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'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Saturday, March 9th, 2013

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March 9, 2013

Guests: Joy Reid, Valarie Kaur, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Kat Cole, Taiye Selasi, Bill Finch, Jonathan Metzl, Valarie Kaur, Elijah Cummings, Jeff Edmondson

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning, my question -- why is
Mayor Michael Bloomberg trying to shame single mothers? Plus, the
connection between guns, race and mental health, and how I almost ended up
with a career as a funeral director. But first, everywhere you look right
now, people are talking about "Leaning In." So go ahead, "Lean In."


HARRIS-PERRY: Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. It is primetime
Saturday in 1974, and the country is tuned into CBS, the network is airing
its popular sitcom about a single white woman in her 30s making her way in
the world of work. We first had been introduced to our heroine Mary
Richards for years earlier, when these opening credits rolled for the first




HARRIS-PERRY: And with that hat toss, we became equated with Mary as
played by Mary Tyler Moore on the eponymous show, a spunky outspoken woman
who obviously was the smartest person in her office, and in the seven years
she`s on air, Mary confronts issues like equal pay and sexual liberation,
as well as the host of other personal, ethical and political struggles.
Also in 1974 on a Friday night, CBS debuts a very different kind of show
whose opening credits rolled over a very different kind of song.




HARRIS-PERRY: Extra points if you know all the words. OK, good times.
You remember "Good Times." It gave us the Evanses, the scratching and
surviving black family living in the Chicago housing project. Now, the
Evans` household may have been headed by James, but its heart and soul was
Florida Evans. Florida is the fierce black wife and mother trying to keep
her family afloat in the post civil rights era, that has meant little for
the materials circumstances that she faces. Now, Florida does not work
outside of the home, but damn, if she is not always working hard inside of
her home. As a `70s baby, these are the two models of women I was raised
on. I mean, I never missed a single episode of these shows or honestly
even of the reruns. The spunky single white woman leaning into her career
and meeting gendered battles against sexism every step of the way and the
married black matriarch who leans into her family with every spiritual,
financial and emotional resource that she has to try to make it all work.

These fictional women are on my mind right now as I watch the heated
discussions, primarily among women over this book. "Lean In: Women, Work
and the Will to Lead." It does not even go on sale until Tuesday, but the
book and its author Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg are already everywhere.
This is Sandberg on the cover of this week`s "Time" magazine, and she`ll be
sitting down Sunday with "60 Minutes" in her first television interview to
promote the book. Next month, it will be featured in a pullup section in
"Cosmopolitan" magazine, and it`s been reviewed this weekend by "The New
York Times", it`s the most recent of several mentions of Sandberg`s book
that has received in this paper a record. I mean the first was a February
story that sparked the backlash and the backlash to the backlash by the
follow, you know, the backlash, as the heart of the debate is the central
idea of Sandberg`s book that among the very real deeply entrenched
structural barriers to women`s success in the workplace, there is another
impediment standing in the way of their progress, women themselves.
Sandberg`s advice, don`t leave before you leave is meant to urge women away
from making choices that can derail or diminish their career prospects
before they even really get off of the ground. In the book she writes, "We
hold ourselves back in ways both big and small by lacking self-confidence
and by not raising our hands and by pulling back when we should be leaning

We internalize the negative messages that we get through our lives. We
lower our expectations of what we can achieve. That is not necessarily as
bad as advice goes, I mean but may not be so good either, according to
critics who are considering the source, because after all, this self-help
book for the average working woman comes from a professional woman who is
anything but average. Sandberg is one of "Fortune" magazine`s 50 most
powerful women in business. She holds the reins on a $66 billion tech
company and is a millionaire many times over. She is privileged, she`s
elite, out of touch say the voices on one side of the debate, what about
those women who have been robbed by structural inequalities of even having
the choice to make a choice about their careers, but on the other side,
there are those who see value in Sandberg`s message for all women who
aspire to professional success, which brings me back to Mary in Florida,
because this is not a question of either/or, this is a question of

You see, Mary Tyler Moore and Florida Evans do not stay at opposition to
each other at polar ends of this debate, in fact, they are close enough to
one another to share some very important common ground and opening up a
space for women to lean into their lives. It means understanding how the
experiences of different women intersect in ways that are mutually
beneficial for all women, but it also means recognizing the challenges that
make it hard for Mary, and nearly impossible for Florida like wage
disparities and the child care and reproductive health and discrimination
and harassment. Until all these barriers are moved out of their way, women
will only be able to lean so far. At our table, four women who know what
they are talking about. Katrina Vanden Heuvel, the editor and publisher of
"The Nation." Valarie Kaur, the writer and filmmaker, and a fellow at
Auburn Seminary, Joy Reid, the managing editor for the, and Kat
Cole, the president of Cinnabon Incorporated, the food chain that operates
more than one thousand franchises locations in 52 countries worldwide. All
right, ladies. It`s everywhere.


HARRIS-PERRY: What are we to make of this book and of the debate that it
has sparked?

JOY REID, MANAGING EDITOR, THE GRIO: You know what? If it`s -- I think,
for women it is also difficult. Because as you said, when a very wealthy
woman who comes from a certain privileged class writes a book sort of
telling other women how to run their careers, it is easy to kind of roll
your eyes and say it does not apply to me, especially if you are a person
out in the world as you said, not being able to make a lot of decisions,
not being able to like the CEO, I think, it was Yahoo! Who got to build the
daycare --


REID: Next to her office. And then telling other women that they can`t
work from home. It just come across as a bit -- looking from on high and
speaking down to other women, but at the same time, you know, I think a lot
of what Sheryl Sandberg is saying is kind of true, about women in any
field, about the way we sort of self-sabotage and sort of the thought
process that we in our own heads -- someone said, the roommate in your head


REID: -- that`s negative and telling you, you can`t do that or you
probably should not speak up, or you are going to come across as, you know,
too bitchy, you need to just be calm. I think (inaudible) sabotages in any

HARRIS-PERRY: And this is the part, I think, that`s interesting, Valarie,
it`s part of why I wanted you at the table because I have been talking to
my college students about this a lot, right? To young women who are
finishing up school or who are going into their law school experiences, and
they are hearing something here that is meaningful to them in part,
because, you know, she talks about this sense that you have to start
planning for, you know, for your family work-balance before you even are
dating anyone seriously.


HARRIS-PERRY: Does this resonate for you at all?

from my honeymoon --


HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, right.

KAUR: And so --

HARRIS-PERRY: Here we are at work.

KAUR: And so, this whole debate --


KAUR: Here I am, and this whole debate is intersecting in a very raw way
with the questions that I am struggling with everyday, how to start a
family, how to continue building a career. It is on the minds of constant
topic of conversation for anyone in their 30s, and now their 20s. And what
we are seeing is that the conversation fails to recognize the kinds of
specific struggles that we are noticing in our lives, that we believe that
women`s liberation won`t be possible in America until it is possible for
every single woman to live the good life.

And unfortunately, I love Sheryl`s message of leaning in, but in the
process of leaning in, who are women in power leaning on? Nannies,
housekeepers, domestic workers, caregivers, millions of women who have less
privilege, women of color, immigrant women, women who are struggling and so
I think that rather than taking this as the banner for women`s advancement,
we ought to think about how structural changes can actually lift up all
women across the board. And that`s what`s missing.

struck by how the media has -- first of all, it`s unbelievable, the
attention, but --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, it`s everywhere!

VANDEN HEUVEL: So, (inaudible) why should the media, it seems to me has
been about pitting this as a cat fight. I mean they want -- they want
women debating other women.


VANDEN HEUVEL: I think we should be fighting injustice, not each other.

HARRIS-PERRY: Jodi Kantor and Maureen Dowd have helped to create that.

VANDEN HEUVEL: No, no, they have, but it`s also then been amplified by a
media --


VANDEN HEUVEL: -- that seeks in that debate more of a cat fight,
perhaps, than exists, because I think you`re having -- listen, I`m not
Kumbaya hold hands, I believe in debate discussion -- I do think we should
fight injustice, not each other, but there is a serious debate and
discussion here to be had, but also the media -- think about how many women
are cut out of representation. I mean you don`t hear from a woman I wrote
about when the Anne-Marie Slaughter, "Atlantic" cover story came out, you
know, Adrianna Vasquez (ph) is a mother of three how is a janitor in
Houston, cleaning three buildings who as Jesse Jackson once said takes the
early bus, if she can`t take the late bus.

So I just think there are a lot of women cut out of this debate. On the
other hand, I think Sheryl Sandberg has gotten a raw deal, all power to a
powerful woman who wants to make feminism, whether it`s feminism 101 or pet
feminism or Rosie the Riveter feminism, her cause -- but and you can`t
expect one woman to represent all women.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right, I mean it`s kind --

VANDEN HEUVEL: So, you know, it`s -- let her have her voice.


VANDEN HEUVEL: And she is not Marissa Mayer of Yahoo!

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right! That`s right!

VANDEN HEUVEL: Who wants -- you know, who said all women -- or -- no,
everyone must come to work. No flexibility.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. It`s a kind of -- it`s a kind of pleasant
book, right, I mean I sat and read it last night, and it really -- it reads
like a commencement address, right?



