In June, Quaker Foods and PepsiCo announced plans to remove the image of "Aunt Jemima" from their product line, citing the racist origins of the brand.
But not everybody's happy about the decision, including at least one relative of the woman who portrayed the "Aunt Jemima" character. In an interview with Chicago Patch, Larnell Evans Sr., the great-grandson of Anna Short Harrington, whose likeness was used for the logo, called the move "an injustice for me and my family.”
"White supremacy is a belief system. … It’s not the province of just white people,” Rev. Irene Monroe said Tuesday during an interview on Boston Public Radio. “We’ve gotta understand, we will have people of color who will see nothing wrong with Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben. … It’s just what it is. And it really shows the gripping impact that that belief system has on people of color, where they are participating not only in their own oppression, [but in] many instances, their own genocide.”
Monroe was joined, as always, by her All Rev’d Up co-host, Rev. Emmett Price. Price speculated that Evans could be speaking out as a way to pressure Quaker Foods and PepsiCo into offering up money for the use of his great-grandmother’s likeness, noting that there was already an attempted lawsuit by Evans and a second great-grandson in 2015.
"I’ll say humbly,” he added, "‘cause I’ve never experienced anything like this and whatnot. It’s almost like they’re trying to get their two minutes of fame and make it known that that was their great-grandmother, and they’re great-grandsons."
“Let’s celebrate her for what she did, and let’s move on,” he said.
Monroe is a syndicated religion columnist and the Boston voice for Detour’s African American Heritage Trail and a visiting researcher in the Religion and Conflict Transformation Program at Boston University School of Theology. Price is professor of worship, church & culture and founding executive director of the Institute for the Study of the Black Christian Experience at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
Together they host the All Rev’d Up podcast, produced by WGBH.