Al jazeera.com Wed., June 17, 2020
Breakfast tables in the United States will soon be rid of a 130-year old racial stereotype long criticised by activists.
On Wednesday, PepsiCo announced it is removing the image of Aunt Jemima from packaging for its pancake mixes and syrup and changing the name of the brand. The decision comes in the wake of nationwide Black Lives Matter protests calling for an end to systemic racism in the US.
The logo of the more than a century old brand features an African American woman named after a character from 19th-century minstrel shows. The offensive caricature is rooted in a stereotype of a friendly Black woman working as a servant or a nanny for a white family.
The brand has faced social media backlash and calls for a boycott in recent days, amid protests against police brutality and racial inequality following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, in police custody in Minneapolis last month.
“We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype. While work has been done over the years to update the brand in a manner intended to be appropriate and respectful, we realize those changes are not enough,” said Kristin Kroepfl, vice president and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods North America in a statement. Quaker Oats Company is a subsidiary of PepsiCo.
“We are starting by removing the image and changing the name. We will continue the conversation by gathering diverse perspectives from both our organization and the Black community to further evolve the brand and make it one everyone can be proud to have in their pantry,” said Kroepfi.
PepsiCo said packages without the Aunt Jemima image will start appearing in the final three months of this year.
The company also announced on Tuesday a set of initiatives worth more than $400m over five years to support Black communities and increase Black representation at PepsiCo.