inherently contradictory


I’d been thinking about it all week, since my co-worker tipped me off. And when I looked it up, I knew I had to go. There was no way around it. It just seemed too massive not to see and it was. It was the Kara walker exhibit, titled, “A Subtlety,” which showed unitl July 6 at the Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. A towering, glowing Sphinx, covered in white sugar crystals. But instead of the traditional half man/half beast Sphinx, this was a MAMMY. Yes it was a MAMMY – the black domestic female responsible for nursing the white family’s children during slavery. Throughout the years, you may have come across an image of a Mammy – big and round, blood red lips and a wide tooth grin, wearing a scarf around her head. Aunt Jemima (syrup) is probably the most well known commercial depiction. For centuries, the Mammy image has been used as a sort of stereotypical insult to black female slaves and domestic workers. But In her extraordinary, breathtaking masterpiece, Walker turns the tables, assumes ownership of the Mammy and allows us to revel in what she is, everything she has represented and been all along – Regal, Loving and INDESTRUCTIBLE. Walker’s Mammy glows. She is powerful. She is poised. And she is beautiful. I stand and remain in awe.