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The Mammy stereotype.

Mammy is the cheerful and willing house-slave. This cheerfulness is depicted in films/novels, namely the main character #AuntJemima from 'Gone with the Wind.'

The Mammy was created to make people believe that slavery was good & the system benevolent.
Mammy is always depicted as round, dark, and desexualised. These physical traits were used as justification that White men could never want to r*pe Black women - such justification allowed them to get away with it.
Mammy (Mommy) was an image also used to distort Black motherhood.

Black slave children were forcibly removed from their mothers & sold to other white masters. The Mammy initiated the notion that BW were bad mothers to Black children & yet supreme "mothers" to white children.
The notion that black people were happy to be slaves started with the Mammy myth. The main feature? Her smile. On every advert (during the period of slavery and now on pancake mix, jam jars), magazine covers, news article etc.

The smile was an intentional tactic by colonisers.
I was afforded the opportunity to fly out to Michigan to visit the Jim Crow Museum (HIGHLY RECOMMEND) and to interview the curator.

I'm turning my footage into a documentary but here is Dr Pilgrim speaking about 'the smiling.'
Let's get back to Caribbean literature (in relation to the Mammy)

Grace Nichols wrote a poem called 'Skin Teeth' (a Caribbean idiom which means grimace or threatening smile)

she says: "not every skin-teeth is a smile Massa"

Lets unpick this!
Nichols subverts the mythologised smile & speaks about how Black women performed their persona as a bodily tactic. The smile became a survival strategy, behind the scenes they were plotting rebellions but the cunning of the smile was now used to conceal their plot. #resistance 👏🏾
In my work I argue that these stereotypes are reflected in aspects of the environment (Black geographies)

Mammy, like Africa, had her children stripped from her, umbilical cord connected to Europe.

Mother Africa, like Mammy, was violently violated by Europe!!!

What about the Caribbean?

Mammy was like a surrogate mother to white children. The Caribbean became surrogate mother to African peoples.

Few even know slavery existed in the Caribbean, though working conditions/punishments for plantation slaves were the worst in the world!!
* Main character in GWTW was called Mammy sorry for mix up. Aunt Jemima became characterisation for Mammy in GWTW 👍🏽
Here's a brief overview of some other anti-black images I explore in my research [see thread 👇🏾]

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