July 28, 2013
Guests: Barbara Lee, Heather McGee, Mark Calabria, Cathy Ruckelshaus,
Tianna Gaines-Turner, Jonathan Rosa, Elon James White, Robin Kelly
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: And Harry Belafonte seeks to squash
the beef with Jay-Z. But first, whose economy is it anyway?
Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
OK. In case there was any doubt, I am not an economist. Here`s what I do
know about the economy. Last month I was late on my credit card bill. You
know, it happens. But sure enough, this month my interest rate went up a
lot. So now, while I know this month my household will have an additional
$200 deficit because of my late payment, it`s hard to comprehend that while
I may lose that amount of money in one day Mark Zuckerberg, the dude from
facebook, he had his net worth go up by $3.7 billion in one day. This was
after facebook shares closed at a one-year high of more than $34 per share.
Now, I don`t know about you, but sometimes stuff like that makes me feel
like I am living in a totally different economy. So, what I want to know
is who is in charge around here? Who is in charge of the economy and who
selects the individual that can influence how one person can make billions
in one day while the other one has her credit card rates increase?
First, the person who undoubtedly makes the selection is President Barack
Obama, who was out this week like he was on the campaign trail, touting the
need for continued vigilance in our economic recovery.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Five years after the start
of that great recession America has fought its way back. We`ve fought our
I`m here to tell you today that we`re not there yet. We all know that. We
are not there yet. We have got more work to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: All right.
But who is going to do the work that the president spoke about? And set
the nation`s economic course. That job will rest in the hands of the next
Federal Reserve chairman. Because to the extent that there`s been an
economic recovery, the Federal Reserve chairman is the person most
responsible for setting the trajectory. It`s not because the chairman has
absolute power but rather the ability to build a consensus among the
Federal Reserve board when it comes to controlling available money, the
cost of money, and setting interest rates. Consensus building has mattered
to our nation`s economic policy long before the Federal Reserve System was
even created in 1913 with the signing of the Federal Reserve act by
President Woodrow Wilson. That`s because the Federal Reserve is the palace
that Alex built. That`s Alexander Hamilton, our nation`s first secretary
of the treasury, who was behind the creation of the first central bank. It
was Hamilton who had the forethought to create a national bank that would
provide credit and help stimulate the economy. That first bank would
ultimately lead to a second and then evolve into what is now known as our
Federal Reserve System, which serve as the engine to our economy. And that
is why the selection of the Federal Reserve chairman is so important. And
that is why you won`t have to wait until next year`s midterm elections for
some good old D.C. palace intrigue. Because of speculation over w will be
the next fed chair is already on and cracking in the nation`s capital.
On Friday a senior White House official made an announcement that spurred
the speculation hounds into overdrive. Simply put, the official said that
President Obama would not name a replacement for Federal Reserve chairman
Ben Bernanke until sometime in the fall, the intrigue. Yes, the debate
over who will replace Bernanke has heated up.
Will the next Federal Reserve chairman be Lawrence Summers, former U.S.
treasury secretary and President Obama`s former chief economic policy
adviser? Remember him? He was the guy who was the chief architect of the
financial deregulation during the Clinton administration, which many
progressives believe led to the 2008 crash.
Or will President Obama make history and nominate Janet Yellen, who is
already the fed`s vice chair and would be the first woman to hold the
position of chair of the Federal Reserve? Yellen has support of a handful
of democratic senators including our buddy Elizabeth Warren of
Massachusetts who signed onto a letter on Friday urging the president to
While Bernanke`s term isn`t over until January 2014, he is expected to
retire, but time is of the essence because whomever President Obama
nominates will have to be confirmed by, that`s right, the Senate. If
history that`s taught us anything, it is that anyone who President Obama
nominates to any position may not have the easiest time being confirmed.
Yet our fragile economy doesn`t have time for posturing and obstruction.
So select is exactly what the president must do because our collective
economic future depends on it.
At the table, Jared Bernstein, MSNBC and CNBC contributor who is currently
a fellow with the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities and was the former
chief economist and economic policy adviser to vice president Joe Biden,
Democratic congresswoman Barbara Lee of California, who is a member of both
the House budget and appropriations committees, Heather McGee, the vice
president of policy and outreach at DEMOS. And Mark Calabria, who is
director of financial regulation studies at the Cato Institute.
So happy to have you all here.
Jared, I want to start with you, in part because I can`t believe this is
the first time you have come to Nerdland.
JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: What took us so long?
HARRIS-PERRY: I know. I have no idea why this has not happen before.
BERNSTEIN: I have a Nerdland carrying card.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s actually exactly why I want you here because you`re a
very specific kind of nerd. Tell me like what -- if I`m an ordinary person
sitting at home on a Sunday morning having my coffee, why do I care who the
fed chairman is?
BERNSTEIN: Well, first of all, let me congratulate you for actually making
that introduction really exciting.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. Good.
BERNSTEIN: Because the actions of the Federal Reserve have a tremendous
impact on the economy that we all live in. Your framing was exactly right.
Whose economy is it? And you gave a couple of examples of w the economy`s
working very well for a narrow slice at the top and not well at all for a
lot of folks in between. One of the levers that the Federal Reserve
controls is kind of roughly speaking setting the unemployment rate. Their
task is to balance the unemployment rate, which they`re supposed to keep as
low as possible, and the inflation rate, which they`re supposed to keep
from growing too quickly.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s the dual mandate, right?
BERNSTEIN: The dual mandate. And there`s a trade-off because as
unemployment rates get very low sometimes you can close out, put gaps in
the economy, starts growing quickly, that can put some pressure on prices.
Historically, the Federal Reserve has over weighted the price part of the
mandate and underweighted the jobs part of the mandate. Ben Bernanke`s
been very good on this. Janet Yellen has been very good on this. I
actually think Larry Summers would be good on this as well. So it`s very
important that the Federal Reserve continues to target that unemployment
rate as they`ve been.
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, I feel like there must be folks watching who go, wait a
minute, what? Set the unemployment rate, right?
BERNSTEIN: Roughly speaking.
HARRIS-PERRY: Granted. And so I want you to give me a little bit more on
that because I do think there is a sense -- again, I`m a layman -- that
what you always want is for everybody to have full employment, and then you
say yes, but then that has these other pressures. Talk to me a little
MARK CALABRIA, FINANCIAL REGULATION STUDIES DIRECTOR, CATO INSTITUTE:
Well, what the Federal Reserve tries to do is manipulate the unemployment
rate. They try to manipulate the interest rate. They try to do it very
indirectly by trying to make credit available. I see it as the ultimate
trickle down. We are going to lend to people because they`re going to hire
in and invest and that`s going to create unemployment. It`s very indirect.
And in some cases I don`t think it`s clear that has a very large impact.
It`s not clear to me that all these rounds of quantitative easing which
have been buying of treasuries and -- have actually affected the
unemployment market all that much.
But I really do want to echo something Jared said. There`s no more
important in my opinion part of the government in terms of the economy than
the Federal Reserve. What you borrow, you know, you mentioned earlier your
credit card. Well, whether those credit card rates in the future is going
to depend on the Federal Reserve. Let`s not forget that it was five
gentlemen sitting around a table who decided to spend over a trillion
dollars. They have $3.5 trillion balance sheet. Not even Congress could
do that on their own without, you know, very difficult agreement, so
tremendous amount of power in a small number of people. So who you get
there absolutely makes a difference.
HARRIS-PERRY: On exactly that issue that I want to come to you,
Congresswoman. Because again, if I`m a layman I`m thinking, wait a minute,
I don`t get to elect these folks, right? And when you start talking about
five people, ten people sitting, making these big decisions, then what I
want to hear is the folks I do have the ability to elect, the ones I can
hold accountable, the ones whose names I know very closely will be part of
And I`ve got to tell you, I am nervous at this moment all the things that
we thought we understood about how Congress operated vis-a-vis the economy
that, OK, you are never going to get to a place where you don`t let the
debt ceiling, you know, increase or oh, we`re never going to get to a place
where we would just actually go into sequester. That`s all been violated.
Do I have any reason to fear that this fed chairman nomination is going to
turn into a fight on Capitol Hill?
REP. BARBARA LEE (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, it could. And we`ve seen what has
happened as a result of President Obama`s election in terms of the
obstructionist Congress. But I have to tell you, thank God we did re-elect
President Obama because the president has awesome power in making this
recommendation for appointment. And I tell you, when you look at interest
rates, it is so important to understand that.
