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Thoughts & Dialogues: We need to talk about Mammy

Updated: Jul 14, 2023

We need to talk about Mammy. No, not your mama. I am talking about the Jim Crow-inspired caricature turned stereotype that continues to distort and fuel the dehumanization of the black matriarch. Let’s have a heart-to-heart about this “domesticated black woman” frozen in time since her minstrel debut in the mental war zone known as the United States Antebellum circa 1830: our dear sweet Mammy, a black woman memorialized in labor and circumstance.

The portrait of a white man’s caregiver and just one of several caricatures engineered to objectify the black persona. One hundred ninety-three years later, Mammy represents a woman culled of her self-care and sensuality. How do we seek justice for this shapely melanated monument adorned in a headwrap, circle skirt, and soulful song laden with burden? We need to have an authentic dialogue about assimilation, identity, and self-esteem. What is your perception of Mammy?

Woman, do you see yourself in her hard work and determination? Or do you pity her choice to fiercely care for those who objectify, overwork, and undervalue her sacrifices? Mr., is she a portrait of your beauty standard? Does her hip switch match the strides of your ideal queen mother? Queer friend, is she Banjee, or is she Cunt? Hey, Black Queen, is your perception of beauty in retreat or celebration of the black feminine archetype? Let us know your why in the comments.

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