Facts Matter: Aunt Jemima a figure in recent false claims

Updated 6/27/2020 2:05 PM

A photo circulating on social media purporting to show Aunt Jemima holding a stack of pancakes while chained to a table is actually a modern artist's interpretation of the character, according to Snopes.com.

The Quaker Oats company plans to stop using the Aunt Jemima image on its products because of the character's connection to racial stereotypes. Some social media users said the company, by discontinuing the brand, would destroy the legacy of Nancy Green, who portrayed the character more than a century ago, Snopes said.


The Aunt Jemima name came from a song performed in a minstrel show by men dressed in blackface, which was seen by Chris Rutt after he and Charles Underwood developed a self-rising pancake mix in 1889. The company was sold and the new owner hired Green, a former slave in Kentucky, to portray Aunt Jemima at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, according to Snopes, quoting the Encyclopedia of African American Pop Culture.

The photo showing Aunt Jemima chained to the table is a 2008 self portrait by artist Sally Stockhold, titled "Aunt Jemima: I Laughed Because They Paid Me." Stockhold, who is white, donned blackface for the image, which she included as part of a collection on her website labeled "myselfportraits ode to icons and other absurdities," according to Snopes.

Twitter post wasn't from AOC

An image of a Twitter post on Facebook falsely implies Democratic U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez advocated keeping business closed until after the November election in an effort to oust Trump.

"It's vital that Governors maintain restrictions on businesses until after the November Elections because economic recovery will help Trump be reelected. A few business closures or job losses is a small price to pay to be free from his presidency. #KeepUsClosed," read the image dated May 20.

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There is no evidence this was posted by Ocasio-Cortez, according to PolitiFact.com. The post was flagged by Facebook in an effort to identify false news and misinformation.

The post claims the New York representative "deleted (the tweet) but not before it was shared over 20,000 times."

But the Twitter post couldn't be found and ProPublica, a website with an archive of deleted posts, had no record of it on either of Ocasio-Cortez's Twitter accounts, PolitiFact said.

There also were no news stories of Ocasio-Cortez making such a comment.

PolitiFact said the post is false.

NASCAR drivers not engaged in prayer

A photo circulating on social media after NASCAR banned the confederate flag shows a crew at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway kneeling in a line, with the false claim NASCAR "forces all their drivers to do Muslim prayer."

The false information collected more than 140,000 views.

The race crew knelt to participate in a "well-known NASCAR tradition" at the speedway's Yard of Bricks, according to The Associated Press. Following the race, the winning driver and crew walk out to the finish line, kneel and kiss the yard-long section of bricks on the track.


Driver Dale Jarrett and crew began the practice after winning the 1996 Brickyard 400 race, the AP said.

Lincoln bust damaged in years ago

News reports about damage to a bust of Abraham Lincoln nearly three years ago in Chicago have recirculated on social media with claims the violence happened during recent protests.

The monument was restored and moved to Chicago Public Library's West Englewood branch after it was burned in August 2017, according to The Associated Press.

Recent posts shared on Facebook and Instagram said vandalism to the Lincoln bust occurred during protests following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in May while a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck.

Shortly after those protests, an Instagram post said, "Abraham Lincoln, aka The Great Emancipator, signed the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, freeing the slaves as the United States descended into Civil War. The left doesn't care about that after all."

"Abraham Lincoln is well preserved in my community," Chicago Ald. Raymond Lopez told the AP. "It's fine and perfect in its location."

Since the monument was erected in 1926, it has been "spray painted, stolen, had its nose knocked off and then, finally, set on fire," the AP said.

In 2017, the bust was found burned where it had stood near 69th Street and Wolcott Avenue in the West Englewood neighborhood, according to NBC news. It was one of many statues across the U.S. vandalized during protests following violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was moved to the library in 2018.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at boboswald33@gmail.com

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