News June 22, 2020 at 12:00 pm

Family of woman who once was Aunt Jemima left upset by decision to scrap brand

Nii Ntreh June 22, 2020 at 12:00 pm

June 22, 2020 at 12:00 pm | News

Quaker Oats, owners of the Aunt Jemima pancake mix, say they are now withdrawing the "racist" brand after 130 years.

The family of a woman who once portrayed Aunt Jemima for the pancake mix and syrup brand has advised Quaker Oats, the owners of the products, against scrapping the Aunt Jemima brand.

The family of Lillian Richards, who in 1925 became the brand ambassador for Aunt Jemima, believe that letting go of the brand would only wipe away the memories Richards helped create.

Speaking to KLTV, Vera Harris, a member of Richards’ family, said, “She (Richards) was considered a hero in [her hometown of] Hawkins, and we are proud of that. We do not want that history erased.”

Harris added: “We want the world to know that our cousin Lillian was one of the Aunt Jemimas and she made an honest living. We would ask that you reconsider just wiping all that away.”

Richards’ family have reportedly been left upset by Quaker’s decision to let go of the 130-year-old brand.

“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,” said Harris.

Why the Aunt Jemima image is racist

In the wake of Quaker’s announcement, some, especially on social media, have wondered why the image has to go in lieu of what they believe is an opportunity to empower the Black woman.

Why uproot the whole brand instead of re-imagining its importance? The answer is quite simple, according to world astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Tyson tweeted on Wednesday: “It’s not that Aunt Jemima was a symbol of a racist past, she was the very embodiment of a racist past. She will not be missed by anyone who knew that.”

Although he did not explain further, it was clear to many what he meant. The concept of Aunt Jemima was based on what a Black woman meant to a well-to-do white family in the antebellum United States and even afterward.

Aunt Jemima was the mammy who was supposed to be a cheerful and willing house-servant. The mammy enjoyed her service and subordination and found fulfillment in answering to every beck and call of her white masters.

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