Melissa Harris Perry
updated 7/8/2013 11:48:40 AM ET 2013-07-08T15:48:40

"I'm getting ready to insult somebody" is not what one might expect to hear from a spiritual life coach. However, Iyanla Vanzant said it twice during her appearance on Sunday's Melissa Harris-Perry.

“I’m getting ready to insult somebody” is not what one might expect to hear from a spiritual life coach. However, Iyanla Vanzant said it twice during her appearance on Sunday’s Melissa Harris-Perry, apologizing in advance for doing so. What followed were some scalding comments about the state and direction of American politics.

“Politics doesn’t take people into consideration,” said the author and inspirational speaker to host Melissa Harris-Perry. “They take policies, positions, jobs, alliances–people are the last consideration of politics. Because you can’t tell me that we have this many Congressmen, senators, and nobody understands that in poor neighborhoods, there are no books!”

Joining the host during a live broadcast at the Essence Festival in New Orleans, the author and inspirational speaker added what she said is the cause of political apathy: privilege. “People are hurting. If you’re not a star, if you’re not a celebrity, if you’re not known in the world, you don’t matter in this society, you don’t matter in this society,” Vanzant said. “You matter when someone’s running for office, and they need free help and they need a free vote.”

Harris-Perry noted that too often people’s real stories are turned into caricatures by politicians. Vanzant then issued her second insult warning. “Forgive me, because I’m getting ready to insult somebody. We live in a society in which black and brown people only matter at election time,” she said. “And even when they do matter, black men–who aren’t in the home, who are filling the prisons–are statistics. They’re not people. We don’t think they hurt, we don’t think they cry. Why does a man leave his children? Because his heart is broken.”

Vanzant addressed parental abandonment with Harris-Perry earlier in the discussion, as she is featured on a new episode of the OWN television series Oprah’s Lifeclass that aired Sunday night. The episode dealt with sons growing up without fathers in their lives; a future episode will address daughters in the same situation. See video here.

Video: Vanzant: 'Politics doesn't take people into consideration'

  1. Closed captioning of: Vanzant: 'Politics doesn't take people into consideration'

    bob's doctor recommended a different option: helped me through tough times. as an author and life coach she's been inspiring the masses for decades. she's become one of the most anticipated speakers at the essence festival year after year. i'm telling you, she can barely walk through this hall. she has her own show, "fix my life" on oprah network. oprah's life class series, called "fatherless sons" it airs tonight on own. take a look.

    >> you know, i have done this. if you have a man who is not taking care of his children. that is, a, not the man you have a baby with. and b, you really need to think about if he's not taking care of children he has with someone else, do not delude yourself into thinking he's going to take care of children he has with you.

    >> i'm pleased to welcome iyanla vanzant to nerdland. fatherless sons. 21 million boys growing up without their dads. what difference does that make to our communities?

    >> oh, my god. i think dr. steve perry said it, when a father leaves, he takes your self-esteem with him. so the young men have no model, no demonstration, no example of how to be a man, how to be a father, who to be. just imagine. i have a grandson who doesn't have a father in his life. it's just an overwhelming rage, number one, and sadness, number two. a sense of just not being important. because if you're not important to the man who is responsible for you being here, how do you find your sense of importance in the world? we say that some people, some young men make it well, they have strong moms, grand moms, uncles, grandfather's, but others, overwhelmingly have that hole in their soul.

    >> i'm married to a man who has an extraordinary father. the kind of comfort he feels in himself and the world and his capacity to be a partner to me is extraordinary. i tend to think it has to do with his tight relationship with his dad. on the other hand i see president barack obama who seems to be an incredible father to his children, a wonderful husband to his wife, as far as we can tell, and, of course, managed to be the first african- american president of the united states . he expresses pretty regularly his own sense of anxiety about fatherle fatherlessness. clearly it didn't keep him from being extraordinary. how do you be a fatherless child and yet be a president obama .

    >> you have to look at the environment he grew up in also. he didn't grow up in an environment where there were no male examples at all. he didn't grow up where he was worried about the rent, food, if he was sleeping in a room with six other people. he didn't grow up in an environment where he was called names, where there was not enough books in his school, where he had to walk through all sorts of wonderfulness to get to school. so it's not just the absence of the father but the environment that breeds the limited amounts of value and worth when the father is absent.

    >> that is so valuable to me, that connection between sort of a personal hurt but also the realities of the structures that we exist in.

    >> that's right.

    >> i'm a politics person, social movements , that kind of thing. what is the place of personal healing, of finding our own psychological and emotional wellness in the context of building a social and political movement ?

    >> you know what, it's funny. let me just apologize to everybody right now, because i'm getting ready to insult somebody. so i just want to get that out the way. politics doesn't take people into consideration. they take policies, people, jobs, alliance, people are the last consideration of politics. you can't tell me we have this many congressmen, senators, and nobody understands in a poor neighborhood there are no books. nobody understands this curriculum we're teaching in public school is, a, miseducation. not up to par what you need to be in the world today and doesn't honor the truth and the value, particularly of black and brown people . politics or not. board of educations funded by state, federal, government moneys and we're still teaching the same dishonorable curriculum. politics is not about people. it's about policies and positions.

    >> if there were a way to put people at the center, there might be a way.

    >> might be a different one. i was watching about gun violence and what we're going to do. it's so very sad. while we can say it's happening, it doesn't happen in montana, idaho, where they own guns to shoot their dinner. we need to stop accommodating the condition and address the cause. here is the cause. people are hurting. if you're not a star. if you're not a celebrity, if you're not known in the world, you don't matter in this society. if you are just living your life every single day, you don't matter. you matter if you're running for office and need help and they need a vote, but you don't matter at night when you've got to go into the supermarket and choose between tan food that's going to raise your cholesterol and fresh organic vegetable. you didn't matter then. you don't matter when you're working because daddy isn't in the house. you've got three kids. you were married. you weren't a gutter snipe sleeping around. you had three kids. daddy couldn't get a job. he left the house. now you have to make a choice between rent and health care . you don't matter then.

    >> the story you told is the story of real people . we turn them into cashiricatures.

    >> 6 million people will be hungry. you understand? that's because of one tank. we keep accommodating the condition. forgive me, i'm getting ready to insult somebody. we live in a society where black and brown people only matter at election time. we've got to say that. even when they do matter, black men who aren't in the home, filling the prisons are statistics. they are not people. we don't think they cry. why does he leave his family? because his heart is broken.

    >> that is the connection between healing our brokenness and healing our politics. stay with us.


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