Black Image – Learning from ‘Corporate Reboots’

Go Lean Commentary

All lives matter …

For those of you in the Caribbean, your initial response to this statement may be “Duhh!!!” This is due to the fact that most Caribbean countries have a majority Black population.

But for those in the Diaspora who live, work and play in the US, Canada and Western Europe, you know that this “simple 3-word” statement cannot be taken for granted. This is due to the actuality of this recent movement, which has become a new Civil Rights struggle:

Black Lives Matter.

This is a timely discussion to have today. There are a number of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests that have taken place … in the US and in other countries around the world. So this is not just an American issue. This is a global issue for Black Image. The need for this message – and movement – is that many times, Black Lives have NOT mattered. The disenfranchisement, repression, oppression and suppression cannot be ignored. Many non-Black people are engaged in this struggle.

Many companies – corporate institutions – have engaged too. There are a lot of lessons we can learn from this actuality.

Yes, Big Companies – think Corporate America – can help to impact Black Image. This process has commenced; this is just another example of corporate vigilantism, but this is a good thing. In the last few months – especially after the atrocious death of the Black Man George Floyd by the hands of a White Police Officer – corporate entities have stepped-in, stepped up and stepped forward. We have these published examples of Corporate Reboots:

  • Aunt Jemima brand to change name, remove image that Quaker says is ‘based on a racial stereotype’
    The 130-year-old brand features a Black woman named Aunt Jemima, who was originally dressed as a minstrel character.
    The picture has changed over time, and in recent years Quaker removed the “mammy” kerchief from the character to blunt growing criticism that the brand perpetuated a racist stereotype that dated to the days of slavery. Quaker, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, said removing the image and name is part of an effort by the company “to make progress toward racial equality.” …
    Aunt Jemima has come under renewed criticism recently amid protests across the nation and around the world sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. – Source: NBC News posted June 17, 2020; retrieved July 20, 2020.
    See the VIDEO in the Appendix below.
  • Uncle Ben’s is a brand name for parboiled rice and other related food products. The brand was introduced by Converted Rice Inc., which was later bought by Mars, Inc. It is based in HoustonTexas. Uncle Ben’s rice was first marketed in 1943 and was the top-selling rice in the United States from 1950 until the 1990s.[1] Today, Uncle Ben’s products are sold worldwide. …
    On June 17, 2020, Mars, Inc. announced that they would be “evolving” the brand’s identity, including the brand’s logo. The move followed just hours after Quaker/PepsiCo acknowledged its Aunt Jemima brand is based on a racial stereotype and it will change the name and logo.[16][17]
  • DSW
    Designer Brands Inc. is an American company that sells designer and name brand shoes and fashion accessories. It owns the Designer Shoe Warehouse (DSW) store chain, and operates over 500 stores in the United States and an e-commerce website.[5] The company also owns private-label footwear brands including Audrey Brooke, Kelly & Katie, Lulu Townsend, and Poppie Jones.
    On June 6, 2020, the company published these statements: “We believe Black lives matter. But words are not enough. Now is the time for action. Here’s what we’re doing to help create meaningful change, in our nation and in our company.” – Source: Retrieved July 20, 2020 from:

  • Wells Fargo
    CEO Charlie Scharf announced on Tuesday (July 14, 2020) a series of commitments to ensure the company’s ongoing diversity and inclusion efforts result in meaningful change. [He stated]:
    “‘Black Lives Matter’ is a statement that the inequality and discrimination that has been so clearly exposed is terribly real, though it is not new, and must not continue,” Scharf said in a letter to employees. “The pain and frustration with the lack of progress within both our country and Wells Fargo is clear. I personally, and we as a senior team, are working to develop actions that will meaningfully contribute to the change that is necessary. This time must be different.” – Source: retrieved July 20, 2020.

