• Richard Easson

Royal Honor is the Latest Target for Makeover - Like Aunt Jemima, Eskimo Pies and Rhode Island

Only a few years ago, we thought we learned our lesson about attempting to change the logos or names of various products and sports teams based on what people thought were "offensive." As recently as 2016, many who were not even Native American began petitions to change the name and logo of the NFL team the Washington Redskins. After a poll was taken of what Native Americans thought about it, 90% weren't offended.

Now, after the killing of George Floyd, waves of petitions have been started for changes to characters and names that petitioners note relate to slavery or some sort of racial discrimination.

Last week, petitions were started do away with Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, Eskimo Pies, and Cream of Wheat. Yes, the Redskins could very well be on the chopping block again. Over the past couple of days, the Democrat governor of Rhode Island touted the proposal to change the official name of the smallest state with the largest name from "The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations" to simply "Rhode Island."

Yesterday on Twitter, caucasian Black Lives Matter activist, Shaun King, Tweeted that he thinks "the statues of the white European they claim is Jesus should also come down. They are a form of white supremacy. Always have been." Last time we checked, he's the only one who seems to care what skin color Jesus, Mary and Joseph had.

As we know, protests against police brutality and BLM marches made their way outside of the US, as well as the unfortunate rioting and looting. It was reported today that one of the most recent petitions to circulate is across the pond in England. This recent petition, with already close to 5,000 signatures on, claims that the image used for one of Britain's highest honors, depicts a clear intent to portray white supremacy. The Order of St. Michael and St. George, reserved for ambassadors, diplomats and other foreign officials who served with exemplary distinction in countries abroad, shows a light skinned St. Michael standing with his foot seemingly on the head of a dark skinned Satan with a sword in one hand and a chain in the other.

The petition, started by Tracy Reeves, says: “This is a highly offensive image, it is also reminiscent of the recent murder of George Floyd by the white policeman in the same manner presented here in this medal. We the undersigned are calling for this medal to [be] completely redesigned in a more appropriate way and for an official apology to be given for the offense it has given.”

In an interview with The Guardian, Nigerian British singer and activist, Bumi Thomas, said "It is not a demon; it is a black man in chains with a white, blue-eyed figure standing on his neck. It is literally what happened to George Floyd and what has been happening to black people for centuries under the guise of diplomatic missions: active, subliminal messaging that reinforces the conquest, subjugation and dehumanisation of people of colour." She continued “It is a depiction on a supposed honour of the subjugation of the black and brown people of the world and the superiority of the white, a construct born in the 16th century. It is the definition of institutional racism that this image is not only permitted but celebrated on one of the country’s highest honours. Whilst statues are being pulled down and relocated, emblems and symbols of this nature also need to be redesigned to reflect a more progressive, holistic relationship between Britain and the Commonwealth nations.”

Those who have been speaking out about the the image on the 202-year old badge have been noting the lack of horns and the dark color of Satan's skin as evidence that this is a depiction of white supremacy. Also, the presence of blue eyes, which don't seem to be visible in the image of the badge. Sir Simon Wolly, the director and co-founder of Operation Black Vote, noted the same aspects, but also pointed out the lack of a tail. The tail can actually be seen in the image along with dragon-like wings on the Satanic figure.

Over centuries of art, there have been many depictions of the same scene in question, including from famous painters such as Raphael, Dosso Dossi and Rubens. Like their scenes of St. Michael vanquishing Satan, others have included varieties of Satan-like figures with light skin, dark skin, horns, and legs. In an era where many things have been considered offensive, from statues to historical figures-turned product logos, anything and everything seems to be game. I'm sure many can say that it was nice knowing South Park, Family Guy and the Power Rangers while they lasted.