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Life was never ‘good’ for the Black slaves providing breakfast | READER COMMENTARY

This is a box of Aunt Jemima Buttermilk Pancake and Waffle Mix and a bottle of Aunt Jemima Original Syrup in Farmington, Pa., Thursday, June 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
This is a box of Aunt Jemima Buttermilk Pancake and Waffle Mix and a bottle of Aunt Jemima Original Syrup in Farmington, Pa., Thursday, June 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

Recently, a Baltimore Sun reader wrote a response to a Leonard Pitts Jr. commentary (”Aunt Jemima is off the pancake box,” June 22) regretting the loss of “symbols of what is good” such as Mrs. Butterworth, Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben (”Mrs. Butterworth was loved. Why must she disappear?” June 26). The reality, however, is that these images no longer serve to persuade that life ever was good for a servant who was a slave.

Believers in the “Lost Cause of the Confederacy” needed to portray slaves as happy with the status and limitations forced upon them. Most of us understand that was not the case. Only if the image were captioned, “Free at last,” might we believe that Aunt Jemima ever flashed that big smile.

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Or better still, we might feel more hopeful about the world and the people in it if Aunt Jemima, Mrs. Butterworth and Uncle Ben were to be replaced as our breakfast companions by images of Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass. The virtual presence of real heroes of antebellum America would most likely stimulate meaningful exchanges of opinion and better fulfill the above-mentioned writer’s constructive hope that we “listen and learn from each other…while sharing plates of pancakes.”

Charley Tucker, Baltimore

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