A Black Women’s Identity: An Analysis of Vintage Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix Ads

For years, Black women have struggled with creating an identity for themselves in the midst of combating the negative images that precede them. Through the use of the media, anti-black and anti-feminist proponents have been able to oppress black women, pigeonhole them to certain stereotypes, and cast a shadow over their existence in society. Various images that negatively depict African-American women continue to surface and circulate false illustrations such as the mammy archetype. An analysis of vintage Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix ads will uncover the characteristics given to African-American women through the use of brand marketing accompanied by stereotypes and generalizations.

Aunt Jemima has capitalized on the mammy figure, a “model” for black women, through its advertisement of pancake mixtures. The earlier ads feature a heavy-set, dark-skin woman dressed in a plaid top and a bandana. One specific ad titled “How Aunt Jemima Makes Another Couple Happy”, produced in 1940, perfectly captures the “true” characteristics of the mammy character; the ad’s tone alludes to how Aunt Jemima resembles “the help” and how she can make someone else’s day better. Aunt Jemima metaphorically “carries out her tasks” and “serves whites” through her pancake mixtures. The subservience of the character is quite obvious throughout the diction of the image. Another ad even takes it a step further and has a white woman saying to Aunt Jemima that with a box of Aunt Jemima’s ready-mix in her kitchen, it’s like having Aunt Jemima there in person. The ad places the black woman back in the kitchens of white households raising their families.

Another advertisement chose a different alternative and focused more on the southern dialect of Black folk in attempts to attack their lack of education. Aunt Jemima is pictured in the image saying “Mmm! A Feastin’ Delight, Mornin’, Noon or Night”. The phrase is created in context of a jingle to play with the stereotype that all Black people can sing or they use songs to pass time. Most of the Aunt Jemima ads include Aunt Jemima’s words in a rhythmic phrase with a southern dialect.

The Aunt Jemima logo has evolved over the years and has shifted the image and identity of the Black woman. Due to the controversy of the mammy archetype representing the Aunt Jemima Company, the corporation understood it was time to alter the logo. The company held tight to the image of the oversized black woman but they have recently changed it to a slimmer black woman with curly hair. However, this alteration still proves to be controversial; black women in America are now supposed to live up to this image of being slim and having curly, natural hair. It was once about black women struggling to not fit the mold and now it’s about trying to keep up with the image. Aunt Jemima has never had a good reputation with the Black community in America mainly because of the images they create of Black women. Their advertisements are used as tools of oppression for a group in society who hold a lot of weight and negativity on its shoulders.

The concept of intersectionality created by Kimberle Crenshaw still exists today; the study of black women being black and being female does not do anyone justice if those aspects are reviewed independently. The intersection of being black and female affects the average day Black woman on a daily basis. She is oppressed by not only racism, but sexism and classism as well. The advertisement Aunt Jemima creates chooses to attack the Black woman by using those three angles (racism, sexism, and classism). In terms of racism, most ads illustrate the mammy’s dark skin, subservience, and lack of education. The advertisement utilizes stereotypes in “defining” a black woman and the characteristics she is expected to hold. Many promotions of the pancake mixture focus on gender roles in showing how women are expected to be productive in the kitchen through illustrations of women preparing the pancakes; also illustrated is the role of black women or mammies preparing meals for white families. Lastly, the advertisement tends to show the gap between classes of the mammies and the whites they serve.

Hopefully, brands no longer seek to have Blacks represent them or their logo. The use of characters or nonhumans seems to be the least controversial in terms of brand marketing. Aunt Jemima’s use of the mammy figure seemed to have been successful according to the time period in which the advertisements were produced. Although a white woman as the figure for brand representation would have sufficed, the company decided to portray a certain theme that currently affects African-Americans. Many ads attempted to be comedic while humiliating black women in the progress, which is understandable considering the targeted audience (white customers). The company assumed that its customers, primarily white, would find similarities in their perceptions of blacks within the company. Unbeknownst to the company, the advertisement created negative images of African-Americans that are still combated by the Black community today.

