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Iowa State University

Art History and Visual Culture

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Full-Text Articles in African American Studies

Who’S Your Mammy?: Figuring Aunt Jemima, Harrison W. Inefuku May 2007

Who’S Your Mammy?: Figuring Aunt Jemima, Harrison W. Inefuku

Harrison W. Inefuku

In existence for over a century, the advertising icon Aunt Jemima remains a point of contention for many African Americans, despite a recent makeover that attempted to remove visual signifiers of slavery. To understand the icon's negativity, I explore its roots in slavery,the minstrel stage and The Exhibition of the Other. I then move to an analysis of "The Legend of Aunt Jemima," a series of advertisements produced in the 1920s, to determine how racism was manifested in the icon*s promotional materials.


Who's Your Mammy?: Figuring And Refiguring Aunt Jemima, Harrison W. Inefuku May 2007

Who's Your Mammy?: Figuring And Refiguring Aunt Jemima, Harrison W. Inefuku

Harrison W. Inefuku

In existence since the late 1890s, advertising icon Aunt Jemima has been indelibly etched into the American memory—virtually unchanged from her debut until her makeover in 1989. Before this recent transformation, Aunt Jemima was the quintessential embodiment of the mammy stereotype—a heavyset black woman, complete with apron and bandana. Her creation was situated at the locus of several racist traditions and discourses directed towards African Americans—the mammy stereotype, the minstrel show, The Myth of the Old South, and the Exhibition of the Other. This embodiment of multiple racist practices helps to explain how the mammy in general ...