Uncle Remus And Aunt Jemima Reimagined As Superheroes? Why Not.

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by Tambay A. Obenson
September 27, 2013 2:56 PM
14 Comments
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An intriguing idea actually...

I'd actually love to see these expanded into full-length graphic novels/comic books, and, dare I say, made into feature-length films! 

Artist Dawolu Jabari Anderson, took age-old fictional, racist, stereotypical characters and turned them into weapon-wielding, powerful superheroes, all from his imaginary comic-book series titled Gullah Sci-Fi Mysteries

The most prominent of the group is Mam-E, described as "a ferocious, headphones-wearing riff on the Aunt Jemima/Mammy stereotype." 

The artist details her origins tale as follows:

Dinah is also known as Mammy or Mam-E. Dinah’s easy going servitude with her parental qualities are always at the service of the ‘whyte chilluns’. She’s always there for moral support to the plantation owner. Dinah however stays at odds with her friend Uncle Remus, 'who bymby sneaks up to de kitchun fo' a lil taste of roast’n ears or de lickin’s of liquor in de pot left from chicken smuder’d in calamus root sawse’. Soon Dinah’s world would change. The world that she knows that submits to the laws of physics would be “latched on ta a whole new woild of hoodoo. Saturn hoodoo dat is.” On the blackest night of the year... a Saturnian named Emereciana visited Dinah’s shack that stood behind the mansion. She took each of Dinah’s instruments of servitude (broom, iron, washboard etc.) and modified their molecular structure to fit technological Saturn specifications. Emereciana secretly gathered intel on Dinah’s work habits and daily rituals. She then calibrated the cosmic powered instruments to fit Dinah’s essence signature. Early one ‘mawn’n’, Dinah was sweeping the front porch while humming an old slave spiritual. The broom then unlocked it’s fantastic powers responding to the frequencies of Dinah’s voice, thus transforming her into Mam-E.

Her super hero abilities are described as follows:

Mam-E is endowed with great strength and enhanced agility and endurance. More than anything she has an undying will that has served her even more so than her cosmic capabilities. She has a broom that has secrets yet to be unlocked. She has learned with a sudden sweeping gesture that she can conjure a miniature tornado, which can lay low a small cabin. The broom can also project synthetic kinetic energy blasts. She can build up the force by slamming her broom against a hard object. The kinetic blows are stored in the circuitry of the broom where they are amplified and then channeled through the three rings at the end of Mam-E’s broom. So far she hasn’t reached a limit to the amount of kinetic energy that can be discharged.

Also part of this superhero family is Uncle Remus, who has the ability to "manipulate reality in a person’s mind... The victim becomes trapped in an alternate reality." 

Dawolu Jabari Anderson
Uncle Remus also possesses great strength and enhanced agility and endurance. 

The cover illustrations were all included in a past art exhibit at the Joan Wich & Co. Gallery in Houston, Texas, 4 years ago, titled Dawolu Jabari Anderson: Tales Of New Dimension In Time And Black Space

Really, I do think this is an idea worth exploring further, whether in comic book format, or even on screen, tackled straight-on, or as satire. While I'm sure they'll draw controversy, think of it as a way of turning these various "types" that continue to haunt us, completely on their heads.

I dare you!

Check out Dawolu's blog HERE for a lot more covers like the two below.

I'm going to reach out to him to see if he ever did make anything further of these, or if it all ended with the exhibit in 2009. 


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14 Comments

  • KELLY | September 29, 2013 12:46 PMReply

    AUNT JEMIMA WILL WHOP YO ASS

  • Dezmond | September 28, 2013 11:11 PMReply

    Sankara, I feel you, I really do. I would love a movie about Audre Lorde! But I think part of what this artist is doing is taking stereotypes that were comfortable and digestible to whites for so long (such as the Mammy; on another note there is a great easy about the dichotomy between the over-sexualized jezebel and the de-sexualized manny in Beyond Slavery: Overcoming Its Religious and Sexual Legacies) BECAUSE they were non-threatening, and makes them powerful, threatening and dynamic characters (as every black person is, even if they are "servin' white chilluns" out of economic necessity). He also makes them the center of their own stories and (I would hope) active resistors of their own subjugation. With movies like The Help and The Butler, this kind of (potentially) critical and imaginative work is necessary. Granted, the satire and play of such a comic book will likely be missed on many a white foo' (even the ones who "think" they "get it") and will be viewed as simple entertainment. But if done well and smart, this concept could be much more critical than Django Unchained could ever be.

