An Inside Look at Melissa Harris-Perry

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Melissa Harris-Perry analyzes the myths surrounding black women and the implication that correlate with these myths. Perry focuses on three main stereotypes of black women that began with slavery and are still prevalent in society today. Perry not only examines the depth and causes of these stereotypes, but she also scrutinizes their role in African Americans lives as citizens today. Black women today are not only separated from society outside of the African American community, but there are also existing stereotypes within the culture. Examining the history of black women, the three prominent stereotypes attached to them and comparing these to society today, it is clear that the standard for African American women is not only inaccessible but also unreasonable.
The oppression of women in society has been evident throughout the history of the United States. However, African American women have been second-class citizens to not only both black and white males, but white women as well (64). Beginning with slavery, black women were objectified as objects as Thomas Jefferson subjected enslaved blacks to the same “scientific” observation as animals and plants. Jefferson than stated that this observation led to the conclusion that white women were superior to black women because men of the African American community preferred white women. Although this stereotype may articulate black women as undesirable to all men, there was a common belief across the nation that black servants would lure and seduce white males from their wives (56). With this myth the stereotype of hypersexuality of black women arose.
From the beginning of these observations of black women, their bodies were seen as physiologically and anatomically different (5...

... middle of paper ... woman myth has not been studied as intensely as the Jezabel and Mammy images, it still has significance in present society. Sapphire, more commonly views as the angry black woman is viewed as, the bad black woman, the black “bitch, and the emasculating matriarch (88). The reason there may not be much research on this myth is because many researchers themselves acknowledge the stereotype (89). The stereotype is seen not as black women’s anger towards the unequal treatment and circumstances they endure, but an irrational desire to control black males, families, and communities around them (95). This stereotype bestows yet another double standard for black women in America today. While a white woman’s passion and drive may be seen as ambitious and exceptional, a black woman displaying the same perseverance would be seen in a negative rather than glorified light.

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