Synopses & Reviews
Not many women can claim to have changed history, but Nafis Sadik set that goal in her youth, and change the world she did. Champion of Choice
tells the remarkable story of how Sadik, born into a prominent Indian family in 1929, came to be the worldand#8217;s foremost advocate for womenand#8217;s health and reproductive rights, the first female director of a United Nations agency, and and#8220;one of the most powerful women in the worldand#8221; (London Times
An obstetrician, wife, mother,and#160;and devout Muslim, Sadik has been a courageous and tireless advocate for women, insisting on discussing the difficult issues that impact their lives: education, contraception, abortion, as well as rape and other forms of violence. After Sadik joined the fledgling UN Population Fund in 1971, her groundbreaking strategy for providing females with education and the tools to control their own fertility has dramatically influenced the global birthrate. This book is the first to examine Sadikand#8217;s contribution to history and the unconventional methods she has employed to go head-to-head with world leaders to improve millions of womenand#8217;s lives.
Interspersed between the chapters recounting Sadikand#8217;s life are vignettes of females around the globe who represent her campaign against domestic abuse, child marriage, genital mutilation, and other human rights violations. With its insights into the political, religious, and domestic battles that have dominated womenand#8217;s destinies, Sadikand#8217;s life story is as inspirational as it is dramatic.
"Harris-Perry (Barbershops, Bibles, and BET), columnist for the Nation, draws on literature, biography, social science, anecdote, and focus group statistics to explore the three most pervasive (and pernicious) stereotypes of black women Jezebel (who signifies sexual promiscuity), Sapphire (emasculating brashness), and Mammy (a devotion to 'white domestic concerns'). She assays the political implications and consequences of these archetypes in the lives of contemporary black women and for how they influences black women's participation in American public life, finding that they enjoy a less than complete citizenship: 'these misrecognitions contribute to pervasive experiences of shame for black women limit the opportunities for African American women as political and thought leaders.' Harris-Perry's methodological style leaves a lot of room for academic debate, but her easy straddling of women's and African-American studies and current hot-button issues (everything from Hurricane Katrina to the Duke lacrosse case) and her style could fit as easily into the classroom as a reading group." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From a highly respected thinker on race, gender, and American politics, a new consideration of black women and how distorted stereotypes affect their political beliefs.
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.
This groundbreaking book brings to light derogatory stereotypes that shape the experiences of African American women, then assesses the emotional and political costs of the struggle to counteract such negative assumptions.
Long before it became the slogan of the presidential campaign for Barack Obama, Dorothy Ferebee (1898and#8211;1980) lived by the motto YES, WE CAN. An African American obstetrician and civil rights activist from Washington DC, she was descended from lawyers, journalists, politicians, and a judge. At a time when African Americans faced Jim Crow segregation, desperate poverty, and lynch mobs, she advised presidents on civil rights and assisted foreign governments on public health issues. Though articulate, visionary, talented, and skillful at managing her publicity, she was also tragically flawed.
Ferebee was president of the Alpha Kappa Alpha black service sorority and later became the president of the powerful National Council of Negro Women in the nascent civil rights era. She stood up to gun-toting plantation owners to bring health care to sharecroppers through her Mississippi Health Project during the Great Depression.
A household name in black America for forty years, Ferebee was also the media darling of the thriving black press. Ironically, her fame and relevance faded as African Americans achieved the political power for which she had fought. In She Can Bring Us Home, Diane Kiesel tells Ferebeeand#8217;s extraordinary story of struggle and personal sacrifice to a new generation.
About the Author
In writing about black womens politics, why did you focus on psychological and emotional questions rather than resource inequalities, institutional practices, or traditional forms of political participation?
I wanted this book to contribute to our understanding of black women as citizens. At first, I expected to write a more traditional political science text about women who organize in communities and run for office. But my research efforts kept bringing me back to black womens internal emotional experiences. The women I interviewed were keenly aware of race and gender barriers, resource disparities, and limited opportunities, but when they talked about themselves as Americans, they focused on psychic pain, emotional stress, debilitating shame, and the pressure to live up to unrealistic expectations. Many felt that they were trying to “do politics” in an environment where no one was willing to see them accurately or compassionately.
Sister Citizen discusses several stereotypes about black women. What are they, and why did you choose to explore them?
In Sister Citizen I focus on three of the most pervasive and damaging historical stereotypes: Jezebel, Mammy, and the Angry Black Woman (Sapphire). Jezebel is an old myth asserting that black women are hypersexual, lusty, and wanton. This stereotype continues to influence public policy discussions about welfare assistance and reproductive rights. Mammy is the hypercompetent but completely nonthreatening black woman. The image of the devoted Mammy who uses her talents and skills to benefit the white domestic sphere is an epic stereotype promulgated in advertising, popular culture, and politics. Sapphire is a more contemporary archetype characterizing black women as aggressively and irrationally irate. It can be difficult for black women to get a fair hearing of their views if their passionate expressions are filtered through this negative assumption. Finally, I explore the myth of the strong black woman. Unlike the other stereotypes, which black women agree are negative and false, many African American women both believe and embrace the idea that they are endowed with a superhuman capacity to conquer overwhelming challenges. We might see this myth of strength as a positive counter to the negative stereotypes, but there are adverse consequences for black women who are determined to don the mantle of strength. Overall, I try to understand how black womens attempts to manage both the negative stereotypes and this presumably empowering myth can influence how they feel as they approach their political lives.
Why does Hurricane Katrina occupy such an important place in this book?
I believe that the political and psychological aftermath of Hurricane Katrina revealed critical fissures in our national life. For me, New Orleans is ground zero for understanding black women as citizens and as survivors. It is why I now make the city my home and why I have initiated at Tulane University a program on gender, race, and politics in the South.
The last chapter deals with Michelle Obama. Why?
Michelle Obama holds no official political position, has never run for office, and has no personal history of political organizing, yet she is profoundly important to understanding the challenges that black women face in American public life. Her management of her public image is instructive about how black women navigate race and gender stereotypes. Because she is First Lady, her efforts to gain accurate public recognition are emblematic of those engaged in by many black women.