How does a 100-year-old racist stereotype still impact Black women in North American institutions?
When I was a PhD student, a white woman professor was interested in my research, even though I was not her student. After I voiced concern about the similarities between her work and mine, the professor reprimanded me over email. Like “the mammy” who was often punished if she did not appear warm and nurturing, I was told to stay in my lane and to remember my PhD status.
When Black women are treated like this, we can sometimes feel disempowered to do anything about it. Instead, through the act of what one scholar has called “Mammy-ism,” we might feel the need to accommodate white people by acquiescing to their needs and assuming an inferior position.