It’s Been Too Long Since My Last: Links Round-Up

Oops, the holidays happened and I forgot to post links round-ups. I know you have all been suffering terribly without them. My hope is that you improved the shining hour by catching up on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and The Good Place, my two favorite shows on TV. But if you just moped around a-waiting, here’s the goods at last.

Black women have largely been left out of the conversation about harassment (quelle surprise). Rebecca Carroll talks about her experience of racist belittlement from Charlie Rose.

On the state of Kentucky and the borders of the South.

Gillian Flynn writes about how those men view women. It is rough. No wonder her books are the way they are.

Debut novelist Naima Coster talks about what it meant to have a black woman as her editor. (Her book sounds really good too!)

This season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has been incredibly good. Angelica Jade Bastien talks about watching it while coming to terms (again) with her own mental illness and suicide attempt.

Melissa Harris-Perry contemplates the #MeToo backlash, and how we can stop it.

Nikole Hannah-Jones continues to do incredible work on school segregation in the US, and this interview at the Atlantic is fuego. When she writes a book, when that day comes, I am going to buy 29 copies of it and distribute them to a bunch of people.

On the poignancy of acknowledgements in books. I love acknowledgements in books. I am not ashamed.

Carly Lane talks about negative responses to Star Wars and the perils of becoming too committed to fan theories and headcanons.

How were the Porgs created? The answer is goddamn adorable.

Scaachi Koul thinks Logan Paul is an asshole and says so much more eloquently than I ever could.

And by the way, I’m not linking it, but there’s a Washington Post article making the rounds about how maybe Logan Paul did some good by drawing attention to the suicide problem in Japan. Among other things, it implies that media guidelines for reporting on suicide (which are based in research about suicide contagion) are similar in quality to the culture of shame and silence around suicide in Japan. It makes me want to punch a wall. It’s less harmful for the media to say nothing than it is for them to report irresponsibly (as they consistently do). I am wrath.

Happy weekend! Stay warm!

Review: Sister Citizen, Melissa Harris-Perry

I am interested in the ways people are affected by representations of race, gender, sexuality, etc., in the media. It seems like Oscar Wilde was right all along: Life reflects art. If you watch gay people on TV you are more likely to want them to get married. And Melissa Harris-Perry is a feminist whose writing and thinking I like quite a bit. So when she writes a book about representations of black women in American culture, I’m obviously there.

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America (affiliate links: Amazon, B&N, Book Depository) is about the stereotypes that exist in American society about black women, and the ways that black women counteract those stereotypes, and the toll that counteracting the stereotypes can take. (See? It’s right in my wheelhouse!)

Harris-Perry begins by taking on the three classic stereotypical representations of black women: Jezebel (hypersexualized black woman), Mammy (docile, maternal black woman who serves white interests), and Sapphire (angry black woman). She talks about how these images have been used in the past to discredit and silence and generally make life crappy for black women. These are stereotypes that trivialize or deny the truths of black women’s lives: call a black woman angry and you make her an instant caricature with decades-old resonance. Her anger ceases to be a problem worth addressing (a response to injustice, to abuse, to poverty) and becomes a punchline instead.

The analysis of these stereotypes was good, though fairly basic and familiar (because I am familiar with Melissa Harris-Perry). For me, the book shines the most in the second part, which deals with disaster and with strength. Harris-Perry draws on a range of surveys over the past twenty years to discuss the ways that society perceives black women in times of disaster. Belief in a just universe tends to make people blame disaster victims for their own misfortunes, an effect that tends to be particularly strong  when the victims are black women. (Cf Hurricane Katrina.)

Harris-Perry is fantastic when she talks about the stereotype of the strong black woman — this one a stereotype that often holds an important place in black women’s self-images (as well as the self-images of black communities). As much pride and comfort as this image can carry, it also inclines women who hold it about themselves to be less willing to seek out help, and thus more depressed and isolated than they would otherwise be.

If you’re interested in representation and its influences, I recommend Sister Citizen. It’s well-written and carefully researched, if at times a little basic, and Harris-Perry is good about pointing out the limitations as well as the strengths of the studies she cites. Melissa Harris-Perry is one of my favorite feminists working today: invariably thoughtful and interesting!

American/British cover
American/British cover

Cover report: No separate British cover. No winner. I do like this cover quite a bit, however. Well-done, cover design people.