HARRIS-PERRY: And -- you know, it`s -- the thing about it, though, I
suppose it`s so surprising about the level of angst that it is getting --


HARRIS-PERRY: It`s like keep thinking about that Steve Jobs` biography
that I also read last year. And Jobs was not a nice human being, right,
and was high a lot, right?

And I mean, that all seems to be very clear in his road to success --


HARRIS-PERRY: -- she is still in many ways, still kind of this -- she`s
still doing her girl socialization, she is like let me help other people,
and it may not be the most complex, but it`s also like not Steve Jobs.


KAT COLE, PRESIDENT, CINNABON, INC.: Absolutely. You know, I think one of
the biggest challenges in addressing injustices is this concept of access.
And the largest criticism that I`ve read about Sheryl is that she has all
the accesses in the world, and that the everyday woman does not have that.
And instead of criticizing that, maybe we should build a bridge from her
story to others that lack the access and highlight those incredible women
leaders that don`t have all the access, but are still doing great things,
that are paving the way for their daughters and their children and their
families to have education, that are creating great social movements in
their communities that help to elevate other women leaders. I`m on the
board of directors of this group called The Women`s Food Service Forum, and
when I was growing up as a 20-year old in emerging corporate America, I had
a bunch of men that I was working with. I didn`t have examples of what was
possible in my company, but there are groups and movements in society that
allow young women to see what is possible, and we should not fault a book
that highlights what is possible, but we should try to fill in the gap
between this woman on high to the (ph)


HARRIS-PERRY: And we are just -- we`re just starting, I promise, a lot
more on exactly this, we are leaning in. Lots of ladies at the table when
we come back.



SHERYL SANDBERG, COO FACEBOOK: Women almost never make one decision to
leave the workforce. It does not happen that way. They make small little
decisions along the way that eventually lead them there. These women don`t
even have relationships, but already they are finding balance, balance for
responsibilities they don`t yet have, and from that moment they start
quietly leaning back.


HARRIS-PERRY: That was Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg giving the 2011
commencement address at Barnard College. And we are back waiting into the
conversation about women work that has been re-ignited by Sandberg`s new
book "Lean In." But I do want to show that she is talking about something
real when she is talking about women in power, particularly in corporate
power. When you look overall at the percentage of women in executive
office positions, board seats and even elected congressional officials, at
every point you are talking about fewer than 20 percent of those positions
being held by women and when you look at women of color, abysmal numbers,
less than five percent. And also when you look at compensation, although
the wage gap has closed -- has narrowed for women since 1970, it is only
narrowed, it has not closed. We are looking at 59 cents per dollar now
compared to 77 cents, but it`s still not dollar for dollar, so Kat, I want
to ask you about this, because Valarie said just a moment ago when every
woman can live the good life, and it seems to me that part of a challenge
here saying, is this -- if we turn these numbers into 50-50, would that
constitute success? You are a woman in corporate America, you come up
through Hooters, and now to Cinnabon. And I might say Hooters are sexist,
Cinnabon is bad for our health --


HARRIS-PERRY: And so, you know, I want women to not participate in these
things. I don`t want to make us 50 percent of them.

COLE: Yeah, absolutely. You know, I think -- I don`t think 50 percent is
enough. There is proof that when women are involved in leadership teams,
when you have gender-diverse leadership, that the corporation`s financial
success is higher. The argument is there for gender diverse leadership.
No matter what the concept, whether it is a sweet treat company, or a
church congress (inaudible), or, you know, any society group, women make a
positive difference leading. And, in fact, women have the skills today
that are so critical for leading effective businesses, particularly
collaboration. Crossfunctional, cross-generational collaboration. And for
me, I did grow up in the Hooters organization, I was the only female
executive on the team.

HARRIS-PERRY: That is amazing.

COLE: Interestingly every boss I ever had in that company was a woman.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s interesting.

COLE: Every boss. I grew up in a single parent household, I saw a
powerful woman who worked two jobs. My mom started out as Flo and ended up
as Mary. And it was an interesting transition to watch. I`m the oldest of
three girls. I have been surrounded by seeing strong women. And I think
companies in order to see this change, this less than 20 percent get to 50
and beyond, you`ve to get women on the corporate boards, because the women
who are moving up need advocates and sponsors and individuals to provide
them access and opportunity, and if the boardroom is full of men, we are
never going to reach the tipping point that`s going to make this different.

VANDEN HEUVEL: I -- so, I come at this. First of all, I like my feminism
a little bit more structural --


VANDEN HEUVEL: But I think the theory of change, the idea, you know, all
power to Sheryl Sandberg, but her theory of change is very much kind of
trickled down feminism, that you are going to see workplace transformed for
all women, because of more women in leadership positions. I am not sure
that is the case. You know, there`s -- I believe we need more women in
leadership and in media corporate leadership and in other leadership -- you
are setting in, you`re the first woman of color running your own political
show on a network, right? And we don`t have many women in media that may
change -- might change through representation, on the other hand, we have
the examples of Margaret Thatcher, we have the examples of Indira Gandhi.
So, I think that you need more women at the table, but you also need to
change the table. You know, that ongoing discussion of whether you are
just entering a system as it is or whether you`re going to bring to it
structural real change. And I think that is lost a little in Sandberg`s
story, but you know, she can`t represent everyone. We need the either/or
and more and the global piece gets lost.


VANDEN HEUVEL: In this country, our great country, we need to look out at
the world, so interesting that so many of these debates were happening on
International Women`s Day --


VANDEN HEUVEL: And so many other countries do better by their women,
certainly on the structural front.

REID: Well, I mean and the other thing is, and I think just sort of a
bridge -- I think it sort of gets at what Katrina was saying, is that you
gave those statistics about women in leadership positions, in politics.
This is despite the fact, particularly, for women of color, there are more
women, actually in college than men. And particularly when you talk about
women of color. So, we outnumber men at that point, right up until the
time we graduate from college, we actually outnumber men. What happens
between the time that all these women, particularly women of color,
graduate from college, but women in general, and the time that these --
they are climbing into the corporate structure, part of it is women who
actually leave and exit the workforce because of having families, and that
makes it very difficult, because the expectation -- I had friends who went
to law school where it was difficult to get hired by the top firms because
of this presumption that they were going to leave and have kids. And even
though that was never stated, it was always implied, that you are a more
risky hire, that you`re going to be more expensive --


REID: Because you`re going to drop out of the workforce because of kids.
So you have people delaying and delaying and delaying. That is -- and what
if you wanted to do that at 30 or 40 --


REID: -- It`s still a problem. So what happens between the time that we
seem to be doing really great coming out of college and when we get to
leadership? Is it --

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. This point -- on the one hand, the pipeline, the
initial part of the pipeline, the pool from which it is drawn is more
diverse than ever at least in terms of pure gender questions --

REID: Yes.

HARRIS-PERRY: But then it does not necessarily end up in leadership, but
then we must ask that question about leadership of what? Right? Because
if, in fact, these women are still leading organizations that contribute to
deep wealth inequality, global inequities, war - then, I don`t -- you maybe
what we need is more feminists in the leadership, not more women in the

KAUR: I think it`s essential to understand the problem as systemic and not
fundamentally personal. Look, I feel myself between two very different sets
of women. On the one hand, as a woman of color from a family of
immigrants, I have seen women who have been leaned on for generations, my
aunt works double shifts at a sweets factory. She makes baklava, she used
to bring home platters of baklava every holiday season and then disappear
to take care of the kids. And my elderly grandparents until they died. No
amount of leaning in could change what work life policies could do for her.


KAUR: So she and my mother, our aunts encouraged all the girls in my
family to succeed. Here I am. I have gone to Ivy League colleges, I`m
connected to a whole different set of women who are entering very powerful
professions. Now, in our 30s and we are horrified to realize that what we
have been fighting for is another version of sacrificing our own lives. We
are in jobs that cause us to work all the time --


KAUR: That don`t give us flexible hours --


KAUR: And don`t give us meaningful paternity -- maternity leave, but don`t
give us a track to slowdown and stay -- still stay on course for long-term
promotions. We even found men who share our egalitarian values, but we are
not in structure that allow us to put those values into practice.


KAUR: That`s why the system is what we need to be talking about.

HARRIS-PERRY: Valarie, this is exactly what I`m going to talk about as we
come back from the break. Because this question of, you know, are we just
saying, well, it should be all work -- and so if everybody work harder and
harder, like everybody is a cog in the wheel, not, though, -- I mean I kind
of like the idea of telling wealthy white girls to work harder, because
like, you know, poor black girls have been told to work harder the whole
time --


HARRIS-PERRY: So I am down with that, but after the break, the other
celebrity tech executive who is turning heads every time she speaks. How
Yahoo!`s Marissa Mayer factors in all this. Sandberg is not Mayer, but
they are buddies.


HARRIS-PERRY: Making news as one of the few women at the top of the tech
industry means Sheryl Sandberg has inevitably drawn comparisons to the
other woman at the top of the tech industry making headlines. That woman
happens to be Sandberg`s friend, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer. The last month
Mayer became a lightning rod for criticism, when she issued this edict to
her employees: "Work in the office, or don`t work at all. Sandberg`s move
to ban telecommuting was a policy change meant to help bolster the
struggling company, but the message became muddled because of the
messenger. After she became the first pregnant CEO last year, Mayer built
a nursery in her office, which also made her a CEO working alongside her
baby, only her new policy ensured that she`d be one of the few women at
Yahoo! with that luxury. Now, that said, I really want to work alongside
my baby. I mean -- I don`t get it.