The movement behind the 2013 book Go Lean…Caribbean produces a Teaching Series every month on issues germane to Caribbean life and prospects. The commentary this month presents this 6-part series on Black Image; considering that this is the majority demographic for 29 of the 30 countries and territories that constitute the political Caribbean. This first entry, 1 of 6 in this July 2020 series considers corporate entities that have stepped up to engage this discussion. This is vigilantism; these companies may not have currently been asked for these empowerments but they have responded to the need to elevate Black Image. The full catalog of the series is listed as follows:

  1. Black Image: Corporate Reboots
  2. Black Image: Pluralism is the Goal
  3. Black Image: Colorism – The Stain of Whiteness – Encore
  4. Black Image: Slavery in History – Lessons from the Bible
  5. Black Image: 1884 Berlin Conference – Beyond Slavery
  6. Black Image: The N-Word 101

All of these commentaries relate to “how” the stewards for a new Caribbean can elevate image for the people and institutions of the region. We can and must reboot. But this first entry, the foregoing, conveys an American drama, not Caribbean. Alas, this is the actuality of Black Image: success or failure of one group of Black people in one part of the world have a direct bearing on the image of Black people in other parts of the world.

This was the assertion in the Go Lean book – Page 133 – as it provides this tidbit on Black Image:

The Bottom Line on Martin, Malcolm, Mandela, Muhammad and Marley
The majority of the Caribbean population descends from an African ancestry – a legacy of slavery from previous centuries. Despite the differences in nationality, culture and language, the image of the African Diaspora is all linked hand-in-hand. And thus, when Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali and Bob Marley impacted the world with their contributions, the reverberations were felt globally, not just in their homelands. It is hard for one segment of the black world to advance when other segments have a negative global image. This is exemplified with the election of Barack Obama as US President; his election was viewed as an ascent for the entire Black race. [205]

Over 100 years ago, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) came to understand the power and influence of the then new medium of film [201] and added the mandate to their charter to confront the misuse of media to influence negative public attitudes toward race. As early as 1915, the group organized a nationwide protest against the negative portrayals of African Americans in the early film, “Birth of A Nation”. Today, the NAACP Hollywood Bureau continues to monitor the industry for offensive and defamatory images in film and television. It also sponsors the Image Awards Show to honor outstanding people of color in film, television, music, and literature, as well as those individuals or groups who promote social justice through their creative endeavors. A landmark Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 1999 between the NAACP and the major movie studios and TV networks that greatly advanced the cause of diversity in the entertainment industry and created a milestone by which to measure future progress in Hollywood.

We must be concerned about Black Image and Caribbean Image, independently and collectively. This is not new for this Caribbean effort; we had been advocating for image promotion long before the Black Man George Floyd was killed in Minnesota USA in May 2020. The timing of this death was heightened by the reflections afforded by the societal shutdowns from the Coronavirus COVID-19 crisis. But we have had this need from before this pandemic; we have the need now and we will continue to have this need after this pandemic.

There are no Ands, Ifs or Buts; we need to reboot Caribbean image, the same as those companies need to reboot their corporate image:

  • Aunt Jemima has always been a bad stereotype of Black Image (female).
  • Uncle Ben has always been a bad stereotype of Black Image (male).

Those companies did not just up and correct their bad stereotypes at the first request from the affected groups or the general public. No, it was a long-drawn struggle over many decades. In fact, “only after a long train of abuse” is usually the roadmap for minorities to get toleration, acceptance, equality and finally equity from their adjoining majority groups. So there are lessons that we can learn and apply here in the Caribbean from this historicity. Among the lessons:

the strategies, tactics and implementations that can accelerate change in society, change among the minority groups and the majority groups.

The Go Lean book, as a roadmap for the introduction of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU), presents an actual advocacy to present the strategies, tactic and implementation to Better Manage Caribbean Image. See here some of the specific plans, excerpts and headlines from Page 133, entitled:

