Worth 104: Know Your Worth…Then Live it

worthQuoteWhat does this quote mean to you? Do you believe it? After reading Worth 101, 102, and 103, do you actually believe that your worth is determined just by the mere you-ness in your veins?

This final installment of the introduction to The Worth Campaign is really about you understanding you. There are no lessons from me here. You are the pilot of your own Worth Campaign just as I am the pilot of mine. There is no single method to understanding your worth and living it. But, I have a few observations that I have made as I have navigated my own journey. [Read more…]

Worth 103: When Shaming Becomes Action

Welcome to Worth 103: When Shaming Becomes Action. This piece was originally written on Water Cooler Convos addressing some of the messages manifested in real-life and written about by Melissa Harris-Perry in Sister Citizen.

The purpose of this installment is to illustrate how the theme of shame in interwoven into the lives of women of color. Additionally, shame, in some cases, is used to punish women for socially-identified stereotypical behavior whether it is truly present or not.

Have you ever watched butter melt? It is actually quite interesting. There are several options when melting butter you know. One, you can simply leave it out on the counter and let it rest for a few minutes or hours depending on whether it was in the freezer or fridge. Two, you can melt it on the stovetop. Or, three, you can just pop it in the microwave and hit the “melt” button. I melted some butter this weekend while making my kids a batch of pancakes. And, as I watched the tall chunk of dairy goodness become swallowed up by the plastic measuring cup, I felt myself drift away a bit. [Read more…]

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…]