Saturday, February 27, 2010

Who Are You Calling A Mammy!?

Ever since Monique and Gabourey Sidibe have been nominated for an Academy Award, some ignorant African Americans have lost their frigging minds because of it! So what they don't fit the idea image of an African American woman as a lighter hued, slender woman throwing her weave, wig or real hair in the wind as she walks down the red carpet- they're still human beings and worthy of respect! It's been all over the web mostly coming from ignorant African American bloggers who think that once they receive some semblance of an education they think they know everything! News Flash! You don't!

Hopefully there will come a day when some us will learn that our worth is not determined or influenced by a character that one plays or an audience that one captures. In my teens it was Cicely Tyson and Diahann Carrol who were once nominated for Academy Awards for what some perceived as stereotypical black characters that also met the same disdain from black folk, now come 2010, Monique and Gabby are enduring the same black wrath. God forbid that they lose, then the haters will be finally vindicated and elated with pure joy. I'm sure it was the same thing for my mother in the 1940's and beyond.

As I often say, when people don't who they are -they will always struggle because they think that others define them. Those who know very little about their own "STORY" will believe all that is written without regards to the era and what these women had to endure before Hollywood and America became more accommodating of Black people to include black actresses.

Maybe if the majority of African Americans would stop looking for validation, acceptance, inclusion and love from everyone else, you'd have in your own hearts and these types of conversations,lists and topics wouldn't come up. Having this list of prominent African American women and the role Tyler Perry plays,Medea based only on their physical characteristics does not serve to advance us as women, but only serves as a continued division among us. People may not like any of the characters they have played, but yours is only an opinion and you know the statement. So here's my honest opinion because I've got one also. All characters are stereotyped when it comes to entertainment and it's up to us to be able to decipher which is real and those which aren't.

What some of you perceive as servitude basically is not, but a way for these type to persevere in spite of the realities they faced. It was "The Mammy" who endured whatever indignities after years of servitude who has given back to our communities in the forms of money and educational opportunities ahead of her own. It is "The Mammy" who knows that to have a myopic view of the world is also a "career killer" which doesn't open up avenues of success to you and is a limitation and a label she does not wear.

Maybe if they did a little research they'd also find out how those they may think of as "the ingenue" also served as the "concubine" stereotype in that painful past of American History we often like to dredge up by telling half-truths, who still happens to receive the largest amount of admiration and adoration from many people today based solely on their looks. I have several of these older movies in my collection and never once did I judge these women as degrading and unworthy of reverence.

However, I was made painfully aware of the different roles that many of them were offered to play in Hollywood based upon what they looked like, which is sadly in practice today. Those who exhibit what many perceive as "The Mammy" stereotype don't receive anything but constant ridicule and criticism, while often gaining the highest amount of influence. While I admire the hues that women of African descent possess, these are the types of alienation's that will never unify us as a people. We've got to learn to move beyond skin hue and size and concentrate on the talent of these actresses and what each and everyone of them brought to the table.

I'll take influential, intelligence, aspirational and inspiring over beauty any day of the week. One thing that I've learned that when we attempt to malign others, it really is the individual talking about themselves. Some people criticize exactly who they are-you know the mirror image effect- it takes one to know one adage. What I'm getting from all of this negativity pertaining to these women being winners and nominated for Academy Awards is that some people still don't know how to separate fiction from reality.

I'll support Tyler Perry or any other producer of Black entertainment just as long as they employ black men and women. If your only job is lip-service and inactivity than your opinion is moot to me. Put your money where your mouth is and support that struggling film student who needs financial backing or create your own. I'm smart enough to know that the black man and woman is not a one dimensional character but are varied individuals that encompass every tier there is.

