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A historian from Utah compares and modifies racist marketing strategies



Salt Lake City, Utah – Numerous American businesses have made efforts to encourage inclusion, equity, and diversity in the workplace. Additionally, they have made an effort to exercise caution when utilizing any images or materials that can be interpreted as racist.

A plea for justice ignited this movement when a video of George Floyd’s murder in late May 2020 became viral. In other cities, the video also provoked rioting and open demonstrations.

The time for corporate America to face its racist past had arrived. Numerous individuals brought attention to the absence of inclusion, diversity, and equity in various corporations.

In several instances, they also drew attention to long-standing racist branding employed by certain businesses.

PepsiCo-owned Quaker Oats stated a month after George Floyd passed away that Aunt Jemima pancake and syrup products will be rebranded.

The business stated that its roots lie in “racial stereotypes.”

Some of the high-end supermarket brands that many of us grew up seeing in stores were also based on representations of African Americans with roots to enslavement, according to local historian Robert Burch, who also founded the Sema Hadithi African American Heritage & Culture Foundation. He has seen that certain brands have subtly changed their image over time.

“A lot of companies have been trying to make that shift where their images are not so obviously racist, but at the same time, understanding that this brand is built on that name,” Burch said.

Ben’s Original is the new name for the firm that created Uncle Ben’s Rice.

According to Burch, there was a period when it was typical to see antique dolls styled to be glamorous but dressed as female house slaves.

However, Burch’s family history was not at all like what was promoted when those vintage dolls were in style.

An image of his great-grandmother showed a life far from glamorous—one that was characterized by slavery, even down to her attire. The clothes worn by slaves were not what dolls sometimes represented.

“It didn’t have three or four layers of beautiful fabric. It was a blue, maybe a light pastel blue with little flowers on it. And work boots,” Burch said.

Burch expressed his hope that the discussions about racism, history, and resolution would go on. If not, history might start to repeat itself.

“Everybody loses in that scenario. Ignorance doesn’t help anyone. It doesn’t help your child or my child,” Burch said. “And that’s the thing we have to get past. We’re going to have to bite the bullet and deal with this, or we leave it for our children to resolve. And that’s the shame of it is that we as adults can fix this.”


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