Saturday, February 2, 2013

I tried it Again... Sister Citizen by Melissa Harris-Perry

Melissa Harris-Perry

Well, you know that I tried to read Sister Citizen before, and I just could not get into. The beginning talks about images of African American women that I could not began to wrap my mind around, so I let this book go....

However, at the beginning of the school year, one of my students walked up to me and asked me if I had read Sister Citizen before, and I told her about how I tried and couldn't do it. The student told me that I should try it again. This is a student whom I highly respect, so I wrote the name of this book down on my long list of books to get to soon. Then, my Delta Sigma Theta chapter started a book club, and the book for this month is non other than Sister Citizen. (Really!) So, I called my sister Dorothy, who originally recommended this book to me, and she stated that she read it from a scholarly perspective, and she did not agree with everything that Melissa said, but she thought that it was worth the read. So, after all of this, I decided to give this book another try, and I am so happy that I did.

Let me start with Melissa-Harris Perry!

Melissa is 39 years old, is host of MSNBC's "Melissa Harris-Perry," she is a professor at Tulane University, and she has written several books that have received lots of attention and awards. Kudos to Melissa who is young, gifted, and talented and is leaving her mark on the world.

In Sister Citizen, Melissa starts off by giving the reader three main stereotypes of African American Women: Jezebel's sexual lasciviousness, Mammy's devotion, and Sapphire's outspoken anger. At first, I could not wrap my mind around this, but when I read on, I understood the point that she was making. She used real life examples in order to make her point.

The image that struck out the most to me is the mammy image. Melissa stated that the mammy always seemed to be happy to be a caregiver to White people, and she goes on to say that we have transferred this nurturing over to our families, and basically everyone needs gets met except the Black Woman's.... I thought about this a lot, and I sent my sister, Dorothy, a text EARLY in the morning so that we could share views on this mammy idea.

Then Melissa goes into shame that is associated with these stereotypes; then she goes into Hurricane Katrina and the image of the Black women that were portrayed in the media after the storm, and how many of the woman who suffered during the aftermath of the storm, really wanted to be acknowledge as humans; then she goes into the Strong Black Woman image; then she goes into religion; then she used the three ways that Black woman are stereotyped in order to discuss Michelle Obama; and then she goes into a comparison of Shirley Sherrod with Fanny Lou Hamer, both African American women who got a platform to tell their stories of being misunderstood and mistreated. (You see that Melissa is doing a WHOLE lot in this book.)

Fannie Lou Hamer

Shirley Sherrod

I thought a lot about The Strong Black Woman image, and how the Strong Black Woman image may be causing us to take on more than we should.

Melissa wrote this entire book and basically ended with a quote by Shirley Chisholm that stated for Black woman to "dare to be ourselves."

So, this last quote sort of confused me, because I am not sure why she would go through all of this analysis of Black Woman in order to conclude with the idea that Black women should "dare to be ourselves."

This is a thought provoking book that really gave me a lot to think about, but I am not sure what I should do with this information now, it's kind of running around in my head....

I can't wait until my book club discussion on this book!!!

Hey, if you have read this book or is thinking about reading it, please share your thoughts.

I hope that your February goal is off to a great start!

Let's Do This People.

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