Clinging to Mammy: The Faithful Slave in Twentieth-Century America

When Aunt Jemima beamed at Americans from the pancake mix box on grocery shelves, many felt reassured by her broad smile that she and her product were dependable She was everyone s mammy, the faithful slave who was content to cook and care for whites, no matter how gruelling the labour, because she loved them This far reaching image of the nurturing black mother exerciseWhen Aunt Jemima beamed at Americans from the pancake mix box on grocery shelves, many felt reassured by her broad smile that she and her product were dependable She was everyone s mammy, the faithful slave who was content to cook and care for whites, no matter how gruelling the labour, because she loved them This far reaching image of the nurturing black mother exercises a tenacious hold on the American imagination.Micki McElya examines why we cling to mammy She argues that the figure of the loyal slave has played a powerful role in modern American politics and culture Loving, hating, pitying, or pining for mammy became a way for Americans to make sense of shifting economic, social, and racial realities Assertions of black people s contentment with servitude alleviated white fears while reinforcing racial hierarchy African American resistance to this notion was varied but often placed new constraints on black women.McElya s stories of faithful slaves expose the power and reach of the myth, not only in popular advertising, films, and literature about the South, but also in national monument proposals, child custody cases, white women s minstrelsy, New Negro activism, anti lynching campaigns, and the civil rights movement The colour line and the vision of interracial motherly affection that helped maintain it have persisted into the 21st century If we are to reckon with the continuing legacy of slavery in the United States, McElya argues, we must confront the depths of our desire for mammy and recognize its full racial implications.
Clinging to Mammy The Faithful Slave in Twentieth Century America When Aunt Jemima beamed at Americans from the pancake mix box on grocery shelves many felt reassured by her broad smile that she and her product were dependable She was everyone s mammy the faithful

  • Title: Clinging to Mammy: The Faithful Slave in Twentieth-Century America
  • Author: Micki McElya
  • ISBN: 9780674024335
  • Page: 338
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 1 thought on “Clinging to Mammy: The Faithful Slave in Twentieth-Century America”

    1. MSNBC host Melissa Harris Perry recommended this book for anyone who saw "the Help" and couldn't understand why some were so viscerally opposed to the book and film. "Clinging to Mammy" explains why that bestseller struck a nerve by painstakingly detailing the sometimes brutally blunt, sometimes nuanced relationship between the black female domestic labor force and the white families they worked for post-slavery. The book starts with the mammy figure most familiar to anyone who has enjoyed a pla [...]

    2. I should not have been surprised to learn how close the Daughters of the Confederacy came to achieving a National Mammy memorial on the Washington D.C. mall 1923. What a convenient way to desexualize slave women, romanticize the past, reinforce your status as a genteel white lady and enjoy Aunt Jemima pancakes even after Sherman has made off with your pots and pans!

    3. Excellent book on historical memory and imagery. I will be using parts of it in my Af Am history course.

    4. Exposes how "the faithful slave narrative" had and continues to have a hold on America. I enjoyed the first 75% best- the last chapter which brings it up to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s seemed rushed to me. Nevertheless, an excellent read about race relations and collective memory.

    5. This is a really great academic text--if you are interested in Jim Crow era racism, or really the history of advertising/exploitation, add this to your list of things to read.

    6. I was expecting something with more breadth and depth, and this was a disappointment for me. That said, she dives headfirst into the topics she does cover in the text. It's a shame she does not discuss the damaging stereotype of the mammy with the epic scope that it deserves.

    7. This is a fantastic overview of the history of the image of "Mammy" and how it has been distorted and used in 20th-century America. Very eye-opening.

    8. really eye opening facts but a bit dry as historical information goes. I suppose I was expecting more dynamics.

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