Jezebel's sexual lasciviousness, Mammy's devotion, and Sapphire's outspoken anger—these are among the most persistent stereotypes that black women encounter in contemporary American life. Hurtful and dishonest, such representations force African American women to navigate a virtual crooked room that shames them and shapes their experiences as citizens. Many respond by assuming a mantle of strength that may convince others, and even themselves, that they do not need help. But as a result, the unique political issues of black women are often ignored and marginalized.
In this groundbreaking book, Melissa V. Harris-Perry uses multiple methods of inquiry, including literary analysis, political theory, focus groups, surveys, and experimental research, to understand more deeply black women's political and emotional responses to pervasive negative race and gender images. Not a traditional political science work concerned with office-seeking, voting, or ideology, Sister Citizen instead explores how African American women understand themselves as citizens and what they expect from political organizing. Harris-Perry shows that the shared struggle to preserve an authentic self and secure recognition as a citizen links together black women in America, from the anonymous survivors of Hurricane Katrina to the current First Lady of the United States.
Harris-Perry (Barbershops, Bibles, and BET), columnist for the Nation, draws on literature, biography, social science, anecdote, and focus group statistics to explore the three most pervasive (and pernicious) stereotypes of black women Jezebel (who signifies sexual promiscuity), Sapphire (emasculating brashness), and Mammy (a devotion to "white domestic concerns"). She assays the political implications and consequences of these archetypes in the lives of contemporary black women and for how they influences black women's participation in American public life, finding that they enjoy a less than complete citizenship: "these misrecognitions contribute to pervasive experiences of shame for black women limit the opportunities for African American women as political and thought leaders." Harris-Perry's methodological style leaves a lot of room for academic debate, but her easy straddling of women's and African-American studies and current hot-button issues (everything from Hurricane Katrina to the Duke lacrosse case) and her style could fit as easily into the classroom as a reading group.
A Page Turner
Purchased recently and it was really easy to immerse myself into it. From the subject choices to the research findings and data shown I was encouraged to continue reading. Loved it, loved it!
This book is a must read, especially for African-American women and men!