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Sister Citizen - Harris-Perry, Melissa V. - Yale University Press
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Sister Citizen

Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

  • Melissa V. Harris-Perry
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Finalist for the 43rd NAACP Image Awards in the Non-Fiction Literature Category

Sister Citizen is on Facebook.

Read an interview with Melissa Harris-Perry on the Yale Press Log

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.

Melissa V. Harris-Perry, host of MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry Show and columnist for The Nation, is professor of political science at Tulane University, where she is founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Project on Gender, Race, and Politics in the South. Her previous book, Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought, won the 2005 W. E. B. Du Bois Book Award from the National Conference of Black Political Scientists and 2005 Best Book Award from the Race and Ethnic Politics Section of the American Political Science Association. Harris-Perry lives with her family in New Orleans.

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