Let me give you an example that the African-American community as a result
of the subprime crisis, our net worth now is approximately $5,600. So we
have to have a fed chair who understands, one, that they have got to focus
on creating economic opportunities and reducing the unemployment rate but
also making sure that everyone has access to decent and low interest rates
so that wealth accumulation and the ability to purchase a home is
everywhere for everyone, that the American dream can be fulfilled. And
right now it`s not.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to underline what you said, Heather, because the
president said something very, very similar this week in the "New York
Times" that came out this morning. Probably folks are sitting there with
their coffee reading it at this point in which the president says that the
income gap is actually fraying our social fabric. He says when
unemployment is too high and long-term unemployment is still too high and
there`s weak demand in a lot of industries, I want a fed chairman that can
step back and look at that objectively and say, let`s make sure we are
growing the economy but let`s also keep an eye on inflation and if it
starts heating up, if the markets start frothing, let`s make sure we are
not creating new bubbles. and this idea of sort of the responsibility not
only to grow it but to grow it equitably strikes me as a critical thing we
want to keep our eyes on as we move forward with this.
HEATHER MCGEE, VICE PRESIDENT OF POLICY OUTREACH, DEMOS: Yes. When you
ask about who would ever want high unemployment, actually it`s very
important to unpack that because there actually are forces and they`ve been
dominant actually until right before the crash, inside the fed because you
have to realize that actually, the fed is a very bank and wall street-
dominated institution. There are built-in conflicts of interest in terms
of who becomes bank presidents. It`s basically essentially chosen by
member banks in each of the regions.
And so, for Wall Street, you actually -- inflation is the scariest thing to
you because it lowers the value of your assets. Wall Street bankers tend
to not be as affected by unemployment because they and their friends
usually have jobs. And so, that tension between inflation and unemployment
is something that for a long time, until basically 2008, had very much been
stacked on the inflation hawk side. This concern about economic inequality
has to raise the issue of the other thing that the fed does which is
actually it is an even stronger financial regulator than it was before the
crash and before Dodd-Frank.
And so, the fed could have stopped the subprime mortgage boom. It had
actually the ability to regulate subprime mortgages and sat on its hands
for a decade and a half because we had deregulators at the helm.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Stay with us. We have so much more. We are going to
talk about this. And I also want to ask both of you about the art, the
science, and the faith that is economics when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: One doesn`t have to go back very far to see just how
powerful the mere words of Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke can be on
our markets. For example, take a look at what he said this June.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN BERNANKE, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: To use the analogy of driving an
automobile, any slowing in the pace of purchases will be akin to letting up
a bit on the gas pedal as the car picks up speed, not to beginning to apply
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. To you and me, that may seem like nothing more
than a harmless car analogy. But according to "Forbes" that simple
statement about the U.S. fed potentially cutting back on bond buying drove
stocks down by 1.4 percent the day he made it. Less than a month later we
heard from a very different-sounding Ben.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERNANKE: Both the employment side and the inflation side are saying that
we need to be more accommodating. Put that all together and I think you
can only conclude that highly accommodative monetary policy for the
foreseeable future is what`s needed in the U.S. economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. Translation? After rattling markets in June and July
fed chair Ben Bernanke made clear that the nation`s central bank will
continue to prop up the economy, most crucially by keeping interest rates
low. The day after he said that the Dow rallied 170 points to just under
15,500 at the time an all-time high.
So what`s going on with the emotions of this thing? Like, you know, I want
t believe that economics is a science. But I look at something like that
and I think, oh, no, no, no, this is magic.
BERNSTEIN: No, first of all, economics is not a science.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to believe that.
BERNSTEIN: Yes, well, it`s not true.
Look, the markets tend to be pretty manic depressive, especially on a time
like this, on tender hooks. Aggressive Ben, through then, gentle Ben, you
know, a couple days later made them feel better. I want to get back to
something Heather said in this regard, which is -- and you started out this
way. Whose economy is it?
It`s not that the stock market doesn`t matter to middle income people.
There`s a lot of pensioners and 401(k)s in there. I get is that. But the
movements in the market are way overemphasized relative to what really
drives middle income prosperity, which has a lot to got kinds of things the
president has been talking about lately, largely the job market, and there
you get into two critical things the fed does. One talked about, the
trade-off between unemployment and inflation. And Heather said this very
well. To the extent you emphasize the unemployment part of that versus the
inflation part you really are targeting middle and lower income people.
That`s important. We need the next fed chair to do that.
And secondly, the over side part. Remember, if the Federal Reserve
oversight had been a ton better than it, they were really asleep at the
switch, we wouldn`t have had as deep a recession as we had and we wouldn`t
be still climbing out of it. So, the oversight regulatory function of the
banking sector is also critical.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, play out the palace intrigue part of that for me then.
If I`m looking at Yellen on one side and Summers on the other and we have
this track record of Summers around deregulation in the Clinton era, should
that make me nervous? I mean, is that what this fight is about? Because I
keep hearing the fight gendered in this funny way, we can either have our
first woman or we can have the guy who said crazy things about women at
Harvard. And I keep thinking, OK granted, no one cares more about gender
than I do but that is not what I want to be talking about right now. I
want to be talking about deregulators or not.
MCGEE: Absolutely. And in fact, you have to actually realize that there`s
a lot of reasons why people who really care about a strong functioning
regulatory system that makes finance do its proper job, which is to be a
conduit of productive capital in the economy instead of actually sort of
siphoning away capital the way it has been for so long under the
deregulation period, that actually Larry Summers is really troubling.
Because it`s true that he did shepherd through the Dodd-Frank act, which
was an important, important sort of re-stitching together of our regulatory
framework. But some of the stronger, more structural reforms, for example,
the Volker rule he was really opposed to behind the scenes and worked to
sort of weaken that. Because I think he is a bit more skeptical of
regulation than I would like to see, also obviously the fact that he has
gotten so much money from Wall Street since -- in between his stints in
government. It`s just troubling in terms of sort of how much skepticism
you can have of the status quo on Wall Street versus skepticism of the
ability of government to make finance work for the rest of the country.
HARRIS-PERRY: Is this why the Summers trial balloon went over like a lead
CALABRIA: Well, you know, I think a lot of this is being driven by Summers
himself and some of his loyalists. And you had over the last couple weeks,
couple months Yellen really start to become the heir apparent, if you will.
And I think Summers had a window where if I don`t get in and make some
noise, and I do think as Jared just mentioned he`s got a very good
relationship with the president -- let`s put it this way, I think if the
Senate weren`t involved the president would nominate Larry Summers himself
HARRIS-PERRY: Interesting, because he personally likes and respects him?
CALABRIA: Yes, I think he personally likes and respects him. And again, I
think if it was not a question of 60 votes then I think he would pick
HARRIS-PERRY: Interesting. But it is a matter of those votes.
BARBARA LEE: It`s a matter of votes. And also, Melissa, let me just say
before I went to the appropriations and budget committee I was on the
banking committee, financial services committee, and I was there during the
whole process of deregulation.
BARBARA LEE: It was horrible.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let`s just be clear.
BARBARA LEE: It was horrible. We saw what happened with the airlines,
deregulation. Prices went up, you know, consolidation took place, well
same in financial services. And so, we have to have a fed chair who really
understands this balance. But also, who understands that income inequality
continues to grow and who also understands that part of their job is to
make sure that low-wage workers and that everyone benefits from our
HARRIS-PERRY: Is Yellen that person?
BARBARA LEE: Well, let me tell you. I haven`t said publicly yet whom I`m
going to support if asked, but I have to just say, anyone who supports --
who supported deregulation and who allowed for this horrible thing to take
place in the housing market, who allowed for the income inequality to grow
and who allowed for the subprime industry to emerge where minority
communities and others were targeted, you know, those were bad policies
that reduced the income --
BERNSTEIN: Let me say this. I worked pretty closely with Larry Summers
during the first couple of years of the Obama administration. I was a
member of the economics team that he led. And let me just say about him
and regulation. First, I am neutral in this. I think both are excellent
choice given the neutrality I would break the glass ceiling so, that`s
But in regulation, it`s not that Larry is against regulating the financial
markets. It`s that he`s -- and I think he`s learned some lessons from
things he did wrong in the past, and you articulated them. It`s that he`s
skeptical of the ability of public sector regulators to do a better job
than financial engineers, you know, kind of the wizards of the private
sector. So, then the right question for him is OK, if you`re skeptical of
the government`s ability to regulate financial markets then what? What
should we do?
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. What next?
BERNSTEIN: So, that`s what the senate needs to talk about.
