Let’s Talk About It: Black Women and Stereotypes

Let’s Talk About It: Black Women and Stereotypes will feature Dr. Stephane Dunn, Morehouse College Co-Director of Cinema, Television, & Emerging Media Studies; Dr. Lakesia Johnson, Grinnell College Assistant Professor of Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies and Dr. Shirlene Holmes, Georgia State University Assistant Professor of Communication.  The panel will be moderated by KISS 104.1 radio personality, Twanda Black.

This event will be streamed live via Ustream.

Below is a listing of book related to the discussion featuring books authored by two of our panelists.

ICONIC: Decoding Images of the Revolutionary Black Woman by Dr. Lakesia Johnson

In Iconic Lakesia Johnson explores how this belittling imagery is imposed by American media, revealing an immense cultural fear of black women’s power and potential. Seamlessly weaving together role models of past and present, from women in politics to artists and musicians, Johnson eloquently demonstrates how the revolutionary black woman in many public forums has been–and continues to be–a central figure in challenging long-standing social injustices.

“Baad Bitches” and Sassy Supermamas: Black Power Action Films by Dr. Stephane Dunn

This lively study unpacks the intersecting racial, sexual, and gender politics underlying the representations of racialized bodies, masculinities, and femininities in early 1970s black action films, with particular focus on the representation of black femininity. Stephane Dunn explores the typical, sexualized, subordinate positioning of women in low-budget blaxploitation action narratives as well as more seriously radical films like Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song and The Spook Who Sat by the Door, in which black women are typically portrayed as trifling “bitches” compared to the supermacho black male heroes. The terms “baad bitches” and “sassy supermamas” signal the reversal of this positioning with the emergence of supermama heroines in the few black action films in the early 1970s that featured self-assured, empowered, and tough (or “baad”) black women as protagonists: Cleopatra Jones, Coffy, and Foxy Brown.

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America by Dr. Melissa Harris Perry

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.

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