By Micki McElya
Whilst Aunt Jemima beamed at american citizens from the pancake combine field on grocery cabinets, many felt reassured through her huge smile that she and her product have been responsible. She was once everyone's mammy, the devoted slave who used to be content material to prepare dinner and take care of whites, regardless of how grueling the exertions, simply because she enjoyed them. This far-reaching snapshot of the nurturing black mom workouts a tenacious carry at the American mind's eye. Micki McElya examines why we grasp to mammy. She argues that the determine of the unswerving slave has performed a strong function in smooth American politics and tradition. Loving, hating, pitying, or pining for mammy turned a manner for american citizens to make experience of moving financial, social, and racial realities. Assertions of black people's contentment with servitude alleviated white fears whereas reinforcing racial hierarchy. African American resistance to this concept used to be assorted yet frequently put new constraints on black ladies. McElya's tales of trustworthy slaves divulge the facility and achieve of the parable, not just in well known advertisements, motion pictures, and literature concerning the South, but additionally in nationwide monument proposals, baby custody circumstances, white women's minstrelsy, New Negro activism, anti-lynching campaigns, and the civil rights flow. the colour line and the imaginative and prescient of interracial motherly affection that helped hold it have endured into the twenty-first century. If we're to reckon with the continued legacy of slavery within the usa, McElya argues, we needs to confront the depths of our wish for mammy and realize its complete racial implications.
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Additional info for Clinging to Mammy: The Faithful Slave in Twentieth-Century America
The building’s 25,000-square-foot interior was divided into fourteen state exhibits, separate displays featuring ﬁne arts, literature, and patented inventions created by African Americans, and a large restaurant. Several of the state exhibits were dominated by contributions from black institutions of industrial education, such as Booker T. Washington’s own Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. The Negro Building also provided a variety of special services for black visitors necessitated by segregation at the fair and in its host city.
Washington manipulated the ability of the faithful slave story to assuage white guilt in hopes of creating a space for some degree of cooperation, free from the suspicion and violence that guilt often engenders. Washington assumed the mantle of “Leader of the Race” in the year of Frederick Douglass’s death through his appeals to the very same plantation ﬁctions that Douglass had worked so hard to refute. Bringing to mind the promotional Aunt Jemima buttons of the Chicago fair two years earlier, a proponent of Washington’s vision suggested a lapel pin commemorating the speech.
I keenly regret it for those generations yet to come, who cannot learn its dearness. I never see my mammy without a tugging at my heart and a tightness in my throat. Some of the happiest days of my life ever had, or will have, were spent in the shelter of her arms and surrounded by the tender care her love always gave me. 7 Langhorne’s sentimental, pathos-ﬁlled invocation of “three of the most beautiful words” sums up graphically the centrality of mammy iconography and the interracial relationships it suggested—real and imagined—to white women in the early twentieth century.
Clinging to Mammy: The Faithful Slave in Twentieth-Century America by Micki McElya