Melissa Harris-Perry is the Presidential Endowed Chair in Politics and International Affairs at Wake Forest University. There she is the Executive Director of the Pro Humanitate Institute and founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Center on Gender, Race, and Politics in the South. She is the host of Melissa Harris-Perry, which broadcasts live on MSNBC on Saturdays and Sundays from 10AM to Noon. She is the author of the award-winning Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought, and Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America. Harris-Perry received her B.A. degree in English from Wake Forest University in 1994 and her Ph.D. degree in political science from Duke University in 1999. She also studied theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York. Harris-Perry previously served on the faculty of the University of Chicago, Princeton University, and Tulane University.
As the mother of a 7-year-old daughter, I knew I'd have to see the film. I went to the theater prepared to deconstruct troubling racial images, which Disney has a history of producing, and distorted notions of womanhood, which Disney makes its fortune creating. But I was mostly delighted by the music, characters, and plot. I found neither race nor gender the driving concerns of this animated film.
On Sunday night I indulged two of my favorite obsessions, the Christmas holidays and sentimental Americana, by watching Oprah Winfrey's special "Christmas at the White House."
This televised tour of the decorated White House immediately evoked my holiday musings from last year. In the month after Obama's election I felt like a kid at Christmas, with visions of a black president dancing in my head.
I was in a pew at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Illinois, on September 16, 2001. Although I was never a member of this now infamous congregation, I did attend Trinity regularly during the seven years I lived and worked in Chicago.
September 16, 2001 was the first Sunday after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, DC. On that Sunday Reverend Jeremiah Wright preached a sermon whose often-distorted excerpts became fodder for attack on candidate Barack Obama. Most people in America remember it as the "Chickens Coming Home to Roost" sermon.
For me, Wright's sermon on that Sunday will always be the sermon of Psalm 137.
With Michelle Obama in the White House, consciously and conspicuously serving as mom-in-chief, I expected (even somewhat dreaded) a resurgence of Claire Huxtable images of black motherhood: effortless glamour, professional success, measured wit, firm guidance, loving partnership, and the calm reassurance that American women can, in fact, have it all.
Instead the news is currently dominated by horrifying images of African American mothers.
My reaction to Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize elicited some decidedly "un-peaceful" responses from my friends and followers on social networking and blog sites.
As readers here at The Notion can attest -whether with glee or disdain-I have been an ardent supporter of President Obama. Despite some disagreements, I have urged the left to view this administration as an opportunity for genuine change and to regard it as friendly to progressive aims. But my response to the Nobel Peace Prize announcement was not particularly celebratory.