By Doris Witt
The production of the Aunt Jemima trademark from an 1889 vaudeville functionality of a play known as ''The Emigrant'' helped codify a pervasive connection among African American girls and meals. In Black Hunger, Doris Witt demonstrates how this connection has operated as a critical structuring dynamic of twentieth-century U.S. psychic, cultural, sociopolitical, and monetary lifestyles. Taking as her concentration the tumultuous period of the past due Nineteen Sixties and early Seventies, whilst soul nutrients emerged as a pivotal brand of white radical stylish and black bourgeois authenticity, Witt explores how this interracial occasion of formerly stigmatized meals resembling chitterlings and watermelon was once associated with the contemporaneous vilification of black girls as slave moms. via positioning African American girls on the nexus of debates over household servants, black culinary background, and white woman physique politics, Black Hunger demonstrates why the continued narrative of white fascination with blackness calls for elevated realization to the inner dynamics of sexuality, gender, classification, and faith in African American tradition. Witt attracts on fresh paintings in social historical past and cultural stories to argue for nutrition as an interpretive paradigm that can problem the privileging of song in scholarship on African American tradition, destabilize constrictive disciplinary obstacles within the academy, and increase our figuring out of ways person and collective identities are verified.
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Extra info for Black Hunger: Food and the Politics of U.S. Identity
I pause in the intersection at a 1989 semiotic yellow, unsure what meaning to make of Jemima's new depiction as a buppie slave. Agnew speeds toward 2089 at the glimmer of a poststructuralist green; in his view, the trademark can be endlessly deconstructed, its meaning finally indeterminate. S. 4 What ever happened to Aunt Jemima? Nothing and everything. On the one hand, the trademark is where it has been for the last century, on grocery store shelves, and the same conflicted fears and desires that gave rise to it in 1889 surely enabled its retention in 1989.
As Megan Granda has observed, plantation school advertisements such as the "legend of Aunt Jemima" series served up "a nostalgic image that hardly corresponded to what an increasing number of EuroAmericans saw as the frightening reality of a rising Black and immigrant proletariat" (29). 26 One photograph Marquette includes in Brands, Trademarks and Good Will reveals just these repressions in his history of the Quaker Oats mix (figure 1-2). Probably taken in the late 1920s, the photograph is of a group of assembly-line workers at a plant in St.
S. culture, we should still bear in mind that Aunt Jemima is also a mass-produced commodity, and as such, "it" has all too successfully distracted our attention from the exploitative underpinnings of the economic system through which commodities are created and circulated. In Search, Redux Everybody's looking for Big Mama, spatula in hand and ample AUNT J E M I M A 25 table set for all of master's children, serving generous portions of forgiving love with open gold-tooth smile. Everybody needs to nestle in her warm, full bosom, hear again that throaty voice belt out deep-valleyed lullabies of blackness (shouting hosannas or moaning blues for good man gone).