Cultural studies student Ayondela McDole comments on racial stereotypes in product branding

Cultural Studies PhD student Ayondela McDole contributed to an Australian Broadcasting Corportation (ABC) news story about American corporate changes to the branding of commercial products that feature imagery containing racial stereotypes.

McDole described how the Aunt Jemima character, created in the late 1800s to sell just-add-water pancake mix to audiences at the Chicago World’s Fair, was based on a fictional image of an enslaved Black woman who “created a recipe for instant pancake mix and travelled the country selling it so that her master could get his money back” following the abolition of slavery.

McDole said that the logo had been changed during its history, removing the character’s handkerchief from her head, lightening her skin tone, and adding earrings. “But,” she added, “removing her from the brand altogether is my favorite makeover so far.”

Pointing out the embeddedness of images of Black servitude in American culture, McDole noted, "Quaker Oats and similar brands pulling these products is a step in the right direction."