Wednesday, February 22, 2012

2/12 Media of the Month: Sister Citizen

Melissa Harris-Perry just released a new book titled: 

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America. Isn't that cover just gorgeous? I love it! And it's Black History Month so...yeah. I think it's appropriate. 

Excellent read. Those of you who are familiar with psychology/sociology statistics (such as regression analysis and Likhert's scales) will find this book incredibly easy to read. For those who don't know statistics jargon, Harris-Perry does an excellent job breaking down the data in layman terms. She is a political science major herself, so she uses FACTS (and not broad generalizations) to lay out the foundation of her book. For those of you who don't know who Melissa Harris-Perry is, you can check her out on MSNBC. She is often seen on the Rachel Maddow show but now she has a new show (yay) that comes on on Saturday mornings. 

OK. A caveat but I feel the need to confess publicly. Let me just admit to you all...Rachel Maddow is like...holy god. I have DREAMS about this woman...bad...bad dreams, lol. XXX dreams. I think if I ever saw her in real life, I might just die. Ok...sorry...distracted...yeah, you can catch Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC! OK?! Watch her show--she's awesome! 

But more about the book:

Sister Citizen is a serious non-fiction book about black women and how stereotypes (Mammy, Sapphire, and Jezbel) create a "crooked room" effect in the black woman's psyche. In psychology, there's a term we like to use called: "John Henryism." It is a phenomenon used by blacks to "cope" with their environments. Anyway, Harris-Perry asserts that there is a similar phenomena unique solely to black women. Like John-Henryism, their (our) pursuit of "Strength" becomes a detriment to their (our) mental health. The "Strong Black Woman" can kill herself trying to live up to this superhuman standard.

She also used surveys after Katrina and also literary examples (one of which was "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison, but I'll talk about that in another post) to illustrate her point. 

I recommend this book not just to black women (although I think black women might take the most from it) but EVERYONE who is interested in studying feminism, racism and general sociology/psychological geeky goodness. As a black woman myself, I found this book incredibly interesting and worthy of discussion. 

Happy reading!


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