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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Michelle Obama Says That She Has ‘Low-Grade Depression’

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Michelle Obama Says That She Has ‘Low-Grade Depression’

Scott Olson / Getty

Since leaving her life in the White House, former first lady Michelle Obama has been unabashedly open about her personal life. From writing about her marriage in her recent book Becoming to speaking out about our current president, Obama is unleashing her truth in so many ways. Recently, she revealed during an episode of her podcast that, like most of us, she’s been dealing with “some form of low-grade depression” thanks in part to recent events.

During last week’s Wednesday episode of her eponymous podcast, Obama talked with journalist Michele Norris about her mental health saying “Barack and I, we’ve lived outside of the norm of regular life for quite some time, and what we learned early on in the White House is — in order to stay sane and feel like the human that you once were — is that you have to have a schedule and a routine.”

Speaking out about her current mental state Obama revealed that she has struggled to keep up with her usual regimen. 

“I’m waking up in the middle of the night, ‘cause I’m worried about something or there’s a heaviness,” she explained. “I try to make sure I get a workout in. Although there have been periods throughout this quarantine where I just have felt too low.”

“It is unusual,” Obama went on. “And it’s a direct result of being out of body, out of mind. Spiritually, these are not fulfilling times. I know that I am dealing with some form of low-grade depression. Not just because of the quarantine, but because of the racial strife, and just seeing this administration, watching the hypocrisy of it, day in and day out, is dispiriting.”

Later on in the podcast, Obama explained she’d “be remiss to say that part of this depression is also a result of what we’re seeing in terms of the protests, the continued racial unrest, that has plagued this country since its birth. I have to say that waking up to the news, waking up to how this administration has or has not responded, waking up to yet another story of a Black man or a Black person somehow being dehumanized, or hurt, or killed, or falsely accused of something, it is exhausting. And it has led to a weight that I haven’t felt in my life, in a while.”

According to research, Obama’s not the only one feeling the “psychological toll” of the pandemic and BLM events.

The Lancet Psychiatry, revealed that soon after the release of the video taken during George Floyd’s killing, rates of depression and anxiety among Black Americans skyrocketed at ones much greater than any other group.

According to The Washington Post “The rate of black Americans showing clinically significant signs of anxiety or depressive disorders jumped from 36 percent to 41 percent in the week after the video of Floyd’s death became public. That represents roughly 1.4 million more people.”

To cope, Obama explained that she’s tried to be kind to herself in moments when she’s feeling down.

“You have to recognize that you’re in a place, a bad place, in order to get out of it,” she explained in the episode. “You kinda have to sit in it for a minute, to know, oh, oh, I’m feeling off. So now I gotta feed myself with something better.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing depression please call the National Depressive/Manic-Depressive Association Hotline at 1-800-826-3632 or the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090. 

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Diego Luna’s ‘Pan Y Circo’ Is Tackling Major Issues Around The Dinner Table

Culture

Diego Luna’s ‘Pan Y Circo’ Is Tackling Major Issues Around The Dinner Table

Rich Polk / Getty Images for IMDb

Diego Luna is more than just an actor. Luna is using his name and his fame to create a space for important ideas to be discussed. His new show “Pan Y Circo” on Amazon Prime is tackling the major issues.

Diego Luna’s “Pan y Circo” is an in-your-face show tackling major issues confronting society.

“Pan y Circo” is a new Amazon Prime show created by Mexican actor Diego Luna. The actor has a table of people including politicians, activists, and entertainers. The first episode focuses on race, a topic that is seeing some global attention following recent events. The discussion got frank with Luna admitting that he has benefited from the system as it stood.

The dinner party atmosphere is something that we can relate to further drawing us into the conversation.

For Luna, according to the LA Times, the dinner conversations are a cal back to a tie when these kinds of hard discussions happened over dinner. This was a time when these kinds of conversations were taken for granted because they were so common that it was normal.

The topics are going to be tough for many in the Latino community because they are so frank.

Abortion is one of the most taboo conversations in the Latino community. The topic is something the divides the Latino community, most commonly on generational lines. Luna’s decision to take this conversation to the mainstream is a major moment for the Latino community.

The first episode of “Pan y Circo” is out now on Amazon.

The next episode will be out on Friday, August 14.

READ: Diego Luna Talks The Importance Of The Storytelling In ‘Narcos: Mexico’ And Why Mexico City Will Always Be His Home

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