During the past 48 hours, social media has been on a crusade for racial justice. Not for updated policies, not for genuine reform, and not even for economic equity. Nope, they have been on a campaign to rid the world of evil syrup. You heard that right. Both the Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Butterworth’s brands have come under fire for the racial history of their origins. They have now moved on to Uncle Ben and Cream of Wheat. With so many situations taking place in society, and with all the opportunities we currently have to bring an African American Agenda to the table, this was our focus.
To be fair, the people who want to cancel these brands are not inaccurate regarding racial origins. Both syrup brands originate from African American women who were paid to reinforce stereotypes essentially. Aunt Jemima, for example, was initially portrayed by Anna Harrington in the 1930s. The real injustice is the fact that Harrington was never rightfully compensated with royalties. In the past, her alleged family tried to ensure her estate received what is rightfully owed, but the courts ruled they did not have enough proof to show they were descendants of Harrington. Mrs. Butterworth had a similar situation in which many believe she is based on an African American woman.
The question is not whether situations like this are wrong. There are brands out there that have a history of racial issues. The question I ask is this: is this really what we should be fighting for at a moment when we have most of the world paying attention to us? Once again, during a crisis that has bought forth more conversations on racist issues (African American issues in particular), we are losing sight of the bigger picture. We are in an exceedingly rare time in which we can request a meaningful change. We could require proper equity in areas such as economics and education. The last thing we need to be worried about right now is equality in the world of pancakes. Do you have a problem with the syrup? Start a black owed syrup business. Do you want to fight the syrup companies? How about demanding proper compensation instead of a mere five-million-dollar handout. What you should not be doing is demanding the removal of a face. Why is it that when you discuss topics such as self-development, productive communities, and group economics, Black people dismiss it but will spend the day seeking equality by waging war on breakfast? Even if they change brands, this does not get us any step closer to proper equity. Actions such as these serve as nothing more than a grandstand to have too woke liberals and misguided African Americans feel good about themselves. So that 20 years from now, they can tell their grandchildren how they fought against systematic racism despite no real practical change.
This mob mentality of the people with “too woke syndrome” is getting out of hand. Earlier this week, the creators of the Marvel Avengers video game had to apologize because people were offended that the game features a Captain America statue, and statues are a no go in this environment. We have even seen discussions of the kids’ show Paw Patrol and the need to get rid of the police dog. Will we be canceling shows like Maury, Jerry Springer, or Love & Hip Hop as well for reinforcing black stereotypes? As I speak, #RIPTacoBell is trending because one manager did not let an employee wear a “Black Lives Matter” mask. We are ready to condemn an entire establishment because of one manager’s actions. Cancel culture is way too toxic, and very few people are trying to reel it in. Whenever there is a Black movement, it always gets hijacked by other people or ideas. We are letting cancel culture hijack this movement. Instead of well thought out plans to allow companies to provide equity owed and redeem their past, we always jump to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
To the people who look like me, please be more strategic. Please stop just seeking equality without equity. Do not be foolish. We have an opportunity to make highly effective demands at many levels of government. We have a shot at launching an initiative to create our own self-sufficient communities. Don’t you dare let anyone convince you to invest energy from that to worrying about syrup representation.