HARRIS-PERRY: Here`s the other thing I know about the economy.
Apparently, they pay for this TV show with commercials. So I would better
go take one right now. We will be back in a bit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: This moment does not require short-term thinking. It does not
require having the same old stale debates. Our focus has to be on the
basic economic issues that matter most to you, the people we represent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: I love hearing the president sound like that. But how
realistic is it? Because the economic issue that matters most to Americans
right now is of course, you know this, jobs. And the jobs that are coming
back aren`t quite cutting it. According to a report from the national
employment law project, from 2008 to 2010 higher-wage jobs made up 19
percent of recession job losses and 20 percent of recovery growth. Mid-
wage jobs were 60 percent of recession job losses, only 22 percent of
recovery growth. And here`s the one. Low-wage jobs, 21 percent of
recession losses, 58 percent of recovery growth.
Tomorrow could be a critical day in the push for better pay for low-wage
workers. Thousands of fast food workers in seven U.S. cities are planning
to walk off of their jobs in an escalation of ongoing strikes seen
throughout the fast food industry since last November.
So Congresswoman, you know, we are adding jobs. The jobs we are adding are
often low-wage jobs that don`t have ladders to something else. How do we
make these jobs into jobs that can support families?
BARBARA LEE: Let me say first the progressive caucus tomorrow will be with
the McDonald`s workers here in New York as part of our raise up America
tour. If the Republicans in Congress would pass some of the bills that the
president put forward such as, investment in infrastructure, such as public
sector jobs, stops all these budget cuts, then we would be on the right
track. There are many jobs in the future if we can get the initial
These low-wage jobs, I have to take, making $6 and $7 an hour people have
to rely on snap, on food stamp benefits, on Medicaid. It`s costing our
economy much more at the other end. And so, we need to invest in good-
paying jobs. I support first of all an increase in the minimum wage. But
also more importantly we`ve got to get to a living wage.
In my home state that`s 20-some dollars an hour. People deserve this if
they`re going to live the American dream. Right now employers are hiring
people. They are hiring people part-time so they don`t have to pay
benefits. They are hiring people in a way that really is very tragic,
Melissa. No workforce training. We need to train people for the jobs of
the future. We can`t get anything passed through Congress because of
sequester and the tea party. And so, we have got a major issue that we
have to deal with, and the president I think is right, by going out into
the country talking about it.
HARRIS-PERRY: And this is so real, Congresswoman.
Mark, I want to show you this from McDonald`s. This is McDonald`s budget
for how to live on your income as a McDonald`s worker. Just a tad hard to
see there but basically they`re saying here`s your income from your first
job, this is what you expected, here`s your income from your second job.
I`m not kidding. Their assumption is you will work a second job. Then
they start showing what you will save, what your mortgage will be, your
rent. They also put in a whole lovely $20 for your health insurance. And
by the way, this entire budget includes, for example, no food. Which it
seems to me goes back to your point, that part of what they`re assuming is
that the social safety net is going to pick up and subsidize their profits
when even the fast food industry themselves are saying you can`t make it
off one job with us. How far down the rabbit hole have we gone in terms of
our inability to come back as an economy?
CALABRIA: Well, as someone whose first job was at Burger King rather than
McDonald`s, you know. I was in high school, wasn`t trying to live on it,
and I do think we need to keep a role for jobs that are part-time for high
school students, for teenagers --
MCGEE: Almost 90 percent of people making minimum wage -- no, but almost
90 percent of people making minimum wage are over 20. Just keep going, but
just so that`s clear.
CALABRIA: The point is I don`t think we`re going to grow high-wage jobs by
eliminating low-wage jobs. I don`t think we make people better off by
limiting their choices. I want to expand their choices. And so
ultimately, if we want to raise wages we need to make people more
productive. And that`s human capital, education, training. It`s also
removing negative capital.
The worst thing you are going to be if you are in a situation is for
instance, if you dropped out of high school and you have a criminal record.
So, what are we going to do about all the people that are incarcerated in
this country when they come out of incarceration and try to get jobs?
That`s a much bigger problem than eliminating jobs --
HARRIS-PERRY: This is interesting to say -- I`m not sure I`ve heard the
argument made this way, but Jared?
BERNSTEIN: So I just read this morning. There`s a good article in the
"New York Times" about low-wage work this morning. Forty-three percent of
low-wage workers have either some college or a college degree. I think 17
percent have a college degree. Heather mentioned all the grown-ups who are
still earning the minimum wage. This is not simply a matter of being more
skilled or getting more education. That helps, and all of us around this
table know that. That helps and has helped us, so, it`s critical.
But there are a lot of people who are high school graduates, people are
some college, who are stuck in jobs that pay far too low for them to
support their families. And it has very little to do with their skill it
has a lot to do with the fact that they lack bargaining power. The minimum
wage is too low. The fact that they haven`t been able to really get much
support from unions.
So, you have to look not just at the human capital side but also the
bargaining power side. The inability of people to get their fair share of
the economy`s productivity growth over the last couple of decades has
really grown a lot.
MCGEE: I was just going to say I do think I want to echo what Jared said,
it is a question of power. It`s a question of power at the workplace. I
mean, we think about the middle-class jobs that helped build this country.
They weren`t sort of born good jobs. They were actually terrible jobs that
didn`t require a lot of education, that were dangerous, that were hard,
that were backbreaking, but they were made into good jobs because workers
had bargaining power, because of structural things in the economy but also
because of the presence of unions and the lack of sort of rabid anti-union
spirit among the employers, and it also has to do with power in Washington.
The fact is the vast majority of the American people, nearly 80 percent of
the American people think you should not be working full-time and be in
poverty. And you know what, among the donor class that actually helps set
policy that is a minority position. Thirty-eight percent of the wealthy
think that minimum wage job should be enough -- should pay enough to --
HARRIS-PERRY: That goes back to your point, Congresswoman, about the role
of government and stimulation, that even if we`re talking about human
capital, right, even if we take just sort of whole cloth your argument we
would then still need to talk about the investment the government must make
in order to provide human capital opportunities for children coming up and
that the incarceration rate is not just a given, it too is a result of
Mark, thanks so much for being here.
And up next, why a growing number of workers are literally paying for their
paycheck. This was driving me nuts this week when we are back.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right, we have talked about how hard it is to survive on
minimum wage. But what if the way your company pays you cuts your wages
Employers are increasingly turning to paying their workers with prepaid
debit cards instead of check or direct deposit. The cards often come with
fees. Fees to check your balance, to replace a card, to transfer or
withdraw money or to make a purchase. In other words, with some of these
cards you must pay in order to get the money you earned at your job.
Here`s an example of fees on a card issued by Netspend, the largest issuer
of payroll cards in the country. $1 per purchase. $2 per purchase if you
enter your pin. $2.50 to withdraw from an atm. $1.95 for an instant bank
transfer. $15 for an overdraft. $5.95 if you don`t use your card for 90
days. And the fees together can add up to $30 a month or more. That`s
more than four hours of work at the minimum wage.
The cards aren`t new, but they are being used more widely. $34 billion was
loaded onto 4.6 million active payroll cards in 2012. Those numbers are
expected to more than double by 2017. Employers like the cards because
they are cheaper than printing checks. And banks of course love collecting
all those fees. But employee advocates say the workers may be getting
Joining the table now, Cathy Ruckelshaus, the legal co-director at the
National Employment Law Project. Say what?
CATHY RUCKELSHAUS, LEGAL CO-DIRECTOR, THE NATIONAL EMPLOYMENT LAW PROJECT:
Those fees are astonishing. I actually hadn`t seen fees quite that high
listed. It`s not a good deal for the workers almost ever. They are
typically not given a choice if they would rather have a paper paycheck,
they are not, which means they`re not getting any pay stub information.
RUCKELSHAUS: They don`t know what the basis for the pay is. They don`t
know what was I paid on behalf of? Did I get overtime when I worked
overtime? Were there any other deductions taken out of my pay? It`s
potentially -- it`s hiding some more wage theft that we are seeing in the
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. You know, I don`t want to be overly dramatic in
historical comparison, which I can sometimes be. But this does sound like
the company store to me, right, where you had these little mining
communities where you got paid or even share cropping, right, where you got
paid, but then, those cards for example, could then be used if you are
getting paid at a big box store you can only afford to shop back at that
big box store. There is a way in which this feels to me like a very old-
fashioned form of employment behavior that we as a result of labor pushing
back went away from, and the fact that this is happening just I find it
RUCKELSHAUS: Well, it actually is like company scrip. Some of the
companies brand the cards with their own names and some require in-house
ATMs to retrieve the money from the store. So, the employers are directly
getting the kickbacks in some cases. It`s not a good deal for the workers.
