Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben: Reading history to the light of a burning building.

Mad about Aunt Jemima or Uncle Ben’s changing? I can understand that it looks like “everything” is being questioned. You don’t even know what to believe now-a-days. I used to believe that half of the stuff people complain about was just made up. You go look up an article about one of those things and likely, it was written this MONTH. You go check out wikipedia and it’s been edited very recently.

How do you even discern what the world thought like 5 or 6 years ago vs what they are saying today?

I’ve got an answer. Go check out You can put in any web address and browse it as if it was any point back in the past. I can, for instance, see the Uncle Ben’s and the Aunt Jemima wikipedia articles from 2005.. or any other time between then and now.

I read those articles from the past and saw how they changed up until now. I’m now fully convinced that at least the origins of Aunt Jemima are enough for me to say it’s stuck around long enough. As for Uncle Ben’s, it took some more digging, as I really didn’t understand how terms like “uncle” were used in a dispariging way in the past. Anyway, I can see those things now.

You may say “when’s it ok to have a person of color for a logo then”… well.. I’m sure it all depends.. but I can say one thing– when, since 2005, everyone (including the company itself) agrees that Aunt Jemima was originally based on some unflattering stereotypes of black people back in the day.. I can’t really find a reason to defend some syrup company when it offends my friends and neighbors.

I’m not mad about it. I’m kinda surprised it lasted so long– but I’m all for changing it. The companies seem motivated to do so as well, so honestly, the time has come to sunset those types of advertisements. If not for the history of these things, I’d totally disagree– but, when looking at what people have written over the years about those two logos, I can see now that I was simply unaware of their origins.

Now that I’ve taken the time to educate myself on these things, I cannot ignore it. I highly encourage you to do the same as I did– look it up on Knowledge is a good thing. Sometimes it challenges what we thought we knew, but it can help us grow.

Anyway, I’m convinced that if we all learned more, we’d fight less. The Black community has actually taught me many things recently, and one thing I’ve learned is that many of them actually know their history– history I was never taught, but is true nonetheless.

I’ve been inundated with “bad” history since first getting on the internet in the 1990’s. I read (incorrect) claims lke “the term picnic originally referred to lynchings” and learned to blow off anything that didn’t fit my view of the world, When I first started hearing about all of this outrage over company logos, my instincts were to blow it off as some other overblown thing that someone invented within the past few months. But like I said, I can now see that my instincts were wrong again.

We can’t grow if we don’t change. If growing means changing the name of syrup and rice, that’s a very small price to pay, particularly if it helps heal our divide in some small way.

EDIT: I’m adding a link to the Aunt Jemima wikipedia page as it appeared back in December 2005:…//