Racist Mammy Dolls

Racist Mammy Dolls: I don’t know why, but I find it interesting that about several of Connecticut’s museums have Mammy dolls. What’s a mammy doll? Now you know.

1. The Barnes Museum, Southington:

Doorstoppin’ Mammy

2. The Berlin Historical Society Museum, Berlin:

Behind glass Mammies

3. Menczer Museum of Medicine & Dentistry, Hartford

Desk decoratin’ Mammy

4. Special Joys Doll Museum, Coventry

Just one of many at this museum

5. American Clock & Watch Museum, Bristol

Sambo clock

22 responses to “Racist Mammy Dolls”

  1. J Hancock says:

    Mammy dolls are something that represents endurance and strength. Some children loved and adored their “mammies” more than their own parents! Why does EVERYTHING historical have to have a negative connotation???

  2. d obare says:

    The mammie dolls are racial motivated toward africian americans of the past. The development of the dolls came from cartoons of black people in 1600, 1700, and 1800s. The cartoons made remarks about africian american women that were slaves who in most instances were house slaves who took care of slave owners children. These cartoons developed more negative images during this time. The developement of the cloth dolls and cermanic dolls became popular due to these cartoons. The mammie dolls are resurfacing now by causians and miseducated africian americans as heritage dolls. They are apart of africian american heritage however a negative image. They have increased sales after the election of Barack Obama by causians by right wing conservatives. Don’t believe me google it for yourself.

  3. H Fields says:

    They are no more racist than black Cabbage Patch Kids. Furthermore, they are a part of our history. Get over it, already.

  4. Steve says:

    “Furthermore, they are a part of our history. Get over it, already.”

    – And there’s nothing racist about America’s history. At all. Ever. Case closed.

  5. Dawn says:

    As a Black American who has collected Black Americana for over 18 years I have learned a Mammy is a racist caricature. People who were taken care of might feel endearment towards their Mammy. However, Mammies portrayals were happy servant’s who at one time were happy Mammy slaves who loved to leave their children to take care of their employer’s children.

    Why when it pertains to negative American history black people are suppose to get over “it”? First, African American’s history is not an “it”. Second like other nationalities we as Black American’s should not get over our homeland history we should respect our forefathers and fore-mothers struggles and successes.

    I do not have a problem with museums having mammies in their collection. I do have concern when the historical Mammy chronicle is not shared with the images.

    Want to learn more visit: http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/menu.htm.

  6. Karen says:

    I can’t begin to fathom why a black American would collect this type of white Americana. That’s right…WHITE Americana! I mean it’s unflatteringly wretched on its own merit as is. Officially attributing ownership to blacks, as though a people could be so pathetic as to represent themselves in such a derogatory manner, is disrespectful and dare I say typical of the very same forces that originally produced (and continue to perpetuate and peddle) this garbage.

    With all of the talented artists who have and continue to produce beautiful representations of the black race and other peoples of color, I hope and pray that you truly have a good reason for doing so…something like collecting them for educational purposes, removal from marketplace circulation, target practice, etc., etc.

    To those who say, “Get over it,” or who relish imaginary images of so-called warmth and whimsy that these grotesque symbols could not possibly have represented for the vast majority of nonwhites at the time, I say get under it for a change. Demonstrate YOUR “strength and endurance” by growing a spine and either exposing it for what it is or pushing it off of our cultural cliff–not sugar coating it and trying to re-market it as something the entire planet knows it was NOT.

  7. Michele G says:

    these images should be seen and studied…in these times there’s the popular idea hat skin color has no weight in the judgement of character…the election of a black man to the presidency has no reflection on the historical past…this man has no african-american ancestry…i say collect these figures antique and modern as a reminder of what america stood for and how black women are percieved even to this day…notice that contemporary popular images of black women are just as stereotypical…brown skinned women are not favorably represented on the whole…almost all images are in some form imitations of white females..blond wigs are extrememly prevalent…cartoonish fashion is in.

  8. noobsaibot says:

    d obare:

    “They have increased sales after the election of Barack Obama by causians [sic] by right wing conservatives. ”

    Yes, because all Conservatives are racists! Don’t believe me? I’m logged on right now while perusing my vast collection of Gollywogs and Basketball playing crow dolls. Yep, it’s true.