And there have been some challenges to them. McDonald`s h been challenged.
And it offered some more choices for the workers. Labor ready was
challenged and they were found to be illegal because they had the in-house
ATMs were --
HARRIS-PERRY: Were they double and triple --
Congresswoman, I did a little more digging and it turns out the federal
government also uses these a little bit. So in some of the benefits that
are paid often to folks who are receiving federal benefits, we also see the
use of these prepaid cards. So government agencies actually disbursed $136
billion on prepaid cards. Card issuers collected $190 million in fees.
Sixty percent of card holder fees came from the ATMs. When I found out we
were doing it too, I was like what is happening here?
BARBARA LEE: And we did not fix that in regulatory -- financial regulatory
BARBARA LEE: I think it`s outrageous. First of all, what we are doing is
institutionalizing another mechanism that`s going to continue to create the
structural inequality. We are creating two societies here in this country.
And we are really waging this terrible war on low-income workers, which of
course low-income workers are part of the working poor.
And so here now we add these fees on top of that. These people are just
barely making it. They`re living on the edge. This could mean a meal or
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, $30.
BARBARA LEE: And then we are cutting the safety net. You should see this
bill now, this sequester bill in terms of 20 billion cut in food stamps,
cuts in head start. Many states won`t enact the care act and won`t allow
for Medicaid expansion. So you are looking at an assault on people who are
low income and people who are poor. This is just another one of those
attacks. And it`s very scary because we`re creating a country that`s going
to be very divided based on class and income status.
HARRIS-PERRY: So Jared, let me ask you about this idea of what we`re
creating because I`m going to assume that banks just don`t behave in a way
like oh, this is a bad thing, let me be good.
What incentives can we create so banks actually provide banking services,
actual banking services in low-income and minority communities? Because
what I hear is I need this prepaid card, otherwise I`ve got to go to a
check cashing place where it`s even higher. So often, it`s because these
banks are under serving these communities. How do you create incentives to
make them serve them?
BERNSTEIN: You know, it reminds me of an idea that a number of us have
kicked around, Paul Krugman`s often making this point, which is let`s make
banking boring again. The idea here is where we got into trouble is when
we started to allow banks -- by the way, this gets back to the Volcker rule
we were talking about a minute ago, to trade their own proprietary books.
That is, banks have some profitability. And so, they can go out and buy
derivatives and play the stock market. And that might sound all fine and
dandy except that remember, these banks are insured by us, the taxpayers.
So that to me, gives us a real entry point for the kind of oversight that
the Congresswoman was talking about. As long as we`re going to backstop
these folks, then we have every right I think to regulate issues like this
that are clearly unjust.
HARRIS-PERRY: I love let`s make banking boring. Like I want that on a
bumper sticker. It feels like move back to the it`s a wonderful life
version of banking and not the --
BERNSTEIN: You want to go out and play golf at 3:00? Be my guest. Don`t
take the economy --
HARRIS-PERRY: While you`re doing it.
Heather, thanks for being here this morning.
Up next, the connection between jobs and hunger and what it really takes to
put food on the table. One of my favorite guests is returning to Nerdland.
HARRIS-PERRY: We have been talking about the proliferation of low-wage
jobs in our economy. But now, I want to talk about the reality of living
on the minimum wage. Our federal minimum wage leaves many families below
the poverty line, even if the adults work full-time. 50 million Americans
are at risk of going hungry. Almost a quarter of American children are in
poverty. And yet there is a myth that those without enough are not working
or worse, they are not even trying.
Listen to what Congressman Paul Ryan said in an interview with the NBC News
in plain sight poverty project.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I think what we`re
missing in this debate is when we are talking about reviving civil society,
when we`re talking about reviving community groups, when we`re talking
about reviving churches, what we mean when we say that is people themselves
need to get involved in their communities to help people. That`s what
solidarity is. That means every individual takes responsibility for
helping their brother, their sister, meaning their fellow citizen in their
communities, and that act of involvement, of human beings coming together
to help one another, that`s so much better than some cold government
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Joining us now is Tianna Gaines-Turner of the Witness to
Hunger Project, who along with her husband and three children is up for
renewal of her federal health and food benefits next month.
Tianna, thank you for joining us again.
TIANNA GAINES-TURNER, WITNESS HUNGER PROJECT: Thank you for having me
HARRIS-PERRY: What`s your response to Congressman Ryan there?
GAINES-TURNER: I used to call him the RRs, the Rhyming Radicals. That`s
what I call them, the Rhyming Radicals, because they have no clue. I said
last time I was here everyone h something to say about someone who lives in
hunger and poverty but yet they have never set down to the table. They are
not involved at the table. They`re making decisions which affects our
lives without even having conversations with us. They think they have the
HARRIS-PERRY: So Tianna, this is for me the moment when for me, there is
such a great privilege having a television show because you are one of the
most exquisite speakers on this whom I have ever encountered.
GAINES-TURNER: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: And Congresswoman Lee is one of the most important members
of the progressive caucus in our U.S. House of Representatives. What would
you like to say to the congresswoman? You are at the table together at
GAINES-TURNER: I would just like to say first it`s an honor to be sitting
here and thank you for having me. And you know, have more people who are
going through these programs at the table, at the conversations. Not after
the fact. Not after both aisles have already voted or they`ve set in some
type of back house and made these decisions and oh, you know, something
that they may have read in the paper.
You know, invite us to the table. Have us sit there and you hear my story
and you understand. Walk in my shoes, you know. That`s what I tell
everybody. It`s easy for people to sit back and judge me without even
asking me. And for those who are watching this show right now, who live in
hunger and poverty, to stand up. Don`t be silent. Don`t be silent by the
system. Don`t be silent by the case workers. Don`t be silent. Stand up
and be an advocate for yourself. People need to understand what you`re
BARBARA LEE: Let me just say to you first of all you`re very courageous
GAINES-TURNER: Thank you.
BARBARA LEE: And I`m going to ask, I`m on Paul Ryan`s hearing. And they
are having a hearing, we are having a hearing led by Paul Ryan on Wednesday
to talk about poverty. I`m going to ask him if you can come to be a
witness, first of all. Secondly, let me just say how proud I am of you for
speaking out because I was on public assistance. I was on food stamps.
BARBARA LEE: You know, I had to struggle through in the early `70s raising
my two kids. And it was really hard. And so, I just have to say to you,
you are absolutely correct. We need more people who are struggling, who
need a bridge over troubled waters, who don`t need section 8 cut, who don`t
need SNAP, food stamps cut, who really need just that support from their
government so that they can move forward and live the American dream as you
and your husband are really remarkable in showing can be done.
BARBARA LEE: So congratulations. I hope I can see you on Wednesday. But
I`m going to ask.
GAINES-TURNER: I hope so.
BARBARA LEE: Congressman Ryan to invite you as a witness.
GAINES-TURNER: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: We are going to take a quick break and come right back
because I do want to talk to you a little about -- you and I are both moms,
and we talked back in the spring about how do you feed the kids in the
summer when school`s out? When we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, Nerdland. So, while Republicans in the House are
pushing for billions in cuts to nutritional assistance for poor families, I
would like you to look at what the members of Congress spent in 2012.
This is the spending in 2012 on coffee and food for Congress. We did a
little math, about $2 million spent that works out to being about $167,000
per month spent on coffee and food, evenly spread among the 435 House
members that comes out to about $383 a month that taxpayers paid for
congressional offices to have food and coffee, $383 a month. The average
snap benefit per household per month is $278.48.
Tianna, how does it make you feel to know that Congressman Ryan thinks you
should work harder, do more, ask your neighbors for help, but his
allocation for coffee is more than the allocation for many families?
GAINES-TURNER: I think first he should take the food stamp challenge
himself. Because he has to realize there is no Starbucks on public
assistance. There is no filet mignon on public assistance. And for two,
they -- like you said, they spend more on coffee than a person on public
assistance gets in a whole month. That`s just coffee. That`s not talking
about nutritional foods and meats and fruits and vegetables and, you know,
the things that a child needs to grow up healthy and be able to even sit at
conversations like this or even be able to go to school and concentrate and
HARRIS-PERRY: I know one of the things I`m always talking about is how
much you love your kids, how much you`re working to make sure your kids
have everything they need.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right now you`re trying to get uniforms for them to go back
to school. School`s starting.
