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They’re changing the name of Uncle Ben’s.

251 replies

mummabear1967 · 23/09/2020 18:37

www.itv.com/news/2020-09-23/uncle-bens-name-dropped-from-rice-brand-after-logo-criticised-as-racial-stereotype?fbclid=IwAR0QAktv-u9bOTaruhDqMWGIcCJjAMILzpXtmRSe_iYzQE6qKBTWinyaIK8


Why on Earth are they doing that? Have people seriously complained? I don’t know why I’m acting surprised!

OP posts:
hoven · 24/09/2020 08:35

This reply has been deleted

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MrsRogerLima · 24/09/2020 08:45

Op I kind of see where your coming from because being not racist and growing up with the brand I had never given it a moment's thought that it was anything other than just a nice guys face on some branding for convenient rice products.

But, as ive got older and learned more about history I can see totally why they have taken this step and I applaud them for it.

knittingaddict · 24/09/2020 08:48

I'm another one who is surprised that it's been kept as a branding for so long and is delighted that they are doing something about it.

It is clearly racist and no white person is harmed in the ditching of it.

MollyButton · 24/09/2020 08:49

The difference between Aunt Jemima and Aunt Bessie, is the first is American and Black, which leads to racial connotations (and in the US Jemima is seen as a slave name rather than the UK where its somewhat aristocratic). Aunt Bessie on the other hand has the image of being your Yorkshire (or Lancashire) Aunt, no negative connotations - although they might have to think twice before launching in the US.

fatherfintanstack · 24/09/2020 09:01

Great news that they're retiring this throwback to slavery, really not appropriate branding.

It's easy to see how a lot of people would associate the name with something positive in the UK, a kindly family figure or in say, the West African (amongst others) sense of Aunty or Uncle being used to show deference to an older person which is well known in the UK. The US based company should have known better though and changed this long ago.

Apparently it was named after a real rice farmer in Texas, wonder whether he or his estate ever saw any money from the use of his name?

This is the great thing about the Internet and the ongoing push for equality, we get to learn the broader context of things like this.

knittingaddict · 24/09/2020 09:09

If those connotations are indeed the case in the USA then I can understand why there is a need for change.

Thing is - the overwhelming majority of people in the UK wouldn't have a clue about any of that, because our culture is totally different. Here, the term 'uncle' is used as an endearment for much-loved friends as well as family, and most people who habitually wear a bow tie are generally viewed as well-off. The connotations are pretty much the opposite in fact.

Two countries divided by a common language.

Oh come on, the UK is swamped in US culture. Haven't people seen films and series with black slaves in? Never seen a single documentary about black slavery? Maybe you're right and the vast majority have no clue about this, but a 5 minute Google and there you are, educated.

dollyknocker · 24/09/2020 09:12

I'm ashamed to say that I'd never even considered the connotations behind the brand name and image and that is wholly to do with my white privilege. Now that I am aware, I agree that it is right to change it.

turnitonagain · 24/09/2020 09:14

It strikes me more and more how conservative many MN users are. So many people post here with a knee jerk reaction to any change, “change is bad!” It’s an utter inability to accept that things move on. Whose life is actually negatively affected by this change? In any case companies have the right to chance a brand name for any reason they want at any time they want.

zigaziga · 24/09/2020 09:19

Funny, I was reading something only a few weeks a go about the name Uncle Ben’s and the branding and what it all meant. I’d never had an inkling that there was an issue before but since I read all about it I feel uneasy every time I see that branding. It was about time.

terrywynne · 24/09/2020 09:28

@turnitonagain

It strikes me more and more how conservative many MN users are. So many people post here with a knee jerk reaction to any change, “change is bad!” It’s an utter inability to accept that things move on. Whose life is actually negatively affected by this change? In any case companies have the right to chance a brand name for any reason they want at any time they want.

It was ever the case. Right back to ancient Greece you can find texts where people are complaining about change, the young people of today, society going downhill since their youth etc etc. Transcribe them into modern English and you often can't tell they weren't written today! People just don't like change, it upsets out worldview and our sense of identity as part of a community and in relation to 'others'.
fatherfintanstack · 24/09/2020 09:35

@knittingaddict

If those connotations are indeed the case in the USA then I can understand why there is a need for change.

Thing is - the overwhelming majority of people in the UK wouldn't have a clue about any of that, because our culture is totally different. Here, the term 'uncle' is used as an endearment for much-loved friends as well as family, and most people who habitually wear a bow tie are generally viewed as well-off. The connotations are pretty much the opposite in fact.

Two countries divided by a common language.

Oh come on, the UK is swamped in US culture. Haven't people seen films and series with black slaves in? Never seen a single documentary about black slavery? Maybe you're right and the vast majority have no clue about this, but a 5 minute Google and there you are, educated.

