not. hilarious.

or, “how things got this way.” or, “thank you, racist advertising, for so effectively screwing us up.”

I had never heard the “made at night” thing before reading the comments on the picture I posted last week.  “Funny” how that’s still going around all these years later.  Kind of reminds me of the time my three year old self was called tar baby by a fellow (white)toddler.  I don’t think this is an ad.  It’s probably from a children’s book (perhaps that commenter’s favorite childhood bedtime story.)  Even “better.”

These previous two are another reason why “light skin vs. dark skin dodgeball tournament” cannot be funny to me. Ever. I have answered my own question.  Not ok.

copy reads:
Jell-O is known to all sections as “America’s Most Famous Dessert.”  In the South, for instance, it is inexpensive enough to be found in the cabins of the old plantations.  It is delicious enough to meet the standards of good living at the “Big House.” It is dainty enough for milady’s afternoon tea.  It is appealing enough to turn the sinful, of any color, away from his neighbor’s melon patch.

Let’s break this down:

“cabins of the old plantations” = slave quarters.

“sinful of any color” = just kidding, we mean the darkys… get it?  melon patch! ha! they sure do love watermelon!

I, personally, have always hated jell-o.

re: a mammy tale

I want to yell so loud that Baby Girl can hear me that dirty ain’t a color, disease ain’t the Negro side a town.  I want to stop that moment from coming-and it come in ever white child’s life- when they start to think that colored folks ain’t as good as whites.- The Help

old photo of baby Ralph in an elaborate lace christening dress held proudly by a large black woman

"Black man with white child and dog."

“Black man with white child and dog.” via a “Manny”

"White-capped nurse holding infant."

“White-capped nurse holding infant.” via
"Negro domestic servant, Atlanta, GA, May 1939."“Negro domestic servant, Atlanta, GA, May 1939.” via

"Child and nurse."

“Child and nurse.” via

…the dichotomy of love and disdain living side-by-side is what surprises me- The Help

Mammy & Child-1850

some photos found @ postpostracial

a mammy tale

The following essay is reblogged from Southern-Style.  A real life modern-ish mammy story!  I’ve long been interested in the dynamic between black women and other people’s white children.  When I was in college studying African-American history for the first time, I stumbled upon the thought that Mammies had raised our nation and yet black women generally are not revered (to say the least).  When I was a nanny myself, I thought a lot about mammy.  And, back in January, when I devoured The Help I pondered her some more.  If you haven’t read it yet, please do yourself a favor and put Kathryn Stockett’s The Help on your summer reading list.  It’s one of the greatest books I’ve ever read.  Right up there with The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, Caucasia, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Memoirs of a Geisha, and Life of Pi.  i.e. the rest of your summer reading list.

I Remember Mammy:
Mattie Lee Martin (“Mammy”)
By one who loved her, Sharman Burson Ramsey

Thirteen year old Mattie Lee Martin took her mentally challenged older sister by the hand and led her down the rutted, red clay country road. Neither looked back. Mattie was determined her sister would not be abused again in their grandparent’s home. She’d finally accepted that her parents would never come back to get them. The road led to the town of Dothan, Alabama, and a life, Mattie Lee hoped, that would be better than the one they’d known on that god-forsaken farm.

Mrs. Bender stood at the door of her variety store, broom in hand, and watched the two girls walk toward her down the sidewalk. Mattie, the spokesperson for the two, stepped forward and boldly asked, “I need work and a place where me and my sister can stay. Do you know of anything?” She looked up at Mrs. Bender quite seriously.  Her black eyes were wide.  Anxiety was written all over her round black face that now dripped in sweat in the hot summer day after her long walk. Mrs. Bender read in that expression that she’d gotten this far, but now the little girl was in a quandary as to what should she do now? She looked at the tight grip she had on her much larger, but obviously more dependent, sister.

Mrs. Bender sized them up and in her gentle voice said, “I hear they are hiring maids across the street at the Wadlington Hotel, but come in here and let me help you with something to wear to your interview. Your sister can rest here while you go and inquire. Tell them I sent you.”

Mattie stood straight and said, “I don’t take no charity. I’ll pay you back.” Mrs. Bender nodded.

That Jewish lady remained a dear friend to Mattie the rest of her life.

Mattie Lee Martin later became highly regarded for her cooking skills. She cooked at the restaurant of the Houston Hotel for awhile and then took a job as the private cook for Dr. Moody, founder of Moody Hospital in Dothan. When the Moodys moved into their big house on Main Street from the house across from the hospital, Mattie for some reason was not going with them. Dr. Moody recommended Mattie to Dr. E. G. Burson, my father. The Moodys gave her a house as a parting gift.

When Mattie Lee Martin interviewed with my mother, she told my mother, “I don’t work with children.”

Yet as the pictures reveal, Mattie Lee Martin became as dear to us as our grandmothers and so she deserved just as endearing a name. Thus she came to be called “Mammy.”

