Here's Ben Stein's Moving Black History Month Tribute To Aunt Jemima. Yes, F*cking Aunt Jemima.
It's the last week of Black History Month, and conservatives are squeezing in as many indignities as they can before we head into March. Ben Stein — that guy from Ferris Bueller's Day Off — posted a video on Donald Trump's designer imposter Twitter site, Truth Social, where he lamented the loss of his beloved fantasy mammy Aunt Jemima.
\u201cActor Ben Stein says he misses the good old days when \u201ca large African-American woman\u201d was on his syrup bottle, but woke corporate culture ruins everything.\u201d— Ron Filipkowski \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6 (@Ron Filipkowski \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6) 1676982302
Stein announced he was about to make "breakfast for dinner," which is his right. I've long argued that "breakfast" and "dinner" are not defined by their menu but the time of day when you have the meal. I don't care if you're eating pancakes or eggs and bacon. That's not breakfast for dinner. It's dinner for dinner. But that's a philosophical debate for another time.
In the video that even the New York Post calls "bizarre," Stein cradled a bottle of syrup and swooned, "Aunt Jemima, yummy, pancake syrup. Now, this used to show a large African American woman chef, but because of the inherent racism of Americans’ corporate culture, they decided to make it a white person, or maybe no person at all." He went on: "But, I prefer when it was a Black person, showing their incredible skill at making pancakes. So, God bless you all and have a good evening."
PREVIOUSLY: Just Look At This Fool Talking About Aunt Jemima At Trump’s AZ Klan Rally
Look, I'm a Black person and we sho' do make good pancakes. However, Aunt Jemima wasn't a real person. She was a racist stereotype. As Baltimore Banner columnist Leslie Gray Streeter explained, Aunt Jemima was "created to evoke the comfort of slaves making [white people's] food."
Stein sarcastically suggests that Aunt Jemima lost her featured spot on the syrup bottle "because of the inherent racism of Americans' corporate culture." What actually happened is that Quaker Oats announced in June 2020 that it was discontinuing the brand to "make progress toward racial equality." I would've preferred a meaningful police reform bill, but Quaker Oats can't cancel the filibuster. It can only cancel Aunt Jemima.
White conservatives with an unhealthy mammy attachment behaved as if Quaker Oats had insulted the memory of a real historical figure. Christian conservative activist Reagan Escudé whined at a 2020 Trump rally, "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."
This dummy might as well have had Green chopping down cherry trees before making pancakes for her racial oppressors.
Nancy Green wasn't even the “original, first Aunt Jemima." In 1889, newspaper editor Chris L. Rutt attended a minstrel show in St. Joseph, Missouri, where a white guy performed the song, “Old Aunt Jemima," while wearing an apron and a red bandana on his head. Yes, the original Aunt Jemima was a blackface drag act. MAGA Republicans shouldn't want kids anywhere near Aunt Jemima.
\u201cWe point to figures like Mae Jamison as role models for our daughters & the MAGAs point to Aunt Jemima as the images they want to see of Black women & they can go to [99af14a4a50a3ed0e6d967f961e23dbe]amp;&@\u201d— Darlyn2 \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6 (@Darlyn2 \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6) 1677074206
Rutt “borrowed" the name and image of Aunt Jemima, already a mammy stereotype, from the vaudeville house. Green was hired to play the "happy slave" Aunt Jemima to promote Rutt's pancake mix (not a syrup). She was paid so little that she continued working as a maid until her death. She was buried in an unmarked grave the same year the United Daughters of the Confederacy almost succeeded in erecting a monument to “faithful colored mammies."
Stein grossly called Barack Obama the "the most racist president there has ever been in America" — not even grading him on the "doesn't literally own people" curve. He also suggested in 2014 that "the real problem with race in America is a very, very beaten-down, pathetic, self-defeating black underclass that is — uh, just can't seem to get its way going in the way that blacks were able to before the scourge of drugs and the scourge of gangs."
Yeah, we get why this guy loves him some Aunt Jemima, but he'll just have to pull himself up by his bootstraps and make do without his comforting racist mammy.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."