Jemima - thoughts?

I love the name [name]Jemima[/name].

As I live in the UK I have no other association than the (only) one that we have here – a quaint biblical/Victorian darling feel.

It was popular in rural areas during and after the Reformation and became a favourite with middle / upper class Victorians. Most people here, if they look carefully enough, will have a [name]Jemima[/name] in their family tree somewhere. (My gt x6 grandfather [name]Meshach[/name] (b. 1753) had siblings [name]Mary[/name], [name]John[/name], Seaman, [name]Jemima[/name], Shadrach, [name]Keziah[/name] & [name]Peter[/name])

If I was to have any association it would be that it is a teeny bit on the posh side. It sits nicely with the Clemetines and Oscars but not so much with the Alfies and Chloes. That’s not a negative thing though :slight_smile:

[name]Susan[/name], thanks for putting in the effort. This is really interesting.

[name]Jemima[/name] is my all-time favorite name! I am expecting a baby girl in February and have begged and pleaded with my husband to let me name the baby [name]Jemima[/name], but he won’t hear it.

First of all, I’d like to mention that the company HAS changed the image of Aunt [name]Jemima[/name]. When I was a kid [I’m 29] Aunt [name]Jemima[/name] was a black mammy complete with red handkerchief. Today she’s just a smiling black woman with red lipstick, pearl earrings, and a cute 1950’s-like bob. I don’t know when this change took place, but I suspect that a lot of younger people [the seventeen-year-old who posted, for example] might be completely unaware that this brand had a mammy for a spokesperson. It’s safe to say that any kid given the name now would just have to deal with syrup connotations by her peers, rather racial issues. So it’s possibly just my generation and up that might be made uncomfortable by the name.

Secondly, not everyone is offended by the old image of Aunt [name]Jemima[/name]. Many people [black and white] collect black [name]Americana[/name] and the character of Aunt [name]Jemima[/name] is part of that. She simply represents another time. Of course, it’s perfectly reasonable to find the image offensive or in the least distasteful, I just want to point out that not everyone does.

I think the fact that the name is tied to slavery and freedom actually gives it more meaning and depth. Hear me out on this one… Consider the name [name]Moses[/name], another name popular among blacks around the abolition era. The [name]Moses[/name] of the Old Testament freed his people from slavery. In the story of [name]Job[/name], [name]Jemima[/name] represents the mercy and prosperity granted to [name]Job[/name] after enduring enormous hardship without losing faith in God. It’s obvious why these names might appeal to a suffering people. They are great symbols of hope. I’m not a religious person, but the story of [name]Job[/name] appeals to me for philosophical reasons. These characters are universal and inspiring.

I keep coming back to read this post, hoping that my mind on the name will change. I think its unfortunate that in [name]America[/name] this is the association most people have. [name]Jill[/name] pretty much pin pointed i would say most peoples points of veiw here in the US. I can see where the name would be offensive to [name]African[/name] Americans, rightfully so, and i think in all honestly almost all [name]African[/name] Americans would be offended. I think it would cause alotof racial teasing in the middle school time frame if the child with the name was white or even if an [name]African[/name] American was given the name but had less money and dressed poorly.

It sounds so terrible to think about, but i think it would cause alot of problems for the child. I think alot of races have regular names that are offensive for one reason to another (and i mean names like actual names from their history not slang derogitory words) that should not be used in reality by anyone where the association is a bad one. [name]Jemima[/name] in the US falls under this category.

But aside from just the name, it really is a visual association sorta thing for me and i believe most people who grew up around the brand or just happened to see it enough walking through the grocery store. I myself dont get Aunt [name]Jemima[/name] syrup, i get Mrs. Butterworth so i dont see the bottle hardly ever as i know what im looking for so i have no association of a new image (one poster said they changed it from a mammy image to a 1950’s type of image), so when i hear [name]Jemima[/name] not only do i automatically add Aunt to the front i picture the syrup bottle.

I think its really terrible though, all in all that we have associations like this cause this is a terribly negative association to a beautiful name. I jsut cannot shake it, maybe it is just people of my generation that will have it but i think most people will be generally offended by the name here in the states as even when at first it may not pop up when you think about it bet almost every parent in the US (i say almost cause i think i very high amount MUST have heard of it when they were at least younger), would think, like the syrup? and the slave on the bottle?. I hope thatit fades and the name can rise above this negative conotation, as in sound (when i push and shove the image out of my head) it is a beautiful name.

