“Mammy, May I?”
“Coerced Surrogacy Roles, Antebellum realities, and the realized role of God”
December 14th 2017
African American Political Theologies
Dr. Keri Day
“Mammy, May I?”
“Shug helps Celie to reexamine certain religious values Celie has held all her life—religious values supporting her bondage rather than her empowerment as a new, liberated woman. This reexamination centers on notions of God, man, and Church. This reflection shows Celie her image of God as man has limited her perception of the connectedness of all reality. Shug convinces Celie that church is not a place to find God. Rather, Church is a place where people come to share God because “Any God I ever felt In Church I brought in with me…the other folk did too.”
In the antebellum South, coerced surrogacy roles involving black women were in the areas of, nurturance, field labor, and sexuality. Some of the traditions associated with these three areas have helped develop stereotypical images of black women that have survived from antebellum times to the present. In this essay, I want to critically reflections on where these three c.oerced surrogacy roles cross with the black Church, God, and the black woman in the Church. I want to critically analyze the space the black mother occupies as a forefront presence in the Church but also subjected to the harsh patriarchal realities of maleness and oppression in the place of worship. The two roles of surrogacy, forced and voluntary have pressured black women to assume the characters that were initially for others to play. This has, in turn, created rigid mobility for the black woman to deal with her fragility, vulnerability, and identity outside that of her home, her community, and her Church. The role of the “savior” or the “indestructible black woman” came from a time in history where women had no say so in her abilities as a woman, mother, and wife. She was forced into specific roles that reflected the pleasure and knowledge of her masters, her community, and her husband. Women have long been negatively stereotyped in American society, usually portrayed as submissive and passive while at the same time seen as disobedient and pushy. These different representations are doubly imposed on Black women. The knowledge that we have about Black women during Slavery shows two main descriptions: a sexual object for the master’s pleasure or a ‘mammy’ figure that devotes all her time to her master’s family instead of her own. Unwanted sexual harassment caused Black women to take on the de-sexualized role of the ‘mammy’ to try and get away from the horrible sexual acts committed against them.
Black Americans have endured numerous hardships since their involuntary migration and subsequent enslavement from Africa to America. Many scholars would say that the physical captivity of slavery has been transformed into a more mental captivity, in the way that mainstream American...