Thursday, March 22, 2018

Sister Citizen - Melissa V. Harris-Perry

Sister Citizen
Title: Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America
Author: Melissa V. Harris-Perry
Publication Date: 9/20/2011
Pages: 378
How I Found It: I can't remember.
Date Completed: 3/8/18

Summary: A thoughtful, thorough examination of the place of black women in America.

What I Thought: I am so glad I read this book. I can't remember what list of political book recommendations I read it on, but I'm awfully glad I did. It was incredibly eye-opening for me. 

One of my goals this year is to read books by a more diverse authorship. I believe strongly that reading about other people's experiences and beliefs is the second best option we have to expand our own understanding of the world (the best option is to build a real-life relationship with people who are different from you). This book demonstrates that perfectly. 

While I understand what it is like to be a woman in America and to face discrimination because of that, the added layer of racial discrimination is not something I deal with. Despite my ability to get a deep tan in the summer, there is no doubt of my whiteness, both in terms of race and culture. Kevin and I are increasingly understanding that we will just never fully be able to understand what it means to be a person of color in this country. Doesn't mean we stop trying to learn and grow in that area, but we'll never fully get it. We just can't. 

While no person of color is under any obligation to help us understand their experience, I so appreciate Harris-Perry's ability to do just that. She is not writing exclusively to white people, of course. Hardly. However, I learned so much and had several "aha" moments, as Oprah would call them. There was so much that was incredibly helpful for me as a white woman; ideas and experiences that just would never have occurred to me on my own. This, of course, is exactly why reading diversely and having diverse relationships matters!!

This book is part of my 2018 TBR Challenge!
Harris-Perry covers a wide variety of topics, including the sexualization of black women and a chapter on their relationship with faith and religion that I found particularly interesting. While there was so much enlightening content for me in this book, it was actually a piece of information that stood out as the fact of the book to me. When breaking down the populace by race and gender, white men are the less religious by a number of factors. Black women are among the most religious. When I really thought about those stats, they didn't surprise me. They did, however, fascinate me.  

I cannot encourage you strongly enough to read this book. It's informative and educational, but still easy to read. I listened to the audiobook and it was one of the few times that I prioritized an audiobook over the latest episodes of my favorite podcasts. I know I still have so much growing and learning when it comes to the experiences of people unlike me, but I felt like this was a wonderful step in the right direction and confirmation that having a goal to read more diversely is a good one. 

Rating: ★★★★★
Will I Re-Read: Yeah, I probably will.
If You Liked This, Try: Nine Parts of Desire / Half the Sky / The New Jim Crow

A Reduced Review: Powerful, informative, and important - this look into the lives of black women in America reinforced my belief in the importance of and desire to do more diverse reading. 

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