After repeated calls for rebranding from customers, Quaker Oats announced earlier today that it will be retiring the Aunt Jemima logo, after acknowledging its racist origins. The company's website states that the ideas for the brand and logo originated from the song "Old Aunt Jemima,"which was composed by a minstrel show performer. The website does not mention how the song was apparently sung by slaves in the past. The Aunt Jemima website also fails to acknowledge that Nancy Green, the missionary worker and cook who served as the direct inspiration for the logo, was originally born into slavery. The increasing calls for racial equity and justice in America, following the murder of George Floyd and others, have pressured several companies to rethink the origins of their branding.
The Pepsi-owned company told CNN Business that "we also must take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers' expectations." There have been repeated calls for the brand to retire its logo in the past. Cornell University Professor Riché Richardson discussed the links of the logo to Southern racism and condemned its portrayal of the mammy stereotype,inan opinion piece for The New York Times back in 2015. Professor Richardson described the mammy stereotype as "a devoted and submissive servant who eagerly nurtured the children of her white master and mistress while neglecting her own."
Even though Aunt Jemima has made an effort to rebrand, the company has had a past of racist advertisements over the years. The chief marketing officer for Quaker Oats North America recognized this in a statement and said, "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."
The company is yet to establish an exact date for the retirement of the logo, and in efforts to support the black community, the Aunt Jemima brand will donate $5 million.