Im very happy it is used in other countries with no problem. Because im sure there are names all over the world that are offensive to one culture and loved and widely used in other cultures. But i dont expect the US to catch up with [name]Jemima[/name] for a while, because if the children being born this generation dont have the association, the parents and grand parents will. So i think if it does never catch back to younger gnerations as a that specific image in about 30 + years will be OK to use and in about 50+ years will be used alot. It is a shame though, im glad its getting some light in other countries:)

If [name]Jemima[/name] reeks of slavery and racial overtones then why is it that the name [name]Tom[/name] is so acceptable seeing as Uncle [name]Tom[/name] was the male stereotype?

It doesn’t make sense to me. All things being equal the name [name]Thomas[/name] should be off limits too.

It’s interesting that “[name]Keziah[/name]” has come up a couple times in this thread too. I had always thought of this as a ‘black’ name until I kept meeting ‘white’ [name]Keziah[/name]'s in the UK. I love it when my name associations, usually ones I never realised I had, are challenged in this way.

If I didn’t know a [name]Jemima[/name] personally I would absolutely have been in the ‘you can’t use that name!’ camp but knowing one has completely changed my perspective.

I think thats a good point. For me personally the big problem with [name]Jemima[/name] is theres a picture in my head that pops up, thers not with [name]Tom[/name]. Im sure for people that have a bad image of [name]Tom[/name], or any name for that matter, the thing that makes it worse is having a picture or some sort of experiance to remember it by. When your first experiance with something is about slavery, then in a negative connotation stuck in your mind. But when its not, you have nothing to compare it to and just here the word and then when you here things later it doesnt affect your judgement of the name very much if at all unless it is a horrible experiance. I personally have no negative feelings towards [name]Tom[/name], a new many Toms before i ever knew about Uncle [name]Tom[/name]'s Cabin (a book written about slavery), a peeping tom, or any other bad experiance with a person named tom so it doesnt post a problem.

But the first ever experiance with [name]Jemima[/name] i had was (in my opinion) a very rascist offensive thought that has since stuck out in my mind and being around the same thing/image sort of burns that perspective of the name into your mine. Much like with [name]Devon[/name] being a sausage, if its always been known to you as a sausage its always going to be a sausage, but if you meet a women named devon first it sounds like a perfectly acceptable name. I dont think its so much the name alone its that everyone has seen this image and it was more then likely the first thing they ever heard about the name and has since stuck as a “discription” of sorts for the name. If that makes any sense. Its kinda wrong yea but eveyrone does it. [name]Just[/name] like people who wont give their children certain names because they knew a horrible person with that name. Its not cause the name is horrible, or because the name automatically makes you think of a terrible person, its because you had a down right bad experiance with someone with the name and that “tainted” the name. [name]Hope[/name] that makes a little more sense to you.

Thanks, everyone, for all these really thoughtful comments. [name]Susan[/name], I will be really interested to see if there’s a response from the company and, yes, they have made an effort to change Aunt [name]Jemima[/name]'s image from the stereotypical black “mammy” to the benevolent (sweet!) lady.

On [name]Tom[/name], the difference, [name]Rollo[/name], is that some names such as [name]Jemima[/name], [name]Keziah[/name], and [name]Jethro[/name] were “reserved” for blacks – chosen originally by slaveowners specifically because they were NOT used for whites (simply because they’d fallen out of style or hadn’t been transferred from the bible or mythology to the contemporary name pool) and then were passed down by [name]African[/name]-Americans as family names, remaining off-limits for whites undoubtedly by their own choice.

Other names, such as [name]Tom[/name] or [name]Jim[/name] or [name]Elizabeth[/name], were used by both blacks and whites. By the 19th century, slaves chose their own children’s names and, because many had converted to Christianity, picked biblical or saints’ names that were the same as names used by white Americans.

