Mars drops Uncle Ben's name and imagery to 'help put end to racial injustices', Internet calls it 'so stupid'

The multinational firm announced that its popular Uncle Ben's rice will now be called Ben's Original


                            Mars drops Uncle Ben's name and imagery to 'help put end to racial injustices', Internet calls it 'so stupid'
(Getty Images)

American multinational firm Mars on Wednesday, September 23, announced that its popular Uncle Ben's rice will now be called Ben's Original. The 70-year-old brand claimed that the decision was made to "help put an end to racial injustices" in the wake of George Floyd's killing. Floyd, an unarmed Black man, was killed in police custody in May after an officer kneeled on his neck for over seven minutes. The incident sparked nationwide outrage, calling for an end to police brutality and systematic racism in the country.

The protest created a ripple effect as many outraged at the name of Mars' popular product "Uncle Ben's" after critics pointed that White southerners used to refer to older Black slaves as "uncle" because they refused to call them "Mr." Many others also pointed to the logo of the product, saying that the image of a white-haired Black man with a bow tie evoked servitude. The brand has also decided to change the controversial logo. Uncle Ben's USA, on its Twitter page, wrote: "We listened. And we learned. Moving forward, Uncle Ben's will be known as Ben’s Original™. Read our full statement to find out more about our brand's new purpose to create opportunities that offer everyone a seat at the table."



 

Although the company made the decision to play their part in combating systemic racism, the move drew outrage from fans of the family brand as many of them called its rebranding "ridiculous." One user wrote: "So stupid! What the hell is wrong with Uncle Ben’s? Are we not allowed to have an uncle? And next will be Aunt Jemima? That brand is over 100 years old. I grew up on it and still use it. I won’t touch another brand. I hold both brands in high regard. What am I missing?" While another suggested that they will continue calling it Uncle Ben's: "So the names changing because certain folk find it racist (pathetic). But let's be honest how many of us will still call it uncle bens?"



 

 



 

Although critics have objected to Uncle Ben's name and the logo, it is believed by many that the brand features a picture of a well-dressed elderly African-American man based on a famous head waiter at a Chicago hotel. Meanwhile, Mars has maintained that the name Uncle Ben refers to an African-American rice-grower, who was famous for the quality of his rice.

Mars, after facing criticism over its products' name and logo, had released a message earlier this month, saying it would be "evolving." Mars Food global president Fiona Dawson said: "We listened to our associates and our customers and the time is right to make meaningful changes across society. When you are making these changes, you are not going to please everyone. But it's about doing the right thing, not the easy thing."

The move comes days after several other companies have vowed to do away with supposedly racist imagery from their branding resulting from the Black Lives Matter protest in the wake of Floyd's death. Quaker Oats, in June, had announced that it would drop Aunt Jemima from its syrup and pancake packages after critics claimed that the character's origins were based on "mammy," a Black woman content to serve her White masters.

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