Nikki Tinker, Corporate Mammy


Stunningly beautiful, flawlessly dressed, seemingly cosmopolitan and well educated, Pinnacle Airlines Attorney Nikki Tinker looks nothing like the plantation throwback and sellout that she is.

Yes, Children, she ain’t nothin’ but a corporate mammy and Trojan horse for white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.

A protégé of Harold Ford, Jr, Tinker is an agent of the Memphis corporate power structure and has been running behind her corporate slave master, Phil Trenary, CEO of Pinnacle Airlines, like a 21st century Mammy.

The mammy archetype is such a powerful symbol of black subjugation. For some, it is soothing, and for others, it enrages. I’m one of the latter. For me, the mammy stereotype is evocative of a particular Memphis twist to the racist mammy image, and is so appropriate to a discussion of the impending primary challenge Tinker is mounting to freshman Congressman Steve Cohen.


During the forties, Memphis blacks continued chafing under the dictatorial rule of E.H. “Ed” Crump, the local political boss who ruled both Memphis and Tennessee for over forty years.

Crump ran a sophisticated operation in which his operatives paid the poll taxes of African Americans and he voted them for his slate of candidates. Crump supported white supremacy and never backed a black candidate. For years, most could be bought off with copious amounts of walking around money, beer and barbeque.

Others needed something more and sometimes got it as Jim Crow weakened. G. Wayne Dowdy penned an article in the Journal of Negro History entitled “The White Rose Mammy: Racial Culture and Politics in World War II Memphis.” He wrote, “…forty years of Crump rule allowed blacks access to the political process through him or his subordinates. Better schools, housing and city employment were results of this alliance between white and black. To be sure, the relationship was at best an unequal one, leaving most African Americans with little protection from the overall practice of white supremacy. Indeed, when individual blacks challenged Crump and the local Democratic Party, retribution followed.”

Population changes as a result of the war swelled the black population to 41% and racial tensions increased and dissent from the black community followed. Dowdy takes up the story, “As this unrest was spreading, the White Rose Laundry Cleaners erected a mechanical sign on Linden Avenue, which was not very far from prominent Peabody Avenue where Mayor Chandler and Mr. Crump both lived. The sign depicted an African American woman, dressed in traditional mammy garb, bending over a wash tub.”

“Founded by Jewish immigrant Henry Klyce in 1928, the White Rose Laundry was representative of the economic importance of the local Jewish community. Nominally a minority, the Jews of Memphis had almost completely assimilated into the prevailing white southern culture. Several Jews even held important posts within the Crump organization. The depiction was apparently done in a humorous fashion, with the woman bending over and revealing her undergarments. Many blacks saw little humor in this and instead were angered.”

African Americans protested and wrote Mayor Chandler, “The advertisement represents a complete effrontery to Negro people, in its subtle although effective ridicule of the race.” Chandler intervened on behalf of the offended African American community and asked the owners of the White Rose Laundry to take down the offending mammy sign. While it is unknown the extent of Boss Crump’s involvement in this case, what is known is that nothing of consequence happened in Memphis without his consent and the sign came down, although when is not remembered.

Today, what should offend the black community is the Trojan-horse candidacy of Nikki Tinker, a twenty-first century white rose mammy, and the machinations of her plantation puppet master, Phil Trenary. Her $100,000 haul at the end of the last fundraising quarter has proven that she’s still as serious a contender as she was in 2006, when she raised over $577,000. The Corporate Mammy’s candidacy is an affront to the black community, fueled as it is by the corporate friends and associates of her plantation puppet master, and is inimical to our social, political, and economic interests in Memphis. If black folk ain’t careful, they’ll empower another Boss Crump in the form of a present day corporate executive, or they will continue to empower the slightly less objectionable Steve Cohen, a man who has coveted this seat for years and who ran for it and lost to Harold Ford, Jr back in 1996.

It used to be different. Proud black women like Ida B. Wells and Maxine Smith, a civil rights crusader, school board member, and community elder, showed the young how its supposed to be done. They used whatever community resources they had to work on behalf of the community and to hold the white power structure to account. Today’s black politicians worship at the altar of the corporate power structure and like American Express, don’t leave home without it.

Campaign receipts and news stories to date reveal Tinker to be a Trojan horse candidate willing to pander to homophobia in the black ministerial community. The names of prominent black homophobes like Rev. LaSimba Gray, a supporter of last year’s “independent” candidacy of Jake Ford, are littered throughout her campaign report. It won’t work with bloggers like Thaddeus Matthews and me willing to spread the word.

