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Redesigning Blatantly Racist Brands is Not Enough

The first person to serve as the model for the Aunt Jemima brand was Nancy Green, a woman born into slavery. She was chosen to represent the brand because the company wanted a mammy-type character—someone subservient, eternally kind and jovial, devoted to caring for others—to market their product. The name “Aunt Jemima” itself has problematic origins, having been taken from the minstrel song “Old Aunt Jemima.” Little changed over the next 130 years, though every so often her image was altered to reflect the times. Aunt Jemima last received a makeover in 1989, when her headband was removed and pearl earrings were added. Despite the cosmetic changes, Aunt Jemima was still representative of a very specific and narrow way of seeing black women.

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