In the words of the great Hattie McDaniel who once stated, "it's better to play a maid or mammy than to be one. Hollywood keeps pushing the envelope of what is perceived as beauty, but who should accept this view? I certainly don't? As a people we should know better to judge these women who have been insulted,  and labelled most of their lives because of how they look. They have certainly left a huge impact on my life, why can't we spend more time writing about their talents and how much of an impact they had on people who were living in the Segregated South at the time or in an America that was not accepting them?
These two beautiful women, Gabourey Sidibe and Monique are on the ride of their lives, so lets not make this ride turbulent with negative comments and insults because they deserve what they've earned. If we can not uplift them then we can not uplift ourselves and believe me it's showing that we can't do so.

"Who knew that "Mammy" was the modern name or label black women call over achieving black women who they think are sell-outs? What have many of you done that will propel our community to the top other than criticize the accomplishments of others? This is from the response that I left on another website. It may be long but I stand on the shoulders of greatness, no matter what job they served in or where they were in society and they still deserve my respect and reverence because we all have benefited from them!
(Photo:Getty Images)


Moni @ CL Journal said...

Afrolista, I would love to talk to you anyday!

About 3 weeks ago I had this same conversation with another person regarding the movie "Gone With The Wind". I was mentioning how african americans always bring up the fact that it's a movie about slavery. It's not. It's a movie about selfish egotistical woman who pines for the love of a man she can't have and the CIVIL WAR is a backdrop. I pointed out that since this movie takes place in 1862, it stands to reason that a southern belle would have a mammy. That mammy is also the one who knows throughout the whole damm movie that Scarlett is full of herself. But to get back on track, if you added all the screen time of all the black folk in the movie, I don't think it adds up to a full hour.

Well, you would have thought I killed someone. Then I asked, what didn't you like about the movie, then the truth comes out..after seeing one scene they never watched the rest of it. Or they never saw it at all. Which in my mind, you CANNOT make a criticism of something you know nothing about.

Mind you, I have seen the movie, more than I can count, because quite frankly, to know that the characters our folks had to play is heartbreaking, but the point of a movie is to tell a story. The movie is made in the '30's about a period in the 1800's. Again, the movie is about a spoiled white woman of the South.

Yes these images are painful and ridiculous, but has anyone seen a hip hop video lately? It's as if we did go backwards and we are supposed to be more educated.

I honestly did not see "Precious" because I have had family members go through that kind of abuse, and I admit, I am in a point of my life now where I choose to watch something that will uplift. I'm not a fan of Tyler Perry's movies either, but I respect him for at least taking control of what HE wants to produce. If others have problems with it, I say start your own movie theaters, build your own sets and film your own productions.

I'm still waiting for a good movie on: Sojurner Truth, Marcus Garvey, Cleopatra, The Black Panthers, Angela Davis, Gordon Parks, Harriet Tubman...oh please, this list goes on and on.

I'm with you, put up or shut up!

Anna Renee said...

Hi Divalocity! I didn't read the entire post yet, I will though, but I can tell that you're alot like me! I hate it when these pseudo-intellectuals start spouting off at the mouth, against black people when they dont know the deal! They are so ready to put other black people down in order to stand on them! They don't understand themselves as black women and dont know their history. I can tell you are hot!! Don't let them get to you, because more are out there! (I should take my own advice) They make me mad!
I love Monique and you know I admire Gabby so much! As Oprah said yesterday, Gabby will now be mentioned in the same breath as the great actresses such as Meryl Streep and the rest! Yesterday she was a regular girl, and today she's a star! Young Gabourey Sidibe can teach black women, the world over! How to be completely and totally and unashamedly on your own side! I'll be returning to finish your post!

Divalocity said...

Thanks ladies for commenting, but in the last few weeks after their nominations and before, the blogosphere has been bashing these women left and right and I take any denigration of black women personal. Anytime a woman is being personally attacked, we are all being attacked whether we want to believe it or not. If we can not uplift them, then we should not malign them. We all have our opinions on a lot of things, but this crap is coming from these whining individuals who should know better!

Fly Girl said...

I totally agree. We need more self-love and less attacks on each other. So many black women aren't comfortable with who they are because they look to media images to affirm them, which never happens because that's not what the media is for. I'm glad that Gabby and Monique got their opportunities although I haven't been interested in seeing the movie either.


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