Culture

Conservatives Are Losing Their Minds About A Cheese Changing Its Name

Can I interest you in redirecting your anger towards racism, perhaps?

cheer-cheese

Cheer Cheese, previously known as ‘Coon’ has officially changed its name, after pledging to do so in July last year, and conservatives are pressed.

Despite the cheese’s previous name being a family one, has a long history of racist connotations behind it both in Australia and in the United States. In July 2020, the Saputo-owned dairy company pledged to change the cheese’s name, after finally listening to years of Aboriginal activists campaigning for the change.

Just over six months after they pledged, the company followed through. Cheer cheese will be on supermarket shelves under its new name from June this year onwards.

While the name-change is a relatively small move on the grand scale of anti-racist reform, it has made a huge impact on the moods of conservatives on Twitter. Many of them are refusing to buy the cheese, and one even tweeted that they hold onto the old packet to store the cheese in.

Their reasoning for their anger ranges from seeing nothing wrong with the original name, to the change being an insult to the family the cheese was originally named for, to the name change “bowing to a minority.”

As someone with a deep connection to the minority supposedly being bowed to, I can’t say I feel particularly worshipped because a cheese changed its name. While small changes like this do matter, the discourse around them tends to distract and deflect from the structural issues in desperate need of attention.

A brand change will never be the revolution Aboriginal peoples, and other marginalised people in this or any country need. People’s anger at the brand name change is misdirected, self-indulgent, and performative.

Do you know what you should be angry about? How about being angry that over 400 Blackfellas have been killed by police in this country and the number is still rising? How about the fact that Aboriginal peoples can expect to die a minimum of ten years before non-Indigenous peoples?

What about the Indigenous kids that make up 50% of all youth under youth justice supervision? Why don’t you get angry over the mass graves of Aboriginal men, women, and children the British build this country on? Where’s the widespread demand for a return of stolen wages, and stolen families?

It’s so much easier to be angry over the things that involve the least amount of accountability for ourselves and the society with live in. Being angry at the name-change of a cheese doesn’t ask you to acknowledge that the peoples whose stolen land you live on are still here. Nor does it ask you to help us, our children, or our elders.

Believe it or not, I’m angry at the name change too. Not because the name is cheesy or because its “bowing to a minority.” I’m proud that those worked so hard to get it changed have finally been heard.

I’m angry, however, because after everything that’s happened in the last year (and centuries before), ‘Cheer’ is the change we can point to. There’s so much more work to be done.


Merryana Salem is a proud Wonnarua and Lebanese–Australian writer, critic, teacher, researcher and podcaster on most social media as @akajustmerry. If you want, check out her podcast, GayV Club where she gushes about LGBT rep in media with her best friend. Either way, she hopes you ate something nice today.