Quaker Oats announced that it would retire the Aunt Jemima brand after more than 130 years as companies grapple with social change prompted by protests over racism and violence, CNN reports.
"As we work to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives, we also must take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers' expectations," the Pepsi-owned company said in a statement.
Brand stems from minstrel show:
The brand’s origin is derived from the song “Old Aunt Jemima” from a minstrel show performer and reportedly sung by slaves.
The company’s website says the logo was based on Nancy Green, a "storyteller, cook and missionary worker."
But the website neglects to mention that Green was born into slavery.
There have been repeated calls for the logo to be removed.
Cornell University professor Riché Richardson said the logo is "very much linked to Southern racism” in a 2015 New York Times op-ed, noting that it was based on a "'mammy,' a devoted and submissive servant who eagerly nurtured the children of her white master and mistress while neglecting her own."
Uncle Ben under review:
Mars, which owns the Uncle Ben’s brand, said on Wednesday that it would review whether to keep the logo.
“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. 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,” the company said in a statement. “We don’t yet know what the exact changes or timing will be, but we are evaluating all possibilities.”