For multiple generations, many American children grew up watching cartoons like Tom and Jerry or Looney Tunes. In retrospect, many of these cartoons had racist depictions of African American people. Tom and Jerry was seen as a harmless and entertaining cartoon about a cat and mouse fighting and trying to outwit each other. However, the cartoons also portrayed African Americans with offensive stereotypes. It is important to analyze works of culture such as Tom and Jerry because they directly influenced children and passed on ideologies to the next generation. Tom and Jerry cartoons are true stories because they reflect ideologies and stereotypes that existed during their time period.
In the episode “The Puss Gets the Boot” of the show Tom and Jerry an African American woman is shown as an uneducated maid. In something as innocent as a children's cartoon, the writers and animators were not trying to send a message about how they felt about African Americans or women but rather reflected the national consensus. The maid, Mammy Two Shoes yells at the cat “if ya go on an break anythang else ya are O-U-W-T! Out!”. Mammy Two Shoes’ lack of grammer reflects social opinions of African American’s intellect. During the time, an education was a difficult thing to obtain for African Americans in the United States. Segregation in the school systems and society prevented many African Americans from reaching a proper education. Tom and Jerry accurately reflects the stereotype that African Americans are uneducated. The episode also indirectly tells viewers that she is not working in her own home, but someone else's. “I can’t be having a good-for-nothin cat reckin up this whole house!” Mammy Two Shoes says as she scares the cat away from the fragile plates on display. During the time this episode was aired, the idea that African Americans should work for other people was commonplace. In a following episode “Midnight Snack” it is explained that Mammy Two Shoes is in charge of cooking, cleaning, and general kitchen work. In the 1930s and 1940s the common expectation for women was to work in the house, cooking and cleaning. This expectation was shown in the cartoon episode. There was no man in charge of housework, instead it was Mammy Two Shoes who did the chores.
These cartoons are true American stories. Works of culture that reflect ideologies and conventional views held during a time period are true stories. The racism and sexism in these cartoons were not of a foreign mindset to the American people. These prejudices and views were quite common in America. Other true stories can be found in movies and T.V shows made throughout the decades. When works accurately reflect the mindset of Americans at the time, they are true stories.