Famous rice brand ditches ‘racist’ name
A Uncle Ben's rice is changing its name and logo after 70 years following critcisim for perpetuating racial stereotypes.
The popular rice - which is sold in Australian supermarkets - will now be known as Ben's Original and will ditch the imagery of a black farmer from its packaging.
Titles such as uncle and aunt were commonly used in southern US states to refer to black people, instead of the more formal and respectful "Miss" or "Mister".
Mars said it understood the "inequities" of the brand's racial imagery and were "committed to change".
"Over several weeks, we have listened to thousands of consumers, our own associates and other stakeholders from around the world," said Fiona Dawson, a Mars executive. "We understand the inequities that were associated with the name and face of the previous brand and, as we announced in June, we have committed to change."
In June, a statement posted on the brand's Facebook page said the global brand was "listening to the voice of consumers, especially in the Black community" and would be making changes.
It also previously explained that Uncle Ben was a fictional character whose name was first used in 1946 in reference to an African American Texan rice farmer, Frank Brown.
The rice products are sold in Woolworths, Coles and IGA supermarkets in Australia for around $3 a packet.
On social media, the brand's name change has been met with mixed reviews.
Some people on social media have claimed the outrage hasn't come from the Black community, instead stating it is other people who are "offended on Black people's behalf". While others said it was important to have "representation".
There are a lot of white people being offended on black people's behalf these days.— ZUBY: (@ZubyMusic) June 26, 2020
I can't speak for all, but I don't think anyone was offended by Aunt Jemima's syrup, Uncle Ben's rice, Gone With The Wind, or who voices certain cartoon characters.
This is getting dumb... 🤣
Am I the only black person who is annoyed by this? https://t.co/zjHFDAMgPs— Naomi (@naomijoking) September 23, 2020
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it considered representation to have a black mascot, rather than racist?— Shadowking58 #RaymanForSmash #MasterChiefForSmash (@mariofan48) September 23, 2020
Others applauded the move, stating it was a "step forward".
Using minorities as mascots is so ubiquitous. I'm not surprised at people thinking it's a pointless change. But, seeing how angry this makes racists, I realize that it's also a step forward.— 🏚️Feudal Era, USA🏰 (@fooblued) September 23, 2020
I’m glad they changed the out dated and racist packaging. Stop using black people and other POC as mascots.— 🍓𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗤𝘂𝗲𝗲𝗻 𝗼𝗳 𝗦𝗵𝗲𝗯𝗮 👑 (@SabaSmw) September 23, 2020
The new packaging is expected to begin reaching shops in 2021 though a new logo is yet to be unveiled.
Originally published as Famous rice brand ditches 'racist' name