The aftermath of 2020 has brought a lot of changes to America, from statues to the film industry and even pancakes.
The issue of the portrayal of pancake goddess Aunt Jemima as a “slave-era mammy”-ish type has been debated off and on for years. Some time ago, Aunt Jemima got a perm and a makeover, but that did not satisfy those who felt that a makeover could not erase the stigma of slavery associated with the product over the years.
In the wake of Black Lives Matter riots and protests, corporations began responding to criticisms of the portrayal of Black Americans in media. The Quaker Oats company, a subsidiary of Pepsi, finally took up the task of yet-again modifying Aunt Jemima. This time, they didn’t just give her a perm, they simply eliminated her completely.
Aunt Jemima’s name is no longer on the packaging, nor are any images of any people. The product has been relabeled the Pearl-Milling Company in honor of the original flour mill that produced the very first batches of the self-rising pancake mix.
This is the only possible result of the “woke” movement. Complete and total erasure.
There’s a really funny episode of the show Community in which the feckless school Dean is tasked with choosing a new, more inclusive mascot. Every representation of a marginalized group was either shot down or deemed as racist until the Dean finally settled on a faceless, raceless, genderless, humanoid representation. The Greendale Human Beings were borne out of the same attempt at wokeness that killed Aunt Jemima.
Have we really won a victory for Black America by completely removing a Black face from the packaging of a beloved national product?
The family of the women who inspired the packaging icon think not. In fact, they believe that erasing their loved one from public acknowledgment leaves a big hole in the pursuit of equality. Quaker Oats profited off the images for decades and now they are bowing to public pressure by completely eliminating the women from their history. Worse, they’re doing it without offering any kind of compensation. The overzealous quest to be “sensitive” has resulted in a major corporation getting away with stealing the contributions of Black women for profit without compensation. Everyone applauds while they get away with a lot of money. It seems to be a favorite tactic of the Left. Virtue-signaling above meaningful change.
Recently, Lillian Richard’s great-niece, Vera Richard Harris, told TMZ she wants to see her great-aunt’s name inscribed on the new Pearl Milling Company packaging. She wants the same for other Black women whose images graced the products through its iterations over the past 132 years.
Wanetta Cowan, great-granddaughter of product model Anna Short Harrington, is in lockstep with Harris, pertaining to her ancestor’s name being inscribed on the packaging of the new product. Cowan also said that “payments for their descendants in the form of royalties is the right thing for the company to do.”
Both women say they don’t want their ancestors to be forgotten, now that new packaging has emerged, based on the hard erasure of the Aunt Jemima’s image that PepsiCo/Quaker has opted to do.
Of course, we know Aunt Jemima was a character, but her image was based on two real women – Lillian Richard and then Anna Short Harrington. Do the families of the Jemima models feel vindicated now that
Look at the band formerly known as Lady Antebellum. A 5-second internet search would have revealed that their chosen “justice” name, Lady A, had already been in use by a Black artist for nearly 20 years. The name had long-ago been trademarked by the band, but there really wasn’t a way for Lady A herself to know that while she was using the name. It was an opportunity for the band Lady A to put their money where their mouths are and collaborate to uplift and amplify a Black musician after the Summer O’ BLM. Sadly, the two musical entities could not come to an agreement about compensation and now Lady A the singer is in the process of being erased from her own legacy so that the band can be considered progressive and “anti-racist.”
In the effort to force “equality” we instead can end up erasing Black representation altogether.
Aunt Jemima didn’t get equality, she just got fired.
For more on why I think this whole thing is ridiculous, check out Red + Black. My colleague Lenny McAllister did not agree with my assessment and makes the case for why he hates Aunt Jemima. We had a passionate discussion about pancakes. Please don’t forget to subscribe to our weekly show. Follow us on Twitter @RedandBlackShow