Works Cited

YouTube. “Aunt Jemima “I’se in town, Honey!” Online video clip. YouTube, 7 February 2013. Web. 1 December 2014.

Aunt Jemima. Woman’s Day 1 Dec. 1940: 55. Print. Gallery of Graphic Design. Web. 1 December 2014.

Aunt Jemima. Woman’s Day 1 Oct. 1946: 13. Print. Gallery of Graphic Design. Web. 1 December 2014.

Crenshaw, Kimberlé W. (1991). Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color, Stanford Law Review, Vol. 43, No. 6., pp. 1241–1299.

Body Sock

Who would think that there would ever be an invention of a body sock used for people with sensory processing disorders? Who would think that people would even wear a body sock? Socks are typically associated with feet and the prototypes of body socks pictured and reviewed on Sara Hendren’s blog “Abler” create a twist to the everyday article of clothing one would find in the drawers of a dresser.

I find the prototypes of the object very peculiar; I would also freak out if I came across someone wearing the prototype on the street. However, with Halloween quickly approaching, I would not be much surprised to see someone strolling down the streets of Atlanta with the sock enveloping the wearer’s body. The object looks as though it resembles the texture of spandex used by athletes for various sports. The body sock is required to stretch to be able to accommodate the various sizes of its wearers. The whole idea of the person inside being able to see though the sock but the outside world not being able to see the watcher is very odd. In a way the body sock promotes exclusion from society because of the lack of contact or communication the wearer has with other people. Hendren, however, spoke about possible prototypes having openings for communication to others. The object’s looks surprise many and many would be uncomfortable interact with people who are wearing the body sock.

The object’s benefits go way beyond the object’s aesthetics. The object has a biomedical and psychological meaning behind it. It helps people with sensory processing disorders adapt to certain stimuli. For example, people who wear the body sock that are hypertensive perceive “ordinary touches as aggressive attacks” and people who are hyposensitive “indifferent to pain”. The object is able to provide a plethora of functions for its users. The object does consist of some minor shortfalls. In addition to its weird look and its lack of transparency from the exterior, the object seems to be fairly uncomfortable. Although the object stretches, the texture makes it difficult for its wearers to walk. Also, the person wearing the object will find it slightly more time consuming and difficult to drive a vehicle with the body sock on.

Personally, I would not benefit from the object unless I was planning on wearing it for a Halloween costume. In my opinion, the object shows how progressive the field of biomedical engineering can be and makes Americans optimistic of how technology can influence health in positive ways. I hope that there are ore tests done to the prototypes so that the invention can be tweaked a little and sold on the market. The idea seems fantastic and it will help many of people in the future.

Quest for New Knowledge

Receiving new knowledge on a certain subject, specifically through research, has been truly gratifying during my time here at Emory. Truthfully, I had not conducted much research in certain disciplines before I began my academic coursework this semester. Currently, I am delving in two research projects for my Intro to African American Studies and English 101 class. During my research in both courses, I was able to uncover topics and information that are sometimes overlooked or never even sought after. I plan to further my current research in my African American Studies class due to my passion for the subject and the possibility of the course becoming my minor.

While digging for sources to utilize in my research for African American Studies, I am left in complete awe by what I discover. My focus or objective is to expose the truth to black babies being used as alligator bait in the South during the slavery/Jim crow era. I have been taking advantage of the resources provided to me as a student of Emory, such as MARBL and other databases. I have come across numerous photographs and postcards picturing weeping black babies dangling from the mouths of alligators. These types of recollection of the practice sometimes leave me traumatized and slightly infuriated. Imagining the pain mothers held in bondage experienced from their children being grabbed in the middle of the night, placed in chicken coupes, and transported to nearby swamps for use in hunting alligators creates a frightening image in my mind. I am left not only sympathetic to mothers in that time period, but often mothers today who go through similar experiences of their children being involved in harrowing situations. Discovering this new knowledge or information also makes me question its impact on current race relations. Will the hatred and oppression continue to be transferred due to the availability to sources of historical events? I have many questions that I plan to answer during my quest of knowledge and I hope I can produce answers that could possibly be used to help others formulate their research.