HARRIS-PERRY: What is it you`re trying to find? How big does that hurdle
feel to you right now?
GAINES-TURNER: Well, three shirts for my children to go back to school is
$50. There`s my angels right there.
GAINES-TURNER: That`s three shirts. That`s not including socks, bottoms,
underclothes, book bags, school supplies. That`s just three school shirts.
HARRIS-PERRY: And how high a hurdle does $50 feel like? I know for some
people $50 is --
GAINES-TURNER: It`s nothing. But for us it`s a lot. $50 could go toward
a bill, you. It could go toward making sure that, you know, I have three
children with disabilities. All three of my children have epilepsy and
asthma. So when you go food shopping and you can go and buy different
things, I have to be very particular on what I buy. I have to read the
back of the boxes. You know, I have to cut coupons and all these things
are things that my mom showed me how to do which I like to point out was
not on public assistance.
GAINES-TURNER: You know, did not choose to be on public assistance as a
single parent. Who worked and gave me the work ethics that I have. As
well as my husband, also mom was a single parent, so $50 is a lot.
HARRIS-PERRY: How did you feed the kids this summer without the sort of
school lunch program?
GAINES-TURNER: Well, my kids are lucky enough to go to camp. I`m still
paying for camp, and it will be over in another week, August 9th is the
last day, and I`m still paying on it. But I felt like that was something
that I had to do to keep my kids busy, to keep them moving. You know, for
them to understand that even though we are in a situation that mom and dad
is trying to make sure that you don`t have to sit around and worry.
You know, I was telling someone on my way up, when we became homeless,
twice we were homeless, no fault of our own. Not because I wasn`t paying
rent, because I was living in an apartment that was covered in feces and
lead and my son began to have seizures. So, we had a little money saved.
We couldn`t let the public assistance know we had that money saved. We
took that and we decided to move out thinking that my section 8 will come
through after I had been on the waiting list for ten years.
My son knows. He`s nine, but he knows. It`s nothing like for your child
to sit and say, you know, mom, you can have my food. You know, but people
have to realize it`s hard to feed your families, period, but in the
summertime the kids are home all day.
GAINES-TURNER: So your eating costs and your eating bills go up.
GAINES-TURNER: You know, they are running around, they are going swimming,
HARRIS-PERRY: Tianna, I always love having you at my table. And let me
just say, this invitation is an incredibly important one and I hope, I
hope, I hope, I hope that our elected representatives have the opportunity
to hear directly from you.
Thank you to Tianna Gaines-Turner, to Jared Bernstein, you must also come
back. To Kathy Ruckelshaus, many, many thanks. And there is more Nerdland
at the top of the hour. Do not go anywhere. Stay.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
Two weeks ago six Florida women acquitted George Zimmerman of both second-
degree murder and manslaughter in the trial for the death of Trayvon
Martin. In the immediate aftermath of the verdict many asked how could
The first inkling of an answer to that question came when Juror B37,
speaking in shadow, revealed to CNN`s Anderson Cooper that she saw the
events of that tragic night in Florida from George Zimmerman`s perspective.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: But you would feel comfortable --
JUROR B37, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN TRIAL: I think he was frustrated. I think he
was frustrated with the whole situation in the neighborhood, with the
break-ins and the robberies and they actually arrested somebody not that
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. But then this week we learned that not everyone in that
jury room saw George Zimmerman as just a good guy who was frustrated and
went a little too far.
Revealing both her face and her first name, Juror B29 said she believes
George Zimmerman got away with murder. Even though she stands by the
verdict, saying it was a necessary decision under the law.
As the details of the Zimmerman trial deliberations become clearer, I just
-- I had to re-watch "Twelve Angry Men." You know it. The 1957 classic
American film that casts Henry Fonda as the lone dissenter on an overheated
jury prepared to convict a poor urban teenager of murder without even
bothering to deliberate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then what do you want?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to talk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, what`s there to talk about? Eleven men in here
think he`s guilty. No one didn`t think about it twice except you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to ask you something. Do you believe his story?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t know whether I believe it or not. Maybe I
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So how come you vote not guilty?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were 11 votes for guilty. It`s not easy to raise
my hand and send a boy off to die without talking about it first.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Over the next 90 minutes juror number 8 there stands his
ground in a room with 11 other men. Men with deep-seated racial prejudice.
Men who are bored and uninterested. Men who are tired of being sequestered
and want to go home.
Juror 8 makes them review the evidence, question their biases, and take
seriously that they are the last opportunity for a young man to find
This is how we want to believe juries work, that as long as there is one
Henry Fonda in the room justice can be served, which is why it became the
standout moment from Juror B29`s interview with ABC`s Robin Roberts when
she said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDY, JUROR B29: As the law was read to me, if you have no proof that he
killed him intentionally, you can`t find -- you can`t say he`s guilty.
ROBIN ROBERTS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Did you want to step out at all? Did you
want to quit?
MADDY: I was the juror that was going to give him the hung jury.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: What she said leaves me asking this. Was Maddy prepared to
be a modern-day Juror 8, holding out against the group, working through the
process, bringing her fellow jurors along one at a time? Or were the roles
Maddy makes clear her initial emotion led her to believe George Zimmerman
was guilty but that through deliberative process found that Florida law
gave her no choice but to acquit George Zimmerman.
Joining me now is Jonathan Rosa, assistant professor of anthropology at the
University of Massachusetts Amherst. Comedian and writer Elon James White
who is the creator of the Web series "This Week in Blackness." It`s a
satirical look at race, politics and pop culture.
Also with me Michael Eric Dyson, professor of sociology at Georgetown
University. And still with us, Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California.
Jonathan, I want to start with you because B29 really once again sort of
brought this conversation back. What do you make of her interview?
JONATHAN ROSA, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF ANTHROPOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF
MASSACHUSETTS AMHERST: You know, it`s really complicated because I think
this case has really been -- you know, has involved discussions of racial
ambiguity all along and questions about who George Zimmerman really is. Is
he a white Hispanic? Is he a Latino? What does this all mean?
And so when I heard that this juror was potentially Latina and people
couldn`t make sense of her I expected the potential for this sort of a
situation to unfold. But we shouldn`t be surprised. On the one hand
because, you know, we have many psychological experiments that have shown
us that in situations of extreme duress people oftentimes make decisions
that contradict their deeply held beliefs.
But you know, I think that we could get caught up in the discussion of what
her mindset is or what was happening in the jury room and forget actually
the kind of -- all of the range of policies that made this happen. Right?
ROSA: So that we could get caught up on this individual case and forget
that this is really about an assemblage of policies and structural issues
that made Trayvon Martin disposable.
HARRIS-PERRY: This is so important, Michael. It feels to me like the
easiest thing to do would be to focus in on this woman and say, what`s
wrong with you? Why didn`t you do more? Why didn`t you, you know, sort of
gather more courage? Why didn`t you push? But like the fact that she`s in
the room with only five other people instead of a full jury of 12, right?
That there aren`t 12 people. Right?
The very idea that this law exists, that allows Mr. Zimmerman to carry the
gun, the whole set of structures that were part of already taking Trayvon
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: That`s exactly right.
HARRIS-PERRY: Were also part of her world.
DYSON: That`s exactly right. Look, you`re blaming the person whose finger
was too weak to stop the dam with the hole when you don`t talk about
everything else. The pressure, the structure of the building. The levees
that were giving away. And the dam being -- its infrastructure was weak to
begin with. It`s all a scapegoating of her, which would be to duplicate
the very thing that happened to Trayvon Martin to begin with.
DYSON: Why put the person of color on the firing line, so to speak, when
the entire system itself has to be indicted for its inability to generate
enough jurors to have conversation that would be complicated? A diverse
jury pool that would at least represent an alternative perspective. And
furthermore, the clarification of the rules.
This woman is basically saying, you didn`t do your job as a teacher. I
don`t go you student, you`re crazy. I`ve got to say Dyson, explain it
again because you didn`t reach this student. And the prosecution did a
horrible job of drawing the lines between the dots. And let`s admit it,
the defense had the wind behind its back and it was able to make an
argument and a narrative that was compelling, even to a woman who
emotionally felt that this was the wrong decision.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. I felt, Congresswoman, that -- I think that`s part of
what was so stunning about what she said, is actually here -- you know,
we`ve had the president say Trayvon Martin could have been my son or if I
had a son he would look like Trayvon Martin. Well, you know, her sons
might also look like Trayvon Martin. Might be subject to the same
And yet she still felt that the law made it impossible for her to move on
that instinct that she was having.