Mammy came to work every morning before seven, except Sunday, either by bus or by taxi and stayed until after five.  Even after our overweight dog, Sir Bow Wow, went blind, he would meet Mammy at the bottom of the hill where she got off the bus every morning and together they would plod their way to the house.  She cooked, cleaned, and loved us. I remember seeing one of her paychecks in the amount of $27.00. I also remember the days we’d take Mammy home and she’d ask Mother to stop by the grocery store several blocks away. Then she’d put some money in my hand and I’d run into the grocery store and plunk the money down saying, “Bit o Dental Snuff, please.”

Mammy ordered the groceries to cook for lunch from Murphy’s Market downtown first thing in the morning and a boy on a bicycle delivered them in time for her to cook. Dinner was served at exactly 12:00 noon. (In the South we eat breakfast, dinner and supper.) The meat went on a platter before “the doctor”. The table was set precisely with forks on the left of the plate (with the napkin) and the knife (facing inward) on the right. The glass was placed above the knife. She trained us well.

…Mammy had worked for the aristocracy of the town, Dr. and Mrs. Earl Moody. While she often locked horns with my mother (whose own father had been killed when logs rolled off a log truck when she was 13 leaving her mother to struggle raising five children) she refused to give up on us. “Yo mama, she be mean. But I be mean too, so we get along.” Mother had been awarded campaign ribbon for service in World War II as a nurse at the Battle of the Bulge. She could curse a blue streak and did so on occasion when things did not go to suit her. Sometimes those disagreements would get so heated that Mother would fire Mammy, but we’d cry and carry on so, she’d have to go and ask her to come back. My father was a doctor and his father was a doctor and that made us worth Mammy’s time and effort. My mother might not know what was “proper” but Mammy did, and she was determined to turn us out well.

…Mammy did have her own family…a daughter Lucy Mae Dixon who was my Mother’s age. Mammy had very little education herself and the lists she made could barely be read, so she valued a good education. Mammy skrimped and saved and sent her to college in the North. It must have been a Catholic college because Lucy Mae converted to Catholicism. Mammy was a dedicated member of the Cherry Street AME Church. Lucy earned her Masters and came home to teach. Mammy bought her items of silver “on time” as birthday gifts. The mahogany furniture in their living areas was always covered in plastic to “save” it.

…I guess Mammy told my brother and sister the same thing she drilled into me. “Yo daddy be somebody. You gotta be somebody.” My sister is a cardiologist in New Orleans (Dr. Sylvia Burson Rushing) and my brother (Elkanah George Burson III ) has just started a pharmaceutical company (Burel Pharmaceuticals). Me? After you’ve got a man it’s all right “to rune yo hands” with Ajax, I learned. I wash a mean bathtub and have stayed married to the same man, an attorney of whom she approved (whose family once owned the Houston Hotel where she had worked) for forty years doing a little teaching and writing. This humble generous woman whom I never saw wear a single piece of jewelry gave me a pearl and gold bracelet for graduation from high school.  She who worked from can to can’t all of her life gave me a silver goblet when I got married.  I wonder if she ever knew how much they mean to me and that I realize the sacrifice and love those gifts demonstrated.

…Mammy was a proud person who made the most of her situation and, selflessly, with hard work and determination earned respect and made a good life for herself and her family. She raised us, her white family, to believe we could do whatever we chose to do and that we should make our parents proud. She drilled into us values of honesty, integrity, and a sense of responsibility.  Because we had been given so much; much was expected.  Because we loved her, it was Mammy we wanted to make proud.

Read more HERE

inspired by mad men…sort of

I’ve actually been planning to blog this for a while, but I got lazy and tucked it into a folder on my computer.  Last week’s episode of Mad Men has inspired me to get it together though.  If you saw the episode, you probably know what this is all about.  The blackface.  The throwback to the “good old days” when it was just hilarious (and not at all inappropriate) to mock the darkies.  I’m not exactly sure how I feel about the scene from the show.  It was kind of long and awkward, but perhaps that was the point.  Anyway, it’s not like the writers of the show just pulled that out of thin air.  I bet they didn’t have the song written for the show. As with racist advertising (and as malevolent as), there is a plethora of  good ole “racist” music out there.  Wanna see some?

allcoonsErnest Hogan was a black man. Here are his lyrics:

“All coons look alike to me, I’ve got another beau you see, and he’s just as good to me as you, nig!”

Here’s some back story on Hogan and the song from Wikipedia:
In 1895, black entertainer Ernest Hogan published two of the earliest sheet music rags, one of which (“All Coons Look Alike to Me”) eventually sold a million copies. As fellow Black musician Tom Fletcher said, Hogan was the “first to put on paper the kind of rhythm that was being played by non-reading musicians.” While the song’s success helped introduce the country to ragtime rhythms, its use of racial slurs created a number of derogatory imitation tunes, known as “coon songs” because of their use of extremely racist and stereotypical images of blacks. In Hogan’s later years he admitted shame and a sense of “race betrayal” for the song while also expressing pride in helping bring ragtime to a larger audience.