10 Ways to Better Manage Image

1 Lean-in for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU).
This will allow for the unification of the region into one market of 42 million people across 30 member-states, with a GDP of $800 Billion (according to 2010 figures). In addition, the treaty calls for collective bargaining with foreign countries and industry representatives for causes of significance to the Caribbean community. There are many times when the media portray a “negative” depiction of Caribbean life, culture and people. The CU will have the scale to effectuate negotiations to better manage the region’s image, and the means by which to enforce the tenets.
2 Media Industrial Complex
The Caribbean Central Bank will settle electronic payments transactions; this will allow electronic commerce to flourish in the region. With the payment mechanisms in place, music, movies, TV shows and other media (domestic and foreign) can be paid for and downloaded legally. For a population base of 42 million, this brings a huge economic clout.
3 Respect for Intellectual Property
4 Sentinel in Hollywood
Like the NAACP, the CU will facilitate a Hollywood Bureau. It will monitor the industry for offensive and defamatory images in film, television, video games, internet content and the written word. Though the Hollywood Bureau is based in California-USA, their focus will be global, covering the media machinery of Europe, Asia (Bollywood) and elsewhere.
5 Anti-Defamation League
This Pro-Jewish organization provides a great model for marshalling against negative stereotypes that can belittle a race. [200] The CU will study, copy, and model a lot of the successes of the Anti-Defamation League. This organization can also be consulted with to coach the CU’s efforts. (Consider the example of Uptown Yardies Rasta Gang in the game Grand Theft Auto [206]).
6 Power of the Boycott
7 Freedom of the Press
8 Libel and Slander Litigation and Enforcement
9 Public Relations and Press Releases
10 Image Award Medals and Recognition
Following the model of the NAACP Image Awards [202], the CU will recognize and give accolades for individual and institutions that portray a positive “image” of Caribbean life and CU initiatives. This would be similar to the Presidential Medal of … / Congressional Medal of …

The points of fostering best-practices in Image Management is a familiar topic for the Go Lean movement. There are many previous blog-commentaries that elaborated on this subject; consider this sample here: Women Empowerment – Accepting Black Women ‘As Is’ A Caribbean Network to Better Manage our Image Lessons Learned – JPMorganChase Rebooting to make ‘Change’ happen ‘Black British’ and ‘Less Than’ Learning from Stereotypes – Good and Bad Caribbean Image: ‘Less Than’? ‘Good Hair’ and the Strong Black Woman Immigrants account for 1 in 11 Blacks in USA Bad Image: New York Times Maledictions on The Bahamas Bad Image: Miami’s Success Due to Caribbean Failure Bad Image of Ethnic Sounding Names Image of the Caribbean Diaspora – Butt of the Joke Lesser Image of Caribbean “Dreadlock hairstyles”

The motivation of For-Profit companies have always been to make a profit. The foregoing corporate examples demonstrate good corporate vigilantism to change society, while not abandoning the profit goal. These companies, and the Go Lean movement, accept that both goals can be pursued simultaneously … with gusto.

Recognizing the merits of this strategy is not new; (this was conveyed in the 2013 Go Lean book); it is the universal execution that is new! Yippee! Let’s keep this going!

Now it the time to double-down on improving Black Image around the world.

Now is the time to exert the effort on improving Caribbean Image around the world. (They are not mutually exclusive).

Yes, we can …

This is the heavy-lifting that we must do. This is how we will make our homeland a better place to live, work and play. 🙂

About the Book
The book Go Lean…Caribbean serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU), for the elevation of Caribbean society – for all member-states. This CU/Go Lean roadmap has these 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to ensure public safety and protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines, including a separation-of-powers between the member-states and CU federal agencies.

The Go Lean book provides 370-pages of turn-by-turn instructions on “how” to adopt new community ethos, plus the strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to execute so as to reboot, reform and transform the societal engines of Caribbean society.

Download the free e-Book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

Who We Are
The movement behind the Go Lean book – a non-partisan, apolitical, religiously-neutral Community Development Foundation chartered for the purpose of empowering and re-booting economic engines – stresses that reforming and transforming the Caribbean societal engines must be a regional pursuit. This was an early motivation for the roadmap, as pronounced in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Pages 12 – 13):

xi. Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.

xvi. Whereas security of our homeland is inextricably linked to prosperity of the homeland, the economic and security interest of the region needs to be aligned under the same governance. Since economic crimes … can imperil the functioning of the wheels of commerce for all the citizenry, the accedence of this Federation must equip the security apparatus with the tools and techniques for predictive and proactive interdictions.

xxiv.  Whereas a free market economy can be induced and spurred for continuous progress, the Federation must install the controls to better manage aspects of the economy: jobs, inflation, savings rate, investments and other economic principles. Thereby attracting direct foreign investment because of the stability and vibrancy of our economy.

Sign the petition to lean-in for this roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.


Appendix VIDEOAunt Jemima Image To Be Removed And Brand Will Be Renamed, Quaker Oats Announces | TODAY

Quaker Oats has announced that the image of Aunt Jemima will be removed from all packaging and the brand’s name will be changed. The move comes amid rapid cultural change in the wake of nationwide protests. TODAY’s Sheinelle Jones reports. » Subscribe to TODAY:

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