Things That Matter

After 130 Years Of Racist Marketing Tactics, Aunt Jemima Changes Its Name

Updated Feb. 9, 2021

Black Lives Matter is coming for racist breakfast penchants and we are here for it.

Quaker Oats (the parent company of syrup and pancake mix brand Aunt Jemima) announced that it will change the name and image of the syrup brand after being called out for its racist roots. The decision came after the hashtag #AuntJemima began trending on Twitter on Monday with users calling for the brand to recognize the racist name and depiction of its character.

In reaction to calls to dismantle the Aunt Jemima name and branding, Quaker Oats announced they would update the brand in a manner intended to be appropriate.

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“We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype,” Kristin Kroepfl, Quaker Oat’s company’s vice president and chief marketing officer, announced in a press release. “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.”

A June 2020 press release aimed to make the new changes by June 2021.

In response to Quaker’s decision, Mars, the parent company of Uncle Ben’s rice, also announced their intentions to copy the move. “As a global brand, we know we have a responsibility to take a stand in helping to put an end to racial bias and injustices,” Mars also announced in a June 2020 press release. “As we listen to the voices of consumers, especially in the Black community, and to the voices of our Associates worldwide, we recognize that now is the right time to evolve the Uncle Ben’s brand, including its visual brand identity, which we will do.”

Quaker Oats finally put the racist stereotype that has represented its pancake mixes and syrups to rest, choosing the name Pearl Milling Company as its replacement.

The name “Aunt Jemima” will be replaced with the Pearl Milling Company name and logo on the former brand’s new packaging.

“We are starting a new day with Pearl Milling Company,” a spokesperson for the brand’s parent company PepsiCo announced in a statement. “A new day rooted in the brand’s historic beginnings and its mission to create moments that matter at the breakfast table.”

The new brand will launch this June.

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All for a white laugh.

Aunt Jemima specifically was based on the racist portrayal of a “mammy.” Mammies, whose roots come from slavery, were often portrayed as caregivers and maids in white households. Inspiration for Aunt Jemima came from a minstrel song “Old Aunt Jemima” who appeared on stages in Washington, D.C. around 1864 just before the 13th amendment abolished slavery on December 6, 1865.

The brand’s founder, Chris L. Rutt reportedly saw a minstrel show featuring “Old Aunt Jemima” and he appropriated the Aunt Jemima character to market his pancake mix.

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Since the start of the brand, marketing materials for Aunt Jemima have centered around the mammy archetype. Black liberation activist Anna J. Cooper once underlined that the advertising of Aunt Jemima products “revealed a deep need to redeem the antebellum South” and that “Aunt Jemima and her pancake recipe were reconciliation gifts from the South to the North; reunification meant they could now share her as a southern prize: a mammy for the national household.”

No doubt that the recent brand upheaval comes at the hands of vocal critics online.

Users on TikTok and twitter worked to raise awareness of the brand’s racist history and many encouraged people to shop other syrup brands that are Black-owned ones. One user by singer Kirby, shared a short anecdote about the history of the brand and how one depiction of Aunt Jemima had a Black woman travel “around, cooking pancakes, and telling people stories of the good old South.”

“Black lives matter, people — even over breakfast,” Kirby said at the end of the click while throwing a box of the pancake.

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Black Women Are Talking About The Frustrations Of Being Mistreated In The Office

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Black Women Are Talking About The Frustrations Of Being Mistreated In The Office

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It’s no secret that when it comes to navigating and thriving in a work environment, women have it particularly difficult. Especially when it comes to climbing up the corporate ladder. For Black women, however, the challenges of this climb are especially strenuous. According to LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Company’s 2019 Women in the Workplace study, “Black women and Latinas are more likely
to be held back by the broken rung.”

Not surprisingly, Black women have a lot to say about the lack of equal opportunity in the office space.

 Check out their answers below!

“I still get some of this shit on occasion, but I’ve worked at my place long enough that people know to keep out of my business unless we’re talking business. I’m also fortunate to work for people who only care about your numbers and what you close on (finance) and crack down quick on racist/sexual harassment bullshit.

Imo, being great at your job gives you a lot of leeway, and women don’t often take advantage of it enough. Like when a co-worker implied I got my degree because of affirmative action, I set him straight quick with photos of my college acceptance letter and scholarship for academic performance.

Then I told my immediate rep and added that I’m just here to work and do good work, while casually dropping the fact that my sales were ~350% above the floor average. That perked him up enough to deal with the situation right then and there and bump the guy down a level.

Obviously being assertive doesn’t always work out in your favor, and sometimes it can even get you burned. But there’s something to be said for flexing the muscle you’ve built up and using Capitalism, your own generated value, as leverage. Even if it’s not your immediate boss, odds are there is someone in the hierarchy of your company who doesn’t fuck around and recognizes the problem perverts and bigots generate for employee performance (and litigation).”- Quixadashani

“Head. Phones. As soon as they start up with the problematic conversations in the office, slip them bad boys on and listen to a podcast or playlist.

I also had to learn to mind my ps and qs. Meaning be on time and make sure I’m doing everything by the book. Make sure I’m great at my job. They can’t come for you when they don’t have any dirt on you. Being able to check people in a nice way is paramount. I’m still working on that part. They pulled some mess last week when they tried to kick me off a volunteer charity team because they don’t like me or whatever. I called them out saying, “Why are y’all acting funny?” Oops, not the best way to handle it.” –leftblane

“Where do I start. First off my story is going to be a bit of a one off. Alot of the issues I faced in my office were actually caused by other people of color (Asians and Latinx, specifically). I’m one of four African Americans that work in a small company, and the only one on night shift. I’ve been there for two years. During those two years I have been there I’ve been called degrading names. I hear dehumanizing “black jokes” aimed and told directly to me on a daily basis. Most of the time these little shenanigans are pulled once upper management leaves or when they are not around. My tipping point was realizing that HR was useless because a lot of the things I was getting ready to report have already been reported for years.

