An East Texas family with a relative who portrayed Aunt Jemima isn’t happy that the brand has decided to rename the iconic maple syrup, arguing that the move is erasing their legacy of their deceased great-cousin, Lillian Richard.
Richard portrayed Aunt Jemima in a series of Quaker Oats company promotions, advertisements, and real life events in a career that lasted from the 1920’s to 50’s. She later became a goodwill ambassador for the town of Hawkins, Texas, which was designated the pancake capital of Texas in 1995 in her honor.
Vera Harris, a family historian for the Richard family of Hawkins, explained why the family opposes Quaker Oats’ decision to rename the maple syrup brand in a discussion with WBTV.
“A lot of people want it removed. We want the world to know that our cousin Lillian was one of the Aunt Jemima’s and she made an honest living. We would ask that you reconsider just wiping all that away. There wasn’t a lot of jobs, especially for black women back in that time. She was discovered by Quaker Oats to be their brand person.”
Harris argued that the reasoning behind the renaming ignored the history of the maple syrup brand.
“She was considered a hero on Hawkins, and we are proud of that. We do not want that history erased. I wish we would take a breath, and not just get rid of everything. because good or bad, it is our history. Removing that wipes away a part of me. A part of each of us. We are proud of our cousin.”
Critics of the Aunt Jemima imagery claim the character invokes a stereotype stemming from slavery, apparently under the belief that the allusion to traditional American cuisine is racist.
Harris also expressed opposition to the renaming of U.S. military bases, citing the family’s members who have served in the armed forces.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott Pledges to Outlaw Big Tech Censorship
Texas has had enough.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott is pledging to outlaw Big Tech’s left-wing censorship, announcing his support of a bill in the Texas State Senate that would open social media monopolies to lawsuits from users at a state level.
State Senator Bryan Hughes Senate Bill 12 would provide legal recourse for users of Big Tech platforms who are banned from the services to return, designating Big Tech monopolies such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook as common carriers.
“They are common carriers and they cannot discriminate against people … it’s a violation of the first amendment,” Hughes said. “This is going to protect Texas’ free speech and get them back online.”
I am joining @SenBryanHughes to announce a bill prohibiting social media companies from censoring viewpoints.
It's un-American, Un-Texan, & soon to be illegal.https://t.co/zSdirRa1pj
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) March 5, 2021
“These are the areas that used to be the courthouse square where people would come and talk,” said Abbott of the legislation. “Now, people are going to Facebook and Twitter to talk about their political ideas, and what Facebook and Twitter are doing — they are controlling the flow of information, and sometimes denying the flow of information.”
“Texas is taking a stand against big tech political censorship. We are not going to allow it in the Lone Star state.”
The law establishing legal recourse against online censorship may prove legally durable enough to avoid breaching Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. That law provides immunity for user-created content on internet platforms, and doesn’t give social media platforms a right to discriminate against active or potential users on the basis of political ideology.
The future for fighting Big Tech censorship lies at a state level. While some state Republican officials have proven reluctant to separate themselves from the lucrative business lobbies of Big Tech oligarchs, Hughes’ approach seems legally innovative enough to give free speech defenders a fighting shot at free expression online.
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