463px-Cooncooncoon“Coon!  Coon!  Coon! I wish my color would fade.  Coon! Coon! Coon! I’d like a different shade.  Coon! Coon! Coon! Morning, night, and noon, I wish I was a white man ‘stead of a Coon!  Coon! Coon!”

No lyrics for these two, I believe:

watermelon trust
Here’s one that I thought was kind of sweet, yet sad:
“Mama, are there any angels black like me?  I’ve been as good as any little girl could be.  If I hide my face do you think they would see?  I wonder if they’ll find a place for Little black me.”

mammy two-shoes

Speaking of cartoons…

While researching Jackie Ormes I somehow found my way to the ListVerse 10 Great Female Cartoon Voice Actors.  I was  so pleased to see Lillian Randolph as number one.  I was not aware of Lillian Randolph beforehand. I was honestly just glad to see a woman of color on the list, not to mention at the top of it.  Biracial Cree Summer is also on the list.  Anyway, my pleasure was kind of short-lived when memories of Mammy Two-Shoes resurfaced.  

I loved Tom & Jerry as kid.  I remember watching it in the morning before school. Any racial overtones/offenses were lost on me at the time.  But as an adult watching that cartoon, I have been shocked by the appearance of Mammy Two-Shoes.  In my opinion it looks like Mammy Two-Shoes has paws for hands, but maybe that’s just how they draw hands.

From ListVerse:

Lillian Randolph


Lillian Randolph(December 14 1898-September 12 1980) was an African-American actress and singer, a veteran of film, radio and television. A native of Louisville, Kentucky, she was the younger sister of actress Amanda Randolph. 

She worked in entertainment, from the 1930’s well into the 1970’s, appearing in hundreds of short subjects, radio shows, motion pictures and television shows. Randolph is best known as the maid Birdie Lee Coggins from “The Great Gildersleeve” radio comedy and subsequent films and television series, and as Madame Queen on the “Amos ‘n’ Andy” television series from 1951 to 1953. Her best known film role was that of Annie in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” She appeared in several featured roles on “Sanford and Son” and “The Jeffersons” in the 1970’s.

Her most profilic acting role, hoever was her uncredited voice-over part as Mammy-Two-Shoes in William Hannah and Joesph Barbara’s “Tom and Jerry” theatrical cartoon series for Metro Goldwyn Mayer during the 1940’s and early 1950’s. Randolph made a guest appearance on a 1972 episode of the sitcom “Sanford and Son” as Hazel, a distant relative of the Fred Sanford character.

In the Tom and Jerry shorts of the 1940’s and 50’s, the only human character was an unnamed lady who was always after Tom (originally named Jasper), a cat, to catch Jerry, a mouse. Radio and film veteran Randolph provided the voice. The character is considered to be a racial stereotype known as a “Mammy”, a servant or maid of African descent, often overweight, loud, and heavily accented, and this has lead to some controversy. The shorts though, never stated that she was a maid and it is implied that she was the owner of that huge house with the well-stocked refrigerator. Also, the name “Mammy Two Shoes” was never used in the cartoons; it was given years later by the media, as typically only the character’s feet were shown. The shorts would be edited in the 1960’s. In some, Randolph’s voice was replaced with a plain-sounding one, and in others, she was replaced entirely with a thin white woman (voiced by June Foray.) Recent DVD releases have somewhat restored the original character.


By the early 50’s, Mammy was a supporting character just as important as Spike or Nibbles. However, in 1954, the Supreme Court declared racisism unconstitutional, which took a great affect on Hollywood movies and cartoons. So Mammy was forced to retire in 1952’s “Push-Button Kitty”. The new law pressured MGM to reissue the cartoons with her in them. The “White Mammy Two-Shoes” versions were created back in the 1960s for CBS when they were airing these cartoons. The work was done by Chuck Jones’s crew when Jones was making new Tom and Jerry theatricals. I recall reading Chuck’s remarks that at the time MGM still had most of its old animation artwork on file, so it was pretty much just a matter of retracing and repainting the original pencil animation and photographing it against recreated backgrounds. This new “White Mammy” material was then cut into dupe negatives of the cartoons in question to replace the original “Black Mammy” footage. Voice actress June Foray was brought in to redub the soundtracks. (Incidentally, that voice is supposed to be Irish.) Instances where the “White Mammy” has a “Black Mammy” voice (or vice versa) is a result of carelessness. Picture and sound elements on film masters are stored separately. What happens is simply that someone isn’t paying attention and matches a newer “White Mammy” picture element to the original “Black Mammy” sound element (or vice versa). 



Click here to hear mammy two-shoes

a little more racist advertising…


And here I was thinking that Bull Durham was just a baseball movie with Susan Sarandon (love, love, love) and Kevin Costner.


I guess that’s the best they could come up with.  I’ve always thought of dentyne gum as sucking, so perhaps there were no other selling points.