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File:Mammy 7859.jpg

Older Than Radio, Sub-Trope of Ethnic Menial Labor, Mammy was born in the the Deep South of Antebellum America, but continued to be a presence for a century after the American Civil War. During slavery, she was largely resigned to her enslavement, perhaps even finding Happiness in Slavery. After she gained her freedom, Mammy continued to serve as a menial domestic to whites, and continued to aspire to little higher. In her freedom, she may have also moved north, although her position and character is largely unchanged whether she lives in rural Georgia or Chicago.

Physically, Mammy is generally obese, middle aged or older, and generally has zero sexual flavor about her: a white mistress was supposedly secure that having Mammy about the house was no threat to her husband's fidelity. In terms of character, Mammy is generally poorly educated, but has abundant common sense and is competent in her domestic duties. She is servile toward the whites, but may be an Apron Matron toward her own family, or even toward her masters' children if they have placed her in authority over the kids. Her earthy common sense may, if her white masters or employers become sufficiently zany, lead her to become the Only Sane Man of the household and develop some characteristics of a Sassy Black Woman.

Compare Magical Negro. The Other Wiki has a page on the archetype here.

Examples of Mammy include:


Advertising

  • Aunt Jemima from the Quaker Oats Company's brand; was originally a character from Minstrel Shows.
  • Mrs. Butterworth, the pancake syrup mascot. Since the 70s, she's only been shown as the animated bottle in an attempt to tone down the inherent racism of the stereotype.


Anime and Manga


Film


Literature


Newspaper Comics

  • South African cartoon strip "Madam and Eve."


Radio

  • Beulah, who started as a recurring minor character on Fibber McGee and Molly before gaining her own spinoff show.


Live-Action Television

  • Betty Draper of Mad Men grew up raised by her family's black housekeeper and then hired one for her own children.
  • Florida from Maude, and, to a lesser extent, her reprise of the role in Good Times.
  • The titular Mama from Thats My Mama.
  • Berta in Two and A Half Men is a subversion of the typical Mammy: while she is a competent housekeeper, obese, and full of common sense, she also takes shortcuts, does drugs, and insults the main characters.
  • Nel from Gimme A Break.
  • Florence from The Jeffersons totally subverts the trope: She's thin, works for a black family and is extremely outspoken and sassy, especially toward George.


Western Animation

  • Mammy Two-Shoes from the Tom and Jerry shorts.
    • Note that Mammy Two Shoes is never shown to be servile to white people and is never seen taking orders from whites either. In fact, by all indications, it's her house that Tom and Jerry are shacked up in.
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