Yummmmmm, who doesn’t like pancakes? Aunt Jemima was an iconic spokesperson for helpless pancake makers everywhere, but just like the times of old, many White mothers relied on the help of their “Mammies.” Without these women, their houses would totally fall apart. Stereotypical “Mammies” were seen as reliable, uneducated, non-threatening, and hardworking. Although it may seem from images like this that they were members of White families, or the glue of those households, but this was just a band-aid approach to justify slavery. 

After the Civil War, especially in Southern states, many White households still elected to hire, and underpay women of color for domestic duties. These types of domestic job opportunities allowed the impacts of slavery to live on long after it’s abolishment, perhaps in a hope to keep black women in the homes of affluent Whites. Many of the women portrayed as “Mammies” were childless, heavier in stature, and often lacked a strong feminine appeal. If that’s true though, then how were they able to be wet nurses, and why were they still objectified sexually by their employers? The media has picked up on some of these undertones, especially with advertisements that are both racially and sexually degrading, while promoting history’s sick power struggles between master and slave. This meme not only portrays this kind of relationship, but it also mocks the “lite” version of Mrs. Butterworth, eliminating all of the assets that allow her Black body to be hypersexualized. 

The “Mammy” stereotype can also be derogatively linked to strong willed, head of household Black women, who take on dual personalities of both the mother and father. Consequently leading into another negative stereotype that portrays this type of woman as neglectful because she leaves her own house, family and children to take care of another. No matter which example you see portrayed in the media, they’re all offensive and have direct roots to slavery, and the inhumane treatment, and objectification of black women.

Angel Lewis is a senior at Old Dominion University, full-time Cake Decorator, wife of 23 years, and mother of Chauncey (22), Sierra (20), and Kieran (8). She is pursuing a double major in Sociology and Criminal Justice, with a minor in Women’s Studies. Her academic interests are race, gender identity, media representations of prison culture, and new age eugenics. She began her educational journey in nursing then realized that she wanted to help others in a different way, by being their voice. “I seek to use my knowledge to help those that are being taken advantage of by the system; many of whom don’t even know that they’re a victim.” After graduation, she plans on continuing her education (you’re never too old to learn), while pursuing a career in social justice and prison reform.