Unapologetic, day 4: Unbreakable (Jezebel & Mammy)

Black_Beauty_Salon.jpgThe duality of a Black woman includes demanding her to be a producer and reproducer. A producer for the global market, and a reproducer of the slave system. this is how she is distinguished from the Black man who is solely demanded to be a producer.

Beauty Shop Activism is defined as an economic base independent of white pressure or white gaze; creates a Black space and a female space. We are to recognize the power and importance of this space, and how it can give birth to knowledge, ideas, and growth that is essential to our liberation. Female Slave Network was a network that enslaved Black women formed as a sisterhood forging of bonds as a form of resistance.

These are the spaces in which Black women were able to assert:

“I matter to my community, and I am more than a work force.”


My sister

My strength 

My healer 

My bane

You know it well, 

My pain. 

Would it have been healed,

Without her brain?

Without her eyes, 

Her mouth,

Her scars, 

Her secrets

and her wounds?

Without her recipes for home cooked food?

Share with me, the pictures,

My sister,

Dwelling within that brain —

however profane. 

For we ourselves must become unbreakable,

before the breaking of those chains.

Introducing: Jezebel and Mammy.

halle-berry-sexy-lingerie-1.jpgThe image of the Jezebel stereotype is a constructed identity for the enslaved Black woman, and is a counter-image of the Victorian lady. As the White men view Black women scantily clad as they work and carry themselves, their observations were twisted to support the idea of Black women not being real women, as they break one of the obvious elements of the “cult of true womanhood.”

The Jezebel is a temptress who shows characteristics of nudity, lewdness, light brown skin with White phenotypes, and is a foil to mammy. Jezebel image showed that Black women were destined to “have [a large] insatiable sexual appetite, that forced them to go beyond the boundaries of their race to get satisfaction.” Thus, alluded to the fact that White men never had to use coercive force when seeking a Black woman, because her body is already on display for him; supported by her oozing sexuality, and uncontrollable lust. Jezebel defied every law of what it meant to be a lady.

           Carolina_Mammy-04324_1.jpg The image of Mammy is the opposing identity given to the enslaved Black woman, who represents “the woman who could do anything, better than anyone else.” So, this Black woman is expected to excel in both her roles of producer and
reproducer. She is not just any other house slave, but instead the head of every operation occurring in the “Big House.” She proved herself to be a good cook, a courageous and dignified woman, and an indispensable housekeeper.

Mammy is respectful, demure, and is allowed the private space to serve as her platform. I see her as the closest that a Black woman was able come to the classic image or idea of the Victorian lady of the time. This woman is in direct control of childcare, and household duties, all of which are too much of a burden on any one woman in a day. By showing herself as a friend, a compliant, and servant of her White family, she opens up the possibility for her and her family to “gain some immunity from sale and abuse.” She is conscious of her role in the household, and isn’t so much as white-washed, as she is strategic about her relationship with the White family.

How do these myths appear as images in our society?

Are we consuming critically?

Coming Soon: Unpacking Jezebel & Mammy.














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