Petition: Trader Joe's, Remove 'Racist' Branding

A California high school senior is demanding change at the popular American chain
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2020 2:30 PM CDT
Updated Jul 18, 2020 3:00 PM CDT
Petition Slams Trader Joe's 'Racist Branding and Packaging'
Customers line up to enter a Trader Joe's grocery story, Friday, March 13, 2020, in New York. New York State has more than 400 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

An online petition is demanding that Trader Joe's remove "racist branding" from so-called ethnic foods like "Trader Ming's" and "Arabian Joe"—and even reconsider its store name, USA Today reports. "The grocery chain labels some of its ethnic foods with modifications of 'Joe' that belies a narrative of exoticism that perpetuates harmful stereotypes," reads the petition, which is written by California high school student Briones Bedell. "For example, 'Trader Ming's' is used to brand the chain's Chinese food, 'Arabian Joe' brands Middle Eastern foods, 'Trader José' brands Mexican foods, 'Trader Giotto's' is for Italian food, and 'Trader Joe San' brands their Japanese cuisine."

The petition also slams the store's name, which was inspired by the book White Shadows in the South Seas and the Disneyland Jungle Trip ride. According to Bedell, the book "demonstrates the horrific legacy of trading companies as they exploited and enslaved the South Pacific in the late 19th and early 20th centuries," while the ride has been accused if "misappropriating Indigenous culture." The chain, one of America's most popular, says it has already begun phasing out the "ethnic" food labels, which "may have been rooted in a lighthearted attempt at inclusiveness" but "may now have the opposite effect." No word yet on possibly rethinking the store's name. As for the petition, it has 915 signatures so far. (Other brands undergoing changes include the NFL team in Washington, Uncle Ben's, and Aunt Jemima.)

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