“B&G Foods unequivocally stands against prejudice and injustice of any kind.”
Aunt Jemima. Uncle Ben’s. Now Cream of Wheat.
B&G Foods stated the company will begin an immediate review of its Cream of Wheat packaging since it features a smiling black chef.
The company wrote:
B&G Foods, Inc. (NYSE:BGS) today announced that we are initiating an immediate review of the Cream of Wheat brand packaging. We understand there are concerns regarding the Chef image, and we are committed to evaluating our packaging and will proactively take steps to ensure that we and our brands do not inadvertently contribute to systemic racism. B&G Foods unequivocally stands against prejudice and injustice of any kind.
A lot of people do not know these brands’ connections to slavery and racism. But something tells me the companies knew and are only now doing something about in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
People have thought the company modeled the chef after Frank L. White. Back in 2007, a man named Jesse Lasorda began a campaign to change White’s bare gravestone.
It now has White’s “name and an etching taken from the man depicted on the Cream of Wheat box.”
Those who developed Cream of Wheat named the chef Rastus. The term Rastus is a derogatory term for black men since 1880:
Rastus—as a stereotypically happy black man, not as a particular person—became a familiar character in minstrel shows. This is documented in Every Time I Turn Around: Rite, Reversal, and the End of Blackface Minstrelsy, and Racism and Poverty in Ford City, PA, 1959: Minstrel Show, and in fiction such as Adventures of Rufus Rastus Brown in Darktown and Rastus Comes to the Point: A Negro Farce, and in popular songs such as Rastus, Take Me Back and What You Going to Do When the Rent Comes ‘Round, on radio, and in films, most notably the Rastus series of short films, with titles that included How Rastus Got His Chicken and Rastus Runs Amuck.
The minstrel shows included blackface and horrible stereotypes of black people (emphasis mine):
Thomas Dartmouth Rice , an actor born in New York, is considered the “Father of Minstrelsy.” After reportedly traveling to the South and observing slaves, Rice developed a black stage character called “Jim Crow” in 1830.
With quick dance moves, an exaggerated African-American vernacular and buffoonish behavior, Rice founded a new genre of racialized song and dance—blackface minstrel shows—which became central to American entertainment in the North and South.
White performers in blackface played characters that perpetuated a range of negative stereotypes about African Americans including being lazy, ignorant, superstitious, hypersexual, criminal or cowardly.
I totally get changing these brands. I know better late than never, but it is forced and disingenuous when you’re pandering to the mob.DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.