In the wake of massive racial protests over the past year, some companies began the work of re-evaluating how their brand messaging and corporate actions contribute to racism. Most famously, Quaker Foods “retired” the image of Aunt Jemima, originally based on the caricature of the enslaved “mammy” who contentedly and lovingly cared for her white family. College campuses attempted to reconcile unencumbered, historical outward displays of racism on campus while simultaneously grappling with the legacies of segregationism; some renaming lecture halls and buildings. The Mars company announced a plan to change its Uncle Ben’s brand, another product grouping whose branding was developed around historically racist iconography, to Ben’s Original in September.
While some progress has been made, the marketplace has not realized a universal push to migrate from promulgating racist or white nationalist messaging. For this Spark series, we invited submissions from diversity scholars whose scholarship or creative work speaks to the relationships between commerce, power, and race in light of shifting opinions and epiphanies about racial justice.