Steve Cohen

More progressive than either Ford, Jr or Tinker, Cohen’s motives in running for this seat aren’t as pure as he claims. He won this seat because of divisions in the black community and a slate of too many black candidates. Only in Congress for nine months, it hasn’t taken him long to travel to Israel and cavort with the most extreme right-wing political actors in that country-the same people who brought last summer’s war with Lebanon that was roundly condemned by human rights groups. Nobody was blameless during that war-Hezbollah was not, but like a fight among children, somebody started it. Israel started the conflict last summer with cluster munitions supplied by the United States.

While a strong opponent of the Iraq War, Cohen has said nothing that I can find about the indiscriminate use of cluster munitions by Israel to kill innocent civilians in Lebanon. That war was an abrogation of the international rules of war and a stench in the nostrils of God. What is needed in Memphis is a real progressive candidate willing to stand up and fight all forms of injustice. Neither the Corporate Mammy nor Cohen fit the bill. However, in the absence of a true progressive, Cohen will have to do until the real thing comes along.


20 thoughts on “Nikki Tinker, Corporate Mammy

  1. Stunningly beautiful, flawlessly dressed, seemingly cosmopolitan and well educated, Pinnacle Airlines Attorney Nikki Tinker looks nothing like the plantation throwback and sellout that she is.

    Yes, Children, she ain’t nothin’ but a corporate mammy and Trojan horse for white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.


    You know how to begin an essay, SB. What a punch, and there’s no ambiguity as to what you mean. I love it….it’s what I’ve come to expect from you.

  2. I like it a lot.

    If, on September 26 we give a Lawn Jockey “protege” or “up & coming” award Tinker would be a leading candidate. Another would be Dekalb Conty GA CEO Vernon Jones who is running for the US Senate down here.

  3. The lack of a non-zionist or corporate bootlicker candidate is sad indeed for the folks down in lil’ Mempho, and yet another advertisement for badly needed 100 percent publically-financed campaigns.

    That girl does look pretty tho…gotta give her that. 😉

  4. UnCool Bro

    What’s wrong with a sister wanting to be attractive, intellegent, well spoken and educated? Are you saying that these characteristics are not or should not be representative of people of color?? Unless more black brothers and sisters are willing to break away from the repressive black steroetypes(using poor grammer/diction; gold teeth and grills; wearing baggy pants, gold chains and bright colored suits; listening and reciting foul rap; blaming our deficiencies on other races and cultures; not stressing education in the home; taking jobs though under-qualified through affirmative action; poor parenting, absentee parenting and animanistic breeding habits; joining criminal gangs; defending thugs just because they are black), then we won’t have to worry about our social, politcal or economic interests because the “corporate power structure” will high tail it out of town, and leave us with only ourselves. Have you been to Gary, Indiana lately?? We do not need to worry about being black. In what century and on what planet has a “black” culture been successful. Successful white people don’t try to be “white”, they just aspire for excellence, and they sure don’t defend white trash just because they are white. When are we going to learn that alienating black people from other cultures is not going to advance anyone’s agenda? Do you want all of Memphis to look like Winchester??

  5. Bo

    Amen, un cool bro.
    I’ve never understood, while these memphis blacks, always shouting racism, yet you read blogs like these, and thier responses and comments are clearly racist themselves. They can’t have it both ways.
    That’s just showing how ignorant and uneducated they are when they show jealousy towards a educated black person, and call them “Uncle tom” “mammy” “boot licker” “sell out” and all the other stupid shit! I guess they really do want all of memphis to someday look like hickory hill. King Willie’s certainly doing his best to make us the major cesspool capital of the world.

  6. akekua

    OK, so why don’t you find a decent candidate, and get behind him or her? I’ve been looking for candidates who can go to Washington with Barack Obama, and perhaps change things. Maybe this is too much to ask, but unless we get out there and support the candidates we can tolerate, then we have no one to blame but ourselves.

  7. jimmy

    Amen brotha, I worked at Pinnacle. This woman worked hard to keep all the employees the lowest paid in the industry. She is a snake in the grass.

  8. Marcus Mayton

    Intellegent, well spoken? you must not be talking about Miss Tinker. I just saw the debate on WREG- TV. Its hard yto believe she has any higher education at all. Im a little ashamed at what I saw and heard.

