Mama Baby Papa's Maybe Analysis

1093 Words 5 Pages
In Hortense J. Spillers’, “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book,” one word alone can be used to sum up the overall issue presented in this passage. That word is “captive.” Presented in this passage is a plethora of struggles that which African slaves and African-Americans have been faced with in both past and present societies. In response to these struggles, Spillers repeatedly uses the adjective “captive” to describes the lives of these people in more ways than one. Spillers uses “captive” to describe the physical and abstract aspect of both African males and females, and she uses it to describe the physical and abstract misogyny that only African females are presented with. The first use of the word “captive” relating to …show more content…
Throughout this passage, Spillers brings in various examples of this abstract, or societal misogyny that which African women are faced. The first example explicates a sort of irrelevance that black women are presented with. This irrelevance is explicated in the opening lines of this passage, when Spillers states, “Let’s face it. I am a marked woman, but not everybody knows my name… I describe a locus of confounded identities” (65). These nicknames and personal anecdotes that which Spillers presents to the readers further explicates this social “captivity” of African females. They once again are “captive bodies” as in a way, they are held as prisoners of the rule of the white people. This suggestion is further validated on page sixty-nine when Spillers states, “The nicknames by which African-American women have been called, or regarded, or imagined on the New World scene… demonstrate the powers of distortion that the dominant community seizes as its unlawful prerogative.” The “dominant community” is referencing white people, and the “powers of distortion” represent their, the white people’s, ability to do and say whatever it is that they desire about African women- once again holding them “captive” in a similar way to their enslaved …show more content…
On page sixty-six of this passage, Spillers ties in an outside source to explicate the unjust blame that which black women are considered the bearers of. Spillers brings into play Moynihan’s “tangle of pathology” which thoroughly explicates that “the “underachievement” of black males of the lower classes is primarily the fault of black females...” This extremely misogynistic and generalized statement is used as a tool to show how the black minority group should put men in the highest power because that’s how white people doing and therefore, must be the absolute best way to live. Although this statement in particular is, in my opinion, the most ignorant reference used in the passage, it is also one of the most successful references in explicated yet another way in which the female body is held “captive” by the male

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