Monday, October 8, 2007
This is a picture of a Mammy, which represented a happy African American slave back during the slave era. This shows that these "mammy" slaves are typically overweight, jolly, and obedient to their master. I chose to use this piece because I thought the stereotypes of the African Americans and how they were represented in the past were interesting, no matter how wrong they possibly were. They seem to not have any problems with being a slave, because they supposedly feel like they are part of the family they are being a slave to. The mammy is portrayed normally as a happy go lucky slave, and is supposedly treated with some respect by the family she is caring for. Though she may be kind to the slaveholder’s family, it is believed she holds the masculine role within her own family, always in charge of everything within the family. No one in the Mammy’s family wants to disobey her, or else she will punish them with spankings or assign more work depending on the individual.
This picture is related to our course material because the majority of our readings and topics that we discuss revolve around slavery, and how the African Americans came to be the majority of the slave population, if not all of the population of the slaves. There are many different kinds of slaves that came over to America by sea, and Mammy's are one perspective of what a slave could be. One of the movies that we watched in class, Ethnic Notions, specifically talks about the different types of stereotypes of African Americans, one of them being the Mammy. Though the mammy and other stereotypes of slaves were not specifically brought up in some of the readings, they were represented in the movies we watched in class.
Even though the stereotype of the mammy is represented in this way, I believe that the stereotype is only slightly correct. I don’t believe that the Mammy was happy all of the time, and she may have received beatings from her slaveholder, thus feeling bitter towards the slave holder. I have not really heard much about the slave holders being jolly with their slaves, and the slaves never seem to be happy serving their slave holders, no matter how nice they supposedly are to them. The physical features of the Mammy may be accurate, but not all of the Mammy’s within the slave community look the same. I feel that the stereotypes that rose about the African Americans were quite racist, and the stereotypes only got worse after the slaves have become free from slavery. Even though they were free, everyone who was not of the African American race still looked down upon them and segregation was still rather popular during this time period. Also, throughout the country African Americans were represented as people with really large lips, and have extremely dark skin. They also seemed to look much disfigured and more savage like, which was represented on a few of the products sold back during this time period.