Courtesy of auntjemima.com
Courtesy of auntjemima.com

Pepsico has finally acknowledged the racist origins of Aunt Jemima, and the company said it’s changing the brand’s name.

“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,” Kristin Kroepfl, CEO of Quaker Foods North America, said in a statement.

“We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype,” Kroepfl, 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.”

Aunt Jemima first appeared more than 131 years ago.

For years, African Americans have denounced the “mammy” depiction of Black women.

And, for years, Quaker brands — a subsidiary of Pepsico, which distributes the product — have ignored the stereotype which features an “obese, coarse, maternal African-American figure who has great love for her white family,” according to historians at the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia in Big Rapids, Michigan.

According to the museum, the founders of Aunt Jemima reportedly borrowed the name from a popular song that often was performed in blackface.

“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,” Kroepfl said. “We are starting by removing the image and changing the name. We will continue the conversation by gathering diverse perspectives from both our organization and the Black community to evolve the brand further and make it one everyone can be proud to have in their pantry.”

PepsiCo was built on the foundation that it thrives because of diversity, and when it embraces the full spectrum of humanity, they succeed together, the company stated in the release.

“In that spirit, the Aunt Jemima brand will donate a minimum of $5 million over the next five years to create meaningful, ongoing support and engagement in the Black community,” Kroepfl announced.

In addition to the changes in Aunt Jemima, PepsiCo officials said they are committed to making significant changes for its people, its business, and the communities in which they live and work.

PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Ramon Laguarta announced the next step in its journey for racial equality, which include more than $400 million in initiatives over five years to uplift Black communities and increase Black representation at the company.

“These initiatives comprise a holistic effort for PepsiCo to walk the talk of a leading corporation and help address the need for systemic change,” the company noted.

More details can be found at <a href=”https://www.pepsico.com/racial-equality-journey” target=”blank”>pepsico.com</a>.

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Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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