Here's Why Trader Joe's Is Being Called Out For Racism

Justina Huddleston
·3 mins read

Click here to read the full article.

Trader Joe’s may be our favorite place to pick up a few bottles of inexpensive wine on the weekend and the number one spot we turn to when stocking up on frozen foods that don’t actually suck (cheap wine and frozen food, aka the quarantine diet), but if you’ve ever paid attention to the labels on some of their products, you may have noticed something a little disturbing. For years now, TJ’s labels for some of their internationally-inspired foods were downright offensive, but now, thanks to a Change.org petition, the chain is fast-tracking their plans to update the labels.

How exactly can a food label be offensive? Well, instead of keeping the Trader Joe’s moniker on pantry items like salsa verde and stir fry sauce, the company used names like “Trader Jose” and “Trader Ming’s,” which, according to Briones Bedell, the 17-year old who started the petition, “is racist because it exoticizes other cultures — it presents ‘Joe’ as the default ‘normal’ and the other characters falling outside of it.” Props to this teenager for calling out Trader Joe’s faux pas when many adults seemed to not even notice the issue.

Thankfully, the brand has already been working on updating these product labels to remove the exoticized names, but the Change.org petition brought new attention to the issue. The company responded that “While this approach to product naming may have been rooted in a lighthearted attempt at inclusiveness, we recognize that it may now have the opposite effect.” Though the company now says that they should complete the rebranding of the products in question soon, Bedell wants the company to commit to a timeline for when the changes will take place, since the company has allegedly been in the process of making the name changes for a few years now.

It may not seem like a dire issue compared to things like police brutality, the carceral state, and the institutional racism being protested across the country in recent months, but it’s just another example of the microaggressions that people of color face on a daily basis in the US. Hopefully Trader Joe’s can speed up the process of updating their labels to prove to their customers that they understand the need for anti-racist action, not only to make shoppers feel comfortable in their stores, but to be part of a national wave of reform that can set an example for other retailers and businesses as well.

And if they don’t? Well, at least you can still make Everything But the Bagel seasoning at home!

Don’t feel like shopping at TJ’s? Check out our gallery of Trader Joe’s products you can get at Walmart, below:

Best of SheKnows

Sign up for SheKnows' Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

More From

  • 5 Things You Should Do Immediately After Your Workout — Before Anything Else

    You’ve just completed a hard workout. But what do you do as soon as you’ve jumped off the treadmill and dropped those weights? Most of us, in haste to get out of the gym and back to dry clothing, grab our water bottles and head for the showers or back home. However, that's a mistake. […]

  • These Paparazzi Tactics Used to Stalk Prince George Have Us So Freaked Out

    When you're a member of the royal family, dealing with media attention is part of the territory, as Meghan Markle learned all too well these past few years. And though Prince Harry and Prince William have both been in the spotlight since birth, their mother Princess Diana's death in an incident involving a paparazzi chase […]

  • We Asked An Epidemiologist for Some Lysol Alternatives for Disinfecting Your Home

    As schools and workplaces around the country make attempts to re-open in the coming months, we'll all be looking once again for ways to keep our environments For people looking to clean surfaces in their home, a number of Lysol products have been touted as “able to kill the virus" — but what can you […]

  • Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt's Custody Battle Continues to Get Ugly

    Nearly four years in, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's divorce case seems to be facing another hurdle.  According to court documents Jolie claims the private judge presiding over their divorce case does not have her best interests and so things are once again getting ugly as the two parents fight for custody of their children […]