BARBARA LEE: Sure. And this explains I think very clearly why we need to
repeal first of all the Stand Your Ground laws. That`s the must do.
BARBARA LEE: Secondly, it also reveals inequities in our criminal justice
system that need to be looked at and closed.
Thirdly, Melissa, I just have to say, and I agree with you, Michael, but,
you know, every now and then you have to take a stand. You know, I would
have hung that jury.
BARBARA LEE: I would have hung that jury. So we -- while we don`t need to
blame her for not hanging it, we have to at some point realize we do have
some personal responsibility in trying to ensure that justice is done. And
so we have to see this in context of the criminal justice system as being
unjust and unfair and unequal --
DYSON: But she seemed -- don`t you think, Congresswoman, the part of, I
think, structural racism, too, is to really deprive you of a sense of the
power you do actually possess?
BARBARA LEE: Sure. Sure.
DYSON: So she felt that it was almost illegitimate for her to exercise
BARBARA LEE: Sure, she almost felt that she could not hang the jury.
DYSON: Right. Yes.
BARBARA LEE: And that`s part of this --
DYSON: And that` a psychological consequence.
BARBARA LEE: Which is a psychological impact.
ELON JAMES WHITE, THIS WEEK IN BLACKNESS: We also have to listen to what
they were actually told. Juror B37 said flat out that she didn`t
understand the rules. Like she said we were very confused about this. And
so that`s the person without any type of emotional connection to this
thing. And so for the new juror, B29, like I could easily see her being
confused, like -- yes, I want this, but they`re throwing 18 different rules
They`re throwing -- they threw Stand Your Ground. When they read the jury
instructions, they were very long and very complicated. And so it`s hard -
- I can`t -- I`m with Dr. Dyson here. I can`t go at her like that. But I
can go at the system like that because the system obviously showed itself
to be biased and failed.
ROSA: But again, from a broader perspective I think it`s interesting the
way that this case became a microcosm. It`s not by chance that it`s
Florida where there are all these anxieties about what the Latino
population means. It`s a swing state, right? And so in which way -- the
only questions we have to ask based on our ideas about a racial binary is
which will Latinos go? Will they be white or black?
We can`t imagine Latinos in their own specificity. So we end up asking
what is George Zimmerman, what is this juror, and which way -- who did they
team with? And it leads us to play up the black-Latino tensions. It leads
us to all of these kinds of questionable conclusions.
HARRIS-PERRY: Jonathan, this like if there -- to the extent that we`re
talking about, on the one hand there`s this verdict and this thing that
happened but almost more important, more interesting is what this thing --
how in our perception of it, it ends up having all these other meanings.
And so it was part of what I wanted to do at the table, is so that we could
talk about the ways in which the very particular position of her as a
Puerto Rican woman becomes part of what is read onto this narrative.
So I -- we`ll take a quick break because they`re screaming at me and then
we`ll come back because I do want -- I do want to think about, like, how
that race story about black, brown, and white is playing out in some ways
that we need to pause, breathe, and know something about before we move
HARRIS-PERRY: This week the Pew Research Center released a new survey
asking Americans about the Zimmerman verdict. The survey asked the
question, does this case raise important issues about race that need to be
Kind of a soft question. But the answers reveal a deep racial divide.
Forty-seven percent of Hispanic respondents and 78 percent of black
respondents believe that the Zimmerman verdict should provoke racial
conversation. But only 28 percent of white respondents agreed, 28 percent.
Fewer than 1 in 3 white Americans even think we have something to talk
But there is one high-profile white man who`s willing to talk about race.
And he spoke up on FOX News on Monday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS` THE O`REILLY FACTOR: You want a conversation?
You got it. You want a better situation for blacks? Give them a chance to
revive their neighborhoods and culture. Work with the good people to stop
the bad people. Pumping money into the chaos does little. You can`t
legislate good parenting or responsible entertainment. But you can fight
against the madness with discipline, a firm message, and little tolerance
for excuse making.
It is now time for the African-American leadership, including President
Obama, to stop the nonsense. Walk away from the world of victimization and
grievance, and lead the way out of this mess.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, that is one way to start a conversation. Michael?
DYSON: Yes. You know, what`s interesting to me, why is it that when we
say we want to have a conversation on race you want to have a conversation
on blackness? You don`t want to have a conversation on race. You don`t
want to have a conversation on white privilege, unconscious bias. You
don`t want to talk about the collective world we`ve made as black, brown,
yellow, red, and white people.
You want to lecture black people. And by the way, Mr. O`Reilly, did you
not hear? Even though a lot of us disagree, did you not hear President
Obama tell Morehouse College no excuse making. Now a lot of us --
HARRIS-PERRY: He had -- I mean -- and Morehouse is not even the beginning
of that. It`s actually part of what makes President Obama in a particular
position to say what he said a week ago is that he has been very much the
kind of respectability president from the beginning.
DYSON: Right. And -- if those of us who have problems with that, the
point is, how can white Americans like Mr. O`Reilly ignore the context when
Mr. Obama has lectured endlessly and tirelessly for African-American
people? But beyond that, Jesse Jackson and Alvin Toussaint in the 1970s
had a book called "Why Blacks Kill Blacks." So please don`t pretend that
African-American people have not been on this case.
But what -- this is what we know. White on white crime is a devastation in
America like so-called black on black crime. It`s not black or white on
white crime. It`s proximity murder.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes --
DYSON: People kill where they live.
DYSON: So we have to talk about that in a broader sense. And guess what?
The cameras don`t show up in Chicago like they show up in Newtown and
Aurora. All we`re asking for is equal attention paid to crises at a time
of enormous distress for our vulnerable children to be assisted.
So, Mr. O`Reilly, I`d love to have that conversation about protecting
yourself behind white picket fences and FOX News and having digital
courage. Come in the streets where you went to Sylvia and were -- you were
surprised that black people don`t throw bananas at each other or swing from
ROSA: Well, isn`t this the problem, though, with the whole idea of the
need for a conversation about race? It leaves it at the interpersonal
level. So that if we could just communicate in a certain way then suddenly
all of these structural, policy, and institutional matters would be
eradicated magically. That`s also my issue with the whole privilege
discourse as well, that it leaves it at this institutional level so that if
people were just nicer, would just own their privilege and treat people
better at that individual level that we would be doing a whole lot better.
And I actually think that that leaves us without a pathway forward in terms
of -- making institution.
DYSON: But the point you made --
HARRIS-PERRY: And actually -- and this feels to me like -- you know, Elon,
this is part of the angst, is that we lack a certain kind of vocabulary,
right? So -- for example, black-on-black crime is the easy thing to say
because we all have some standard way of thinking, we know what that is.
HARRIS-PERRY: But when you say white-on-white crime, it`s -- I mean, we
don`t even have a thing that that is to fit that into.
WHITE: It hits the ear wrong. People can`t even understand it. But
there`s a reason, like when you say this, in this whole conversation we`re
having right now about this idea of the conversation around race, how can
you have a conversation around race when most of the country doesn`t
understand the very construct of race? And when they don`t understand how
this works in general? How its effect through history has these people in
these situations, in these areas that literally historically speaking this
is why they`re there?
And we -- they don`t understand that. So how can you get them to say cool,
so let`s talk about privilege, let`s talk about this? They`re like what?
What are you talking about? No.
HARRIS-PERRY: Congresswoman, I want to ask you about another person who
weighed in on race in a bit of a different way today. This is one of your
colleagues. This is -- there`s a kind of rhetorical move as we move beyond
black and white but still around race. This is Republican Iowa Congressman
Steve King, you`ve probably heard at this point. But let`s listen one more
time as he makes comments about young undocumented immigrants.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: For everyone who`s a valedictorian there`s
another 100 out there that -- they weigh 130 pounds and they`ve got calves
the size of cantaloupes because they`re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana
across the desert.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA LEE: Steve King, first of all, should apologize. But then again,
that`s who he is. He`s done this over and over and over again.
And Melissa, I think these members of Congress and others, Bill O`Reilly,
they`re really trying to make sure that we don`t engage in the dialogue by
playing the race card or by trying to run the blame-the-victim kind of
theory. You know, and that`s just so tragic and dangerous because there
are some people who believe this and act this out.
What`s important is I think we need to have this dialogue but we need to
understand we have to move beyond dialogue and we have to act whether it`s
at the community level, at the business level, corporate level, and
I mean, we`re dealing with structural and institutional racism. And we`re
dealing with policies, for example, such as mandatory minimums, three
strikes. You`re dealing with these sequester cuts that are going to
negatively impact communities of color. You`re dealing with cuts across
the board, Section 8.
