Quaker Oats, the parent company of the 'Aunt Jemima' line of syrups and pancake mix announced last Wednesday that it will rename the product and change its logo. The image featured a black woman named Aunt Jemima from the old minstrel song "Old Aunt Jemima". In a statement on June 17, the company said it's rebranding as its "origins are based on racial stereotype".
Amid this, a picture appeared online that showed a black woman, believed to be Nancy Green -- the first woman who played Aunt Jemima -- holding a plate with stacks of pancakes, with her right leg tied in shackles to a table.
The woman is not Nancy Green. She is an artist's interpretation of the iconic character of Aunt Jemima, Snopes reported. The photograph was taken in 2008 by Sally Stockhold, titled 'I laughed because they paid me'. It is included in a collection of self-portraits on Stockhold's website, labeled as 'myselfportraits ode to icons and other absurdities'.
Also, the image doesn't depict Green in particular, but all the women who played the character. The woman in the picture is not black, but a white woman in blackface. It intends to portray Aunt Jemima as a slave to the brand.
Ever since Quaker Oats announced its decision to do away with the product's name and logo, it has garnered both accolades and criticism. Several activists, writers and intellectuals have long campaigned against the Aunt Jemima brand due to its deep links with slavery and racism. Others have called out the company for doing away with the legacy and erasing the accomplishments of Green.
Several social media posts have claimed that, although she was born into slavery, she became a "wealthy superstar" and was the "first black millionaire" in the country.
There isn't any evidence that Green died a millionaire or she had any share in the company's profit. However, she continued to work as a housekeeper until she died in 1923 after being hit by a car, Associated Press reported.
In 2014, the descendants of Anna Harrington, who played Aunt Jemima for 14 years since 1935, sued Quaker Oats and its parent company PepsiCo, claiming that both Green and Harrington were exploited during their respective stints. They also sought for their shares in developing the brand.