  9. Sofedup

    Nikki Tinker would better serve the 9th Congressional District by going back to Alabama and representing her home district there! She is not articulate nor well spoken as was shown by her disatrous showing in the debate. She has no real grasp of the issues facing the Community as a whole nor any idea or plan as to how to solve even one of them, and actually resorted to the great “race” card as a means by which to answer or should I say not answer any questions directed to her about solutions. I am working hard to make those around me aware of who she REALLY is. Nobody is jealous of her and would support her if in fact she were the right candidate for change but as sad as it will make some of you the truth is Nikki Tinker is the sellout she has been peg as in this story. What has she done to deserve this seat? When have you seen her in your community other than at election time? And if you are not in a community that she thinks she can BAMBOOZLE – you haven’t seen her at all! Come on, black women in the slave days had to be a tool of the masta to make it for them and the others … what is your excuse Nikki? What do you gain? How dare she insult our intelligence this way? Oh but then we are supposed to not be tuned in to who she really is and just blindly vote for her ..right? Wake up people this Thro Back Mammy needs to run right out of Memphis we don’t need THIS!

  10. Ohsoluvlee1

    I agree wholeheartedly with Sofedup. I attended the debate and I must say, well dressed? YES, Well spoken? A resounding NO. I find it hard to believe that she became an attorney with such horrible diction. The University of Alabama School of Law must have had JD’s for sale to the highest bidder as I see it. She comes across as incredibly dumb and unbelievably phony.
    During the debate, she wasnt capable of thinking on her feet stumbling over questions. She couldnt substantiate her claim to be a civil rights attorney. And I still dont know why she is running except that she supports jobs for felons and blacks sitting around in the inner city “waiting for a check.” I have nothing against felons having jobs but there are more important issues facing the CITY OF MEMPHIS right now and none of those issues were addressed in a manner that I felt was fitting by Ms. Tinker. I was also not impressed by her “im from the hood too” persona and diction. Sad… Sad…

    Nothing personal but stick with your day gig Nikki.

  11. rebeccaamerocco

    I was blown away by how bad she was in the debate; but I was more upset by the methods she has resorted to attacking Mr. Cohen. She has basically accused him of racism; singled him out as a non-chrisitian; and accused him of unethically doing the bidding of the oil companies because he “makes money every time we pull up to the pump” all because he has some stocks or mutual funds that he has had for 20 years. Looking at his voting record, he always votes against his own interests in an attempt to be ethical, which is more than any other local politicians can say. Around here (MEMPHIS) the politicians usually vote for whomever gives them the most money and will completely change their minds and vote from one day to the next based on $$$$bribes$$$$.

    I actually had high hopes for Nikki Tinker the first time she came around a couple of years ago, because she did seem like (i had hoped) someone who cared about “regular folks” like me.

    But after seeing her in action in the debate and reading articles like the one above from Skeptical Brotha…she’s just awful. She has no experience anway, awful public speaker, slow thinker, aggressive, exaggerates her accomplishments and ties to community activism, didn’t disclose her own personal investments in her retirement account. I just couldn’t stand her….I couldn’t even finish the debate. Also the debate was between Cohen, Tinker, and some other guy I can’t even remember his name, he was terrible too. They BOTH just kept attacking Cohen, which seemed one-sided and racist, and the man kept using statements like “he PROBABLY does this and he PROBABLY does that” how can we KNOW he’s not in the pockets of the big companies, he’s PROBABLY doing their bidding, etc.” I just kept thinking…”What do you mean probably?, don’t you know, are you just making it up and by using the word probably are protecting yourself from liability on a slander accusation?”

    What can you expect from a city where the mayor has a PHD in education and yet still makes statements such as “we wasn’t bowne (born) yestaday” and “shake dem haters off” in order to connect himself more fully with the underprivileged blacks of Memphis, who have no idea that he doesn’t do a damn thing to help anybody but the developers. We have libraries closing down, and the school system can’t get funding, but, we have more stadiums than we need.

  12. rebecca,

    Sweetie, if you like this post just wait until I post the next one on her tonight. The election is tomorrow and before y’all get to vote, I’m gonna say my peace once more.

  13. Jerome

    This place is a special kind of filthy. You clowns need to start over under a new name and hope no one remembers you. What a mess.

  14. James

    Im glad Nikki Tinker lost, she had absolutely no issue to run on other than race. She thinks we will vote for her because of a kinship. I have news for Ms Tinker, we are an educated people that vote on issues, not color.

  15. Zohar Freiberg

    My name is Zohar Freiberg. I am 35, from Israel. I am so glad Nikki Tinker lost. Her attempt to assassinate Steve Cohen’s charachter ended with her political suicide. Shame on her!!!

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