Until very recently I was about 85% on the side of (what I think are) the values of the "woke." Not that I've read up on it much. However a few recent events have become irritants, salt water in the eyes, so to speak.
One is the attack on the the common name of McCown's Longspur, because McCown, who collected the bird in the 1850's, later fought for the South in the civil war. 750,000 men fought on the Southern side, and somewhere around 570,000 of them were from non-slave-owning households. I am not a Southerner nor have any Southern ancestors, but it strikes me as tarring with a very large brush when holding all Southern soldiers to be racists, forever to be condemned and made non-persons.
The next was the attack on John Muir as racist and calling for the elimination of all statues, place names, etc. named after him. Muir is a national hero, widely recognized as one of the fathers of the environmental movement and a prime mover in the creation of the National Park System. The good he did which has increased over the past century vastly outweighs whatever comments-in-passing he might have made in the course of a long and eventful life.
And now they're jumping on good-ol' TJ's. "Jose" is racist? "Ming" is racist? Tell that to the millions of Joses and Mings in the world. If it was "Wetback Beer" or "Ching-chong Chinaman Chow Mein" it would be demeaning. All the ensuing comments in the Los Angeles Times were pro-TJ's, including all the ones from people who were purported to be insulted - Mexicans, Chinese, Japanese. They LIKED seeing a favorable reference to themselves on a product. We ALL liked it. TJ's is a great store at which I've shopped for over 40 years, since they were a mere handful of stores scattered around the Los Angeles area.
I suppose I should be insulted, feeling unsafe, micro-aggressed and irate that for decades a cut of MEAT - despite my preference for vegetarianism - bore MY name - Chuck steak. I'm looking for those responsible for that obvious reference to killing and butchering me and I'm going to sue their pants off.
The world has gone mad. Maybe Covid-19 is rotting their brains.
I concur 100% with Wendy Hughes. Very well said!
I’m not particularly woke - and although I’m all for equal pay, women’s right to choose, and Black Lives Matter, these product labels are illustrating the inclusiveness of ethnic dishes in American cuisine, not discrimination against anyone. The labels are not demeaning - they are not Aunt Jemima that was uncomfortably reminiscent of an anachronistic stereotype. Lumping TJ’s labeling with police brutality, institutionalized racism and discrimination, cheapens the sacrifice and effort to reverse those other societal policies.
I think the company’s decision to resist a characterization critical of their product labels put an appropriate boundary on activists’ ability to interfere in a retailer’s design decisions.
Speaking for those of us who are trans-species, I am offended by the "othering" of our various species
by naming foods after them. Those of us who consider ourselves to be flounders, for example, feel very
unsafe when we see signs saying "FISH" at Trader Joe and other retail outlets. We demand that all food
made from animal species by identified only by number.
Is there a difference between the schtick of TJ's ethnic brand names and the schtick of the company name itself?
"The store had a nautical theme and it was run by people who were described as “traders on the high seas.” At the time, Joe had been reading a book called "White Shadows in the South Seas," and he’d been to the Disneyland Jungle Trip ride, and it all just…coalesced. To this day, Trader Joe’s Crew Members consider themselves “traders on the culinary seas” and are known for their bright, tropical-patterned shirts and for generally being nice, helpful, and well informed."
They are stereotyping the goddam food, not the people who invented the recipes. When you become offended on behalf of folks for these ridiculous reasons, you trivialize the whole subject and give people who truly are racist the opportunity not to take any of it seriously.