If you google “Aunt [name]Jemima[/name] [name]History[/name]”, you can read a timeline about the company called Aunt [name]Jemima[/name]. It is amazing! Much of the timeline is about the introduction of food products, but there are three entries that show just how racist the Aunt [name]Jemima[/name] logo and image have been in the past. Now I can’t remember what year it was, but I think in the early '60’s, there was a slogan for Aunt [name]Jemima[/name] that was, “Aunt [name]Jemima[/name], what took you so long?” That is horrid! Makes my skin crawl.
Then in the late '80’s, the company had the headband removed from Aunt [name]Jemima[/name]. Pearls and a lace collar were added. Then in the '90’s, and this just shows the amount of racism we’ve had in our country - the company created a new Aunt [name]Jemima[/name] logo where they had her chin tilted higher.
It is good that the company has changed the look of Aunt [name]Jemima[/name], but I think they should think of a new name and a new image for their company.
As far as [name]Tom[/name] and [name]Elizabeth[/name] go, they are very white bread names. I love them, but they are not used in the [name]African[/name] American community. I only figured out in the last few years that names like [name]Tom[/name] and [name]Elizabeth[/name] are so white bread. I think [name]Pam[/name] and [name]Linda[/name] have talked about names that certain cultures use, but maybe I am thinking of a book by [name]Laura[/name] Wattenburg.

Putting aside all of the issues of race and slavery, which are obviously not to be taken lightly, I [name]DO[/name] think there is an issue with the “syrup” association which has nothing to do with race, which is that a lot of preschoolers will tease a girl simply for being named after a pancake syrup!

caaaaaaaaaitlin - I am the seventeen-year-old who posted earlier. I am definitely aware of the mammy association. My point was just that it isn’t the first thing to pop into my head, since I’ve known about the syrup since I was a little kid and the racist history for only a few years.

I’m so glad to see the discussion really take off on this one because it’s interesting and complex, and 'cause I tend to feel like such a spoilsport for bringing up the racial stereotype when so many people like this name. I think it would be nice if [name]Jemima[/name] could overcome its negative connotations and in truth I’m in my twenties and only had the syrup and [name]Jemima[/name] Puddleduck associations till college but I am concerned about the potential for offending older and/or [name]African[/name] American people. I bring it up, not to perpetuate the stereotype (which maybe unfortunately it does) but as a “by the way, this is potentially problematic” comment to a parent considering the name who perhaps, like me, wasn’t exposed to this kind of thing much. For the record, I also think the concept of a name being “too black” is worth exploring, too; the “too black” thing was not what I was alluding to in my previous comments on [name]Jemima[/name] but it’s no secret that it’s a common unspoken thought in naming for a lot of people. Would anyone be interested in this subject as a separate thread? Are there some [name]African[/name]-American nameberryites here who would like to weigh in? Does anyone here consider certain names to be “too white?”

I think your right thats it is a common unspoken thought in naming to pay attention to the i guess we can call it “race name” rules. While i am not [name]African[/name] American, I have heard [name]African[/name] Americans say name along the sence of [name]Mason[/name] are “too white”. And i once knew a white girl who had the name [name]Lucretia[/name] (Loo-cree-sha), she went by [name]Lucy[/name] and nobody every thought anything of it but when her full name was said everyone (even the [name]African[/name] Americans) said “The little southern white girl has a black girls name”. So i think its certain sounds (not just names) that may bind a name to a certain race. Alot of the times with people named “[name]Unique[/name]”, “[name]Precious[/name]”, or “[name]Princess[/name]” are expected by MOST people to be of [name]African[/name] American desenct and most of those people expect them to come from a low income home, thus they became “gettoh” girl names, and alot the same for names like Chanadeleria, [name]Shoshana[/name], so on and so forth. Its the sound of the name that people have began to label with certain races. Liek [name]Holly[/name], sounds like a white girl name to most people.

Its terrible really when you think of the way naming works for msot people. People actually choose to defere way from names sounding “too black” “too white” or “too mexican”. I actually think Mexican is problably worse then [name]African[/name] American in the sense of “this name sounds too mexican” because of the accent needed to say the names. A white child named “[name]Jose[/name]” would probably be rediculed and teased. However with Mexicans most names from some point in time in their culture so its slightly diffrent thenthe assumption people make with names that are “too black” or are “too gettoh”.

I think everyone follows the race name rules entirely without realizing it most of the time as it has become a fact in everyday life. Go to a highschool and listen to how they speak and the assumtions they all make about each other. So when they have kids they are stuck with those assumptions.

