Sister Citizen by Melissa Harris-Perry
Melissa Harris-Perry hosts a show on MSNBC on the weekends. She’s known for having actual people on the show to discuss news stories that impact them – she doesn’t invite six old white men on to discuss whether birth control should be covered under the Affordable Care Act. If she’s talking about an issue, she seeks to invite people on who KNOW about the topic, and who, if possible, are affected by the topic.
So it makes sense that she would want to write a book about how Black women are (mis)recognized in the United States, using focus groups, real-world examples, and references in literature and popular culture. Sister Citizen is a deep look into how Black women have faced the intersection of race and gender living in the United States. Using the concept of trying to stand up straight in a ‘crooked room,’ she talks through many of the different ways Black women are pigeon-holed into stereotypes, negative images, or ideas that support the White concept of what Black women should be. US society perpetuates negative and destructive images of Black woman, and Dr. Harris-Perry’s book delves into the origins and how Black women deal with this.
As expected by a professor she makes well-researched, strong arguments about the ways in which these stereotypes impact how Black women are viewed by others and how they view themselves. It’s challenging to write more about this because, well, she’s already written it well, and I don’t think there’s much that I could presume to add. All I can really do is recommend it highly.