One video, posted to TikTok on Tuesday by musician who goes by KIRBY, has been credited with elevating the campaign to "cancel" Aunt Jemima.
- "Black lives matter, people, even over breakfast," KIRBY says while dumping out a box of the offending pancake mix.
- The 37-second clip has been viewed 150,000 times.
How To Make A Non Racist Breakfast. #BlackLivesMatter #AllBlackLivesMatter #BlackWomenLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/WY6irZwWtJ— KIRBY (@singkirbysing) June 15, 2020
The 130-year-old Aunt Jemima icon was originally dressed as a minstrel character.
- Nancy Green, a former slave, was hired to officially portray the character from 1890 until her death in 1923.
- But in a statement announcing the overhaul of the brand, Quaker acknowledged the changes had not been enough.
"As we work to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives, we also must take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers’ expectations."
Aunt Jemima, in likeness and then name, will begin disappearing from packaging toward the end of this year, according to Quaker.
On social media, some users said it was about time Quaker made the move, while others demanded additional black personas be removed from food products, including Cream of Wheat porridge, Uncle Ben's rice and Mrs. Butterworth's maple syrup and pancake mix.
Saw both Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima trending. Rumor has it Mrs. Butterworth is now in the witness protection program. pic.twitter.com/F30Pebl88W— MARTY COUNCELBAUM (@WALSTGUY) June 17, 2020
Quaker and Pepsico have joined a corporate rush to express solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement amid nationwide anti-racism protests, though the companies have often faced accusations of hypocrisy.
- Pepsico CEO Ramon Laguarta wrote in Fortune on Tuesday that “the journey for racial equality has long been part of our company’s DNA.”
- Pepsico in 2017 apologized for running an ad featuring Kendall Jenner, a white model, that was criticized for trivializing the Black Lives Matter movement.
- Quaker in 2014 got a lawsuit by descendants of the second Aunt Jemima, Anna Harrington, thrown out, saying: “The image symbolizes a sense of caring, warmth, hospitality and comfort and is neither based on, nor meant to depict any one person."