The popular pancake syrup Quaker Oats made a decision to make a ‘brand changing’ and retire Aunt Jemima from the cover. The brand said in a statement that “Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype”, and in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, Quaker Oats announced that they will completely remove the black woman and the name in order “to make progress toward racial equality”. In fact, they announced that the brand will be retired for good.
The family of the woman that portrayed Aunt Jemima, however, is not happy with the changes.
Vera Harris, a second cousin of Lillian Richard, the woman behind the Aunt Jemima persona, said that the family takes pride in Quaker Oats’ scouting to make Richard a brand representative in 1925, and she said that her cousin “was considered a hero in her hometown of Hawkins, Texas”, and they’re proud of that.
“We do not want that history erased” – she added.
The family has since called on the breakfast brand to ‘reconsider’ its decision to scrap the portrait for good.
According to Harris, Richard worked for Quaker Oats for 23 years, and she traveled around as Aunt Jemima to serve pancakes until she had a stroke. The relative said that her cousin made an honest living out of it for a number of years, and she toured around Texas and around the country. There weren’t a lot of jobs for black women back in that time, so the family was proud of her, hence their upset by Quaker Oats’ announcement.
The Mammy stereotype.
Mammy is the cheerful and willing house-slave. This cheerfulness is depicted in films/novels, namely the main character #AuntJemima from ‘Gone with the Wind.’
The Mammy was created to make people believe that slavery was good & the system benevolent. pic.twitter.com/nIw3oLegR5
— Renée Landell (@Nay_Landell) June 18, 2020
The family wants the world to know that their cousin Lillian was one of the Aunt Jemimas and she made an honest living out of it, so they asked Quaker Oats to reconsider wiping all of that away.
“I wish we would take a breath and not just get rid of everything, because good or bad, it is our history. Removing that wipes away a part of me — a part of each of us.” – she added.
The Fouke community outside Hawkins, Texas, is a historic marker dedicated to Lillian Richard, and her family considers her a hero.
Additionally, the family said that they’re against the renaming of military bases because many of their relatives are veterans.
The brand’s decision has been slammed by other families as well, and they accused the brand of trying to erase slavery after profiting off of it.