Black Gender & Sexuality
February 25, 2015
Since the civil war the mammy image can still be seen in indirect ways. Over the years, the mammy image was revised and incorporated into popular movies. Despite the acceptability of the mammy to whites, the mammy still remains an unacceptable image to African Americans. The image of mammy has been used in political and social interest.
In the chapter Monumental Power, the mammy image was used politically. The mammy influenced politics. The United States had approved a land grant for national monument of the “faithful slave”. The faithful slave was best depicted as the Mammy. Although the land grant was approved, there were several issues Even though this monument was to commemorate the faithful slave; African Americans opposing this monument believed the Mammy is an unacceptable symbol to African Americans while Whites accepted the symbol. However, African Americans felt that this monument was also designed to train future generations in the values of the Old South. Mammy was to be a testament of happy slaves who loved their white families. Micki McElya explains in Clinging to Mammy: Chapter 4, the United Daughters’ view, they believe the mammy was not just serving but happy and had an unconditional love and affection to her white family. Micki McElya also stated, "Mammy was appealing at a particularly fraught time in national history," Faithful Slave in Twentieth-Century America. Mammy represents paternalism and affection between the races, a world where everyone understands their places. Throughout the McElya article, Clinging to Mammy: Chapter 4, he talks about during the time that everyone was debating on should the mammy monument be built, white women felt a certain type of way. They have had so much power in the past that they did not want this monument be all about black. This goes along with how white women where suppose to “highly” thought of and black not.
According to Marlon Riggs Dir. Ethnic Notions, back to the early 20th century the mammy image was portrayed as a black woman, big in body weight and wore a bandana on her head. The mammy was not allowed to have sex appeal of fear that she would become attractive to her master. The role that the mammy took upon was being a domestic worker. She was the image of the south; households would be distraught without her. Mammy portrayed the characteristics of being strong, loyal, controlling, and very protective. Mammy was the controller however, the female should be dependent and subordinate.
The mammy is still relevant today in the specific value of raising someone else’s children. The reputation of mammy is a core image of black womanhood in prominently upholding race, gender and class in the United States. The mammy is repeatedly revised to accommodate changing figurations of racial rule. The mammy has been depicted in advertising, book illustration, kitchen figures, and dolls; with such figures as the syrup bottle, cookie jars, salt and pepper shakers and etc. In the present 20th century the mammy has become smaller is size, more of a lighter complexation, and her ragged hair scarf was removed. An example of the changing mammy by decades can be seen in the sitcom Good times. In contradiction Good times happens to show the other side of mammy where she focus on her own family but still living in poverty.