Uncle Ben’s rice changes name and logo after racial stereotyping criticisms

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  • The makers of Uncle Ben's rice have announced a brand revamp - changing its name and logo.

    The line of rice products, owned by global company Mars, has ditched its branding following criticisms it was playing into racial stereotyping.

    The brand announced that now is the “right time to make meaningful changes” confirming that Uncle Ben’s will be called Ben’s Original from now on, with products featuring the new branding landing in supermarkets from 2021.

    The company is also set to drop the image of fictitious rice farmer “Uncle Ben” from packaging.

    The brand have explained that the man featured in the logo was actually a “beloved Chicago chef and waiter named Frank Brown”.

    The change has been made after the products received online backlash for the use of the term “Uncle” in the branding – something that has racist connotations.

    The title “Uncle” was given to favored slaves, and later servants in the antebellum South. The iconography was deliberate and demeaning. Change your name,’ one poster wrote online.

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    We listened. And we learned. We understand the inequities that were associated with the name and face of the Uncle Ben’s brand and have committed to change. We will change our name to Ben’s Original™, as well as remove the image on our packaging to create more inclusive branding. This change signals our ambition to create a more inclusive future while maintaining our commitment to producing the world’s best rice. We are not just changing our name, but also taking action to enhance inclusion and equity and that comes with a new brand purpose to create opportunities that offer everyone a seat at the table. Our first actions will be to fund scholarships with National Urban League that will ensure aspiring Black culinary entrepreneurs get the educational opportunities they deserve so their ideas and voices can be appreciated by all. In addition to the new scholarship, we will invest in Greenville, Mississippi, where our brand has been produced for the U.S. market for more than 40 years, to enhance educational opportunities for more than 7,500 area students, as well as furthering access to fresh foods. Read more about our commitments to an equitable future for all at the link in bio.

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    In a statement, Ben’s Original announced the changes in light of a need to “enhance inclusion and equity”, following the growing prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight against systemic racism.

    The statement says, “This change signals our ambition to create a more inclusive future while maintaining our commitment to producing the world’s best rice.

    “We are not just changing our name and the image on the package, but also taking action to enhance inclusion and equity – and that comes with a new brand purpose to create opportunities that offer everyone a seat at the table.

    “We listened to our associates and our customers and the time is right to make meaningful changes across society.

    “When you are making these changes, you are not going to please everyone. But it’s about doing the right thing, not the easy thing.

    “These initial steps are in addition to commitments from Mars, Incorporated to continue to improve racial equity throughout our business, from increased representation in our workforce, leadership and talent pipeline, to better utilizing our spend, specifically among our suppliers, to drive positive change.”