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Aunt Jemima brand will receive social justice makeover: 'Based on a racial stereotype'

Keep your head on a swivel, Uncle Ben

Paul Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Aunt Jemima, the breakfast brand known for its syrup and pancake mix, is getting a social justice makeover.

Quaker Oats announced Wednesday that Aunt Jemima products will receive a name and logo change, NBC News reported.

The company said, "Aunt Jemima's 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," company Vice President Kristin Kroepfl said, according to NBC News.

The company also announced it would donate at least $5 million over the next five years "to create meaningful, ongoing support and engagement in the Black community," according to the NBC report.

Aunt Jemima's namesake finds its origins in the old minstrel show song, "Old Aunt Jemima," which was sung by slaves, CNN reported.

The company has used the name and logo since 1890. According to the Aunt Jemima website, the brand's logo is based on a real life person, Nancy Green, who was a "storyteller, cook and missionary worker." However, as CNN noted, Green was also born into slavery, which Aunt Jemima's website does not reveal.

In the wake of a renewed national discussion about systematic racism, brand logos, like the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians, are once again targets for those who say such images perpetuate racist stereotypes.

On the NBC's "Today" Wednesday, Riché Richardson, an associate professor at Cornell University, explained why he believes the Aunt Jemima branding is problematic.

"It's an image that harkens back to the antebellum plantation ... Aunt Jemima is that kind of stereotype is premised on this idea of Black inferiority and otherness," he said.

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