Aunt Jemima disappears

Aunt Jemima disparaît

If in the wake of protests, sparked after the death of George Floyd is déboulonne statues in several us cities and elsewhere in the world, another old symbol with racist overtones now disappears from grocery store shelves.

Property of Quaker Oats, Aunt Jemima announced that it would change its name and image to avoid maintenance of old stereotypes. Already, in 1989, it had changed the face on the container to mitigate the reference to the “Mammy”, the black slave subject who cooked for the children of the planter.

If the company was well aware of the problem, it has, nevertheless, expected events major before you move, so that steps in this direction had been started several years ago.

The Smithsonian Magazine reported in October 2014 that of the descendants of the “real” Aunt Jemima dragged the company to court. The descendants were protesting against the use of the image and the recipe of their ancestor without that person receives compensation, making it one of the biggest victims of exploitation and abuse in american history.

For a better understanding of the decision announced by the company, and to shed some light on the origins of the continuation of the descendants, I propose you a little trip back in time. The preparation for pancakes that I found on the family table during my youth was first developed in 1889.

The creators of the product had not withheld from female model to sell their mix, but they should be all the same name. The famous Aunt Jemima was a character in a song by Billy Kersands, a minstrel, which was a great success with this air. If Kersands itself was black, although often the song was interpreted by white performers who painted their face in black. If it has been mentioned often the blackface in recent years, in this time the practice is common.

To see the face of a woman on the box of the mix, it will have to wait for the takeover of the company by the company R. T. Davis in 1890. It is at this time that we will ask a former black slave, Nancy Green, to become the face of the brand. It became so popular that it has renamed the company in honour of the character in 1914.

In 1935, a second woman went on to portray Aunt Jemima for the purpose of advertising. The pursuit to which I renvoyais above is related to this woman, Hanna S. Harrington. According to his descendants, Harrington had to be compensated financially because she had helped to develop both the image and the recipe. However, there is no trace of a written contract to validate such an agreement.

Before proceeding to the modification of the traits of the character, the Quaker Oats company has already tried to defend the appearance and symbolic. It was in these terms: “The image symbolizes a sense of caring, warmth, hospitality and comfort and is neither based on, nor meant to depict any one person, according to a statement from Quaker Oats, a subsidiary of PepsiCo. While we cannot discuss the details of pending litigation, we do not believe there is any merit to this lawsuit.” We insisted, therefore, on the character attentive, warm and friendly character without ever referring to the stereotype.

When sometimes we wonder if the latest events will lead to lasting benefits and large, I’m tempted to answer yes. The law signed by the president Trump yesterday is well shy, but major announcements have been made in several american cities. In addition to these major changes, there is also a reflection on the preservation of symbols and vestiges of another era.

I have already ruled on the preservation of works of art and monuments, but this is the first time that I note a significant effect on a consumer product in daily use. Aunt Jemima has reported a fortune to the company, but there is already a long time that his face would have had to disappear.

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