Drrrrrrham | Indy Week

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Re: “More on that unwieldy Durham restaurant name "Hattie Mae Williams Called Me Captain"

I imagine this guy has some really fond and centrally important memories of his housekeeper, but the fantasy of the black housekeeper who raised the little white boy "just because she loved doing it" is, I think, offensive to the reality of many of these relationships. I don't mean to say that Ms. Williams did not have genuine affection for Gray, or that he did not love her deeply; it's just that the restaurant name seems to reflect a fantasy that minimizes the real labor of African-American domestic servants in the South. If he called it, "For Hattie Mae" or "For Ms. Williams" or even "Scrambled Egg and Jelly," I think that it would better memorialize this influential relationship. The "Called Me Captain" seems to ignore the discourse of racial superiority and necessary deference in the relationship (like words like "Boss" or "Bossman" perhaps more obviously suggest). I recognize that he saw it as a term of endearment, and that he sees the restaurant as a tribute - it is ignorant (in, probably, an honest and innocent way). But we can't be ignorant anymore. We can't pretend that the relationship between a white woman and her black domestic servant in the 1960s was equal.

104 likes, 11 dislikes
Posted by Drrrrrrham on 10/06/2015 at 12:59 PM

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