Trump rally speaker earns criticism for calling Aunt Jemima the ‘picture of the American Dream’
A woman who spoke at President Trump’s recent campaign event in Arizona drew a wave of backlash online for comments she made about Quaker Oats’ decision to change the name and imagery associated with its Aunt Jemima brand, citing its racist origins.
The speaker, whom CNN identified as Turning Point USA ambassador Reagan Escudé, reportedly told attendees at a Students for Trump event on Tuesday that “Nancy Green, the original, first Aunt Jemima, she was the picture of the American Dream.”
“She was a freed slave who went on to be the face of the pancake syrup that we love and we have in our pantries today. She fought for equality, and now the leftist mob is trying to erase her legacy. And might I mention how privileged we are as a nation if our biggest concern is a bottle of pancake syrup,” she said.
Escudé’s remarks were met with swift backlash on Twitter by some who accused the conservative of “whitesplaining” the origins of the pancake brand.
Whitesplaining the American Dream. Some dream. Green did not die a millionaire. In fact, she could not live off the earnings she made from her portrayal of Aunt Jemima, and continued to work as a housekeeper until a few years before her death in 1923.
— Maine Man (@Maine_NH) June 24, 2020
My favorite part is how white people are having tantrums and meltdowns over Aunt Jemima’s name & logo changing, yet there is no outrage or reaction to actual lives being lost. Your American Dream is slavery. #BlackLivesMattter
— jen (@venusspice) June 24, 2020
The American dream is having to work as a maid till you die, and then having Quaker Oats say they won’t help with a gravestone because “Aunt Jemima is fictional;”???
— michael musto (@mikeymusto) June 24, 2020
Did she graduate from Trump University? https://t.co/KsppPcbYXE
— Ana Navarro-Cárdenas (@ananavarro) June 24, 2020
According to The Associated Press, Green had been a slave and later became a cook before her likeness was used for the brand. She also reportedly worked as a housekeeper later on before being fatally struck by a car in 1923.
The remarks by Escudé come as false claims about Green becoming wealthy for her portrayal of Aunt Jemima have been spreading across the internet in recent days following Quaker Oats’ announcement that it would be rebranding the breakfast brand, according to The Associated Press.
She is reportedly not believed to have pocketed any percentage of the earnings made from the products sold using her likeness.
The news network also reported that the name of the brand originated from a minstrel song titled “Old Aunt Jemima.”
In remarks Escudé posted to Twitter later on Wednesday after footage of her comments drew viral criticism, the Turning Point USA ambassador doubled down on her comments.
“Aunt Jemima rose above what was a horrible situation and turned it into something good, leaving a legacy that Americans will remember forever—hence, the American Dream. It’s a shame that most don’t understand!” she said.
Quaker Oats, which is owned by Pepsi, announced last week it would be changing the image and name of its Aunt Jemima brand after more than a century, while also acknowledging its “origins are based on a racial stereotype.”
“As we work to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives, we also must take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers’ expectations,” Kristin Kroepfl, vice president and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods North America, said in a statement explaining the move then.
“We acknowledge the brand has not progressed enough to appropriately reflect the confidence, warmth and dignity that we would like it to stand for today,” Kroepfl added. “We are starting by removing the image and changing the name.”
The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.