Tuesday, June 17, 2008

More on the Mammy thing.

Because, dammit, it keeps coming up.

In comments here, in defense of another blogger's owning a Mammy figurine (and using it as a reminder not to foolishly drunk-dial men), PrObama says:
There are far more destructive contemporary stereotypes at work, ones that remain unacknowledged, and therefore that much more insidious. On balance, a blogger making light of racist shtick from 80 years ago is a less worthy adversary than, say, an entire news network equating everyday black culture with terrorism.
Okay. The image of a happy, helpful female servant of color with a bountiful body that gives and gives selflessly? A thing of the past?

Tell that to her.
Georgia Danan was both laughing and crying. It was Friday, June 6, and she was sitting in a Barnard College classroom, telling the tale of how she came to be a 76-year-old Filipina domestic worker fighting to win $22,000 in back wages from a recalcitrant employer. Speaking in hurried, distraught sentences, she unfurled the story of how she immigrated to Los Angeles in 2005, sought a job as a domestic worker through the Mt. Sinai Home Care agency, and then, like so many before her, found herself being both poorly treated--she said she was regularly yelled at and accused of stealing--and cheated out of a minimum wage. For one fifteen-day period, she said, the agency didn't pay her at all.
Or her.
"The lady said, 'Scrub it, scrub it, scrub it!'" recalled Araceli Herrera, a 58-year-old housekeeper in San Antonio, replaying a former employer's obsessive insistence that she clean, clean, clean even though Herrera was suffering from agonizingly painful gallstones. Later, when she tried to return to work after a monthlong recovery from gallbladder surgery, she found that the employer had hired somebody else.

..."They never think we are humans," Herrera said, her genial voice turning suddenly raw. "I am a lady. I am a woman. I have dreams. I want to do something. No, they never [think] that. They maybe think we are machines."
Or her.
"The roots really date back from the days of slavery," she said, tracing the evolution of modern-day domestic work from the forced household labor performed by women slaves, to the free but rarely voluntary housework performed by post-abolition-era African-American domestics, to her own degrading treatment in the house of her first employer.

"To see the way I was treated in that first job, having to wear a white uniform from head to toe and white shoes," said Gill-Campbell, describing a scene in which, while dressed in this full servant regalia, she was forced to push her employer's dog in a stroller.
I'd say the stereotype is alive and well. (Via Jill.)

From the original offending post:
I keep Emancipatia by my bed now, and whenever I look at her, I hear Brian’s falsetto voice saying, “Now Miss Sarah, you know you don’ wanna be callin’ that boy!” Everyone needs one of these. They should hand them out at bars.
Just remember while you and your friends are yuking it up over how funny and weird and baffling it is that people were treated like your Mammy was, people are still being treated like your Mammy was. This stereotype is not a thing of the past. This stereotype continues to affect the lives of millions of women in the United States and elsewhere.


CrackerLilo said...

A friend of mine uses a picture of his mother as a cell phone screensaver when he goes out drinking because he has a real problem with drunk-dialing. Seems to work. Don't think drunk-dialing is that person's big problem, though.

It's not like I have the money or anything, but I don't think I could ever hire a maid or housekeeper. This confirms it.

Vanessa said...

That's the best drunk-dialing solution I've ever heard!

But yes, I think adults should clean up after themselves, as a rule.

Sassywho said...

Yeah, I'm not buying it. If people are unaware, it's not for lack the offensive nature of such word, but rather deliberate ignorance. If there is irony worth having in such, ask her if she would be comfortable having a black IT tech in her home to work on her computer with that figurine right beside it. my guess is not so much.

but then again, she could be just as clueless as the Kansas City, MO Mayor and his wife: http://primebuzz.kcstar.com/?q=node/8901