REID: That does not sound --

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, that`s the whole point, you are supposed to go to work
because the baby is crying --


REID: Why would you want to bring the crying to the job? I don`t even --

HARRIS-PERRY: And there must be a child care provider as well. I think
she has a nanny.


VANDEN HEUVEL: She should -- so, first of all, (inaudible) resume, but if
a guy had done this, he wouldn`t have gotten nailed, but you cannot build a
nursery for your own kid, tell employees, women many of them, that they
cannot stay at home or have flexibility. She should build a daycare center
at Yahoo! pronto --


VANDEN HEUVEL: And, you know, say, listen, at "The Nation," where I work,
where I am the editor, lot of women -- we`ve got a lot of women, we have
Melissa as a columnist, we have -- like it`s all women editors. You`ve got
to have some flexibility. On the other hand I have to say, when a lot of
people are at home, the office is, you know, you don`t have the great
spirit, the conversation, the debates, so it`s -- again, it is either/or,
but she did it badly. Betsy Reid, our executive -- well, she was on the
Yahoo! chat yesterday --


VANDEN HEUVEL: And it was all about this Yahoo! White House reporter who
needs to pump, she just had the baby, and the White House does not have the
place yet. You know, the Affordable Care Act --


VANDEN HEUVEL: -- they will add it.


VANDEN HEUVEL: But Betsy doing the chat was advised by the Yahoo! people,
let us not discuss the telecommuting issues --


VANDEN HEUVEL: Let us focus on the pumping.


VANDEN HEUVEL: And, you know, you kind of -- let`s have some dissent and
debate about this, too.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And this is a question about sort of -- what are we
integrating into. So, I -- on the one hand, I want to say, all right. If
you are going to run a corporation, good, great. And I want you to sort of
have this track, and this -- and I want to talk about the structures that
we can build to make it easier. You know, I taught at Princeton under a
president who was a woman who had been a single - was a woman, she is a
woman, Shirley Tilghman, she had been a single mom coming up through the
ranks of being a laboratory scientist and she got it, right. So she
introduced all kinds of policies that life easier for Princeton faculty,
but nobody wants to hear that she made life easier for Princeton faculty,
because, oh, boo boo, Princeton faculty have it so bad. So I think part of
that is that question of like -- what is the fundamental thing that we are
talking about when we are talking about corporate America, and can women
change that thing so that we value life as much as we do profit.

COLE: Women can absolutely change that thing, and the reality is structure
dictates function, and women do have to change the structure, but one woman
can`t do it. Women have to do it together, we have to build the bridge
between those who are in the corporate elite group that seem to have all
the access in the world and young women who are coming up. We have to
bookend this argument, we have to bookend the activity, start at global
economic forum levels, Davos, you know, global governments, but also
started elementary schools and high schools and fundamentally change the
structure of organizations, the work schedule, time, the quality of work,
not quantity of work.

HARRIS-PERRY: Part of what`s interesting about the mentoring piece, I mean
the part that you are talking about, I just think we tend to think women
have to mentor other women, and one of Sandberg`s clear points is that it
was Larry Summers and a variety of men who already had access to power who
helped to bring her along and it felt to me like that was in part saying,
men, this is your responsibility to diversify this workforce.

REID: Right. And I think that women harm themselves when they wait around
for only a woman mentor, anyway, because, I mean I`ve had in my career a
lot of men who have stepped forward and said, you know, I will give you an
opportunity. You know, I mean my boss that hired me is a man, right, David
Wilson, so I mean you have a diversity of potential mentors, but at the
same time, too, you know, we don`t necessarily get the same feedback from
even our attempts to super -- you know, to supersede all the barriers,
right? You have women who have made the choice to really pursue their
careers and all people talk about it. Why isn`t she married? Right, you
have women who have a child, and then people say, why would she sabotage
her career to have a baby?


REID: And then you have even this case of this woman who`s become the bad
guy with building the nursery on the side, and then to Katrina`s point,
well, you know, she is trying to make a choice to be flexible, but, at the
same time, and I think, legitimately so, why is not she being fair to
employees, and then I think about women who are in positions like my mom,
like your mom, people who have to work and who -- they don`t even have the
option to --

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. This is not even a conversation.

REID: This is not even something that they can ask their boss to do, they
just have to figure out a way to get the kids cared for, to some daycare
somewhere or find the family (ph) and get to work, because they will just
be fired if they can`t have ..


HARRIS-PERRY: And so, and one I want to keep our eyes there, and I want to
say, OK, look, you know, for most people this is not even a choice, and
this notion of where you`re going to -- you know, what kind of great child
care you are going to have, but on the other hand, there is something that
we lose in feminism if we don`t point out that even at the top gender
remains a disprivilege, right, if we just say, OK, well, once you are
wealthy and white, don`t worry, gender is unimportant, right, part of
feminism is the recognition that even at the top it matters and again, as
much as I want to talk about the structures, and I do, I also -- there is
something we can learn about from how men walk through the world, right?


HARRIS-PERRY: With just this sense of like, you know, this has always been
my point about Sarah Palin, she ran for office like a man. Who care that
she was not qualified, she ran for -- I mean men run for office unqualified
-- sometimes they are president twice when they are unqualified --


REID: Well --

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, just saying.

KAUR: I think to answer any of these questions about how we encourage
other women on a personal level or how we make structural changes, we have
to start with the question of what is the good life? What does the good
life consist of? Right now the entire discourse is being dominated by two
representations of female women who are CEOs, corporate executives and I`m
afraid that they don`t really capture the full measure of success, what
success means to us as young women and men coming up in our 30s. Just last
night I was speaking with my dear friend Jessica who is an academic about
how the models of success out there making it to the top, juggling --


KAUR: -- the family and career, having the cradle in your office --


KAUR: -- how all of those things, you know, don`t -- are not appealing
to us if it means a sacrifice of our own wellness and health. What we want
is a balanced and flexible life. We want to be creative and productive, we
want to make a difference in the world. We want enough money, not a lot of
money, enough --


KAUR: -- to live without fear, we want to be able to take care of our
friends and families and communities. We want to succeed, but not at the
expense of our own wholeness.

HARRIS-PERRY: I don`t know.

REID: And some women just want to succeed.

VANDEN HEUVEL: And some women just want to be at the top.

HARRIS-PERRY: And that might be OK, too.

REID: But you know, I go back to Mary Tyler Moore and prime time feminism

VANDEN HEUVEL: There you go.

REID: That show is important, because it did not define her by her family

VANDEN HEUVEL: That`s right.

REID: -- or her husband.


VANDEN HEUVEL: Yes, it was a different representation of success and
happiness and don`t forget Rhoda and then Phyllis, you know, they both had
their own lives. So, I think you have to allow a diversity of measures of
success, because there are Sheryl Sandbergs who do want to be in the
corporate structure. I`m not as optimistic as you are about the ability of
women to take on the corporate --


VANDEN HEUVEL: -- the economy in this country, I think you need
movements --

HARRIS-PERRY: And in fact, there is a very particular set of policies I
want to talk about as we come back on this questions, because we do - I` am
worried that all this talk as important as it is, distracts us from some of
the real dangers to women out there in the world.


HARRIS-PERRY: Encouraging women to choose to lean into their work assumes
that women have the freedom to make that choice in the first place, but
take away women`s reproductive options, and suddenly there are very few
choices left at all, and simply summoning the will power to lean in means
nothing when there are policy makers using their political power to shut
women out. We got a harsh reminder this week when Arkansas Republican-
controlled legislature passed the most restrictive abortion law in the
country. After overriding a veto from Democratic Governor Mike Beebe, the
Republican majority voted to ban abortions of 12 weeks of pregnancy. A
direct contradiction to the Supreme Court`s decision in Roe v. Wade. So on
the one hand, we are talking about builder - we`ve got to build a lot of


HARRIS-PERRY: And they won`t (ph) put any money into it.


VANDEN HEUVEL: If men could get pregnant, you`ve heard this story, this
stuff would not even be going on in any states, but don`t forget also, this
past week, the Violence Against Women Act, and how many months did it take
to move out of this Tea Party-dominated House. Anyway, it is you are
right, I mean the barriers to equality and inclusion are really staggering
in the 21st century.

HARRIS-PERRY: And these are - it`s - look, we started with Mary Tyler
Moore, right, part of the reason Mary Tyler Moore happens on television is
because of the pill --

VANDEN HEUVEL: That`s right.

HARRIS-PERRY: It`s because of sort of this movement towards women`s
capacities --

VANDEN HEUVEL: Equal rights. Yes.

HARRIS-PERRY: -- . to control their reproductive capacities and if they
can`t, then the rest of this is all just, meh, meh, meh talk.

REID: No, I agree, and I have been struck by the obsession that a set of
men in this country have with controlling women`s reproduction from the
birth control issue to abortion. It is an obsession with saying, we will
even use the power of the state - even though we, the same conservatives
say the state should not be in our lives, it shouldn`t control our ability
to buy 18 uzis, right --


REID: But they should be able to tell women, to order women, this isn`t -
people have to understand, these anti-abortion laws are essentially the
state ordering a woman to give birth.


REID: Forced birth. It`s not prolife.

