Note the difference here between Aunt Jemima and Trader José: Aunt Jemima is a stereotype implying that Black women’s place is as jocular, none-too-bright servants, while Trader José has no traits at all—it’s just a name, implying, if anything, a person of success and influence within a Spanish-speaking country. Trader José is a harmless hypothetical that makes the diaphragm twitch because it depicts a slight distortion of reality—key to humor—in this case, Trader Joe being a native of another country and thus named with that country’s closest equivalent.
To pretend that self-described anti-racist demands must be automatically adjudged authoritative is to give in to a kind of reign of terror. In response to viewer feedback, the Cartoon Network added Speedy Gonzales back to its programming in 2002. And Speedy was revived in the underrated early-2010s reboot The Looney Tunes Show as an intelligent and genuinely funny character—but with the same accent and clothes. The world kept spinning, but this year HBO disappeared him again in its latest revival, presumably to avoid winding up in the sights of those who insist that a character many Latinos love is an immorality.
The woke have valuable lessons to teach us all. However, we depart from the liberal foundations of this society in pretending that their lessons are commandments. Trader Joe’s could be pioneering in its polite but firm pushback against the excesses, and, hopefully, will be followed by other organizations, educational institutions, and individuals.