The summary is about the topic of
The summary is about the topic of
Mammies, Matriarchs, and other controlling images. Throughout the chapter,
various classifications and divisions of the black woman have been brought out
by the author to emphasize on the stereotypical classification of the back
women. The author therefore in the chapter shows how this negative
categorization or images of a black woman have provided justification of class,
race, and gender inequity.
The author starts by identifying that
there are various groups of black feminist trying to change the perception of
people towards the black woman one that them with a variety of negative images.
She also identifies the various negative images trying to portray a black woman
who is matriarchs, mammies, hot mommas and welfare recipients. In her view, the
elite group of people which is the dominant in the society have the control and
therefore manipulate the idea of Black womanhood (p.1). The controlling images
according to the author are made to make sexism, poverty, racism and other
injustices to seem natural and normal like they are the way is supposed to be.
Through this controlled image the black woman becomes object instead of the
subject. This is one main idea the author discusses. She brings out various
ideas on how a black woman is objectified and as a result oppressed. One of the
main ways objectification of a black woman presented in the chapter is
classifying her as the “others.” The author argues that this kind of image that
presents the enslaved African women as “others” clearly shows the presents a
loophole for unjust treatment to them and therefore forming a basis for
oppression. The “other” image is not seen as a person but rather as an object
hence subject to any form of mistreatment, and their reality is defined by others
while for those dominating have the right to define their reality. The author
also presents another example of objectification where she talks about black
domestic workers working like “mules uh de world” (p.71) and that of a black
domestic worker being referred to as a “girl” which is enabled the employers to
treat the employees like children or as invisible.
As stated earlier the author presents
other images that are used to show the black woman. Mammies was among them
which portrays black women as faithful obedient and good at only housework and
taking care of the white children. According to the author, the image shows
that the black woman cares for the children even better than has and even if
she may have wielded a certain degree of authority, she knows her place which
is being an obedient servant which means she has accepted her subordination
(p.72-76). The other image is the matriarchs which like the mammy image is an
imperative image in explaining Black social class outcomes. The image according
to the author alleges that the black children lack the care given to the white
children and that this difference in attention, retards the achievements of the
black children. This kind of image give the white men and women the right to
blame the Black women for their children’s failure in school and the subsequent
poverty. The author feels that using this image is supports racial oppression.
This oppression has been attributed to also a lack of patriarchy in the black
culture, cultural difference and biological difference (p. 77).
The other image presented in this
chapter was that of the welfare recipient black woman. The author defines this
woman as the working-class woman. The author argues that the poor image
constitutes a class specific, which was developed for a poor black woman who
makes use of the state entitlement benefits entitled to them by law. This was
not an issue until the black woman gained political prowess and demanded
equity, only then did there arise the need to controlling the image. This image
portrays a bad mother just like the first two. However, this one is not too
aggressive enough and is portrayed as one sitting around and waiting for the
welfare money while passing the poor traits to her offspring. Lastly is the
image Jezebel/ Hoochei, a woman with a high sexual appetite. The image
originated under slavery while trying to justify the assaults against black
slave women by the white male. As a result of their high sexual appetite, these
women are expected to have an increase of fertility. Unlike the historical
Jezebel, Hoochei is an accepted contemporary deviant black sexuality. There are
three types of this image which are plain, gold-digger and hoodrat (p.81-83).
The author’s main thesis was about the
various images created to shape the image and the role a black woman is
supposed to play. In her argument, the author presents different credible
evidence of wrongful image presentation and shows how it impacts negatively on
the real image of a black woman. She suggests that this poor image of a black
woman contributes to the justification of gender, class, and race inequity.
In support of her argument, the author
has referred to various writers’ article. For example, when talking about the
first image of women, she referred to authors like Rollins (1985) who discussed
the labor provided by black women historically as cheap. The reference showed
some credibility of her argument since it is not something that she wrote out
of the blues, it indicates that she did the research before compiling the
comprehensive paper, the evidence has been seen throughout the article.
The article has acted as an eye opener
since it presents the images that we see on a daily basis from a different
perspective. Normally when looking at the films all we see is acting and
nothing deeper. However, through this article, it was a clear way to identify
various problems with the image representation and illustrates. Need to
advocate for better images or better yet, let black women be free to present
the real picture themselves and not one that is created by the “elite” group.