HARRIS-PERRY: And in Iowa, they`re also going to force you, the state -
well, there is a possibility that they`ll force you to stay married, so
Tedd Gassman who is - who is a state congressman in Iowa introduced a
controversial bill about eliminating no-fault divorce, and I would like to
listen to Tedd Gassman tell us why he would like to do that.


STATE REP. TEDD GASSMAN (R ), IOWA: There is a 16-year-old girl in this
whole mix now. Guess what, what are the possibilities of her being more
promiscuous, what are the possibilities of all of these other things
surrounding her life that a 16-year-old girl with hormones raging can get
herself into.


HARRIS-PERRY: So - so, he wants people to not be able to get divorced
because their 16-year-old daughters might go out to have premarital - I
mean - that`s --



HARRIS-PERRY: -- obsession with controlling women`s live.

REID: And who are they having sex with? Oh, there is just like a fathom
at the other end of the transaction? These are boys doing some stuff.



VANDEN HEUVEL: But this is really serious. Because --


VANDEN HEUVEL: I mean the good news is, that there are more and more men,
I think, who get it --


VANDEN HEUVEL: We were talking about some ugly comments on, you know,
these Internet sites, which allow these people to speak in ways, but more
and more men understand they need to be partners. They understand that
they need to be partners in reproductive rights and all of it, because it
affects the family, it affects their lives. But you do have a movement
here that wants to overturn the civilizing advances that women fought so
hard for in the 20th century, just -- and that requires more than just
leaning in, it requires leaning in, but also a movement, and not just one
woman, but, you know, and the groups that Sheryl Sandberg is going to form,
we haven`t talked about them, this is sort of corp -- the little bit
corporate social marketing, but if you could bring women together and build
a movement out of that, all the power --

HARRIS-PERRY: Also, (inaudible), and in fact, what they may have to do is
lean out a little bit from work in order to have time to do the community-
based organizing and to write their senators and their congressmen to stop
the crazy town. I have one piece of advice for young women going into the
careers though, don`t smile and nod unless you are happy and agree. I am
just saying. OK. Katrina Vanden Heuvel and Kat Cole, thank you so much
for joining us. Joy and Valarie are back later on the show, but up next:
the mayor behind the new kind of mommy war: my letter of the week is after
the break.


HARRIS-PERRY: Whatever choices women make at work and in life, those
choices are easier if they delay child bearing. Having a kid while you are
still a teenager can seriously curtail your options, which is why it is
good news that American teen pregnancy rates are at historic lows. The
rate of teen pregnancy has been falling since 1991, and dropped again
dramatically in the last four years. So I must ask, why in the world as
the crisis is abating and fewer teens are facing the challenges of early
child rearing would the city of New York spend $400,000 on a campaign to
publicly shame teen parents? Seeking an answer in this week`s letter goes
to the man who signed off on that campaign.

Dear Mayor Michael Bloomberg, it is me, Melissa. What happened? I mean,
Mr. Mayor, you have an enviable track record of supporting reproductive
rights and advocating for common sense proven strategies that reduce
unwanted and unplanned teen pregnancy. You mandated comprehensive age-
appropriate sex education in schools. You have worked to make sure that
birth control is available to young people, so they can make wise
decisions, and delay becoming parents, and the city`s teen pregnancy rate
has declined more than 27 percent in the last decade, good job. But then
this week, these, shall we say, troubling posters began appearing all
around the city, each one featuring a well fed gorgeous, but obviously
distressed toddler who is viewing questionably interpreted data and plenty
of social shame at his or her mythical parent. Things like, if you finish
high school, get a job and get married before having children, you have a
98 percent chance of not being in poverty.

No, no, no. You see, Mr. Mayor, that is what I am talking about. You know
full well that poverty has increased even as teen pregnancy has decreased.
And the child poverty is much more closely linked to low wage work and
barriers to employment than it is to maternal age. And you know that
poverty among African Americans and Latinos has increased, even though
those communities have seen the most dramatic decreases in teen pregnancy.
That is the kind of misleading statistics that might lead some people to,
you know, blame young mothers for America`s deepening poverty crisis rather
than putting the blame where it belongs, on a financial system that
concentrates wealth at the top and public policies that entrench it there.

And then there is this poster. "Honestly, mom, chances are, he won`t stay
with you, what happens to me?" I am really rendered speechless, but this
one, just - I mean I cannot -- in a society that constantly tells black
girls and women through popular culture and public policy that we are
easily disposable, unmarriagable and wholly unlovable, this image of a
child mocking her young mother with partner abandonment is simply a step
too far, maybe you don`t realize this, Mr. Mayor, but most of us who were
raised by single moms never had any interest in shaming them. We tend to
praise them, recognize their sacrifices and see all the ways they worked to
make the world better for us even when it was hard for them. So, listen
up, Mr. Mayor, I know you have kind of a thing about labeling as public
health strategy, you can`t even so much as buy a falafel from a street
vendor in the city these days without having to read a label with all the
nutritional information attached. OK? That`s fine. And reducing teen
pregnancy is a worthy goal, but keep your labels off these young people.
Sincerely, Melissa.


HARRIS-PERRY: It is still a pretty big deal as a writer to have your first
book published or any book for that matter, it`s another thing altogether
to have the support of literary powerhouses like Toni Morrison and Salman
Rushdie. I mean, talk about having the big dogs in your corner. But that
is the case for the new book, "Ghana Must Go." It has a big buzz behind
it, and rightfully so. It is a masterfully crafted work of fiction, and it
tells the story of a man`s death, a man who abandoned his family 16 years
earlier and how his loss serves as the beginning of their healing process,
equally important is the book`s focus on the immigrant presence, the
struggles immigrants go through and how we as a society can begin to think
about the benefits and contributions and realities, the humanity of those
who we label as immigrants. So I am so happy to welcome the author of
"Ghana Must Go," Taiye Selasi.


HARRIS-PERRY: It is lovely to have you here.

SELASI: It`s my pleasure.

HARRIS-PERRY: I want to start by asking you about the movement to writing,
becoming a writer.


HARRIS-PERRY: We have been talking a little bit this morning about this
idea of women making choices, and I was reading this lovely interview with
you in "Elle" where you talk about making a choice between the boy and the
book. All right.


HARRIS-PERRY: And ultimately deciding on the book. How do you choose this
path for yourself?

SELASI: I think that what was happening for me in that moment, and I
imagine that it may happen for many women is that I had fallen absolutely
in love with absolutely the wrong person.


SELASI: The good news is, I was already absolutely in love with writing,
and so it was at a time when I had written the first part of "Ghana Must
Go" and I was tasked to write the second and the third, and I was
experiencing a writer`s block for many other reasons, fear foremost amongst
them, but being in this relationship and trying simply to be something that
I wasn`t, was literally preventing me from being what I was. And I say in
order the write authentically, I think, one has to be authentic, especially
for a woman, you have to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and know
that you are doing the best you can every day. And when I woke up in the
morning and I knew I was doing the same - that wasn`t true. And so, I
found that when I was able to master the courage to be by myself and to be
with myself, I was also able to finish this text.

HARRIS-PERRY: And the book is courageous in part. I just have to tell
you, I loved every moment that I spent with it. It`s courageous in part,
because it is poetic even as it is fictional, it is -- and it feels so
real. There is a sense of embodying these characters. You write men, you
write women, you write younger people, you write older people, tell me a
little bit about that process of embodying?

SELASI: Sure. I mean it is a bit - it is a bit of a magic act in a way
what a writer does I think. Sometimes I read passages that I have written
and I literally ask myself, where on earth did that come from? I am
neither a mother nor a wife nor an old man nor dead --


SELASI: -- . tell these stories. And I believe them. And I think what
finally comes to you, is that what you`re doing is, you are experiencing
the humanity of others, and that I know. I am a human being, so I am not a
mother, but I have loved. I am not a father, but I have wanted. I am not
dead, but I have feared. And I think of my experience as a human being as
equipping me to receive truths about other experiences, and I just do the
best I can to render that truth and to do so beautifully.

HARRIS-PERRY: I want you to share a passage with Nerdland, with our
audience --


HARRIS-PERRY: -- about this specific experience of the African immigrant
experience within the context of the black experience, but much more
importantly the border crossing reality of what it means to be both human
and immigrant, if you could share this passage that I love.

SELASI: Absolutely. So, at this point, Kweku Sai is on his last legs.


SELASI: Yes, I mean we are one page from his death, and he says this. He
says, "To have dared to become, to escape would have sufficed. To be free
if one wants swelling strings, to be human, beyond being citizen, beyond
being poor. It was all he was after in the end, a human story, a way to be
Kweku beyond being poor. To have somehow unhooked his little story from
the larger ones, the stories of country and of poverty and of war, that had
swallowed up the stories of the people around him and spat them up
faceless, nameless villages, cogs, to have fled thus unhooked on the small
SS Sai for the vastness and smallness of life free of want, the petty
triumphs, and defeats of the self, profession, family, versus those of the
state, grinding work, civil war, yes this would have been quite enough
Kweku thinks. Born in dust, dead in grass. Progress, distant shore

HARRIS-PERRY: Distant shore reached. It is an exquisite book. Thank you
so much for joining us today.

And coming up next, how I almost ended up working as a funeral director.
And also, the connection between guns, race and mental health. There is
more Nerdland at the top of the hour.

I really loved this.


HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.

It`s been 85 days since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left
20 children and six adults fatally wounded.

Eighty-five days since that tragedy sparked a national dialogue about gun
control. And in that time, a great deal has happened to keep the momentum
going for change.

This week was no different. On Wednesday, former Congresswoman Gabby
Giffords returned to the scene of the shooting that left her severely
impaired and killed six people two years ago. And still in recovery,
Giffords was only able to offer a few words this week in her unceasing
effort to keep the national spotlight on gun control reform.

Not to be outdone, the NRA has been ramping up its efforts, to block any
regulations. And in their control is the lucrative gun manufacturing
lobby, which has seen fantastic earnings in the past quarter.

On Tuesday, Smith & Wesson reported quarterly earnings of three times a
year ago, with sales of $136 million.

Fellow gun maker Strum, Ruger and Company had a stellar quarter with sales
of $142 million.

On Friday, a new market of potential gun marketers opened up to them, why?
Because the governor of South Dakota signed into law a bill making the
state the first in the nation to specifically allow teachers to carry
firearms in classrooms.

But those fighting for gun control are keeping the pressure on. Today, a
team of 26 cyclists departed from Sandy Hook, Connecticut, on a journey to
take them 400 miles to Washington, D.C. to honor those 26 lives lost in the
Newtown elementary school massacre.

And a new polling of the advocacy organization Mayors Against Gun Violence
shows support for background check measures is extremely strong even in
Republican-controlled district. They found that on average, in the 41
congressional districts polled, 89 percent of voter supported background
checks for all, all, all gun sales.

And yet, the will of the people is not getting through to those on Capitol
Hill, and while there are several bills before the Senate Judiciary
committee, only one has made it to be go through committee.

On Thursday, legislation making gun trafficking a federal crime made it
through committee with only one Republican signing.

Despite high hopes for bipartisan bill expanding background checks, all gun
buyers, it stalled in talks this week, signaling that comprehensive gun
control reform has a tough road ahead.

With me today is the mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut, Bill Finch. He is a
member of Mayors Against Gun Violence. Also, MSNBC contributor and
managing editor of, Joy Reid. Dr. Jonathan Metzl, professor of
psychology at Vanderbilt University and author of "Protest Psychosis" and
Valarie Kaur, a writer and filmmaker, and senior fellow at Auburn Seminary.

All right. Mayor, is it possible to get meaningful legislation on gun
control in the next year?


You know, mayors have been working very hard on this issue for a long time.
My city, unfortunately, very, very close to new town. My police chief
lives in Newtown, and one of our teachers in Bridgeport lost a 6-year-old
son, the same age as my son. And it deeply impacted our local community.

But I have seen that the debate really has changed. Mayors that are a
little more tepid, perhaps because of their more conservative areas,
basically, everybody is throwing the caution to the wind I think and
saying, listen, you know, the people are here. They`re with us. The wind
is at our backs.

We`ve got 89 percent in your mayors against the illegal guns poll. We`ve
got 81 percent against the assault weapons. So, we`ve got to tighten the
gun show loophole -- 6.6 million guns a year are getting into people`s
hands without any background check at all. That means people who are
stalkers, terrorists, domestic violence, and the like.

It is a lot that has been talked about in mental health. I think that`s an
important part of it. But I think the most important thing is we`ve got to
reduce the supply of guns that are out there, and the mayors are trying to
do that.

HARRIS-PERRY: But when you say that -- when you say, reduce the supply of
guns that are out there, Joy, that means that folks who are making money,
who are making these guns will have fewer profits, and that is really a
sticking point, right? It`s not the 89 percent of people who say get the
background checks. It`s these folks that make this saying, if you want
fewer of these, that`s fewer dollars in my pocket.

JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM: Right. And it`s also the fact that the gun
industry understands where its market is going, that they`re not selling
more shotguns, they`re necessarily selling more pistols. They are selling
more semiautomatics.

So, they`re very reluctant to sign on to anything that would --

HARRIS-PERRY: Is that because the deer are faster?

REID: The deer are super faster, they were aggressive, you know? But, no,
I mean --

FINCH: And how many hunters shoot more than two bullets anyway?

REID: Right. And I don`t think hunters are the ones buying the guns, you
know? It`s people who are doing the survivalist stuff. It`s people who
are doing the sort of camps that are attached to gun shows where you out
into the woods and pretend that you`re in the military and that kind of
thing, it`s gaming.

And then it`s also collectors. It`s people -- we did a forum and I think
the three of us together, Jonathan and the mayor and I.

And I was talking about a guy I met in Mississippi who is a conservative
Republican. We had a really great, long conversation. He said, look, I
didn`t have guns and I was not interested of them, but when we heard that
the president was going to be doing gun control, I went out and I started
buying them. And then when I heard it was focus --

HARRIS-PERRY: Because they will be valuable.

REID: They`re valuable. So you have people collecting them, too.

So, the gun industry understands they have to support the industry where
their bread is butter and that`s right now on semiautomatics.

HARRIS-PERRY: You`ve got to love free market capitalism. It`s like, oh,
this is going to be rare, let me get some.

FITCH: But don`t forget, it`s a product that you don`t have any liability.
You can sell these things willy-nilly, dump in the middle of Main Street
Bridgeport, Connecticut, and you`ve got no liability when they start
killing people.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. Even though you don`t have ill intention,
it`s the second and the third owner.

Valerie, you have -- I mean, we have talked about Newtown as the moment
sort of where the death of children becomes so appalling that we are
unwilling to sit still any longer. Before that, at the Oak Creek shooting
in the Sikh temple, you`ve been deeply with the community there.

And I`m wondering what that community is saying at this point, as we`re
finally getting some momentum?

months on the ground in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. And, in fact, in December, I
was flying from Wisconsin to Connecticut the moment our plane landed is
when we got the news that the shooting had happened in my own backyard, in
your city, and so I was traveling from the site of one mass shooting to
another, and I think what it`s has been producing in the Sikh community and
every community that has faced gun violence is the realization that it`s
not one community`s struggle anymore.


KAUR: That for the first time in recent history, we have a critical mass
of people across faiths, across race, across regions, across any and all
demographics who are coming together to call for an end to gun violence.

This is something new beneath all the noise that a movement has emerged. I
think it`s an extraordinary moment for action.

(INAUDIBLE) 18-year-old young man who lost his mother in that mass killing
at Sikh (INAUDIBLE) last year. He goes (INAUDIBLE) to the every week to
sit in the spot where his mother was killed and the spot where the FBI
wrapped her body to be close to her.

This young man, this heart-broken young man, the shy young man working with
the Sikh coalition had the courage to take us to the halls of Congress. He
became the first Sikh-American in U.S. history to testify before the

And he called for an end to violence not just against Sikh-Americans, but
against all people. And, you know what? That room, he wasn`t alone. That
room was filled with African-American, Latino, Muslim, Christian, Jewish-
Americans, all of these communities that had been touched by gun violence.

And so the gun lobby, while it`s powerful, while it has a lot of money, I
think it`s no match for the energy in that room.

HARRIS-PERRY: So. All right. Then help me understand something because
on the one hand, I have -- I am looking at the Quinnipiac poll, right, that
tells me that there is enormous support for universal background checks, at
88 percent of registered voters, and even 85 percent of gun owners
themselves, and 83 percent of conservatives say, all right, what we want is
background checks.

At the same time, right, I`m looking at gun sales and gun sales since
Newtown, 7 million. So, on the one hand, we want to restrict it -- is this
on the one hand, we all see ourselves as possibly this child in this
community, but we also somehow think we`ve got to be armed against this
potential shooter?

panel last night at NYU that talked about this. And we talked about the
anxiety that surroundings this issue, there`s the discourse of kind of
othering, where it`s like I support background checks as an idea, but
actually I also need to protect myself gain against somebody else.

Joy and I also knew that we had known dentists who started buying pistols
to arm themselves against, you know, this kind of random threats of people

HARRIS-ERRY: Dentists like the people who work on teeth?

METZL: Yes. And like don`t make set up to the (INAUDIBLE), exactly. And
I think what happen is when we looked at this on a cultural level is that
even though people support this idea in theory, that there are historical
stereotypes and certainly we saw the othering of the mentally ill that
happened right after Newtown.

So, remember that the NRA press conference where Wayne LaPierre got up and
the press conference was coded with all of these historical terms about the
delusional crazy people, and stigma of mental ill jumped up even though as
we have seen in the tag line for the show, people with that far more people
are going to be shot, and they should be arming themselves against sane

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, in fact, yes, right. So hold it, because there`s
another NRA moment where they are going specifically on very interesting
complex ideas.

I want to look at this NRA advertisement with their new spokesman an
African-American named Colion Noir.

Let`s listen.


COLION NOIR, NRA: No one wants to fight for the protection. They want the
government to do it. The same government who are one point hosed us down
with water, attacked us with dogs and wouldn`t allow us to eat at their
restaurants and told us we couldn`t own guns when mumbling fools with
sheets on their head were riding around burning crosses on our lawns and
murdering us.


HARRIS-PERRY: So we need guns to protect us from the Klan?

I mean, don`t get me wrong. I mean, don`t get me wrong, like, because
there`s a historical argument there, but it also feels like --

FINCH: Not in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Or Newtown.


