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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America by Melissa Harris-Perry
Sister Citizen argues that persistent harmful stereotypes, invisible to many but painfully familiar to black women,profoundly shape black women’s politics, contribute to policies that treat them unfairly, and make it difficult for black women to assert their rights in the political arena.
Finalist for the 43rd NAACP Image Awards in the Non-Fiction Literature Category. ISBN 9780300188189.
Jezebel’s sexual lasciviousness, Mammy’s devotion, and Sapphire’s outspoken anger are among the most persistent stereotypes that black women encounter in contemporary American life. These hurtful and dishonest representations force African American women to navigate a virtual crooked room that shames them and shapes their experiences as citizens. Many Black Women respond by assuming a mantle of strength that may convince others, and even themselves, that they do not need help. And as a result, the unique political issues of black women are often ignored and marginalized.
A non-traditional piece of political science, Sister Citizen is not 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. Professor 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.
Melissa Harris-Perry uses multiple methods of inquiry. Literary analysis, political theory, focus groups, surveys, and experimental research allow for a deep understanding of Black women’s political and emotional responses to pervasive negative race and gender images.
Melissa V. Harris-Perry is host of MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris-Perry.” Her show airs on Saturdays and Sundays from 10AM to noon EST. She is a columnist for The Nation magazine, where she writes a monthly column also titled Sister Citizen, and provides expert commentary on U.S. elections, racial issues, religious questions and gender concerns for a variety of other media outlets.
Her academic research is inspired by a desire to investigate the challenges facing contemporary Black Americans, and to better understand the multiple, creative ways that African Americans respond to these challenges. She is the mother of two terrific daughters.
In July of 2014, Professor Harris-Perry will return to her alma mater, Wake Forest University, as professor of Politics and International Affairs. She has been named a Presidential Chair, joining Wake Forest from Tulane University, where she has served on the faculty since 2011. She previously served on the faculties of the University of Chicago and Princeton University.