Research affects people in many different ways; my research has allowed me to develop a keener sense of history and how it can be sometimes masked by broader topics. For example, history books do a great job of covering and giving accounts of slavery, but it takes greater precision for researchers to find such a topic of black babies being used as alligator bait. Conducting research is never an easy task and I am a true testament to that statement. Sites and information can throw one in circles and leave one to question other sources’ validity. Patience is the most effective tool in being able to conduct research successfully.

In my opinion, one can never truly complete research on a certain topic. The pleasure of living in the 21st century is that we have access to a tremendous amount of information. Besides, when focusing on a specific topic, there are many angles in which you can broaden or specify the way the information is viewed. It takes a dedicated person to be a researcher and I am slowing starting to notice that in my quest for new knowledge.

My Kind of Literature

The real mystery is whether “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” met my expectations of true literature. Is it far off the paradigm for the high school curriculum or not even close to surpassing Shakespearean literature? In my analysis of the short story of Sherlock Holmes, I will assess the story’s plot, use of literary devices, length, details, and themes. The short story’s overall complexity will be judged as well to determine its place as a literary work.

I have always been accustomed to Shakespearean literature during the course of my high school career. The classics such as Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, King Lear, Hamlet, and Julius Caesar often appeared on the exams of my English classes. In addition to literature produced by Shakespeare, I was able to explore and analyze the work of Mary Shelley, Frankenstein. Frankenstein encompassed many themes that were evident throughout the novel: revenge, family, sacrifice, exploration, etc. However, while reading “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box”, I could not formulate a clear theme from the story. The presence of a possible theme was nonexistent and that lessens the story’s effect on the reader. As a reader, I couldn’t really connect to the story and compare it to real-life situations because it lacked a theme.

A major part of literature is also its reference of other literary works. During my analysis of “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box”, I was also unable to find any reference to another popular novel, poem, song, or piece of work. Contrary to the short story of Sherlock Holmes, Beowulf provided a couple of references to other works that added another dimension to not only the plot of the story, but the characters involved in the different events throughout the story. One of the references used was the short tale of Cain and Abel from the bible. The tale was use to compare Grendel, one of Beowulf’s main characters, to the evil Cain from the short tale. This reference from the bible used in Beowulf gives the reader a better description and explanation of one of the characters. If the short story were able to use references from other works, it would have given the readers a different angle to view the characters.

Another feature I expected from the short story of “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” was the use of literary devices. All throughout my Advanced Placement Literature course, I read poems and literature with great use of literary devices. The devices’ usage shows the author’s creativity and even makes the story or work more interesting to read. I was unable to find many literary devices throughout “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” and it upset me. The story’s plot was bland and also the dialogue could have really benefited from the use of some of the devices. I wish they were more evident in the story.

“The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” did not meet my expectations of literature. I was expecting more features and some were not even used throughout the story. The lack of features makes the story less interesting and doesn’t add significance to the plot. Hopefully other short stories of Sherlock Holmes will be better.

Beautiful Letters Company

Deion Love

Professor Claire Laville

English 101 1 PM

3 October 2014

The presence of the Beautiful Letters Company in the film Her serves a distinct purpose to the plot; the company enhances the idea of technology’s progression. The clients of the company’s employees send requests or information about their relationship so that the employees could compose letters as if the person had actually written it. In the film, Theodore was sent information about how a certain couple met and the boyfriend gave him a description of his girlfriend. Theodore was able to take this information and create letters based off of the information he received.

Theodore was the ideal person to be an employee at the Beautiful Letters Company because of his ability to be in touch with his emotions. Theodore’s personality allows him to be more romantic and personal. Even the other characters in the film commented on how great Theodore’s letters were. Paul stated that Theodore is part man and part woman; he was commenting on his skill of writing letters for his clients. Throughout the film, we were able to see how his emotions were developed in the relationships he was in. His relationship with Samantha and how he felt about his divorce also showed that he is an emotional person.

