David's Reviews > Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

Sister Citizen by Melissa V. Harris-Perry
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's review
Apr 11, 2012

liked it

pretty interesting take on social perceptions of Black women and how stereotypes (strength, hyper-religiousness, sexual promiscuity.......) affect their civic involvement, relationships, and personal feelings. A couple quibbles:

1. in terms of method, it was a sometimes awkward mix of survey research, focus group quotes, personal anecdotes, and literary illustration. A Zora Neale Hurston excerpt would bump up against polling data re gov't.'s slow response to Hurricane Katrina and racial implications thereof. Not totally sure of intended audience - the explanation of things like regression analysis seemed as though she thought readers had never seen a study before, but then again she hauls out data in support of fairly obvious, unobjectionable claims in the best tradition of social science, as though writing to one's fellow faculty members.

2. an editor should have been called in to do a search-and-replace on "crooked room". She's besotted with the metaphor of Black women trying to fit in mainstream society as being like trying to stand up straight in a crooked room. This is an arresting image -- as a reader, I'll graciously allow maybe 6 to 8 uses of it. But not 6 to 8 per page for 300 pages! Really incredible overuse -- Michelle Obama refused to be told that she was the one who was crooked as she stood in that crooked room......sisters are bending over backward to make it work in the crooked room.....x5,000....AAAAAGHHHH make it stop!.

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