METZL: And Joy kind of helped me put a piece on this week
about this very issue and there`s going to be a big debate about it, and
the point I was making on the editorial is that that`s actually a piece
that`s on the NRA Web site.


METZL: So you put an angry black man with a gun on the Web site. There
are not a lot of African-Americans who are actually logging on to that with
regularity. It taps into historical anxieties that actually a bunch of
angry white guys who go buy guns.

HARRIS-PERRY: But seeing him, right?

METZL: Exactly.

HARRIS-PERRY: If I am an NRA member, if I`m the person who those guns are
for, then seeing him meant to prompt me to buy the off (ph).


HARRIS-PERRY: We are going to stay on this I promise right here. I know,
there is so much more, because when we come back, I do want to come back to
continue on this question of the folks for whom it hits home. We`ve got a
congressman joining us as soon as we come back.


HARRIS-PERRY: Despite momentum flagging on gun control in Congress, a
bipartisan -- yes, I said bipartisan -- group of represents may have found
one bill they can all get behind. Last month, the Gun Trafficking
Prevention Act of 2013 was introduced by the House Judiciary Committee and
the bill seeks to make drug trafficking a federal crime with the intent to
stop straw-buyers who purchase the guns and give them to felons.

One of the bill`s cosponsors, Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings of
Maryland, suffered a personal tragedy two years ago when his 20-year-old
nephew Christopher Cummings was gunned down in a random shooting at his
college apartment near Old Dominion University in Virginia. The
congressman says that this painful loss helped to inspire his strong
support for gun control measures, and he joins us from Baltimore.

Thank you for being here, Congressman.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: It`s good to be with you.

HARRIS-PERRY: Now, I want to tap into this, because it does feel to me
like the personal piece of this is part of the intensity. So tell me how
this personal loss impacted your position on guns.

CUMMINGS: Well, first of all, I have been a strong advocate of trying to
make sure that the guns do not get into the hands of the wrong people. But
when my nephew was killed at 5:00 in the morning and somebody busted into
his apartment, and he was an honor student at Old Dominion, and a junior,
paid his own tuition, and then they tried to rob him and killed him, shot
him to death, and then go until a few days later to see his blood and my
blood, by the way, splattered on the walls and then to see tissue from his
body on the walls and on the floor, a young man who had just a few days
earlier been talking to me, and looking forward to going on to law school,
it leaves a pain.

And as I listen to the panel, a lot of the things, Melissa, I think a lot
of people don`t understand what a force this is. There are a lot of people
who have suffered a family member being killed. Or injured by somebody
using firearms, and what happens, and I -- although I have been to
funerals, I live in the inner city of Baltimore --


CUMMINGS: -- and I have seen it, it`s nothing like going through it.


CUMMINGS: When you go through it, there is something that what happens is
the pain turns into a passion, and you -- and then you want to carry out
your purpose. That purpose is to make sure it never happens to anybody
again, so when your guests were talking about this coalition that is now
building, sadly, the coalition is building everyday, because more and more
people are going through this.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right, right.

CUMMINGS: And I can tell you that in the end the NRA is going to be no
match for these folk, because they will address this issue until they die
with a passion.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, I think that this point is so key. I want to come out
to you, Valerie, because I think the congressman is suggesting just what
you suggested that there is something about the personal raw experience of
loss that changes people as advocates.

KAUR: Yes, whether it is children on a Connecticut morning in a school or
a Sikh worshippers on a Sunday morning or African-Americans on a street
corner in Chicago, this is touching every single one of us in a deeply and
personal and painful way.

And, just now, we are finding a way to channel the energy into organizing.
This week, Newtown clergy members sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary
Committee, working with PICO. The letter presents a moral mandate on ban
of assault weapons and high capacity magazines, asking for enforceable
background checks and asking for an end to gun trafficking which we saw
made some progress this week. Thousands of people are going to to sign that letter and 200 faith communities
around the country are hosting gun prevention Sabbaths this coming weekend.

Things are happening. Everyday people have opportunities to make change on
this issue.

HARRIS-PERRY: Congressman, and yet, we know that translating that passion
into policies still requires the work of policy makers so I want to ask you
specifically about, there are three Democratic senators, Mark Warner of
Virginia, where your nephew was killed, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Bob Casey
of Pennsylvania, all of them are senators, all of them are Democrats, and
yet, there is some reason to believe they are more highly influenced by the
NRA than by losses of their own constituents.

CUMMINGS: Well, I cannot say who influences them, but I can tell you this
-- the NRA has a very powerful image. And that image has been that if you
do anything that even touches guns in any way, they are going to come after

In other words, they are going make sure that they try to find somebody
possibly to run against you. They are going to make sure that, that person
is supplied with the money they need. They may put out ads against you.
And that has been the history of the NRA.

But I`ll tell you, when I watched what happened here in Chicago with the
election of the -- well, the primary election of the young lady and
Bloomberg coming in, Mayor Bloomberg putting the money in that race, that -
- I think that, the more that happens, the more it will be -- people will
be emboldened to do the right thing.

But again, the NRA is very, very powerful. And the image, the image, and
the idea that you`re going to have these folks coming after you with ads
and millions and millions of dollars, and people want to retain their

HARRIS-PERRY: Right, sure.

CUMMINGS: And so, that`s a problem.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. That`s job number one, is to get re-elected, but I
like this point that as we change people power, then, in fat, that job
number one to get re-elected does start to shift.

Thank you to Congressman Elijah Cummings in Baltimore.

And up next, we`re going to talk more on this issue. We are not done with


HARRIS-PERRY: I had a very long day in the airport yesterday, although
weather troubles on the East Coast made it hard for me to get here, and I
had a TSA agent say to me, standing in Louisiana. He says, "Melissa
Harris-Perry, I watch your show and I just want to tell you. I`m a hunter,
I have guns, but I believe in background checks."

And that -- that felt to me like, OK, maybe this is where we begin to have
a space to start to build a coalition, Mayor.

FINCH: I think so. You know, before as mayor, I was in the state
legislature, and I chaired the committee that had prevalence and I was pro-
hunting and I made the NRA guys eat that. I said, you got a senator who`s
going to break your coalition apart. Hunters should have no fear, and I
don`t think they do, for the common sense background checks, anti-
trafficking large magazine clips. Hunters don`t have any use for large
magazine clips.

And hunters are Reagan Democrats. Unfortunately, my party losses many
times and I think if we make a distinct effort. And that`s why having Tom
Menino and Mike Bloomberg with Mayors Against Illegal Guns, getting the
polling, finding the sense of people, finding the sense of the NRA members,
finding out where we can hurt them. We can hurt the NRA by appealing to
common sense regulations like the trafficking to background checks, banning
the large magazine clips and the assault weapons that hunters by and large
obviously agree with.

So I think the most important thing for us is to think politically, build
that community consensus, and also one of the things that we talked on the
panel last night is working at the grassroots community level, with the
clergy, doing the take back the night rallies, having the gun buybacks. We
just bought over 700 guns back off of the streets of Bridgeport.
Ironically, the first gun we bought was an AR-15 Bushmaster, just three
weeks after the tragedy.

So -- but the stories at the gun buyback really gave me tremendous courage
that the people are with us. And long-time gun owners saying, I want this
thing out of my house.


FINCH: I don`t want it falling into the wrong hands.

HARRIS-PERRY: Or feeling differently about it.


REID: And I think it`s so true, because I think the gun control movement
has always pursued the strategy of just -- we`re saying the right things.
We`re right. Why doesn`t anybody listening to us.

You have to almost pursue the South Africa strategy. You have to isolate
the NRA. You have to pursue divestiture of these companies, because
pension funds scare them a lot more than the NRA. When you have pension
funds like the California, like CalPERS, saying, we will divest from this
fund if you don`t drop Cerberus that owns the Bushmaster company, that all
of a sudden gets people`s attention.

Or if you have organizations like Mayors of Illegal Guns, saying to a
Democratic senator in Pennsylvania, we will spend $10 million against you
if you don`t vote for this gun control legislation. That scares them more
than the NRA.

HARRIS-PERRY: You have to be strategic.

REID: You have to be strategic.

HARRIS-PERRY: Ethical and moral and social movement, but also strategic.

REID: Right. I think the moral suasion work. I think that the NRA
actually has even admitted, that they thought that the Newtown movement
would pass. They thought people would get over it. It would die down like
it has before. It hasn`t. It`s just building.

So I think that`s part of it. And the social push is really helping the
pro-gun control side. But you`ve also got to have a lot of money and
you`ve got to be willing to use it.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Valarie, I feel like you --

KAUR: Yes.


HARRIS-PERRY: -- I have many things.


KAUR: I have many things, but this is a fight for gun owners, too. I was
raised in a household where my father owned a gun.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, hello?

KAUR: Yes, he was raised on farmland where he used a gun for hunting and
self-defense when it was normal. He was a card-carrying member of the NRA
at a time when the NRA stood for gun control legislation. It wasn`t until
the 1980s that the NRA became the advocacy organization that it is today,
actually proposing more guns as a solution to all of our social ills.

After Newtown, armed schoolteachers. African-American in already saturated
urban areas --

HARRIS-PERRY: More guns.

KAUR: -- pick up more guns.

It`s crazy making, and I think it is absolutely imperative that responsible
gun-owning people who believe in the Second Amendment, like my father, join
the fight, too.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, absolutely.