But i think the MAIN reason names are considered “too black” (i do personally believe [name]African[/name] American names are the most prominate in this discusion) is because people that are not african american dont want to offend african american people. I think and hope that nobody sets out purposly to offend people of other cultures but im sure it does happen. Also in [name]America[/name] i think that race is a VERY hot item right now. It has been for a [name]LONG[/name] time and unfortunatly looks like it iwll stay a big ticket topic of discussion cause there will always be people who dont like other races. So because its such a controversal issue still, names that people lable to fit ONLY a certain culture will remain off limits for other cultures until everyone can respect one another and truley be equal. Its sad that things are still like this today, we have made alot of progress against racial segregation but have still not made it all the way. So names are still considered to belong to certain races, though we are getting away from it more and more i think if it happened to be a rather prominately known name for belonging to african americans or a name ferering back to african american hardships would be the center of debate for a [name]LONG[/name] time. While [name]Jemima[/name] is not as offensive as [name]Kunta[/name] Kiente would be, i still think that since many people know it as the “mammy” image it would still be highly controversial at this time in america, which is unfortunate.

I have never really taken the time to think this much about this certain issue, but it makes me uncomfortable now thinking of how far we seem to be lagging in equality, even if it is just names we dont veiw each other (and this is speaking to all races) equally enough to use each others names without becoming offended, and for extremesists enraged. It really is unfortunate

Here is a reply that I just received from the Aunt [name]Jemima[/name] company:


We appreciate you letting us know that there is a lively discussion going on about the name [name]Jemima[/name].

The Aunt [name]Jemima[/name] brand has earned the trust of generations of consumers by providing quality, wholesome products to millions of families for more than 100 years. Consumers tell us it invokes a sense of caring, nurturing and comfort by moms - qualities revered by families around the world.

The Aunt [name]Jemima[/name] trademark and products have stood for quality and convenience for more than 100 years. [name]Just[/name] as American culture has evolved, the Aunt [name]Jemima[/name] trademark has evolved over time and is more reflective of today’s culture.

We are always listening to our consumers to continually research consumer perception on all aspects of the brand. Our research indicates that Aunt [name]Jemima[/name] is one of [name]America[/name]'s most recognized brands and is viewed favorably by consumers of various ethnic backgrounds. The Aunt [name]Jemima[/name] brands have always represented warmth, nourishment and trust. The Aunt [name]Jemima[/name] trademark is proudly displayed on a variety of products that are enjoyed by families throughout the world.

I hope this information is helpful, [name]Susan[/name].

Quaker Consumer Relations
Ref# 027068254A

Please help us deliver exceptional customer service by answering four questions:

I am not a fan…but how about something like [name]Genevieve[/name]?

[name]Susan[/name] I think that the answer that you received back from the Aunt [name]Jemima[/name] people sounds like they are living under a rock.

I think it is time for Aunt [name]Jemima[/name] to be renamed [name]Obama[/name]'s [name]Favorite[/name] Maple Syrup and hopefully then the stigma’s will disappear.

I think they should call it Dubya’s [name]Favorite[/name] Syrup.

I agree. I just don’t think it is a flattering name. Sorry.

[name]Hi[/name] [name]Rollo[/name]! I was actually thinking about this the other night! For me, [name]Thomas[/name] and [name]Jemima[/name] are different because:

  1. While “Uncle [name]Tom[/name]” was indeed a horrible stereotype, a syrup company never sought to capitalize off of slavery by naming its product “Uncle [name]Tom[/name]'s Syrup” and plastering the image of a smiling slave on the bottles. Had I grown up seeing bottles of “Uncle [name]Tom[/name]'s Syrup” every single time I went to the grocery store, I’d feel the same way about [name]Tom[/name] as I do [name]Jemima[/name].

  2. While Aunt [name]Jemima[/name] is the only [name]Jemima[/name] with whom I’m familar, I know of many Toms and Thomases, and think of [name]Thomas[/name] Aquinas, [name]Thomas[/name] [name]Edison[/name], [name]Thomas[/name] [name]Hardy[/name], etc., when I hear the name. Because of this, I view “Uncle [name]Tom[/name]” as only one example of the name [name]Thomas[/name], as opposed to thinking only of “Aunt [name]Jemima[/name]” when I hear [name]Jemima[/name].

To me, [name]Jemima[/name] is what [name]Pam[/name] and [name]Linda[/name] have called a “star sanctioned name,” where the name is strongly connected to one person, such as names like [name]Cher[/name], [name]Madonna[/name], [name]Elvis[/name], etc.

If I weren’t in the U.S., I know I’d think differently, but for now, [name]Jemima[/name] is only Aunt [name]Jemima[/name] to me, while [name]Thomas[/name] has many, many associations.

Take care! :slight_smile:

[name]Susan[/name], you’re the best! :slight_smile:

I’m giving you high-fivies for writing! :slight_smile: