More than a year ago, I set out as a credentialed executive & business coach, on a mission to support women, women of color in their efforts to lead in a fractured digital economy and a workplace that sees us as outsiders. So it stands to reason that as part of my “tech, culture and business” value proposition which is deeply rooted in my story, I’d come for the woman in the head scarf like it was Christmas in June.
At the age of 22, I began to write a book, my masters thesis, that dissected the weaponized images that were birthed in slavery and assigned to black people. One of them was mammy.
She and I have a spotted past.
I love and loath her.
She was a human being that worked, slaved on plantations in the South. My great grandmother was born on one of those hell holes. Without mammy, it’s safe to say that I wouldn’t be here; however, the way she was twisted to undermine black women, our intellect, our beauty, our pride our dignity–she is a weapon of mass cultural destruction.
To this day, you might find her figurines in my collections, but that is because I have control over her. I now own her and her story. Knowledge is power, and after all, racism at is core is about power.
And I know her…well.
Since 1991, when I first wrote about her in the TCU Daily Skiff, I’ve been dedicated to tell her truths. I’ve aggregated the content that I’ve published about mammy within the last few days on social media below.
This she devil has done more to form what people think about black women then you may be aware, and shadows of here are emblazoned in the minds and psyches of people who operate with unconscious bias against black women, and even between us.
Racism lives in her. Colorism abides in her. Subservience reigns in her. She divides and conquers…even while she smiles at us.
Ready for truth?
Let’s bury her now.
Aunt Jemima… bye Felicia!
P.S. There is also information on why conflating Mrs. Butterworth with Aunt Jemima is just nonsense.
These are things I know because I researched and wrote the book on it back in 1994. I also bring this cultural intelligence to my practice. Black women and women of color, what you are experiencing in business didn’t just start, and because these images are still pervasive in society (look up Sapphire who is having a good run these days to undo positive black woman images), it’s my job to support you in uncovering where the attitudes you fight against everyday come from.
I’ve been wanting Aunt Jemima to get fired for a very long time. Glad she’s gone. Now we need to uproot the people who knowingly and unknowingly promote her in today’s society. Receipts…
.. and to think this all started with one voice on TikTok (swipe) that got amplified on Twitter (and it didn’t hurt to get a boost on IG from Serena Williams’ hubby). A whole chapter in my masters thesis is dedicated to the mammy image, and it’s amazing how long she lasted.
PepsiCo’s CEO put out one of the most convincing statement yet on yesterday.
Glad he didn’t overlook the pancakes.
Cc: @alexisohanian for the sweet amplification
Social media is culture soup, and well, it gets things done.
As they sing on Tik Tok: “Who’s Next?!”
(Apparently, she is a dope soul artist as well. @singkirbysing I kinda think she looks like my little sister! Had mama let me wear spandex and sing secular music and wear fly textured wigs, hey…. mighta been twins! ????????????)
Just this morning, in one of the comment threads in my posts about the dismantling of the destructive mammy image with Aunt Jemima, a man chimed in (I’m not certain of his race because his profile image is a camera) to police how I, as a Black woman, a published SCHOLAR on the topic thought about it.
Simply because the family of the spokesperson that made money off the stereotype was quoted in an article that they were sad that it was going away.
This, my friends, is privilege… some have coined as “caucasity.”
It is not your party. You aren’t an authority on it, and you should never feel like you have permission to come and tell me HOW I should feel or act about it.
You’re lucky I feel like sharing at all. Learn something.
Then to take it to another level, point to other Black people and say—look, they feel this way. What you say can’t be right.
This is a textbook #microagression.
Get your cultural IQs in check, folks.
There is no allyship until you stop yourselves, hold your tongue and your itchy keyboard fingers and LISTEN.
Now, about Mrs. Butterworth…why we shouldn’t be concerned with her (and never have been, actually).
Someone, regarding Quaker Oats’ branding of Aunt Jemima, raised Mrs Butterworth. I mentioned I did research surrounding black images for my masters thesis. Uncle Ben’s was indeed raised as problematic. Mrs Buttersworth was not.
No mammy on the planet was ever afforded the title “Mrs”… it was always mammy or aunt. The other reason, we believed was because in the TV commercials, she simply sounded and in some characterizations, looked white and ConAgra didn’t detail a history as storied and factual as the way the Quaker Oats brand wrapped their Aunt Jemima in the folklore of the plantations of the Deep South and then hired real mammies to go from county fair to county fair and be this mammy character.
There is an unconfirmed story that the woman who played Prissy in Gone with the Wind may have modeled for the bottle—- Thelma “Butterfly” McQueen, but apparently ConAgra doesn’t confirm this. Which apparently led people to believe that Mrs Butterworth was indeed patterned after a mammy.
Prissy looks nothing like the bottle, BTW.
My family and friends always believed her to be white.
Now, the syrup is dark brown, but listen to the voice they used in the 70s with actress Kim Fields.
What do you think?
What was Thelma Butterfly McQueen? Well, she wasn’t Hattie McDaniel… who played the mammy in Gone with the Wind. She was Prissy… and nope, doesn’t look like Mrs Butterworth to me.
Black people never claimed Mrs Butterworth’s,
Can we now dismantle racism in more compelling ways? Like the leadership pipeline or provide more capital and access in small business?
Please and thank you