After 130 years, Quaker Oats will retire the Aunt Jemima brand and logo. “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 company said. The company’s shift is a tacit admission that they knew this was wrong all along and yet, for 130 years, they simply didn’t care; Black people should return the favor and not care about this sudden, meaningless public relations pivot in 2020. Change the logo all you’d like but Black people still won’t buy.
Blanket Pancakes & Syrup is a Black owned company founded by Deven and Marquita Carter. A recent email from a customer, a Black man and high school English teacher in Boston, stunned the husband and wife team. While eating his pancakes one morning, he looked at the Aunt Jemima bottle and realized that he wanted to “replace this colossal fraud we call Aunt Jemima.” The revelation came to him while eating and attempting to send a letter to parents about a racist incident that happened during a Zoom class he was facilitating. Racial slurs were visible during the Zoom and as he ate his pancakes, reflecting on what he would say to parents, he realized that an offense equal to the racial slur in his Zoom session was sitting on his kitchen table: a Black woman smiling at him, artificially, through every atrocity and injustice. It was a smile from a woman who was purchased because she was “Black and cheap,” he realized. He vowed that it would never happen, again.
The Aunt Jemima origin and logo can be traced back to a song, “Old Aunt Jemima,” from a minstrel show performer. The logo goes back to 1890 and was based on Nancy Green, who was born into slavery. Green accepted a job as a corporate model, traveling and posing as “Aunt Jemima” at thousand of shows, preparing pancakes and smiling like a good mammy. She was promised royalties and fair pay but those promises were largely just that. Even so, she used her platform to advocate for equal rights. She participated in Chicago-based anti-poverty programs and missionary work, until she fatally died in a car crash, in 1923. Change the logo all you want, we shall never forget and we certainly will not buy.
Blanket Pancakes is but one brand worth supporting but there are others. Click here to check out Black owned brands that can replace the inexcusable, unforgivable and fraudulent Aunt Jemima brand.