Who’s Shining? Melissa Harris-Perry is…

melissa harris-perryDr. Melissa Harris-Perry, acclaimed author, columnist, MSNBC host, and professor, is no stranger to The Worth Campaign. In fact, it was her book, Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America, that inspired our founder to create this organization. Her courage to deal with and make plain the issues facing black women and girls is one worth noting. Because of this, she is the newest addition to The Worth Campaign’s panel of “Shining” women of color.

Why is MHP “Shining”?

Harris-Perry has been working for women rights for quite some time now. Her lectures and talks regarding the status of black women in education and politics have earned her a place on the “Melissa Harris-Perry Show” which airs on weekends on MSNBC. And while her resume is quite interesting, it is often the content of her show that is most important and inspiring.

She has consistently featured minority and female interviewees and guests on her show she lovingly refers to as “Nerdland.” This is no small feat considering that minorities, especially women, are highly underrepresented in politics in general let alone in the media. A poll, performed by  Media Matters, of Sunday morning  talk shows from January to March of 2013, showed incredible differences in minority guests. The Melissa Harris-Perry Show led the way with women guests appearing on her panel 45% of the time. And, “Melissa Harris-Perry was the only show to host a majority of non-white guests — 39 percent of guests were African-American, 4 percent were Latino, 4 percent were Asian-American, and 1 were percent Arab-American.” So MHP has definitely made strides to level the playing field when it comes to representation on her show.

 

Courtesy: Media Matters

Courtesy: Media Matters

 

And, her pride in her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta (the same sorority in which our founder is a member), was a feature just a few months ago. A public service sorority, Delta Sigma Theta is an organization well-known for its political and social ties to communities of color. Harris-Perry’s spotlight on the sorority was yet another gesture of hers to uplift and support the community she came from. It is messages like these that help to reinforce positive images of women of color.

But, perhaps her most courageous show was the one where she focused on black women’s hair and all the unspoken influences hair has on women of color. Harris-Perry fearlessly confronted an issue that many outside the minority community would likely have known little about. And, she did so with a graceful, poised panel of beautiful and intelligent women of color (including Nikki “Curly Nikki” Walton who was our first “Shining” member).

Harris-Perry has been unapologetic in taking on issues facing women of color in her local community of New Orleans and on a global scale. She has provided a grand stage for conversations around colorism, implicit racism, and black womanhood. And, she continues to represent women of color, particularly black women, immensely well in the public eye. To say that she is a spectacular role model for young women of color is an understatement but, in any case, she certainly is.

There is no doubt that this accomplished scholar, activist, mother, and tv personality has many great things in store. For these reasons, she is definitely what The Worth Campaign would describe as “Shining.”

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