Who do they impact? They impact people of color in a big way. And so
we`ve got structural and institutional issues of racism that must be swept
from under the rug.
HARRIS-PERRY: Jonathan, I want to push on this King argument for one
moment. Let`s listen to him because double down when you say he needs to
apologized. He actually doubled down. Let`s listen to the double down for
a second and then I have a question for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: This is hands-on, eyes-on from the Border Patrol as well. And I got
a call from them yesterday, and I said, do I need to come back down and
refresh myself? And they said no, you`re spot on on what you`re saying,
but maybe, maybe you got the weight 10 pounds up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So he is insisting that this is an empirical reality.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow.
HARRIS-PERRY: You talked before about this anxiety about not being able to
see Latinos within the context of who they are with specificity and that
there`s this question about, are they going to be white or black because
that`s the only binary that exists for us. If -- I mean, just accepting
that premise for a moment, if there was a moment when Latinos could have
been thinking, well, you know, we`re going to go with whiteness because
that seems to work out in America. Right?
And to the extent that we can bring together the trappings of whiteness
we`ll go with that. This feels like the rhetoric that it`s like oh, OK,
apparently we`re not going to get to be white, so it actually generates a
kind of political coalition that might not otherwise exist.
ROSA: I mean, it`s the great irony about the conservative effort to
recruit Latinos to their movement, right? That they stumble over
themselves by making these kind of comments. But it speaks to the way that
we need a new racial commonsense altogether. I mean, the way that -- so it
doesn`t measure out empirically. What Steve King`s saying just doesn`t
work out empirically and you see that people are rejecting this
commonsense. The Dream Nine. The young people who are just rejecting our
current way of thinking about immigration altogether.
And we need a new way to re-imagine what immigration could be. What would
it look like to have a citizenship of the Americas? Right? Lo and behold.
What if we have new categories, new discourses, new ways of thinking about
And this is why it`s connected to the conversation about the African-
American experience. Because these are joint experiences of exclusion.
DYSON: Can I say that -- but also what`s interesting is that, you know,
they`ve done all these studies so that when certain immigrants come here
they have notions of blackness, regardless of where they`re from.
DYSON: So that they`re very negative. Because they`ve imbibed and
internalized unconsciously the poison that`s been spewed from America. And
then you know, there`s a huge difference between being a white Cuban from,
say, Miami, and a black Dominican from New York.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. True.
DYSON: So we know that any of these things squabbles among Latino
communities, all of which experience hierarchies of color as well.
DYSON: If Elian Gonzalez had been from Santiago de Cuba as opposed to
Havana he would have been sent back with a Snickers bar saying, have a good
time. But the contestation over whiteness operates within the context of,
I think, Latino identity as well and what you`re pointing to is the
seductive character of whiteness that increases its capital by saying join
with us as opposed to joining with the black dimensions of Puerto Rico that
we saw in that juror.
DYSON: I think that has to be articulated as well.
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, it`s such an important and difficult conversation.
And the one thing I will say is, you know, the FOX-MSNBC thing happens
sometimes, but to the extent that legitimately, even if we have very
different dialogues and discourses and even places we`re coming from, there
is a value in having interracial conversation. It is insufficient, but it
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is.
HARRIS-PERRY: But the key with conversation is it has to be among peers.
You don`t have a conversation with somebody who has less power, less -- so
like I feel constantly frustrated by the fact that you could have a
powerful medium like TV and still can`t manage to have a conversation
across those differences.
And we`re going to keep trying to push on that. I`m going to have a
conversation, however, with Congresswoman Robin Kelly right after the
HARRIS-PERRY: During the Fourth of July weekend in Chicago 72 people were
shot. Twelve of them died. Only making the crisis of violence in that
city even more urgent as a priority. And that`s why the label emergency
was applied at the National Summit on Violence in Urban Communities hosted
by the Congressional Black Caucus for two days this weekend in Chicago.
Among the attendees was the mother of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton who was
shot and killed in a Chicago park a week after performing at the
president`s inaugural parade. Hadiya`s mother told MSNBC reporter Trymaine
Lee her concerns now extends to her young son.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLEOPATRA COWLEY, HADIYA PENDLETON`S MOTHER: I have to do things and be
boisterous to protect them before he gets to where he`s going to go
independently, walking down the street on his own with certain privileges
and being misidentified, you know, as someone else or something else.
TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: How old is he?
COWLEY: Right now he`s 11.
TRYMAINE LEE: Wow.
COWLEY: You know, I don`t -- the Martins have already suffered. And, you
know, that`s an awareness for the rest of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Joining me now from Chicago is Representative Robin Kelly of
Illinois`s 2nd congressional district, one of the hosts of the summit.
Nice to have you, Congresswoman.
REP. ROBIN KELLY (D), ILLINOIS: Thanks for having me.
HARRIS-PERRY: So talk to me about this. We`ve talked a lot about Chicago
gun violence on this show. But what was the goal of this summit in
KELLY: Well, we wanted to go back to the people, the people that live in
the communities, the people that are doing the work, to see what their
suggestions were. It`s easy for some of us to say what should be done.
But we really wanted to take it back to the neighborhood to listen to the
people that came to the summit and also talk about some of the good things
and good programs that are going on in the Chicago area.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Congresswoman, you know, I live in New Orleans, and we
are also facing a rash of gun violence, although we`ve had some important
declines over the past six months. The Zimmerman verdict has been
distressing to me as a parent of an adolescent child in part because, on
the one hand you feel like, OK, if I choose to live in a predominantly
African-American community, to be near folks who look like me and all of
the cultural reasons to live in those communities, I`m also often opting
into a community that has these kinds of violent issues.
And then the Zimmerman verdict makes me feel like, and if I go in to opt
into some sort of middle-class, predominantly white community, then I have
that sort of danger of profiling.
What are the folks who are at that summit saying about their sense of where
they can live to have themselves and their children be safe?
KELLY: You know, it`s interesting because that, to my knowledge, wasn`t
talked about that much. What really came up a lot of times was, you know,
what our kids need. We don`t want our kids on the block but -- as the
youth were saying, but they don`t have anything to do, that we`ve taken
away the community centers, and we don`t have the resources.
We need a youth initiative where we`re putting our youth to work at least
during the summer where there`s internship programs, where adults are
coming in caring about the youth, loving the youth, where parents are
parenting. Those are more the things that came up, like what about us?
HARRIS-PERRY: Hold for me just a moment. I want to come out to you,
Professor Dyson. You actually had testimony here. What did you have to
say? What do you think are the key things that ought to be driving our
conversation around this?
DYSON: Well, yes, I had the privilege of speaking with Trayvon Martin`s
father there and Kweisi Mfume and others. And it`s extremely important to
talk about the things that -- the right-wing things we`re not talking
about. When you talk about Chicago, you`re talking about depopulation.
They lost 200,000 people, which means that you -- you lose social capital,
you lose jobs, you lose industry.
Then you talk about the fragmentation of the gangs because when you
disperse the heads of the gangs the body acts errantly. And it sounds
ironically to say there`s lack of discipline and therefore they do drive-by
shootings and the like.
And then thirdly we talk about the way in which there is a lack of
attention paid to those who were at the bottom of the boat so that
depopulation and gang fragmentation has to do also with the radical
demoralization of poor people in this country.
When you put all that stuff together it`s a powder keg and it`s going off,
and what I suggested is that we have both from the White House down to
everyday society, use the bully pulpit to say, continue to speak out
against so-called crime in these areas but also talk about resources.
Neighborhood youth corps and seta when I was a kid, you had a chance to get
a job and if you don`t even have a chance to get a job you don`t know what
it means to report to work, to make a decent wage, and to feel good about
doing an honest day`s labor.
Those things together are commonsense but they also have a tremendously
positive and edifying effect upon the populations about which we speak.
HARRIS-PERRY: Congresswoman, one last question for you here. The other
thing that we`ve covered a lot around Chicago has been the closing of the
schools. Did young people at all talk about that in connection with the
issues of gun violence in the city?
KELLY: More of the adults spoke about that than the young people. The
young people are just crying out for jobs, mentoring, adults who care,
something to do, expanding community programs. That`s what they really
And they also address that adults we really don`t know what the gang is
these days, what the gang -- how gangs really operate. Something along the
line of what Professor Dyson was saying that is very different, it might be
block by block. It`s not what we think it is or what it was before.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And if -- if we don`t even have good definitions of
what we`re dealing with, it makes it very hard to be effective policy
Congresswoman Robin Kelly in Chicago, thank you for joining us this
KELLY: Thank you so much.
