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Mammy Jars Mock Black People. Why Are They Still Collected?

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tags: racism, African American history, antiques



In a Black History Month roiled by tone-deaf scandals in politics and fashion involving blackfaceshoes and balaclavas, you may have missed the one about mammy jars.

Grace Coddington, a former creative director of American Vogue, was photographed with a collection of so-called mammy ceramics in her kitchen for a French lifestyle magazine. The images surfaced in early February and were condemned.

“I am ashamed and embarrassed that I didn’t see the mammy jars in the photo until an Instagram commenter pointed them out to me,” the photographer, Brian Ferry, said in a statement. “I’m sorry for my mistake and the hurt it caused,” he added. “I am committed to doing better in the future.” Representatives for Ms. Coddington did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

The mammy stereotype portrays black women as obedient maids to white families. Like blackface, racist objects such as mammy jars perpetuate deep-rooted stereotypes about African-Americans by portraying them as docile, dumb and animated. But some white families view these objects as keepsakes, passed down through generations as relics of the past.

 

Read entire article at NY Times

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