To be fair, I think pretty much every adult in the UK is well aware of the Atlantic slave trade and the consequences thereof, to a greater or lesser extent. Movements such as BLM, and a number of excellent writers and broadcasters have done a lot to help increase understanding and I think more and more, many people generally want to understand. Of course there are committed 'all lives matter' types and racists but I think many people who do not have these sorts of views are getting engaged in wanting a fair society.

However, I wouldn't expect most people in the UK to know details such as the significance of a bowtie or the word 'uncle' in this context necessarily, no. People can't be expected to think of and google everything and this is where discussion comes in, filling the gaps. I have just tried googling the bow tie and while I got a lot of really interesting material about quilt codes, there wasn't a clear explanation about a bow tie being worn by somebody in a position of servitude. Point being, it is easy to say 'just Google everything' but it isn't as simple as that.

Sometimes, as PP says, when a culture makes very different (or no) associations with (eg) a word, people would need to have their attention drawn to the fact that it is problematic in context.
PolkadotsAndMoonbeams · 24/09/2020 09:37

knittingaddict While I agree we know a lot more about American culture here than, say, Japanese culture, I don't think it helps if you don't realise the brand is American.

I've read Uncle Tom's Cabin, studied To Kill a Mockingbird etc. I know that Uncle was used in that way, and still didn't connect it to the rice brand because it doesn't "read" as American to me.

Now I know, then yes, I can apply that knowledge to the name. But if you don't know the brand is American, then you wouldn't naturally apply that meaning to it — especially if you've known the brand since early childhood. You'll think of it as the meaning of Uncle you're most used to. And in the UK, there no different connection between Uncle and being black.

eaglejulesk · 24/09/2020 09:41

They think that yelling snowflake is the height of intelligence and wit, that they've really stuck it to the rest of us with that overused insult.

And those who yell boomer and call people Karen are different are they? Interesting Hmm

turnitonagain · 24/09/2020 10:16

And those who yell boomer and call people Karen are different are they? Interesting hmm

One can quibble on the terms but older people trying to stop younger people having fun or doing anything differently than they do are pretty bloody annoying.

SerenityNowwwww · 24/09/2020 11:12

It trying to stop them doing something stupid and dangerous? Of course it’s all relative and we were all young but thank god my mum stepped in at some points.

saraclara · 24/09/2020 11:49

@turnitonagain

And those who yell boomer and call people Karen are different are they? Interesting hmm

One can quibble on the terms but older people trying to stop younger people having fun or doing anything differently than they do are pretty bloody annoying.

And younger people writing off older people's opinions or decisions because 'Boomer' is also pretty bloody annoying.

We need to stop with these negative generalisations. Ageism in both directions is wrong.
CheetasOnFajitas · 24/09/2020 11:59

I have just tried googling the bow tie and while I got a lot of really interesting material about quilt codes, there wasn't a clear explanation about a bow tie being worn by somebody in a position of servitude. Point being, it is easy to say 'just Google everything' but it isn't as simple as that.

I think you need lessons in Googling! Google “Bow tie racist” and you’ll get multiple hits about Uncle Ben.

SerenityNowwwww · 24/09/2020 12:00

You’re old and know nothing! The world has moved on you know!

You are young and idealistic - the world doesn’t work like that. You’ll learn...

Has been the way since humans first crawled out of the swamp...

CheetasOnFajitas · 24/09/2020 12:00

That first section was quoting @fatherfintanstack, bold fail.

SerenityNowwwww · 24/09/2020 12:01

Nation of Islam - bow ties in their uniform?

fatherfintanstack · 24/09/2020 12:30

@CheetasOnFajitas

That first section was quoting *@fatherfintanstack*, bold fail.

perhaps you need lessons in quoting...
fatherfintanstack · 24/09/2020 12:40

just had a look using those search terms and there's no clear explanation of why the bow tie is significant, the only indication is maybe that golliwogs usually had them but not really that it's actually based upon something people would have worn as part of their position in service.

The Uncle Ben's links simply mention that the man in the logo is wearing a bow tie.

Nope, googling skills are fine, thank you.

CheetasOnFajitas · 24/09/2020 12:42

@fatherfintanstack

just had a look using those search terms and there's no clear explanation of why the bow tie is significant, the only indication is maybe that golliwogs usually had them but not really that it's actually based upon something people would have worn as part of their position in service.

The Uncle Ben's links simply mention that the man in the logo is wearing a bow tie.

Nope, googling skills are fine, thank you.

No, they are really not! You can’t just put “bow tie” into google and expect results explaining why it could be associated with racist/slave imagery!
QuestionableMouse · 24/09/2020 12:44

@FlibbertyGiblets

People may not have complained. The parent company, MARS, has decided to retire the image of a black farmer, and to remove "Uncle" as it carries connotations of servility. Who would object to this? Seems a sensible commercial decision, even if some find it cynical.

HTH.

Thank you for explaining that. It's a brand I very rarely use and I wasn't aware of the connotations behind the name.
fatherfintanstack · 24/09/2020 12:44

is that what I did, just put 'bow tie' into Google? why do you think the quilt codes came up and not a load of mens formalwear sites?

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