In 2020, in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, Quaker Oats made headlines by announcing it would no longer produce its “Aunt Jemima” brand of oatmeal.
A great-grandson of “Aunt Jemima” spoke out against the decision just one day after it was made, saying that the family believes it will serve merely to erase black history and suffering.
“This is an injustice for me and my family. This is part of my history,” Larnell Evans Sr., a Marine Corps veteran, said, according to Patch.
He then also accused the corporation of trying to erase slavery after profiting off of it for years.
“The racism they talk about, using images from slavery, that comes from the other side — white people. This company profits off images of our slavery. And their answer is to erase my great-grandmother’s history. A black female. … It hurts.”
Quaker Oats announced that the brand, whose emblem depicts a freed slave named Nancy Green, would be discontinued permanently.
In accounts, Quaker referred to Green as a “storyteller, cook, and missionary worker,” but failed to mention her enslaved origins.
When the “Aunt Jemima” brand name was introduced in 1893 at the Chicago World’s Fair, Green was hired to serve pancakes.
Anna Short Harrington, who Larnell Evans Sr. claims to be his great-grandmother, took over the role after she passed away in 1923.
Harrington became “Aunt Jemima” in 1935 after a representative from Quaker Oats observed her selling pancakes at the New York State Fair.
Evans remarked, “She worked for that Quaker Oats for 20 years. She traveled all the way around the United States and Canada making pancakes as Aunt Jemima for them.
“This woman served all those people, and it was after slavery. She worked as Aunt Jemima. That was her job. … How do you think I feel as a black man sitting here telling you about my family history they’re trying to erase?”
Evans is dissatisfied that Quaker Oats was able to capitalize on a racial stereotype and then abandon the brand when it suited their needs.
“How many white people were raised looking at characters like Aunt Jemima at breakfast every morning? How many white corporations made all the profits, and didn’t give us a dime?” said Evans.
“They’re just going to erase history like it didn’t happen? … They’re not going to give us nothing? What gives them the right?”
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