I Can’t Believe She Just Said That

February 23, 2012 § 1 Comment

These are the words my mother, Mary Simms Furman, spoke in this short segment shot for the Shared History documentary. The footage, which references the descendants of the enslaved people at Woodlands Plantation who took care of my mother as a child and helped her as an adult, was not used in the final film. It was deemed too inflammatory without the proper context. The Just Like Family blog will attempt to provide this context by looking at the stereotype and mythology of the “mammy” figure that was developed during slavery but magnified in the 20th century. Many of the profiles featured in Just Like Family were written by whites who describe their caretaker in stereotypical ways: a large, older black woman, full-bosomed, patient, sometimes sassy, asexual, faithful and unthreatening. I will address some of the theories and realities of this stereotypical image in the hopes of better understanding the relationship between the adult white children and their African American caretakers.

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