Prof supports Aunt Jemima's rebranding because syrup can 'show slavery was not that bad'

  • Quaker Foods announced recently that it would no longer continue the Aunt Jemima brand due to its racial origins. Other brands have announced similar changes.
  • A Virginia Tech professor says the brand dehumanizes black women and “has been used to show that slavery wasn’t that bad.”

A Virginia Tech professor applauded the decision to discontinue the Aunt Jemima syrup and pancake brand, saying he’s “surprised that it has taken this long.”

Wornie Reed, director of the Race and Social Policy Center at Virginia Tech's Department of Sociology, told WSLS-TV that Aunt Jemima’s legacy is a caricature that dehumanized black women. He said the 130-year-old brand “has been used to show that slavery was not that bad” and “illustrates, ‘Look at these smiling Aunt Jemimas taking care of all of these white kids.‘”

Reed could not be reached by Campus Reform for further comment. 

The Quaker Oats Company announced Wednesday that the image of Aunt Jemima will no longer appear on its product packaging, and the name will be changed. 

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Quaker Foods North America Vice President Kristin Kroepfl says the company recognizes that “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,” Koepfl said. "We acknowledge the brand has not progressed enough to appropriately reflect the confidence, warmth and dignity that we would like it to stand for today. We are starting by removing the image and changing the name.”

Similarly, Conagra Brands announced its plans to update the advertising of the Mrs. Butterworth’s brand, saying Wednesday that “we stand in solidarity with our Black and Brown communities and we can see that our packaging may be interpreted in a way that is wholly inconsistent with our values. We understand that our actions help play an important role in eliminating racial bias and as a result, we have begun a complete brand and packaging review on Mrs. Butterworth's.” 

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The Uncle Ben’s brand also anticipates changes, according to a Wednesday press release

“We don’t yet know what the exact changes or timing will be, but we are evaluating all possibilities,” the company said.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @mariatcopeland



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Maria Copeland
Maria Copeland | Virginia Campus Correspondent

Maria Copeland is a Virginia Campus Correspondent, reporting on liberal bias and abuse on campus for Campus Reform. She is originally from Herndon, Virginia and received her Associates of Arts in Communications from Northern Virginia Community College this May. She will attend James Madison University in the Fall. While on campus, Maria was Gupta Family Foundation Scholar, Vice President of the Loudoun Student Government Association, Vice President of the Loudoun Writing Association, and a Student Ambassador for the Honors Program. She was also a Page for the Fairfax County Public Library. Maria is a Campus Reform intern this summer.

20 Articles by Maria Copeland