“Michelle” Excerpt from Melissa Harris-Perry’s Sister Citizen
Following the announcement of her new MSNBC show, starting in February, Melissa Harris-Perry appeared on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report this Monday to discuss her book, Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America, addressing the four common stereotyped characters that shape African American women’s identities and how they affect women’s place in society.
Of the four stereotypes—Jezebel, Mammy, Sapphire, and the strong black woman—it’s Sapphire, the “angry black woman,” that has come up this week with the release of Jodi Kantor’s The Obamas. Already Michelle Obama has spoken with Gayle King on “CBS This Morning” to address misperceptions about her role in her husband’s White House; she’s tired of being portrayed as “some angry black woman.” “Michelle,” the final chapter of Harris-Perry’s book, looks at the First Lady as today’s best-known example of an African American woman trying to stand straight in a “crooked room,” which Harris-Perry uses as a central theme throughout to describe this disorientation that is both political and personal.
In addition to the “Crooked Room” we’re releasing a free section—“Sapphire and Michelle’s Marriage” — that goes straight to the repeated comparisons and mentions of Michelle Obama as a dominating and overpowering force behind her husband. Read it here and learn why Sister Citizen is “written for the benefit of all Americans – sister citizens, brother citizens and anyone else who cares about the way this country works.”