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Last week, Melissa Harris-Perry laid the smackdown on Michelle Cottle’s  “Michelle Obama is a feminist nightmare” article during the “Open Letters” segment of her MSNBC show:

“Dear Michelle Cottle, are you serious? You and your handful of ‘feminist sources’ claim that First Lady Obama is not a feminist because she says her most important job is being mom-in-chief to her two daughters…Given how simplistic your piece is, let me make this very simple: you are wrong.  You misunderstand the place that Michelle Obama occupies as the first African American First Lady.

You seem to think she’s trying to steer clear of the angry black woman stereotype. When she calls herself ‘mom-in-chief,’ she’s rejecting a different stereotype: the role of Mammy. She is saying that her daughters — her vulnerable, brilliant, beautiful black daughters — are the most important thing to her. The First Lady is saying, ‘You, Miss Anne, are going to have to clean your own house because I will be caring for my own’ and instead of agreeing that the public sphere is necessarily more important than Sasha and Malia, she has buried Mammy and has embraced being a mom on her own terms. So you can call that your feminist nightmare, but for a lot of us, it is our black motherhood dream. 

Also, on a strategic note, Ms. Cottle. Before we enter the 2016 election cycle and the feminists come around asking black women for our support for your candidate, you might want to read up a little on black women and our feminism. I’m happy to send you a syllabus.”

A syllabus? Well everyone asked for it and they got it. Harris-Perry created a  suggested reading list on black feminism. Below is a list of suggested books:

Cooper, Anna Julia. A Voice From the South.

Crenshaw, Kimberle. “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color.” Stanford Law Review 43, no. 6 (July 1991): 1241-1299.

Davis, Angela. Women, Race, & Class.

Giddings, Paula. Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells.

Giddings, Paula. When And Where I Enter The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America.

Guy-Shefthall, Beverly. Words of Fire: An Anthology of African-American Feminist Thought.

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

hooks, bell. Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism.

hooks, bell. Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center.

Hunter, Tera.  To ‘Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women’s Lives and Labors After the Civil War.

Lorde, Audre. Zami: A New Spelling of My Name.

Ransby, Barbara. Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision.

Shange, Ntozke. For colored girls who have considered suicide/When the rainbow is enuf.

Theoharis, Jeanne. The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks.

 

Clutchettes, what do you think of the list? Is there anything missing that you would add? Have you read any of the suggested titles already? 

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  • Tressie Enstrom

    Thank you MPH…very well put