Are all these images racist? Which ones? Why?
Let me say at the start that Quaker Oats, which owns Aunt Jemima — uh-oh, that sounds like slavery — is free to dno anything it wants with its marketing imagery. The model for the original Aunt Jemima, Nancy Green, was born into slavery, outlived the evil of it, and was paid well for the use of her image by Quaker Oats, for which she made promotional appearances. Born a slave, when she died her image was in millions of American households.
The original image was of a fat black woman wearing a mammy headscarf, clearly a servant. In the early ‘80s, to get with the times and answer some complaints, Aunt Jemima was given a makeover to look more like a stewardess [PC translation, flight attendant], one of several revisions over the years. But today — no. The image was based on a “racial stereotype,” said Quaker, unconvincingly. If true, it took them 130 years to figure it out? Not very woke.
Some African-Americans thought rather than being warm and pleasant, the pancake mix image was offensive. So, out it goes, even though — can you name another pancake mix? And what would make more difference to African-Americans: changing the image or Quaker pledging to hire 1,000 black Americans? Yes, it could do both, but all I’ve heard about is the superficial change.
Over at Mars, the image of a farmer known as Uncle Ben is headed for the corn bin because, well, just because the company is using a picture of a genial black man, in a service profession. Everyone knows there are no black farmers, right?
Back at Quaker, as far as I know, no white people complained about the stereotypical white man in a Pilgrim-style hat, long white hair, and dressed a little like a priest. But he has no name and no family appellation.
Maybe the “aunt” designation is the problem with Jemima.
I wonder if sales would go up or down if Quaker signed Beyonce as the model. Up, I would bet. Quaker is still stuck with the Aunt Jemima name, not exactly as white bread as Betty Crocker. Maybe she’ll become Aunt Becky.
“Thank God this crazy crap didn’t happen in the ‘80s,” actor Robert Guillaume, who became a millionaire playing the butler “Benson” on the ABC series, did not say. “Yes, I was the butler,” he did not add, “but I was the smartest person on the show. Butler, my black ass!”
Gillaume opened the door and guess who walked through?
Bill Cosby as a black doctor, and “The Cosby Show” became the biggest hit in America for years, in spite of the all-pervasive racism.
Cosby became the famous spokesman for Jell-O, despite being black.
Jell-O eventually dropped Cosby, not because of the tint of his skin, but for the lack of content in his character.