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African American Mommies African American Mommies

Since We're in the business of teaching and providing entertainment

Posted by on Aug. 16, 2012 at 8:31 PM
  • 126 Replies
1 mom liked this

I think it is important to the ww in this group to understand that maybe there are women in this group who feel intruded upon by your presence. I for one feel this way and I feel that I would be negligent if I didn't provide you with a context as to why there are some AA who might not feel the need to embrace your presence. I will occassionally post things to give you some food for thought. I find the post by the white woman who came in and stated that she found "black women" more fun and down to earth very offensive. 

I am not here to entertain anyone. The fact that you see us as "one thing" is extremely disrespectful. There will always be women of color who want to guide you through your "black experience" and that is their right. I want to make sure you are able to tell the difference between wanting a space to be about AA women and wanting not to be seen as entertainment VS being racist and anti -non AA people. It might be confusing at first for you because most times when white people don't want to have anything to do with black people it is in fact centered in race and they are racist BUT in my case it is because there is a pattern of AA women in America having to adjust to and share themselves and to exist in a world with white standards and sometimes you just don't want to be under that umbrella.

Think of it as when you want a girls night out but your husband insists on coming. He comes and stays quiet but then he's got a lot of questions and views he wants you to explain and wants to understand and maybe he even thinks he knows it now that he's hung out-----but really what's wrong with him just staying home? Anyway----feel free to read about "the mammy" in literature and compare it to nannies that take care of children today---or the images of big mama's in today's media. You may not be familiar with this way of viewing the AA female----but this is still very embedded in our media and maybe you have seen it.


Mammy archetype

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The mammy archetype is a reference to African American women in a time where Africans worked as domestic servants/slaves. She is often portrayed within a narrative framework or other imagery as a domestic servant of African descent, generally good-natured, often overweight, very dark skinned, middle aged, and loud. The mammy was usually depicted in a negative manner and portrayed as lacking all of the sensual and sexual qualities that an attractive woman would have. This de-eroticism of the mammy would in turn imply that the white wife, and by extension the white family, was safe.[1]

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of mammy is "a black woman serving as a nurse to white children especially formerly in the southern United States".[2]

"Mammy's Cupboard," 1940 novelty architecture restaurant in Adams County, Mississippi.

The word mammy is a variant of mother formerly common in North America but now rarely used and typically considered an ethnic slur.

Contents

History

The word mammy originated in Gaelic dialects in the 18th century but was used widely in southern regions of the United States during the Civil War. Because the term gained popularity during a time in which slavery was widespread, the address is commonly used with maternal figures in several cultures but unacceptable to African Americans. The concept of the "mammy" as a house servant was introduced in the 1830s as a stout, dark-skinned, smiling, hardworking, doting woman who offered the only "redeeming embodiment of black womanhood imaginable within the intertwined race, class, and gender distinctions of the Old South".[1]

The "mammy" was created by white Southerners to redeem the relationship between African American women and white men within slave society in response to the antislavery attack from the North during the antebellum era, and to embellish it with nostalgia in the post-bellum period. In reality, according to the primary records from before the Civil War, evidence for the existence of the mammy did not exist.[3]

One of the earliest fictionalized versions of the mammy figure was Aunt Chloe in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852).[3] As the mammy figure progressed into the 20th century, the personal[clarification needed] was sacrificed to the demands of the white majority, who widely mythologized the figure. Even memoirs which describe the roles of mammies from the 1890s to the 1920s downplayed the mammy's relationship with her family.[3]

Characteristics

The mammy often had physical attributes that the Western culture would associate with masculinity. The mammy was usually a grossly overweight, large-breasted woman who is desexualized, maternal, and nonthreatening to white people but may be hostile towards men. Many of these characteristics were denied to African American female slaves but were generally attributed to the mammy.

