In chapters 3 & 4, Patricia Hill Collins discusses the relationship between work, gender roles, and the negative representations experienced by Black women throughout the history of the United States. The stereotypical images of Black womanhood in this country have manipulated Black woman (and everyone else who does the stereotyping) into thinking that certain “control images” are the norm. It is normal for Black or African-American women to be defined by some of these “images” and Black women, themselves, accept them. In chapter 4, Collins stated that, “The dominant ideology of the slave era fostered the creation of several interrelated, socially constructed controlling images of Black womanhood, each reflecting the dominant group’s interest in maintaining Black women’s subordination. White women, whites in general, are seen as the norm and black women are seen as strangers, outsiders, the “others”. These perceptions have aided in the oppression of Black women.
Some of the “controlling images” discussed by Collins are the Black woman’s portrayal as the mammies, the maids, cleaning ladies, inferior women, etc, amongst others. This one stands out the most to me because the mammy – the faithful, obedient domestic servant – dates back to slavery. After slaves were free, the Black women were still cleaning the house of the whites. The only difference, is that they are supposedly free. It was perfectly normal. So these images encouraged Black women’s maternal behavior. It also encouraged them to pass on these ideologies to their children. Because Black woman are the ones raising the children, the Black women who have “internalized” the oppression easily pass it on to their children. Collins goes on to say that this mammy image is CENTRAL to intersecting oppresions of race, gender, sexuality, and class. I agree.