From The Washington Post, June 21, 2020
Why did it take so long to set Aunt Jemima free?
Opinions contributor and consultant
Just in time for Juneteenth, Quaker Oats announced that the Aunt Jemima brand will be retired as its parent company PepsiCo works to “make progress toward racial equality.” Like that of the enslaved black people in Texas who remained in bondage years after President Abraham Lincoln had granted their freedom, the emancipation of Aunt Jemima is way behind schedule. I mean, really, why did it take this long?
Her name should have fallen off boxes and bottles years ago, and the fact that it didn’t suggests that the companies that controlled the brand for more than a century have all been slaves to profit — holding onto a valuable trademark that’s internationally known and historically offensive.
I admit to having a complicated relationship with Aunt Jemima. She occupies a secret branch of my family tree. For a period of time in the late 1940s and early 1950s, my grandmother, Ione Brown, was part of an army of women who worked as traveling Aunt Jemimas, visiting small-town fairs and rotary-club breakfasts to conduct pancake-making demonstrations at a time when the notion of ready-mix convenience cooking was new.