The dress often reflected the status of her owner or employer. The mammy was usually neat and clean and wore attire that was suitable for her domestic duties. Sometimes a mammy considered herself to be "dressed up", but that was usually just an addition of a bonnet and a silk velvet mantle, which probably belonged to her mistress. Sometimes she would even don a Sunday black silk.[4]

Like most of the slaves at that time, the mammy was often illiterate though intelligent in her own sense. Among many of the slaves, there could have been a mammy who possessed the abilities to read and write, often taught to her by the children of the family for whom she worked. However, as intelligent as she might have been, most of her intelligence was a result of past experiences and conflicts. In particular, a mammy of an aristocratic family could be identified by her air of refinement.[4]

When the mammy did not stay in the house of her master or was not busy attending to the needs of the master's children, she would usually live in a cabin that was distinguished differently than the cabins of the other servants in either size or structure with her husband and children. Her cabin stood near the "big house", or the master's house but at a distance from the cabins of the other servants.[4]

Although the duties were far less tiring and strenuous than those of the other servants, her hours were often long, leaving little time for her own leisure. It was not until the mammy had become too old for these duties that she would enjoy any home life of her own, since she was always preoccupied with the home life of her master. There was a flexibility about the mammy's duties that distinguished her from just being an ordinary nurse or a wet nurse, even though there was a possibility that she could perform either of these tasks. In some of the more wealthy households, the mammy had assistants that would help her take care of the household's children. These women were often much younger than the mammy herself.[4]

The mammy, unlike the other servants, was usually not up for sale, and the children of the mammy would be kept in the same family for as long as possible, retaining the same relationships that the mammy had with the master.[4]

Roles in plantation households

The role of the mammy in plantation households grew out of the roles of African American slaves on the plantation. African American servants played vital roles in the plantation household. The majority of these duties generally were related to caring for the children of the family, thus relieving the mistress of the house of all the drudgery work that is associated with child care. When the children had grown up and were able to take care of themselves properly, the mammy's main role was to help the mistress with household tasks. As her years of service with the family increased, the mammy's sphere of influence increased as well. She was next to the mistress in authority and had the ability to give orders to everybody in the house.[4]

The mammy was often considered to be part of the family as much as its blood members were considered. Although she was considered of a lower status, she was still included in the inner circle. She has often been referred to as a "unique type of foster motherhood." Aside from just tending to the needs of the children, the mammy was also responsible for teaching the proper etiquettes to them, such as addressing the elders on the plantation as "aunt" or "uncle", as well as what was best to say on a particular occasion and what was not. The mammy was able to discipline their children whenever they performed something undesirable and was able to retain their respect towards her, even after the children had grown to adults.[4]

Media portrayal

Hattie McDaniel famously played Mammy in Gone with the Wind.

Historically, the media have portrayed the mammy in a stereotypical fashion, often being submissive towards her owners (during slavery) and to her employers (after emancipation). She also displays aggressiveness towards other members of the African American community, particularly to males.[3]

Similar to the image of Aunt Jemima, the image of the mammy was given a contemporary makeover as well as she appeared in television sitcoms. Some of the more contemporary features that the mammy received were that her head rag was removed, she became smaller in size, as well as lighter in complexion. In addition, her employer was not always white.[5] Some of the contemporary television sitcoms which featured mammies include Maude, where Esther Rolle, who played the character Florida, worked as a domestic for a white family. A spin-off called Good Times was made, where Rolle's character was the center of the show and the show focused on her family, which lived in a low-income housing project but yet had good times. Other television include That's My Mama, Gimme a Break!, and What's Happening!!. When other contemporary mammies emerged, they usually retained their occupation as a domestic and exhibited these physical feature changes; however, their emotional qualities remained intact. These contemporary mammies continued to be quick witted and remained highly opinionated. A new twist in the outlook of the contemporary mammy occurred in the show The Jeffersons, where Florence, a maid played by Marla Gibbs, worked for an affluent African American family.[3]

Mammy characters were a staple of minstrel show, giving rise to many sentimental show tunes dedicated to or mentioning mammies, including Al Jolson's "My Mammy" from The Jazz Singer and Judy Garland's performance of "Swanee" from A Star is Born (a song originally made popular by Jolson). Various mammy characters appeared in radio and TV shows. One prominent example was the radio and later short-lived TV show Beulah, which featured a black maid named Beulah who helped solve a white family's problems. In the 1940s and early 1950s, Mammy Two Shoes, the housekeeper in the Tom and Jerry shorts presented an animated example of the mammy, complete with dark skin and a Black accent. As a parody of this stereotype, 1984 Frank Zappa album Thing-Fish featured characters called "mammy nuns".

In early 20th century, the mammy character was common in many films. Hattie McDaniel won an Oscar for her performance as "Mammy" in Gone with the Wind in 1939. Common roles in American mass media seeming to be reserved for the Mammy stereotype include secretaries, hospital/medical practice assistants and Greasy spoon diner order takers.

