Riché Richardson, an associate professor of African American literature at Cornell University, called for Aunt Jemima’s retirement five years ago in a New York Times opinion piece — part of a wider discussion about Confederate statues and other imagery after the massacre of nine black parishioners at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.rdson
Richardson said Aunt Jemima epitomizes the dark comfort that some Americans take from imagery of black servitude, so normalized that it’s on their box of pancake mix. She said it was problematic that Aunt Jemima is such a ubiquitous symbol of black femininity when there are so many real women who are icons of African American history.
“The question becomes, ‘do we want to hold onto images that hearken back to a past when blacks were servants and expected to know their place?’” Richardson said. “People who are holding onto these symbols are almost suggesting that those are times they are nostalgic about. I don’t think people intend to send that message but at this time, we cannot afford to send mix messages.”
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