Trader Joe's is getting rid of product names such as Trader José's, Arabian Joe's and Trader Ming's that critics say are racist and "perpetuates harmful stereotypes."
The branding has come under new scrutiny after a Change.org petition demanded that the company "remove racist branding and packaging from its stores." The New York Times has reported that the petition was authored by 17-year-old Bay Area Briones Bedell, who has been described as a "rising high school senior and human rights activist."
"We made the decision several years ago to use only the Trader Joe's name on our products moving forward," spokesperson Kenya Friend-Daniel told NPR by email. She added that the company "had hoped that the work would be complete by now but there are still a small number of products going through the packaging change and we expect to be done very soon."
The petition, which has gathered more than 2,800 signatures, said the labeling "belies a narrative of exoticism that perpetuates harmful stereotypes."
The petition adds: "The Trader Joe's branding is racist because it exoticizes other cultures — it presents 'Joe' as the default 'normal' and the other characters falling outside of it — they are 'Arabian Joe,' 'Trader José,' and 'Trader Joe San.'"