Due to Pleasant’s unnatural racial integration into San Francisco social structure the legitimacy of her character was always called into question. Pleasant performed repressive stereotypes in a way that made her rich and powerful, but ultimately brought her to ruin. Studying her teaches us about the ways in which African Americans performed these stereotypes as a means to survive and even thrive, paradoxically, by performing these stereotypes, also maintained repressive racial hierarchies. Pleasant in particular, and African Americans in general, were always in danger of having their performances turned against them. In this regard, these archetypes were akin to Jim Crow laws: they created racialized spaces within which African Americans could build prescribed identities. These racialized archetypes, also like Jim Crow laws, allowed the dominant culture to indiscriminately use real or imagined racial transgressions to punish and thereby further maintain racial hierarchies.
|Commitee:||Cali, Elizabeth, DeSpain, Jessica, Stacy, Jason|
|School:||Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville|
|School Location:||United States -- Illinois|
|Source:||MAI 55/05M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Abolitions, philanthropist, Civil rights, Mary ellen pleasant|
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