Debate is raging over whether or not the controversial name of a popular cheese should be changed.
Coon cheese was manufactured in 1935 and named after American Edward William Coon, who died in 1934 after inventing a ripening process used to produce the original dairy product.
However Coon is also considered to be an offensive racial slur towards black people.
Comedian Josh Thomas posted a picture of the cheese to Twitter with the caption: “Hey Australia - are we still chill with this?”
“It’s amazing the respect people have for the name of a man who invented a processing technique of cheese – who died in 1934. And the disrespect they have for Black people,” he added.
Many spoke out about the issue, with some agreeing the name should be changed.
“Regardless of the brand name’s history, times have well and truly changed. Even in my 35 years it has been nothing but a racist term in the common vernacular,” one said.
“They are decades overdue for a nice simple rebrand. They could even score a bunch of free PR for doing the right thing. At this point it's just bloody-mindedness,” another claimed.
Indigenous Australians also weighed in, with one saying they “hate that word” and another saying it was “horrid”.
“The amount of times I was called that (name) was insane,” they said.
However the comedian was criticised by many for even suggesting Saputo, the Canadian owners of the cheese, change the name.
“It's a family name. Implying that it is anything else is as offensive as the tone you placed on this by bringing it up,” one hit out.
“Maybe if us white people started understanding history instead of trying to erase it in some misguided attempt at placating black people things would change.”
Hey Australia - are we still chill with this? pic.twitter.com/3pY2wyZ3IY
— Josh Thomas (@JoshThomas87) June 14, 2020
Thomas hit back at those who disagreed with him, asking if there would be any negative consequences to changing the name of the cheese.
“If you know and understand it causes pain to a group of people – what's the point keeping it. Does the name bring anyone so much joy that it's worth taking joy from other people? Really?” he said.
The latest call comes after an anti-racism campaigner in 2008 said he would fight to rename Coon cheese after the Queensland government ruled against renaming a controversial grandstand after E.S “N****r” Brown.
Toowoomba academic Stephen Hagan campaigned to change the name of the grandstand for almost a decade and vowed to also fight then owner Dairy Farmers to change the Coon cheese name.
Regardless of the brand names history, times have well and truly changed. Even in my 35 years it has been nothing but a racist term in the common vernacular.
— Matt ✪ (@mattyxlp) June 14, 2020
“Initially, Dairy Farmers said it was named after Edward Coon, who revolutionised the speeding process of making cheese,” he told AAP.
“But I’ve questioned the authenticity of that story.”
He claimed the cheese, which had formerly been manufactured by Kraft, previously had a black wrapping and was named Coon as a joke.
Yahoo News Australia has contacted Saputo Australia for comment.
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