Nancy and Rosie

January 31, 2012 § 1 Comment

Nancy Smith’s mother died when she was 7. The blow was softened by Rosie White, an African American woman who was hired for childcare and as the maid in Nancy’s household. They lived in New Orleans. Nancy had two older siblings and her father traveled a great deal. Someone had to raise these children. Nancy was particularly affected by Rosie’s loving spirit and generosity. She talks about this formative relationship and Rosie’s “other life” as well as Rosie’s granddaughter who was the same age as Nancy.

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§ One Response to Nancy and Rosie

  • This interview with my friend Nancy Smith describes the relationship she had with Rosie, the American American woman who raised her. It is striking in the similarity to the stories of other whites who have described the love they had for their black housekeeper.

    Unlike many whites who lost track of the black maternal figure so important in their lives, Nancy got to say “thank you” when, as an adult, she visited Rosie.

    The resemblance in stories of being held and nutured must surely come from the stereotypes created during US slavery where “Mammy” was the strong beloved nurse to the master’s children. The image of mammy–of a large, dark, content, asexual older woman–evolved into a mythology developed by plantation masters to support their paternalistic ideals. That maternal relationship was as complex then as those we present in this blog. I will write more about the image of “mammy” and the mythology that surrounds her in upcoming posts.

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