When Quaker Oats made the decision to discontinue the “Aunt Jemima” brand in 2020 amid the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter movement, it sparked a significant public debate.
However, there was a swift objection to this decision from Larnell Evans Sr., the great-grandson of the woman behind the “Aunt Jemima” persona. He believed that discontinuing the brand would effectively erase a part of black history and the struggles his family had faced. For Evans, this was an injustice, as he saw the company as profiting from images associated with slavery and then attempting to erase the legacy of his great-grandmother, a black woman.
Quaker Oats, the company behind the brand, ultimately decided to permanently retire it. The brand’s emblem featured a black woman named Nancy Green, who had once been enslaved but was referred to by Quaker Oats as a “storyteller, cook, and missionary worker.”
The origins of the “Aunt Jemima” brand date back to 1893 when Anna Short Harrington, whom Larnell Evans Sr. claims as his great-grandmother, was contracted to serve pancakes at the Chicago World’s Fair. After her passing in 1923, Quaker Oats chose to name her “Aunt Jemima.”
Larnell Evans Sr. expressed his disappointment that the brand had exploited a racial stereotype for profit and then decided to remove it when it became convenient. He also questioned how many white individuals grew up with such characters as part of their daily breakfast routine and how much profit white corporations had made from this imagery without providing any compensation.
This issue has stirred significant discussion and differing opinions. It’s essential to engage in meaningful conversations about the complexities of history, racial stereotypes, and corporate responsibility. What are your thoughts on this matter? Please feel free to share your perspective in the comments.
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