Companies across the U.S. have begun to re-examine some of their brand mascots in the wake of ongoing civil rights protests. Specifically, mascots that can be traced directly back to racist origins, as was the case with Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben brands, both of which are getting a complete overhaul.
Now, Colgate has announced it will be reviewing a brand of toothpaste it markets specifically to China and other countries in Asia. The brand, known as Darlie, prominently featured a white man wearing blackface on its packaging. Its name also translates into "Black Person Toothpaste," and it previously went under the racist name Darkie, which was only changed in 1989. Its current mascot is a man in a top hat and tuxedo, and while he appears to be racially ambiguous, the company nonetheless issued a statement to Reuters.
"For more than 35 years, we have been working together to evolve the brand, including substantial changes to the name, logo and packaging," the statement read. "We are currently working with our partner to review and further evolve all aspects of the brand, including the brand name." The outlet also noted that Darlie currently accounts for 17 percent of the toothpaste market in China, 21 percent in Singapore, 28 percent in Malaysia and 45 percent in Taiwan.
The protests, which have helped lead to a number of these pending changes, were ignited after the arrest of 46-year-old George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Following a report that Floyd had used a counterfeit $20 bill, he was killed after now-former officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into the back of his neck for nearly nine minutes. Chauvin and the three other responding officers were fired, and are all currently facing charges.
Just days later, demonstrators took the streets, calling for an end of police violence, which often disproportionately affects minorities. It's also led to some cities drastically defunding or rebuilding their police departments from the ground up. Additionally, TV networks have begun to re-examine how they've portrayed police officers in pop culture. Some reality shows, including Cops and Live PD, have been canceled. However, other long-running series, ranging from Brooklyn Nine-Nine to Law & Order: SVU will return, although it's been stated that these shows will acknowledge the changing world they take place in.