The icing on the cake was in the beginning of November 2017. I overheard the companies president, a white guy in his 60s, use the N-word three times in a span of 10 minutes. So then I knew, I couldn’t go to anyone in the company to get any of these issues resolved. I personally have taken a radical approach to solving the issues for myself. I started recording everything they said to me. When there try to pull some of their racist games on me I threaten them. When one decided to try and pet me like I was some sort of dog, I told him I was going to break his hand, and I wasn’t kidding. I don’t recommend taking that approach, but it’s gotten them to stop bothering me. Shit most don’t talk to me anymore or dare stand next to me, which I like.

The company recently promoted a new person to night shift supervisor, he’s been with the company for 15 years. I’ve been helping him transition into his new role, as I know about a lot of the policies and technology we deal with. All while still taking care of my own workload. He’s been begging me to stay because of the help I’ve been giving him. When I told him about the things that I have had to put up with, he said he would address it immediately. The next day he sent one of the perpetrators home early for their antics, and that’s just the start. So who knows, maybe I might stay a little longer since I’m planning to move out of the state next year. But other more appealing I.T. jobs are out there that I’m eyeing. Plus my second job is trying to offer me full time, although it’s retail and not I.T. related. So it’s good having a backup plan.

Oh, I also go to the gym, I actually recommend it. Takes your mind off a lot. My particular gym needs a punching bag though. Sorry for the essay and long read. Probably the longest post I’ve ever typed on a phone, and posted on a site.” –DarksideImperialist

“I really get where you’re coming from because I work in a specialist field too. I sit and wonder if I were in another field would they have had the balls to try some of the crap that they have.

The gym is a good shout to go vent out some frustration, it’s next on my summer list of things to do. I’m slowly starting to make my way back out because all the stress had caused me to retreat into myself and hardly leave the house except for food or work because it essentially because my safe haven. I’m hoping your situation gets a lot better soon!”- beautynerds

“If it’s that bad, I’d leave. Few jobs are worth all that discomfort.

That being said, I’ve been in toxic work environments that have had black women stay employed there for long periods of time. They either cut out all social contact with everyone so no one feels comfortable enough to do the microagressions and things are always awkward with them or they do their best Ben Carson impression. Neither really pans out well for black women, so again, I say find a new job and try to get a raise out of it.”- Worstmodonreddit

I work in the nuclear industry so it’s quite a unique job, so although I have been looking it’s been difficult to find something of a similar calibre, let alone better. I’ll also admit that there’s a bit of a fear factor over the devil you know, but I’m getting over that now. My mentor managed to organise a move of departments for me so I could have a bit of a reprieve but it’s only made me realise that living in the boonies gives folk an excuse to be ignant. It’s a work in progress.”- beautynerds

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Peruvian Woman Wins Battle Over Right To Die Request

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Peruvian Woman Wins Battle Over Right To Die Request

ANGELA PONCE/ Getty Images

No doubt about it, women have struggled more than anyone to convince the world that the right to make decisions about their bodies is theirs. Ana Estrada, a woman currently confined to her bed, knows this truth. After spending five years of attempting to convince Peruvian officials that she has what’s best for herself in mind, she has finally made a breakthrough.

Recently, Estrada was able to convince Peruvian officials to make a historic decision, regarding her own assisted death.

Euthanasia is largely illegal in the Roman Catholic country of Peru, but Estrada has been granted an exception.

Psychologist Ana Estrada, who has suffered from incurable and progressive polio since the age of 12, poses for pictures at her house in Lima, on February 15, 2020. – A Peruvian court on February 25, 2021 ordered the government to respect the wishes of Estrada to be allowed to die, a rare allowance for euthanasia in largely Catholic Latin America. (Photo by Angela PONCE / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA PONCE/AFP via Getty Images)

Euthanasia is a practice that is illegal in many countries across the globe including Peru where access to abortion and same-sex marriage are also banned. Still, Estrada made a decision for herself to commit to a five-year legal battle after she decided to end her own life “when the time comes.”

Recently, Peru’s government ruled not to appeal a court ruling which recognized her right to “a dignified death.”

“It is an individual case, but I hope it serves as a precedent,” Estrada, 44, explained to Reuters in a recent interview. “I think it is an achievement not only of mine, not only of my cause but also an achievement of law and justice in Peru.”

Estrada, who is a psychologist, has lived with the rare disease called polymyositis for three decades.

The painful disease progressively attacks her muscles and has resulted in her need to breathe with a respirator most of the time. According to NBC, a court ruling from last week granted that state health insurer EsSalud to provide “all conditions” needed for Estrada’s euthanasia. The court also ruled that the event must occur within 10 business days of the date that she decides to end her life. According to NBC, “EsSalud said a statement it would comply with the ruling and form medical commissions to develop a protocol for such cases. The court ruling also cleared anyone assisting Estrada in her death from facing charges, although local law still prohibits anyone from helping people to die.”

Estrada is the author of the blog “Ana seeks dignified death” which she began writing in 2016. In an interview with Reuters, she explained that she made the decision to end her life when she realized she was no longer able to write.

“My body is failing, but my mind and my spirit are happy,” she explained. “I want the last moment of my life to continue like this, in freedom, with peace, tranquility, and autonomy. I want to be remembered like that.”

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