In my opinion, I necessarily don’t think that the audience members are supposed to be upset by the company and the services that they provide. The services are not overpowering or unheard of in the context of the film because of the OS dating situation. The film shows how progressive technology could be in the future because it is a scientific-fiction film. Also they never really explain why the company exists in the film and I was never to assess why they decided to add the company and its concept. I don’t think the company’s presence adds too much to the film. Beautiful Letters Company does not need to be in the film.

The company does make the audience think of the future and how technology will influence society. The film also showed how lazy our society can get due to technology. People just send little descriptions and expect the employees of the company to work miracles with letters. Also, the OS system encourages laziness and makes the people who use it seem incapable of providing for themselves.

Revision of “My Facebook Profile”: Dear Grandma

My original post describes my Facebook profile and how it doesn’t quite unveil who I really am because of fear of my friends and family members judging me. For my revision, I specifically addressed my grandmother directly and how I cannot truly be myself on Facebook because she follows my profile.

Dear Grandma,

I got a little nervous when you told me that you were excited to add me as a friend on Facebook; knowing the values you try to instill in me, I am mindful of what will offend you. Ridiculous posts such as “I just smashed this girl in my chem class” will never be found on my page because of you. Who am I? I can truthfully say that I am putting on a show. The pictures on my profile may try to describe who I really am but I am masked behind the threat of you judging my identity, questioning my character, or our relationship being tarnished because of my actions. I am an actor in what seems to be a stage play; I have no freedom in what character I portray.

Years ago, I did not even frequent my Facebook profile; it took many attempts and a couple clicks on the “forgot your password?” link for me to actually reactivate my Facebook page. Now, I use my Facebook account very often and post regularly. My Facebook account boasts 968 friends who hold a variety of social classes, ages, personalities, and opinions. I am often hesitant of what I decide to put on display for all of my interested Facebook friends to see, but it is your opinion that really matters. I know by the abundance of comments and likes on my statuses that you are a frequent visitor of my page. My first amendment rights were immediately taken away from me when I decided to click “accept” to confirm you as one of my Facebook friends. It feels like I always have to impress you and live up to the standards that you set for my brother and me. My posts have changed drastically because of your presence on my profile.

In middle school, I could be seen as a childish kid who posted his excitement of new shoes that were just released. In ninth grade, I posted how many “chicks” I expected to pick up on the first day of school (an “average” freshman at my school). From freshman year to senior year, I began molding into a young adult; I shared my colleges of interest, accomplishments, family, friends, and then finally my college acceptances.

Now, being my friend as a college freshman, you will see some pretty gratifying things. There will soon be pictures of my new friends, grades on my assignments, or the clubs that I have recently joined. It’s a new environment here for me at Emory University. My Facebook profile will be significantly changed due to the unfamiliarity of my surroundings. It is time for me to explore and you will be able to see how much your grandson has grown. I’m sure I will make you proud.

The only thing I ask of you grandma is to always accept me for who I am. I may decide to actually show my true self to my Facebook friends and I don’t want you to think differently of me. I just want some freedom to say whatever I want and use Facebook as an outlet for my feelings and a place to show whom Deion Donnie Love actually is. If I throw a couple curse words in my statuses, don’t be alarmed or if I post some inappropriate pictures, please don’t run and tell my parents. What I am trying to say is, please understand that I am not the little child you were taking care of years ago, I am now a man. I love you and I hope you will always love me, but it is time for me to be the person I was meant to be.