    “The mammie dolls are resurfacing now by causians [sic] and miseducated [sic] africian[sic] americans [sic] ”

    Resurfacing? Are you suggesting there was a time that they were underground? I can tell you when I saw them as a child (e.g Tom & Jerry cartoons.) I thought nothing about them, and perceived no negative imagery from them about black people. It took other people pushing that message when I was older.

    They should be on display, if only for the reason we must learn from them. There is a lot of stereo-typical imagery, e.g the “Fighting Irish” and Dime-Store Indians and it should not be hidden away, it is always best to confront history honestly.

  9. Liz says:

    As Whoopi Goldberg once said, “Most of all, I dislike this idea nowadays that if you’re a black person in America, then you must be called African-American. Listen, I’ve visited Africa, and I’ve got news for everyone: I’m not an African. The Africans know I’m not an African. I’m an American. This is my country. My people helped to build it and we’ve been here for centuries. Just call me black, if you want to call me anything.”

    Now I RARELY agree with Whoopi on social or political issues, but she is RIGHT-ON with this opinion.

    I don’t know about the whole Mammy Doll issue – but I know this…we cannot change the past; but WE CAN change the future. I am first-generation American. My parents were not born here they were born in Europe. I had nothing to do with white people making black people their servants – but I am white and I cannot help that.

    Blacks have overcome more than any other group who has ever come to this country. Why can’t they ADMIT THAT instead of complaining about how badly they were treated? DON’T LOOK NOW BLACK AMERICANS – YOU HAVE OVERCOME!

  10. Steve says:

    Liz, a couple observations. Why does it matter what any individual cares to call herself. It is a personal preference not a reflection of any group. This would true of any German-American or Irish-American, etc. who felt no connection with wherever some distant relative came from. Some feel a connection some don’t. Second, part of changing the future is making sure we see the past clearly. White people did not make black people their servants, they made them slaves. That is to say they took away all of their rights as human beings and treated them property. All of the seeming love and affection a female slave may have shown her young white charges was not an option and it was not an option to show the same love and affection to her own children (if permitted to have any) who could be snatched away at any instant. Simply asking that the country not forget is hardly complaining, but the request that blacks not issue such reminders seems one targeted only at blacks. Should Jews just forget the Holocaust? Where are the cries telling Japanese Americans to quit complaining about internment camps during WWII. A great deal of labor that went into building this country was at the hands of people who were not compensated fairly both before and after slavery and who were also deprived of the the ability to invest and prosper. While it is true there have been immense economic and political gains for blacks in the US, the persistent effects of generations of economic deprivation can not simply be dismissed with a song lyric.

  11. my big butt says:

    leave the history alone

  12. Leslie says:

    Black Mammy dolls, black lawn jockeys or anything pertaining to reminding
    African American people (Yes African American people) Liz.
    Is definitely racist and it demotes African Americans of being free human
    beings. Anything to degrade or put African Americans in there place,
    the place where racist Whites think they should be is the (MASTER PLAN)
    Oh and as for calling your race African American instead of Black…
    there is nothing wrong with an idividual identifying with whatever
    the want to be. If you want to be identified as a turnip go far it.
    The truth is so called blacks have a large trace of African blood
    in their DNA along with much Native American and European blood
    thanks to raping of slaves or intermarrying. So called black people
    have been called and named anything by people of other races. It is
    time for so called Black folks to start identifying themselves.
    Do some research on where your desendants
    come from and be proud that you are cut from that cloth. And claiming
    to be African when you may also be part Cherokee and part Irish while
    not owning up to it is denying your full heritage.

  13. Blaze says:

    I bet you peckerwoods wish y’all can go back to those good ole days huh? It will never happen so stop dreaming. If you dare try that now, You’ll have hell on your hands.

  14. r.carreker says:

    I feel like people are so racist,but yet instead their are so many people in the world that are confused about who they are and what they are that they have to give out negative stuff. Maybe if they had a Mammy she would have taught them better than that .Back then that’s who taught the white kids how to respect people.

