Monday, September 20, 2010

Mammy Dolls... Offensive or Not?

Photograph courtesy of Wendy Frank

What is your opinion of mammy dolls (past and present)?  Do you find them offensive, unnecessary, or a vital part of history?  Please share your comments and opinions.  Thanks!

dbg

PS  I published this blog prematurely. I had planned to save it as a draft and add additional pictures and text, but, it's early and the fingers pressed the incorrect key!  I'll still probably add another picture of two.  Thanks for your comments.

View a slideshow of mammy dolls here.
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16 comments:

  1. I have never really liked the "mammy image"!

    It's years, later that I have come to enjoy them, as a part of our history!

    Dorothy

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    1. When you say "our" history, to whom do you refer? African Americans, all Americans, People who live in the south? etc. thanks!

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  2. A. Mammy dolls are historical.
    B. I wouldn't have one because I don't collect historical dolls.

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  3. offensive... and interesting

    I have a golliwog... I know, they're terrible and totally offensive... *hides*

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  4. I'm neutral. I have several. They remind me of the movie "Gone With The Wind" and I love movies. They do remind one of a true part of history that many would like to forget.

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    1. Gone with the Wind is fiction and unfortunately, so was the life of "Mammy"...her feelings, the conditions under which she would have lived, her relationships, her own family and the possibility that they had been torn apart, the fact that she would have been sexually vulnerable for her whole life at the whim of any white man, etc. This kind of "history" is dangerously misleading. I too love film, but the reason I love any specific film has to have some specificity...I like dogs but not every dog. I like food but not every meal. I like people but not every person. Do you get my point here. Twelve Years A Slave is worth the painful watch because it portrays, much more accurately, the conditions which existed in that "peculiar institution".

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  5. I have a large collection of Mammy dolls and do not find them offensive. Once I did, I grew up during the 60's and Angela Davis and Black Power were my role models. Mammy did not fit my image of a strong Black woman.

    However, as we age,hopefully we acquire some wisdom. I realized that Mammy was indeed a very strong Black woman who paved the way for a Angela Davis ! She had to endure slavery, Jim-Crow laws and racism. Behind that smile was an intelligent person who often had to hide how smart she really was so that she did not threaten or offend others.

    Mammy worked hard rearing white children as well as her own while suffering abuse, sometimes even physical and sexual abuse.
    Still she suffered in silence and "served with dignity and pride" so that we do not have to,

    We owe Mammy, who could be our own Mothers, Grandmothers, etc, who have experienced similar hardships in work situations. Mammy should be admired, we owe her our thanks not our shame.

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    Replies
    1. Yes! And we see here the differences in perspective in responses from people of color and people not of color.

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  6. Wow Anon, Thank you for that....beautifully said.

    Cheers Wendy F

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  7. Thanks everyone for your comments. I truly appreciate your input.

    DOC - I had to LOL @ your comment, but thanks for the confession about your lone golliwog. :-)

    dbg

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  8. I do not find Mammy offensive. I have a couple of Gone With The Wind Mammy dolls in my collection that I purchased mainly because they depict a movie character. I love what Anonymous had to say.

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  9. I was born in 1970 (in the Caribbean) and from as far back as I can remember this image was symbolic of the female hawker. All the ladies selling their goods in the city back then dressed this way with an additional apron for putting the money from sales. I do not find the image offensive at all as it reminds me of my maternal great grandmother, grandmother and mother. I also bought (over paid) one of these dolls just for the reason of remembering my past. I don't see my relatives as often as I would like because of distance, time and money but I certainly enjoy passing by my doll and reflecting on my ancestors. I had an interestingly, wonderful childhood. (I'm smiling right now!!!)

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    1. Thanks for sharing your input on mammy dolls. You are blessed to have had a wonderful childhood and a doll that allows you to reconnect with it.

      dbg

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  10. I think it is important that the Mammy Doll is present in our Doll Collection to remember our American History. There have been times I've been offended when I've seen the dolls, however, it is imperative that we don't forget history!

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    1. I agree Sandy, mammy dolls from the past are an important part of doll history. I do not necessary want to see doll artists make mammy dolls now, however. That would be a perpetuation of the past. However, we must know our history (the positive and negative) in an effort to improve our current status and to avoid the negative from recurring.

      dbg

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  11. Such an interesting question and such thoughtful answers! My own feelingon the matter (and I'm white) is that the character is not offensive but the doll is. In other words, as Anonymous said so well above, Mammy represents a historic character with many laudable characteristics and much to be proud of. However, the choice of the doll industry - and by extension society - to only depict black women in a servile role, and to often do so with grossly exaggerated racial features clearly intended to evoke ridicule, is highly offensive. They are certainly an important part of our general history, but I find them dismaying.

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Thank you! Your comments are appreciated!