Worth 102: Understanding the Roots of Stereotypes

Worth 102 is the second installment in your introduction to The Worth Campaign. This lesson is intended to educate young women of color about the roots of three dominating stereotypes: the Jezebel, the Mammy, and the Sapphire.

The Jezebel

According to Harris-Perry, the Jezebel ideal originated when Southern slaveowners needed a reason to legitimize the forced nakedness, physical “commoditization,” and coerced sexual relations between them and their female slaves. In order to justify the rape and dehumanization of these women, they had to be depicted as wanton, over-sexed, whorish, and seductive. How were these poor slaveowners to deny these big breasted, chiseled bodied, and perpetually available Black women whose sole desire was to sleep with them? These women were cast as animalistic in nature. Sexual prowess was just a Black woman’s natural instinct toward physical gratification. Disgusting right? [Read more…]

Worth 101: In the Crooked Room

This introduction to stereotypes of black women is based on Melissa Harris-Perry’s book Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America. It was originally posted in a sequence of articles on Beyond Black & White.

Though the prose is primarily political in nature, there were several core theories presented that resounded with me. So much so, I believe that much of the internal and external characteristics I possess today have been significantly augmented for the better.

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes and Black Women in America, released in September 2011,  is a lovely and intelligent book about the images in the media that work to define Black women and their roles in American society. And Harris-Perry’s work has been accepted as both necessary and legitimate. [Read more…]