Dave Chappelle had the lofty duty of hosting the first post-election episode of Saturday Night Live. While the topic of the election was definitely at the forefront of the latest episode, the host and the cast still took part in an array of hilarious skits. During one of those skits, the show "fired" icons such as Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben after increased scrutiny into those characters amidst the Black Lives Matter movement.
Chappelle began the skit by sharing a serious anecdote directly to the audience. He said, "Hey, everybody, I hope you're having a good time at home watching the show. It's been a long, hard time. I know a lot of people have lost their jobs. And there's this climate, unfortunately, a lot of Black people lose their jobs. This next piece is about just that. It's about two Black people who have lost their jobs because of this new social climate we're all trying to figure out. Sadly, these two Black people may never get those jobs back. Enjoy." While the sentiment was heartfelt, the show then panned to a conference room in which both "Aunt Jemima" (played by Maya Rudolph) and "Uncle Ben" (played by Kenan Thompson) were being fired. When Aunt Jemima pushed back against the news by saying that everyone loves her pancakes, an executive played by Alec Baldwin explained, "It's you, you're the problem ... It's not about what you did, it's about how you made us feel about what we did."
Uncle Ben then questioned why they would have to go if the Allstate Guy, a.k.a. actor Dennis Haysbert (played Dave Chappelle), gets to stay. Chappelle, with his voice altered to reach Haysbert's deep tones, says through a fit of laughter, "Now wait a cotton-picking minute, Uncle Ben." The executives tell the Allstate Guy that he is indeed fired, too, which prompts Chappelle's character to say, "I'm not even a food product. I sell security. My deep Black voice makes White people feel safe. Like they're in good hands." In the end, all of the characters, including Pete Davidson's Count Chocula, were fired except for the Allstate Guy.
Over the past several months, multiple brands, such as Quaker Oats' Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben's have come under fire due to their racist origins. Quaker Oat's Aunt Jemima traces its roots back to 1889. Aunt Jemima, who was inspired by former slave Nancy Green, was made to look like the "Mammy" caricature. As a result, people have been reconsidering whether the use of characters such as Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben on these brands is acceptable in today's climate.