hospital. So they drove me to a nearby soccer field where a helicopter airlifted me to the ICU. From there on, I went through seven months of rehab and remained permanently paralyzed and wheelchair-bound.”

Speaking about her injury, Tawil says she was “robbed of my ability to use the bathroom normally (I depend on catheters and enemas).”

Sadly Tawil says her experience led to her reclusiveness and weariness to trust others. Still, she finds that her disability comes with positives. “On the positive side, I have become a lot more spiritual and grateful to have been given another chance at life,” she told BuzzFeed. “My accident has emphasized the fact that we are not promised tomorrow, and that we should always be grateful for the simplest things in life… I also want to show people how I live my life in the present day — what is life like as a wheelchair user? — and devote my channel to being a blog where people can get to know me on a lot more of a personal level.”

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Black Class Is Back! Kamala Harris Wore Monochrome For Sonia Sotomayor Swearing-In Ceremony

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Black Class Is Back! Kamala Harris Wore Monochrome For Sonia Sotomayor Swearing-In Ceremony

ANDREW HARNIK / Getty

As of Wednesday morning, Kamala Harris is officially the 49th vice president of the United States. The historic moment, which saw Harris become the first American vice president to be of Black and South Asian descent is also notable because she is the first woman vice president to hold office. Sworn in on Inauguration Day by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and welcomed in by the bells of her alma mater Howard University, the day was packed full of color, power, and (for the first time in years!) class.

Check out the most poignant moments of the inauguration below.

Harris Wore An Inauguration Outfit By A Queer Black designer

Looking royal in an all-purple ensemble designed by queer black designer Christopher John Rogers Harris kept things simple and elegant in an A-line, deep violet coat, and a matching dress. The monochrome outfit has drawn comparisons to former First Lady Michelle Obama’s inauguration outfit and seemed to lead the way with other outfits worn that day by Jill Biden, Jennifer Lopez, and Michelle Obama. The bold look was more than just a fashion statement however, it was also a massive show of support of Black and Queer people.

Amanda Gorman delivered a poem that made her the youngest inauguration poet ever

Twenty-two-year-old Amanda Gorman became the youngest inaugural poet in history on Wednesday. Sharing her poem “The Hill We Climb” Gorman spoke to the world about rebuilding our future. “We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace … We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it,” she read. “Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy … So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left with … we’ll raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.”

Harris was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

In another historic moment, while becoming the first woman vice president and the first person of color to hold that office, Harris was sworn in on Inauguration Day by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Harris was nominated to her position by President Barack Obama in 2009 and became the first Latino member of the Court.

Howard University honored Harris with 49 bell tolls and the ‘Black national anthem’

Harris was escorted to the inauguration ceremony by the university’s marching band, the Showtime Marching Band.

“Throughout her career, the vice president-elect has carried her Howard education with her, ensuring that she adhere to truth and service and inspiring her to achieve unprecedented levels of excellence,” Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick said ahead of the ceremony. “It is perfectly fitting that the Showtime Marching Band, the ensemble that captures and reverberates the heartbeat of our institution, should accompany her on this last leg of her journey to the White House.”

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