City Desk

Anti- “Mammy” Mom Could Face Time for Booing

Mammy dolls

Last spring, a parent in the audience at a middle school recital was so moved by the children’s performances that she couldn’t help but to stand up...and boo.

Jackie Carter, a local stage director, attended an April 29 production of the Bowen McCauley Dance Company held at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, Va., where her daughter attends school, and was outraged by one of the group's skits, “Little Rabbit, Where’s Your Mammy?”

Innocent sounding, sure. But picture this: At a middle school dance performance, children act out a skit featuring an antebellum African-American wet-nurse, or “mammy.” For a black theater buff like Carter, it was too much to take.

And depending on the verdict of her trial that begins April 23, she may face up to a year in jail for doing so.

According to the Afro, the presentation was promoted as a “tribute to American folk culture traditions.” Apparently, folk traditions include finding entertainment in the perpetuation of slavery's finest stereotypes—such as that of the wide-hipped black women who joyously cared for the children of their slave masters.

After noticing the skit in the dance company’s performance, Carter says she reached out to the school principal and local officials about the performance prior to her in-show outburst, to no avail.

Carter returned for an afternoon performance the next day, passed out fliers, and booed the skit. She was later charged with disorderly conduct in a public place, a class-one misdemeanor usually reserved for drunken drifters and angry arrestees.

Booing a children's performance extreme. But that the skit didn't outrage, offend, or otherwise drive anyone else to action is shameful.

The school’s principal circulated a letter after the incident on May 2 of last year, stating that the term "mammy" is a “colloquial affectionate term used for mother or grandmother.”

Kind of like the way “dick” is a colloquial affectionate term used for male genitalia, we guess.

Photo by JoelK75 via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution Generic 2.0 License

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  • Keith B.

    And they didn't even wait to perform it during Black History Month???

    Seriously though, it's hard to believe people can STILL be this stupid (it's 2012, christ), but then again it's Virginia and honestly I think a good number of their residents believe the south will rise again...

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  • Mick Way

    I was at that show. Carter is a bald-face liar. I was sitting not 20 feet from the altercation. Her definition of “hitting” was disturbed audience members gently placing a hand on her shoulder. She yelled “THAT”S ASSAULT”

    I witnessed this.

    She was a total nut-job and based on her pre-show rantings outside the theater was totally setting everyone up for this.

    BTW the Afro nicely let us know that Hynes is white but forgot to mention that the principal of the school is black. He approved the show kids!

  • Taaaat

    And Keith B it sounds Like Mick Way is a Va resident.

  • PaulaPaula

    I was there for both days, as my granddaughter was in the show. This story completely mischaracterizes the actual events. My granddaughter (who is African American) told us about the performance well before the show during the rehearsals. The professional dance company is racially diverse, and my granddaughter's middle school dance company is even more diverse (no Asians in the professional company), and we were surprised when we heard about Ms. Carter's protestations after the first performance. We were shocked, embarrassed and disappointed in her behavior at the second performance. We felt the performance was more of a tribute than a molehill. She seems to have created a mountain anyway.

    I did not witness any of the confrontations with representatives of the professional dance company, but I cannot imagine it could have happened as described by Ms. Carter. I hope you'll explore this story thoroughly and not contribute to what might be (or at least began as) a publicity stunt by Ms. Carter, who has a propensity for and actual record of such behavior.

  • Gina

    The school was wrong for approving the offensive content, period. The principal was clueless and insensitive, regardless of his racial background.

  • Michael

    Come on Gina! One of the major issues in society is that we now try and appease everybody. By doing so, we have neutered our society and our free speech rights. What one person may find offensive, another may not. the true test of the First Amendment is the willingness to defend speech that you disagree with. It's easy to stand up and defend what you beleive in, but can you defend someone else's right to speak of something that you disagree with? Case in piont...if you live in Virginia, you could be known as VA-Gina, I find it funny, you may find it offensive but I STILL have the right to say it!

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