Sincerely,

Your loving grandson Deion

Misperceptions in “Pillow Talk”

Deion Love

Professor Claire Laville

ENG 101-008

19 September 2014

“Pillow Talk” is a film directed by Michael Gordon, which tells a story set in the 1950’s of a man and a woman who share a telephone line. The film begins with Doris Day playing as “Jan Morrow”, she intends on using her telephone but her line was tied up due to the other person she shares a line with, Brad Allen. Jan chimes in on the conversation complaining how she is never able to use her telephone. The main reason why is because Brad would always be “sweet-talking” women over the phone. Scenes would show Allen flirting with countless women, using his charm and talent of singing and playing the piano. Being able to compare how Brad is perceived over the phone and his actions while speaking with women, allows one to see that he’s not as interested in the women as he sounds. The women misperceive his attractions towards him, based off of the way he sounds and what he says. The tone of Brad’s voice entices women into falling for him; unbeknownst to them, he is having multiple conversations with women daily.

Of course, due to the phone situation, Jan Morrow and Brad Allen’s relationship wasn’t the best and they had never met each other while they had conflicts; they’ve only heard each other’s voices over the phone. One of Allen’s friends, Jonathan Forbes, had brought up the fact that he had feelings for Jan; hearing the news, Brad Allen wanted to advance on Jan even though his friend admitted to having feelings for her. Brad Allen decided to pursue Jan when he noticed that they were in the same venue. Allen had to disguise himself so that she would reject him when they officially met. Allen introduced himself as someone else and escorted Jan back home. The two exchanged numbers then started having conversations over the telephone. Continuing his disguise, Brad assumed a different voice then his own so Jan wouldn’t know who he really was; Jan misperceived Brad for the guy who he was trying to impersonate. All along Jan never noticed that the guy she had been talking to was the same guy that was sharing a party line with her until she discovered one of the songs she had remembered him singing over the phone.

The different voices that Brad Allen assumed in the film reminded me of the analysis we did as a class on code-switching. Even though Brad Allen did not change his voice to fit in with an ethnic group, he changed his voice to fit in with the situation. I admit to having done this before, altering the way I speak or assuming a certain voice to fit in with the situation. Throughout the film, Brad Allen had “code-switched” in a certain situation. In my opinion, every one has participated in code-switchin

I Admit that I Have Code-switched

Deion Love

Professor Claire Laville

English 101-008 (1 PM)

12 September 2014

Code-switching “is used to align speakers with others in specific situations (e.g., defining oneself as a member of an ethnic group)” (Johnson, 2000, p.184). I believe everyone code-switches in society just for the sake of fitting in. Many people hate standing out but love being part of the crowd. I admit that I have code-switched and I always feel guilty after doing the act. Altering my self-identity to blend in with a certain group makes me feel less than the person I am, it makes me feel like I have no dignity.

My grandmother has always told me to stay true to who I am. Some days, it’s often difficult to follow her advice; for the sake of having multiple friends, I attempt to conform to certain atmospheres. I’m mostly successful in conforming, but I find myself either filtering my words or saying things that I normally wouldn’t say. Efforts in fitting in or always worrying about saying the right thing tend to become herculean. Thankfully, I know that I can always be myself around my closest friends; they never seem to truly judge me.

I have noticed some of my friends code-switching as well. My friends and I were casually walking around our neighborhood and we came across a group of other kids, mostly white; all of my friends identify themselves as African Americans. The kids invited us to hang out with them that night, explaining that they were going to sit around a bonfire and drink beers. Later that night, we arrived at the house and indeed they were sitting around a bonfire drinking beers. There were multiple conversations that began to take place that night, including some that involved my friends. I was able to overhear most of them and I noticed that one of my friends was using advanced vocabulary that I have never heard him using before. Not to say that my friend was incapable of using certain words, he’s definitely intelligent, but it was the fact that I have known him for most of my life and he has never spoken in that way before. Not only did his vocabulary change, his voice did as well.

The night of the bonfire, I gained a new perspective. Being able to see what code switching looks like from a different point a view, made me imagine how ridiculous I look when I attempt to do the same. One should never feel pressured to modify oneself just for the sake of fitting in with a certain ethnic group. There is a certain gratification one receives when a group accepts the person who his or her actual self. Being in college for my first three weeks has also given me a new perspective on my identity. I promise to no longer code-switch because that’s not the person I wish to be. If a certain group cannot accept me then I do not need to stress myself out by trying to fit in; I hope others will realize the same.