Quotes from Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

Melissa V. Harris-Perry ·  378 pages

Rating: (2.6K votes)


“Loss of social standing is an ever-present threat for individuals whose social acceptance is based on behavioral traits rather than unconditional human value.”
― Melissa V. Harris-Perry, quote from Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America


“Citizenship is more than an individual exchange of freedoms for rights; it is also membership in a body politic, a nation, and a community. To be deemed fair, a system must offer its citizens equal opportunities for public recognition, and groups cannot systematically suffer from misrecognition in the form of stereotype and stigma.”
― Melissa V. Harris-Perry, quote from Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America


“Therapists are less likely to perceive a black woman as sad; instead they see her as angry or anxious.”
― Melissa V. Harris-Perry, quote from Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America


“Misrecognition subverts the possibility of equal democratic participation.”
― Melissa V. Harris-Perry, quote from Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America


“Women were expected to sit in the pews, receiving messages from men in the pulpit. Their role was to recognize God in their pastor, not to expect or demand that he recognize God in them.”
― Melissa V. Harris-Perry, quote from Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America



“The mythology of black women as promiscuous was important to maintaining the profitable exploitation of slave society. In freedom, it remained important as a means of racial and gender control.”
― Melissa V. Harris-Perry, quote from Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America


“Their anger is not experienced as a psychological reality but is seen through an ideology that distorts black women's lived experiences.”
― Melissa V. Harris-Perry, quote from Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America


“Sisters are more than the sum of their relative disadvantages: they are active agents who craft meaning out of their circumstances and do so in complicated and diverse ways.”
― Melissa V. Harris-Perry, quote from Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America


“A person or group of people can suffer real damage, real distortion, if the people or society around them mirror back to them a confining or demeaning or contemptible picture of themselves.”24”
― Melissa V. Harris-Perry, quote from Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America


“To be a person of relative power and privilege viewing a person of less power and privilege is a political act. The gaze of the powerful is neither neutral nor benign; misrecognition hinders the ability of black people to act as citizens. Indeed, hooks asserts, challenging white people’s assumptions about what they see when they view black people is a critical step toward liberation and equality.21”
― Melissa V. Harris-Perry, quote from Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America



“I am concerned that in their efforts to evade the Sapphire stereotype, black women may be discouraged from demanding equal consideration of their specific political needs within black political discourses.”
― Melissa V. Harris-Perry, quote from Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America


“No Mirrors in My Nana’s House” Sweet Honey in the Rock LYRICS BY YSAYE MARIA BARNWELL Sweet Honey in the Rock is a Grammy Award–winning vocal group of black women vocalists founded in 1973 by Bernice Johnson Reagon. The group’s members have changed during its long tenure, but it retains a core of five vocalists and a sign-language interpreter. Their performances are deeply embodied celebrations of black women’s lived experiences. The group’s name is derived from Psalm 81:16: “But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” Sign-language interpreter Dr. Ysaye Barnwell joined Sweet Honey in the Rock in 1979 and appears in more than thirty recordings with the group. She is the author of one of the group’s most popular recordings, “No Mirrors in My Nana’s House.” It is a stirring piece that reveals how the loving protection of black women can shield black girls from a painful world that seeks to negate their beauty and worth. In 1998 the lyrics became a children’s book published by Harcourt Brace. There were no mirrors in my Nana’s house, no mirrors in my Nana’s house. There were no mirrors in my Nana’s house, no mirrors in my Nana’s house. And the beauty that I saw in everything was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun). I never knew that my skin was too black. I never knew that my nose was too flat. I never knew that my clothes didn’t fit. I never knew there were things that I’d missed, cause the beauty in everything was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun); . . . was in her eyes. There were no mirrors in my Nana’s house, no mirrors in my Nana’s house. And the beauty that I saw in everything was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun). I was intrigued by the cracks in the walls. I tasted, with joy, the dust that would fall. The noise in the hallway was music to me. The trash and the rubbish just cushioned my feet. And the beauty in everything was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun). . . . was in her eyes. There were no mirrors in my Nana’s house, no mirrors in my Nana’s house. And the beauty that I saw in everything was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun). The world outside was a magical place. I only knew love. I never knew hate, and the beauty in everything was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun). . . . was in her eyes. There were no mirrors in my Nana’s house, no mirrors in my Nana’s house. There were no mirrors in my Nana’s house, no mirrors in my Nana’s house. And the beauty that I saw in everything was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun).”
― Melissa V. Harris-Perry, quote from Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America


“Sisters can sometimes get their way by confirming the expectation that they are threatening and angry, but doing so may leave them feeling that they have not truly been heard at all.”
― Melissa V. Harris-Perry, quote from Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America


“Individuals from disempowered social groups desire recognition for their group but also want recognition of their distinctiveness from the group.18”
― Melissa V. Harris-Perry, quote from Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America


About the author

Melissa V. Harris-Perry
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