Corporate America's year of name changes and racial reckoning

By: Matthew Lavietes ,  Thomson Reuters Foundation News
December 17, 2020


PepsiCo Inc said on June 17 it would change the name and brand image of its Aunt Jemima pancake and syrup mix, which has long been considered racist.

The more than 130-year-old brand logo features an African-American woman named after a character from 19th-century minstrel shows and is rooted in a stereotype of a friendly black woman working for a white family.

"Reckoning with the weight of the past is often uncomfortable, but showing more consideration about these issues... could help move us toward a better and more genuinely democratic and united nation," said Riché Richardson, an associate professor of African American literature at Cornell University.

In addition to the name change, the company said in June that it would give at least $5 million "to create meaningful, ongoing support and engagement in the Black community."

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Professor Riche Richardson