  • BluTopaz | September 29, 2013 8:11 PM

    What Dezmond said.

    Dawari's work here defines subversive, imho and I mean that as a compliment. The overall effect of these images is what that abysmally ignorant Russell Simmons wanted folks to believe was his intent with that parody garbage.

    I understand the reluctance to seem like we are exploiting negative stereotypes that are forced on us, but as Dezmond so eloquently stated Dawari's works appear as "active resistors of their own subjugation". Also the technical execution is excellent; Dawari is a great illustrator as well.

  • Carl | September 28, 2013 3:55 PMReply

    SANKARA

    Stop posting under different names bitch! We get it. You don't like them. Guess what? WE DON'T GIVE A SHIT! Now go find a life you bored son of bitch.

  • thomas sankara | September 28, 2013 12:36 PMReply

    Uncle Remus and Aunt Jemima, The Help and The Butler... American society has come a long way in establishing rewarding low standards for some groups. God forbid we see a descent film made about Zora Neale Hurston, Paul Bogle, Marcus Garvey, Ida B. Wells, Nat Love, William H. Johson, Dread Scott, Audre Lorde, Nanny of the Maroons, Octavia Butler, Toussaint Louverture and others.. instead we flock to films by Tyler Perry which are basically minstrel shows, non-threatening, non-critical, emasculate Black men and make a great deal of money.

    Least we forget ICE-T who went from Cop Killer to a Law & Order cop!
    "they got me in the system" -Jadakiss

  • T.SA | September 28, 2013 12:34 PMReply

    Stop stereotyping Black women as monsters with rage or Black men with rage without
    any background. Cinema and Comic Books don't give background to these caricatures
    they, like Quentin Terentino, function as pure entertainment. Nothing redeeming about
    Uncle Remus or Aunt Jemima. Mr. Jabari Anderson should really consider his output
    and the re-precautions of those actions.

  • t.sankara | September 28, 2013 12:30 PMReply

    Why not make films out of the more dignified Black and Native American characters in Jabari Anderson's arsenal of Heroes? Why pick those that mainstream America has completely
    absorbed as popular culture imagery? Seems like more Tyler Perry caricatures and minstrel desires!

  • thomas sankara | September 28, 2013 12:27 PMReply

    I would pause on making these caricatures into films.
    The Black Panther Party , the Reverend Jessie Jackson and many other National Black representatives spoke out against all of these cheaply produced Black films coming out
    of Hollywood.

  • t.sa | September 28, 2013 12:21 PMReply

    Jabari Anderson's comic book version of these Racist characters today owned by Quaker Oats Company and Mars Inc are menacing in appearance but lack a trans-formative or redemptive back ground change. What we see is violent prone Black stereotype characters fighting back but against who? Who are these masculine super heroes now representing? They seem more like sports heroes providing quick entertainment but for who and is it critical?

    These are the concerns that many in the 1970s had with Black Exploitation films.
    They seemed to be empowering the Black man and Woman but they were actually
    simplifying a real life struggle.

  • TMal | September 27, 2013 5:10 PMReply

    Full-length graphic novel! Please! Please! Please!

  • BluTopaz | September 27, 2013 4:18 PMReply

    These are fantastic, love Uncle Remus' "ain't feeling too zip-a-dee". Mr. Anderson is very talented, will be great to see where he goes with this.

  • Monique a Williams | September 27, 2013 3:14 PMReply

    Love it! This puts the right elements together and makes it work. Looking forward to hearing more.

  • anwar | September 25, 2013 7:33 AMReply

    I Remember these. Could be epic if fleshed out correctly. Please provide the update if there is one

  • Laura | September 21, 2013 12:00 AMReply

    I love this man's work. Just love it.

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