  15. thegirlbilly says:

    I think its rediculous that so many people have a problem with part of our history yes thats right HISTORY. I am a white AMERICAN female living in the South. I LOVE the mammy dolls to me, they portray a huge part of history. Maybe there are racist connections to the mammy dolls but personally I say its how each person sees it to be. I really love these dolls and lots of other dolls and collectables that are Black Americana & get so tired of people thinking Im racist because of it. As someone else said tha mammys are the ones who TAUGHT the masters children manners and how to behave etc & MOST children that had a mammy in charge of them loved her as if she were their own mother!!!! Goodness people no one needs to erase history just because there were ugly times…. USE the knowledge so history doesnt repeat itself. The hate, the ignorance, and self righteousness is rediculous on ALL SIDES.

  16. Steve says:

    And I think it’s “rediculous” (sic) that someone who doesn’t know how to spell “ridiculous” is trying to teach us all a lesson.

  17. thegirlbilly says:

    I didn’t realize this was a grammar lesson…. Perfect display of ignorance & straying from the topic. The term grammar nazi comes to mind whilst reading your petty nitpicking.

  18. Steve says:

    As boring as grammar/spelling retorts are, the follow-up response from “thegirlbilly” is even more tiring. Her response is pure boilerplate at this point, as if her initial comment made any new points that preceding commenters haven’t already tried to make.

    To me, and many other people that actually care about education and english, repeated misspellings of the same 6th grade word actually DOES provide insight into the commenter’s abilities. If she doesn’t know how to spell the word ridiculous, how can she expect us to give her thoughts on US history much merit? Sorry, it matters. It’s not “petty nitpicking,” it’s demonstrable evidence that her ability to communicate is weak.

    Her IP pings to South Carolina. (This doesn’t mean she’s from there, but there’s a pretty good chance.) South Carolina deemed english as their official language in 1987. I don’t know what that means, but I thought I’d point it out.

    Regardless, thegirlbilly, mammies, pickininnies, lawn jockeys… owning this crap doesn’t mean you are a racist. It doesn’t even mean the items were made to be racist. It just means you have bad taste.

  19. Lily says:

    The “mammy” is a total myth.

  20. Brenda says:

    I am an African American, who loves her old black mammy doll! I just found out that she is worth a pretty penny. “How you doing”!!!

  21. Mammy | English Language Tutorials says:

    [...] here. For an illustrated article and some viewer comments about ‘mammy dolls’, please click here & for an article about mammy caricatures and their popularity, please click [...]

  22. MrsWhatsit says:

    History lessons are hard to accept. But we can’t change the past, and we can’t be responsible now for what any ancestor did. We’re pretty much all a mix, now, anyway — perhaps with some exceptions. I liked Whoopi’s comment about the term African. Out of respect, I try to refer to race by whatever name the people of that race prefer. But I admit I don’t quite understand the use of the term African-American, because in the US, it is universally used to refer to a person with black or Negro ancestry. I don’t think it’s actually accurate, since there are plenty of Africans who are white. So, to use the term to mean only skin color just seems wrong. If a South African white person becomes an American citizen, what term is the proper one? Or maybe we all just label ourselves too much. I’m Irish, and Scottish, and Cherokee, and who knows what else.

    Anyway, in a thrift store, I came across two figures and just fell in love with them. One is a Mammy figurine, and one is a little girl (what some would call “pickaninny”). I asked the lady where they came from, but she didn’t know. They seem finely made, and I discovered after I had them for awhile that each has been numbered. The skin color is not ebony black, as so many of the “Aunt Jemima” type figures are; but a lovely chocolate color. The Mammy is standing, holding a pie. Her head rag and apron are decorated with cherries. The details of her dress and face are wonderful. The child is kneeling, sitting on her heels, and holding a duck or goose in her arms. Her hair is in braids; she’s wearing a typical shapeless slave garment dress. The bottom of her feet are seen and everything is so detailed. There seems to be a glaze applied over everything. The thing that intrigues me is that every single aspect of these figures is so detailed and perfect; but both the faces are done in a primitive style, as if a child carved them. I’ve never seen anything like them. I assumed they’re not new, since I don’t think these types of figures are considered politically correct, but I could be wrong. I’ve tried without success to discover who made them and when.

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