Sadie Blackshear Unit 6 Assignment 1

Ethnic Notions

!: I find it interesting that one of the justifications of black people as inherently subordinate to white people is that the black Mammy figure did not fit into the traditional Western domestic sphere mold. Because she was portrayed as more powerful and in control than the man of the family, people argued that black people as a whole are backwards because their “norms” were backwards. One example they provided was how the Mammy was not only the loving, docile houseworker but also the administrator of punishment for the children. Because the man was not administering the beatings, he was weak while the Mammy was strong. Also, I found it really interesting how the Mammy challenged gender norms of the time further by being an asexual being and ugly rather than being the ideal beautiful, fragile, and dependent woman. She was used as a double edged sword to justify both racism and sexism because she, as a concept, was the opposite of what society expected from a woman.

?: If Mammy was asexual, how did minstrels justify the existence of children? Additionally, I am mildly surprised that there was not a portrayal of a sexual black woman. Would she pose a threat to the justification of slavery because she would be too clear of a target for slave masters “lead astray”? Would she expose racism as superficial through their attraction? How did those who lived in the South and had first hand experiences with black people still manage to watch minstrel shows and take it as fact?

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