Don`t go anywhere, we`ve got a lot more to say on this topic, and
specifically, the question of mental health, because this guy, Jonathan
Metzl, he`s a psychiatrist. He`s going to talk to us about these


HARRIS-PERRY: As we wait for our representatives in Congress to vote on
impending gun control legislation that would have a national impact, many
states have acted. Some of the quickest responses came from New York
state, which passed one of the strictest gun control laws in the country in

And it concludes a controversial provision requiring providers of mental
health services to report any patient who makes credible threat of

So, critics are concerned that such a provision stigmatizes the mentally
ill, and runs counter to the (INAUDIBLE). And, in fact, the mentally ill
are more likely to be the victim of a violent crime than the perpetrator.

A new study released this week shows those with mental illness are five
times more likely than the general population to be a victim in a murder.

With statistics like that, it makes you wonder why our legislation is not
seeking to protect them, the mentally ill, from us, the supposedly sane.

I think that this is for me, Jonathan, it`s part of the question. Like, it
feels to me like I hear people say the one thing that we can agree is that
the mentally ill shouldn`t have guns.

And I`m thinking, well, what -- how do you define that and why is that a

METZL: Well, it is funny, because I have been doing a lot of conservative
talk radio over the past month.

HARRIS-PERRY: I`m sorry.

METZL: And actually, it`s to point out to people who are NRA members, but
are disaffected with these extreme policies. And the prevalence of this
thing, or at least we can all agree to get guns away from crazy people to
me is this incredibly entrenched historical stigmatization, and I think
there are two real problems with.

One is that what you suggested is that people with mental illness are, as
an aggregate group, very socially withdrawn, very seriously mentally ill
people are odd, they are far more likely to be targets of violence than the
victims of violence. And so, in a way, the stereotype of the crazy,
mentally ill person is at odds with what`s really happening, which is that
these people need protection more than anything else.

And the second problem is really that there are terrific studies now about
the lessons that we draw, Jeff Swanson (ph) does a bunch of work down at
Duke, but the lessons that we draw from the mass shootings, and a lot of
times we ask the psychiatrists to become prognosticators.


METZL: And there`s some research that looks at if you send 1,000 people
who are -- the fit stereotype of a mass shooter, angry, white male,
paranoid gun-owning, kind of all -- you know, all the main categories, that
psychiatrists really can`t use diagnostic criteria. So, really what we
need to do is not ask psychiatrists to predict who will become a shooter,
but instead to support the foundation of caring for people and the
community of mental health is a far more successful strategy.

HARRIS-PERRY: It feels like a strategy of politics that at least we can
agree that crazy people shouldn`t have guns. But there is a particular
kind of shooting and murder that we`re trying to keep from happening again.
It`s the Newtown that we don`t want to happen again, but the Hadiya
Pendleton, right, there isn`t any particular reason to believe that the
person was mentally ill at least in a classic sense.

KAUR: Yes.

REID: Go ahead.

KAUR: I believe that America`s response to gun violence has really
troubling racial undertones. When the perpetrator is black, brown or
Muslim, America tends to diagnose the problem as a problem with an entire
community, the threat of people. When the perpetrator is white, we start
talking about an individual problem, personal problem, a problem of mental
illness, when as we know only -- less than 5 percent of all violent crimes
committed in the U.S. are committed by people who are mentally ill.

Let`s not forget last August when the perpetrator of the shooting in Oak
Creek, Wisconsin, the gunman who opened up fire in the Sikh (INAUDIBLE) was
likely motivated by hate.


KAUR: And so, you know, the gun lobby pointing fingers to the mental
health system actually is a tragically, now effective diversionary tactic
that further stigmatizes another group instead of putting the focus where
it needs to be.

FINCH: But you know it`s no secret when you go to the legislature, that
it`s usually the conservatives and the Republicans who start talking about
mental health is the real issue. In my city, it`s never -- unless we are
talking about community mental health which I say is a huge issue
especially with young African-American males.

HARRIS-PERRY: And people kind of experiencing post-traumatic mental health
just from living in these communities.

FINCH: Growing up with no dad, growing up with nobody has job, with nobody
who went to college, or nobody has any hope, there are just too many guns.
I mean, that`s the real issue. And I think the one thing we want to make
sure is that America does not get distracted. And you mentioned in between
sets about sequestration.

The president has to come out. It has to stay out on gun control. Forget
everything else.


FINCH: This is a moment of time.


FINCH: I told -- you know, I had to sit with survivors of Newtown and talk
to a large Christian concert or arena down the street from Newtown, and the
parents told me, do not let our children have died without something
happening and make sure it doesn`t happened again.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Don`t let them die again on the sequestration fight,
on these little petty battles that we`ve manufactured when something real.

FINCH: We`ve had the high ground. We have the morale high ground. We
have the political high ground. The most important thing is that we focus
on the magazine clips and the assault weapons, the trafficking and the
background checks.

If we get those four things, we can change America, because American is
awash in guns right now. There`s more guns than there are people.

REID: Right. And I think it`s also important that we not only focus gun
control on trying to stop mass shootings. Mass shootings are the most


REID: But it`s the Hadiya Pendleton type situation, I`m so glad you
mentioned there, those are the more common, or suicides --

METZL: Exactly.

REID: -- when you really are talking about a mental health issue, deep
depression and people who have a handgun. So, I think it`s easier and it`s
sort of more politic in a lot of ways to just talk about crazy people who
are doing a mass shooting and if we can just stop that, but it`s just a
small percentage when there`s the day today degradation of just violence in
inner city communities or suicides. Well, how you do deal with that?

I mean, we`re not going to do a bill that`s going to touch handguns. A lot
the shootings that are taking place in some of these inner cities are gang-
related. So, that`s more of a policing problem. It`s about rooting out
sort of systemic violence within these communities, which is about mental
health, but it`s about a whole lot of other things with poverty and all the
other thing, but I think we do what we can --

FINCH: You know, last night, when I said, there was mostly young people at
NYU, I said, there is going to be a Second Amendment and you`re also going
to have a rightful right to ownership, they`re kind of like, oh, really?


HARRIS-PERRY: Right, right --

FINCH: We are not out to change the Constitution, and the amendments in
the Bill of Rights and they are all legal. But not one amendment in the
Bill of Rights should be more important than the next.

HARRIS-PERRY: There may not always be a Voting Rights Act, but don`t
worry, there always be a Second Amendment.

Thanks, Jonathan Metzl.

The rest is sticking around, because up next, really, I want to tell you
this story about how I almost became a funeral director. Stick around.


HARRIS-PERRY: Parents do it, teachers do it, pastors do it, neighbors do
it, even strangers do it.

When talking to a school aged child, we ask, what do you want to be when
you grow up? And we ask so that we can learn more about the aspirations of
the young person and gain insight in to how they see themselves, but rarely
do we hold them to it. Except when we do.

In the sixth grade I took an aptitude test that asked a battery of tests
about skills and interests. A few weeks later, I got the result. I was
best suited for a job as a funeral director.

So my small town middle school thought it would be best to track me in the
vo-tech track and out of the honors classes. Thankfully, my mother was not
having it and today, I do this instead.

Which is why I`ve been a little bit nervous about a new move in grammar
education to use educational testing to determine career paths for
relatively little kids and to steer them that way long before their dreams
or all of their abilities have even had a full chance to mature.

Joining our panel to either really piss me off or talk me down off the
ledge is Jeff Edmondson, managing director of the Strive Network, a
national cradle-to-career initiative that brings together parents,
community leaders and educators in pre-K through 12 who were committed to
helping kids.

So, talk to me. What do you mean by cradle to career?

mean by cradle to career is that right now, we don`t have to do what they
did to you back in the day. We have enough resources there to support
children that if we were really intentional about how we used all these
resources, we could individualize learning for every single child.

So once we do understand your interests, we shouldn`t just think about the
schoolhouse or the vo-tech as the only options to help you tease out what
you may be interested in. There`s afterschool programs, there`s all -- a
host of resources that if we were to actually be more intentional about
using them, meaning if we were to actually look at the data and say, oh,
you are interested in this that and the other, let`s connect you with the
afterschool program that may expose you to something, but not track you to
some specific career.

HARRIS-PERRY: Talk to me about the data aspect of it, because, you know,
we have been reading about sort of great teachers and the way that great
teachers have the capacity to see that thing that you write and part of how
I end up here and not as a funeral director, although that`s a great
profession and I probably would be wealthier.

But, you know, not having taken that is because there was an English
teacher who saw the thing in me, right? How would data help you to see a
child in that way?

EDMONDSON: So, my wife is a teacher and at home with our two sets of
twins, if you can believe, that and she is just a phenomenal teacher.
She`s one of those people that sees the spark.

But what she had to do is work 90 hours a week, right? She had to work
constantly, because she was all by herself trying to identify these
opportunities and these resources.

Let`s say we actually had a data system where we understood not just how
you were performing academically, but what your interests were, and then we
had all of the services, the nonprofits, the social services, who were
actually able to work with the data to say, you know what, we can
intentionally connect you rather than it being all on the back of the

It`s a community as a whole wrapping around the child to say, we can bring
these resources to bear on your learning and the data is just a tool to
make that happen. Too far, and too much we just let the tools sit on the
side. We put it in a data warehouse. That`s actually bring it to life so
that we can actually understand what a child needs and interested in and
then bring the resources to bear to make sure that child has the
opportunity to learn.