In many films and novels the "Mammy" character is used, such as:

Present-day use

The use of the archetype of the mammy lives on in the minds of present generation of both white and African Americans, since the term has been passed down generations through the stage, in moving pictures, and in fiction. Newspapers and periodicals also print stories of the mammy from time to time, and people living who came under her influences relate their experiences with the mammy with their family, their friends, and their acquaintances.

Perhaps the most notable use of the mammy image in today's culture is the image of Aunt Jemima. In the 1980s, the image of Aunt Jemima was modified again by the Quaker Oats Company in order to place the face of Aunt Jemima on their pancake boxes and other food products. Subsequently, her image became more modernized by taking changes such as the removal of her headband and the reduction of her size.[3]

http://a8.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/304209_10150825901365230_520415229_21054590_61191322_n.jpg

Some people recognize the light but they can't handle the glare.

by on Aug. 16, 2012 at 8:31 PM
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kikitice
by on Aug. 16, 2012 at 9:01 PM
2 moms liked this

...And in that order! Here's how I feel. My conversation will remain black. I will not change it for anyone and I won't be questioned by anyone as to why I say what I say. That being said, they are in here and as long as they stay in their lane, there won't be any problems. Girl, you can't get mad or you will be mad all the time but I understand how you feel. 

DVS
by Gold Member on Aug. 16, 2012 at 9:07 PM
5 moms liked this

Oh goodness

isaiahbellamom
by Silver Member on Aug. 16, 2012 at 9:13 PM
I looooveee black people their awesome. Cool beans
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Dana267
by Group Mod on Aug. 16, 2012 at 9:18 PM
Quoting kikitice:

...And in that order! Here's how I feel. My conversation will remain black. I will not change it for anyone and I won't be questioned by anyone as to why I say what I say. That being said, they are in here and as long as they stay in their lane, there won't be any problems. Girl, you can't get mad or you will be mad all the time but I understand how you feel. 





Really- I'm not angry. More than being irritated by the presence of non AA women in here is the "reason" behind being here---- and the fact that some people can't tell the difference between my reasons and being racist. To me saying black people are fun and down to earth is a tad bit racist.

http://a8.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/304209_10150825901365230_520415229_21054590_61191322_n.jpg

Some people recognize the light but they can't handle the glare.

isaiahbellamom
by Silver Member on Aug. 16, 2012 at 9:21 PM
Come on saying black people are fun and down to earth is not racist.
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Dana267
by Group Mod on Aug. 16, 2012 at 9:23 PM
Quoting isaiahbellamom:

I looooveee black people their awesome. Cool beans




They are so fun to listen to --- they think very deeply.

http://a8.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/304209_10150825901365230_520415229_21054590_61191322_n.jpg

Some people recognize the light but they can't handle the glare.

Dana267
by Group Mod on Aug. 16, 2012 at 9:24 PM
Quoting isaiahbellamom:

Come on saying black people are fun and down to earth is not racist.



Are we all the same?

http://a8.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/304209_10150825901365230_520415229_21054590_61191322_n.jpg

Some people recognize the light but they can't handle the glare.

Dana267
by Group Mod on Aug. 16, 2012 at 9:26 PM
On a different note-- lol someone said that the group Color Me Bad looked like the 90's threw up on them.
isaiahbellamom
by Silver Member on Aug. 16, 2012 at 9:26 PM
2 moms liked this
I totally get your point I've made a simsliar post about how some women like to kiss ass and act like AA woman are some science project to.be amazed at especially by wigs and weaves LOL. But I don't think.saying AA are fun.is racist. I think its kiss ass but not racist
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Bunsmommy
by Ruby Member on Aug. 16, 2012 at 9:26 PM
9 moms liked this
Okay all jokes aside I really do need that explained to me; what does that mean that we're down to earth? Are we part alien or something?
This is why I've pulled back from this group. Not because of Kym but because I feel as if we were opened up to e viewed and studied like some new millineum Tuskegee study; and I hate that. I despise that in 2012 people still have misconceived notions about a group of people based on race. Not to mention that last one that ran into MC talking about we all loved her and accepted her and she was now our little cream puff pissed me off to a point no invisible online character should. I mean seriously broad first things first I didn't accept your simple ass and was barely tolerating you! Next, fuck you come off calling yourself our little cream puff? Hoe please!
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