Serena Williams additionally didn’t immediately tackle the stereotype in 2018, when an Australian cartoonist drew international ire by depicting her, with exaggerated options, as throwing a tantrum on the court docket. Ms. Williams was recent off her loss to Naomi Osaka on the U.S. Open, the place she had heated phrases with an umpire. She did notice, when criticism surfaced of her remarks, that she had solely complained in a means that white male gamers have been doing, with impunity, for many years.
In her ebook “Changing into” and in 2016 interviews with Oprah Winfrey and others, Michelle Obama described how harm and bewildered she was after being portrayed as an indignant Black girl throughout President Obama’s first presidential marketing campaign.
“That’s the primary blowback, since you assume, wow, that’s so not me,” she advised Ms. Winfrey. “However then you definitely type of assume, nicely, this isn’t about me. That is concerning the individuals who write it. And then you definitely begin pondering, ‘Oh wow, we’re so afraid of one another.’”
Although the precise origins of the trope will not be clear, students consider the idea sprang from the post-bellum South, an outgrowth of the mammy archetype — a robust, desexualized authority determine that dominated households assertively. “In some instances that sassiness type of borders on anger,” mentioned David Pilgrim, a sociologist and the founding father of the Jim Crow Museum, a compendium of racist memorabilia housed at Ferris State College, the place he’s vice chairman for variety and inclusion.
The stereotype has been promoted on movie and tv since a minimum of the 1950s, with the TV arrival of “The Amos ’n’ Andy Present” and the character Sapphire Stevens, performed by Ernestine Wade. She was the emasculating and relentlessly unstable foil of her husband, Kingfish. Each characters have been written largely by white males.
The character sort was replicated on different tv collection (the dominating Aunt Esther in “Sanford and Son,” the glowering Pam James on “Martin”) and in movies (Terri, the fiery feminine cutter in “Barbershop”), till “Sapphire” grew to become its own category. It’s the girl with the smacking retort, the flip aspect of categorizing Black males as overwhelmingly bodily threatening, besides when they’re on the mercy of their Sapphires.