HARRIS-PERRY: But, Joy, part of what I like about how Jeff talks about it
is that we see so much educational data and it`s just testing like at the
end of the semester or the year, let`s test you. And then let`s reward you
or punish you even more.

Is this a stronger and better way for us we can think about using data in

REID: No, I love it, I`m wondering when you can get it started for my
three kids.

Yes, no, I think it`s great because I totally agree with you. My mother
was a college professor and her bane of her existence was multiple choice
tests. She just didn`t believe in them, because all we`re doing with our
kids is we are programming them to guess between four options, the sort of
a cleverness test as opposed to a knowledge test, right? And we are
teaching our kids to be clever and to discern between two wrong options
rather than getting them to actually learn something proactive.

If you then add to that a layer of saying, also, we want to make you
interested, because one of the big problems for kids who are very bright in
school is boredom. And one of the problems for kids who are struggling in
school is that they are tracked into the you are not so smart, so we`re not
going to give you opportunity.

I have dealt with both of those issues within my own household of children
who were very smart, but who weren`t good at testing, and so didn`t get
tracked into the opportunities. The schools my kids are at now, though,
say, wait a minute with my one child that had difficulties in school in
Florida, now, they`re like, you like to write, let`s have you be on the
literary magazine, and that kind of opportunity opens up a child and
actually make them interested in all of the other stuff you are trying to
teach them.

HARRIS-PERRY: And, Mayor, if you`re sort of like -- this is the big
vision, right? Let`s do this sort of wrapping around and the multiple
services that I`ve heard you say we are program-rich but we`re network

FINCH: System poor.

HARRIS-PERRY: System poor, right. Let`s develop the systems. But in that
often requires investment, public investment, to make that happen. If I
come to a mayor and say, is there a way to make this happen?

FINCH: You know, at the U.S. Conference of Mayors, we get around Democrats
and Republicans and we say, there is no way to be a Democratic way to
educate a kid or Republican way to put a fire or fill a pothole. We`ve got
to just be pragmatic.

And the one thing I love about (INAUDIBLE) Jeff`s work and we want him to
come the Bridgeport, we`ve already been talking to him, we have every year
since I`ve been elected six years ago, we`ve had more costs and less money.
So, every year, we wring, wring, wring the budget to try to get whatever we
can out of it.

What`s great about this, all kinds of well-meaning people come to the
cities and want to do good. And at some point, you realize it`s like the
Tower of Babel, everybody is doing their thing, but it`s not coordinated.
You need a outsider like Jeff to come in to come in, read them the Riot
Act, coral them, say, listen, you know, I`m on Mother Teresa`s side over
here, but you know what, we don`t have the numbers, we don`t have the data.
I want to see how you can all work more efficiently.

HARRIS-PERRY: What is it the Riot Act look like? What is it that you come
in to do to people?

FINCH: Read them the Riot Act. What we have developed after learning many
lessons and quite frankly, we have failed forward, right? We`ve done
things wrong a lot.

And we have learned these lessons that we can now bring to communities and
say that there is a framework for how you can build what we would call
civic infrastructure and essentially, there`s four key things. One is that
you need a shared community vision and you`ve got to bring the key
leadership and the practitioners together to share accountability for
results, right?

The second thing is you`ve got to identify some outcomes you want to move.
Eight to 10 outcomes.

In our community, there`s eight, and every time we make a major educational
investment, we vetted against whether or not it`s going to improve
kindergarten readiness or third grade reading or high school graduation.

And then you have to bring the practitioners together, into the networks
you mentioned, right? You have to bring together the practitioners and not
tell them what to do, but empower them with the data. The data is telling
us this works, right? This type of tutoring, for example, really gets
result, how can we spread it across the existing resources rather than
thinking we need some miracle that`s going to just solve all of our

And then the last piece is investment. You need people. I got to wake up
everyday as what we call the chief cat herder to bring all of these
different players together, but you also need investors. The public and
the private investors to say, we`re going to stop doing spray and pray,
right, where we spray resources all over and pray it works out.

We are going to actually focus and we`re going to say, when we find
something that works, how do we actually take that across the existing
program services and systems? That`s power of this. It`s not all snazzy
and this that and the other, but it is essentially what we need to do when
we have limited resources right now, and we have to make do with what we
have got and do more and better work with the time, talent and treasure in

HARRIS-PERRY: You know, interesting, Valarie, it feels like -- all of the
way back to the beginning of the show, when we were thinking of what it
means to be successful, you know, as women and careers is how we were
framing it. But it also feels part of it here is a redefinition of what it
means to have succeeded at educational reform.

KAUR: Yes, what is really exciting me about your model, Jeff, is that
you`re understanding that it takes a ecosystem to allow a child to thrive
and it`s an ecosystem that keeps a child down. What I want to lift up
about what you are doing is that it`s a collective impact model that can be
applied to other social issues, that here we have hundreds of leaders
across sectors, government, nonprofit, education, corporations coming
together around a shared goal in order to effect change.

So it`s no longer the old way of problem solving, where I want to figure
out the cure to cancer in my lab before you do, it`s all of us coming
together to say, this is how we can effect change. This is what we`re
trying to push that groundswell. This is what I`m seeing happening across
the landscape of social change. And this is also what I`m hearing from
young people who are ready for more pragmatic solutions to the huge social
issues that we are facing.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. This is employing the data still with the human
touch and not sort of tracking folks just based on one set of aptitude

EDMONDSON: Absolutely. We would say that there`s really three things you
got to pay attention to.

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, only one, because we only got 15 seconds.

EDMONDSON: Well, then I`ll just say, the number one things, you got to
look at your local data, because chances are that the interventions exist
in your backyard. Don`t act like something in New York is going to save
the day in Dallas or in Portland or in Kalamazoo. Look in your own
backyard and use the data right there to figure out what`s working and lift
it up.

HARRIS-PERRY: I love that.

More in just a moment, but first, it`s time for a preview with Alex Witt.

Hi, Alex.

ALEX WITT, MSNBC ANCHOR: I`m loving this conversation, let me tell you.
So interesting, right up my alley.

Anyway, let`s get to this everyone. The knife fight is on. Today, more
reaction from one group that`s particularly upset over the TSA`s decision
to allow knives on planes. We`re going to talk to the leader of that
group. There is a footnote today that filibuster from Republican Rand Paul
and it involves tea and apple.

Save the rhinos. Two American Special Forces members are now in a new
mission, an ex-Navy SEAL and current Green Beret and their story is scary
and inspiring.

And in office politics, Carl Bernstein, new insight into the former pope`s
sudden departure and Watergate, the most fearful moment during his
investigation of Richard Nixon. It`s a great conversation.

Melissa, back to you.

HARRIS-PERRY: Alex, let me just tell you, I spent, you know, 14 hours in
the airport yesterday with some very irritated passengers and I`ve got to
tell you, I hope none of them were carrying a knife.

WITT: Well, exactly, that point. That point they`re going to make from
the flight attendants, like the last line of defense. No thanks.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, this seems like a bad idea.

WITT: Agreed.

HARRIS-PERRY: Up next, she beat the odds and now, she`s helping other
women to do the same. Our foot soldier this week is leading in by example.


HARRIS-PERRY: We began the show with a look at the challenges facing
working women and the new book urging them to lean in and seize the day.
But before you can lean in, you need skills you can lean on. Before you
can climb the corporate ladder, you have to reach that first rung and
that`s where our first soldier of the week comes in.

Carmella Marrone is the executive of Women and Work Program at Queens
College in New York, which offers free job skills and life skills, and
training to poor women and survivors of domestic abuse. Marrone was
inspired to create the program after overcoming her own tough
circumstances, including a battle with cancer, being hit by a car, divorce,
and financial difficulty.

At the age of 47, Carmella turned her struggle into success and went on to
pursue a Masters degree and a PhD in sociology. She says she wanted women
to know that they really wanted to rebuild their lives, they could. And
that she was living proof.

So, Marrone started women in work in 1998 with just seven participants.
Fifteen years later, the program has helped more than 1,800 women ranging
from teenagers to seniors in their 80s. For 12 weeks, they take classes in
everything from computer training to reading and writing. Women and work
even offers advanced college and masters courses for participants and 85
percent of the graduates enter the workforce and have a retention rate of
three years or more.

It`s not just about finding these women a job. It`s also about finding
them a better life. So, the Women and Work Program offers counseling and
referral services for many of the issues that women face beyond the
workplace. Marrone says every graduate hired is an ambassador for the
program, always looking for the next open spot to help the next woman.


write. They call. They send us pictures.

When we save the lives of women, we save the lives of children and


HARRIS-PERRY: We agree with the viewer who nominated Carmella Marrone. We
need more people like her. So, for choosing in and lead so that many women
in the workplace can have a place, Carmella is our foot soldier of the

And that is our show for today. Thank you to Jeff, Joy, Valarie and Mayor
Finch. And also, thanks to you at home for watching.

Tomorrow, we`re back on TV, 10:00 a.m. Eastern, Ira Glass, host of "This
American Life" from NPR, will be here to talk about Harper High School in
Chicago, the front lines of America`s gun violence epidemic.

And, remember, spring forward. It`s Daylight Savings Time tonight. Set
your clocks ahead.



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