I have never been politically correct.
It is not in my DNA to let others do my thinking. Following quietly with unquestionable allegiance to any group’s message or actions does not appeal to me. I think people should form their own opinions. You could say it is part of my charm, or lack of, depending on your side of the fence.
We have a tendency in this country to just jump on any band wagon that rolls up without asking ourselves if it even makes sense.
A classic example was the notion that we should not say, “Merry Christmas” because it was offensive to some cultures. Well, here is the thing. If you do not like it, do not say it and if someone says it to you, just ignore them. Problem solved. No legislation required.
Then we had kneeling when the national anthem was played. I support a person’s right to join in or not. But I personally think we should all be standing to honor a country that allows us the privilege of voicing our grievances without consequences. No ban needed.
Which brings us to 2020.
There are calls for racial justice and police reforms after a series of incidents involving police and Black males. These are serious issues and deserve action by police departments and government officials across the country.
We are experiencing a global pandemic that has claimed over 2 million lives and sickened millions more. I am beginning to wonder if the ones it has not sickened are experiencing alien side effects.
There is marching in the streets over stay- at-home orders, wearing mask orders and just general frustrations with life.
The discussion about racism began with Confederate memorials, but things have recently gone off the rails. We are now in the midst of a knee-jerk reaction to all things historic.
Of all the places you could search for perceived racism, the grocery store aisle would not be on my radar.
Some companies are under immense pressure to boost diversity efforts.
Quaker Oats said it would retire Aunt Jemima from packaging of its pancake mixes and syrup. The company says they recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype. They plan to change the name and remove her image.
The company said the picture was changed in recent years when it removed the kerchief from the character because of criticisms that the brand perpetuated a racist stereotype.
The discussion about change began after a Tik Tok video titled, “How to make a non-racist breakfast” went viral.
After reading the story, I realized I had never paid attention to the photo or the kerchief or lack of kerchief. When I bought them, it was about the name. Shopping by brand is often how I do it.
B & G, who owns Cream of Wheat has initiated a review of their packaging because it has a picture of a smiling Black chef on it.
Who makes purchases based on the photo on the box? And call me clueless, but isn’t removing Black images more racist?
Congra Brands, which owns Mrs. Butterworth’s line of syrups, announced their product would be getting an updated image. The syrup is bottled in the shape of a woman.
The owners said the bottle was intended to invoke the image of a loving grandmother but acknowledged the packaging could be problematic because it is brown.
Ok, now I am offended. To suggest that all grandmothers are short, and round is really upsetting to all us grandmothers. So glad they clarified this. Get that bottle changed now!
But seriously, people. It is a bottle and a package. Come on.
And the list goes on.
Last week, Eskimo Pie announced plans to change the chocolate-covered ice cream product’s name. I know, I know, you are wondering how this could possibly be problematic.
It seems, Breyer, who owns the brand said the term in question is “Eskimo”. Evidently, it is a derogatory name that clumps together a host of indigenous groups from Antarctica, Canada, Alaska, Siberia and Greenland.
And all this time I thought it was a frozen treat in the shape of a cookie sandwich. How could I have known that it was insulting to some people in frozen places?
This is not about real change. Big corporations only take a stand on social issues when it affects their bottom line.
The renaming of commercial brands does not solve racism. Our behavior and what we teach our children about racism is what matters, not store packaging.
All they have done is create confusion for people who just want to buy a certain brand of product and simply go about their daily lives.
Right now, craziness is abundant and simple is what we need.
Anita McGill is a former publisher of The Sentinel. She can be reached by email at email@example.com.