HARRIS-PERRY: And after the break what they call in hip-hop beef, and why
Harry Belafonte is ready to squash it.
HARRIS-PERRY: In the world of hip-hop rivalries the beef is practically a
rite of passage. Who could forget the beef between artists like Tupac and
Biggie? 50 Cent and Ja Rule, 50 Cent and Rick Ross, 50 Cent and -- well,
just about everybody. But no one saw this next one coming. Wait for it.
Wait for it. Jay-Z and --
I`m sorry, but yes. None other than singer, actor, and civil rights
activist Harry Belafonte. Earlier this week Jay-Z responded to Belafonte`s
year-old criticism of Mr. Carter`s lack of social responsibility.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even in the African-American community, like someone
like Belafonte makes a comment, you get offended by that like people --
JAY-Z, RAPPER: Yes, I`m offended by that because, first of all -- and this
is going to sound arrogant. But my presence is charity. That`s who I am.
I felt like Belafonte, he just went about it wrong. Like the way he did it
in the media and then he bigged up like Bruce Springsteen or somebody. And
it was like whoa, it just -- you just sent, like, the wrong message all the
You know what I`m saying? You bigged up this -- I mean, Bruce Springsteen
is a great guy. You know what I mean? Like you, this civil rights
activist and you just bigged up the white guy against me on -- in the white
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Yo. It got real Friday night on MSNBC`s "ALL IN WITH CHRIS
HAYES." Belafonte had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARRY BELAFONTE, ARTIST: I would hope with all my heart that Jay-Z would
not take personally what was said because it was not said about him
personally. It was a question asked by a leading -- question given by a
member of the press in Switzerland.
Having said that, I would like to take this opportunity to say to Jay-Z and
to Beyonce, I`m wide open. My heart is filled with nothing but hope and
the promise that we can sit and have a one-on-one and let`s understand each
other rather than trying to answer this question and answer these nuances
in a public place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Just think if Biggie and Tupac had handled it that way.
Back at the table, Michael Eric Dyson, Representative Barbara Lee,
anthropology professor Jonathan Rosa, and Elon James White.
Beef between Harry Belafonte and Jay-Z, whose presence is charity.
WHITE: I`m one of probably the three people on Twitter that said I get his
argument. It was just really badly made. We deal with situations in
spaces that literally there are non-profits that do nothing but raise
awareness around things. Right? That is their job, to raise awareness.
Jay-Z shows up to somewhere, like the Trayvon march, he automatically --
that was the story everywhere. Like Jay-Z and Beyonce, Jay-Z and Beyonce.
He did raise the profile of that particular event. And so --
HARRIS-PERRY: So his presence in that --
WHITE: His presence did, in fact, add something to it.
WHITE: Now, please note, this is a terrible way of making this argument,
and you can easily make the argument that as artists, especially once you
grow to a certain level, that you could say you owe something back to the
community, that you should speak out more and do these things. But it`s
not one -- you can`t force people to do that. And two, when he does do it,
it does kind of matter.
HARRIS-PERRY: So it`s not just that he`s a businessman. He`s also a
DYSON: You`re vibe magazine stoking the beef.
HARRIS-PERRY: I know. I know. I`m stoking the beef. I don`t mean to do
that. I`m sorry.
DYSON: Here`s the deal. Here`s the deal. I have to -- public disclaimer.
I`m friends with both of these men. So I admire them greatly. But of
course Harry Belafonte is in a league by himself because when John Lewis
made a criticism of my first Dr. King book and people came to me I said
there is nothing possible that Mr. Lewis could ever say to make me say
anything but thank you very much.
However, I think that we can say to Mr. Belafonte there might have been a
different way you could go about this. You could have -- you`re a high-
profile guy. He`s a high-profile guy. You can call him up and say look, I
got beef. You can`t now walk it back by saying, I didn`t make it
permanence. Yes, you did. And guess what? That`s why we`re not paying
attention because you made it personal with Beyonce and Jay-Z and you
challenged them as you perhaps should and then Jay-Z responded.
Now I think what they need to do is to take it to another level. These two
great titans of their particular industries, and don`t get it twisted,
there was a great price that Jay-Z paid and Beyonce paid. A lot of people
didn`t want them to show up at that Trayvon case because we know commerce
is at stake here. And so let`s not pretend we don`t understand --
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Mike, I want to push on two of these things because I
think two things -- well, you said lots of important things but two that I
want to highlight here.
HARRIS-PERRY: So one is the idea that I want to be really careful that we
are meant -- so Mr. Belafonte is undoubtedly in a class by himself. Like
that`s why it`s kind of silly that they`re having beef, right? Because you
can`t really have beef with Harry Belafonte because he wins, right?
DYSON: Everybody is a vegetarian.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Right. But here`s the issue. I do worry about the
intergenerational thing that happens when what we do is simply sort of, you
know, bow at the feet of our elders, right? I do think it is important for
young people to be able to be critical of the civil rights generation.
DYSON: Yes. Yes.
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, it`s part of what would make the CBC stronger --
like we have to both revere them and push them.
DYSON: That`s a great point.
HARRIS-PERRY: And at the same time I also worry a lot about this let`s not
do it public. Let`s do it in public. Let`s go ahead and engage in our
public -- no, uh-uh. You`re not down with that.
WHITE: It`s not so much that let`s do it in public. The idea is that in
that particular situation I agree with Dr. Dyson, it was a personal jab.
He could have reached out. He`s Harry Belafonte. Harry Belafonte can talk
to anybody he wants to.
ROSA: Right. Right.
WHITE: And so he could have reached out in that situation. And so I can
see being hurt. Now whether or not he had a valid point is not the
argument. It`s about the feeling of someone coming at you, especially
someone from like the civil rights time. I would be freaked out if all of
a sudden someone came at me.
DYSON: But you know, 90 percent of the people don`t have -- and I think
Melissa Harris-Perry is right in this sense. That that`s Jay-Z and Harry
Belafonte. Most of us ain`t got no access, ain`t got telephone numbers or
e-mail. So now we have to use the public forum to articulate disagreement
and dissent and guess what? It`s all right. Because when it comes to
President Obama if you`re an African-American person you can`t express
criticism of him.
Of course you can but you do it out of respect for what the traditions are.
At the same time young people have to be able to like outcast appropriate
the past, use Rosa Parks` name to create a consciousness and let`s just not
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And -- I mean, Congresswoman, I want the CBC and
President Obama to have beef, right, in the sense that I want them to be
able to be jointly critical and engage publicly with one another.
BARBARA LEE: Sure. Well, we`re three branches of government.
BARBARA LEE: The Congress has its responsibility to represent their
districts and also to put forth an agenda that speaks to those who had been
shut out of this country`s economic and social system. And so we
absolutely have a duty and responsibility to push hard and push the
envelope on behalf of the country and on behalf of course of our districts.
But let me say also I think the debate that`s taking place now with regard
to Jay-Z and Mr. Belafonte is healthy. It`s intergenerational.
BARBARA LEE: And you know what this reminds me of, there`s the saying in
the language in Ghana, Sankofa, in order to move forward you have to
understand your past. Mr. Belafonte not only was a great entertainer, he
was very active in the civil rights movement. So there could be a Jay-Z
and a Beyonce and others.
And so I think that we have to make sure that both voices continue to be
heard because that`s the only way that communities of color and the
African-American community can move forward. It`s Sankofa. We need to
really understand that experience.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. And it of course gives lie to the notion that we all
think the same thing, or that we`re all in agreement.
I do want to -- I want to bring you in, in part on this, like, just call me
instead of having the public forum because I actually think part of what
he`s doing is using the public forum. But also I`ve got a little Elon
James White conversation to be had because after the break, the N word and
I swear, I`m serious, I`m about to make beef between Elon James White and
Tim Allen when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, presumably what we`ve been talking about here is the
influence of celebrity in debate over social change. And the latest voice
to enter the conversation, comedian Tim Allen, star of the sitcoms "Home
Improvement" and "Last Man Standing."
In a interview with the "Tampa Bay Times" he argues that white comedians
should not shy away from using the N word and should be more direct in the
tradition of comics like Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce. He says the
euphemism "N word" is actually worse than the actual word.
Allen tells the paper, quote, "You want to take the power away from that
word so that no one is offended by it. If I have no intent, I show no
intent. If I clearly am not a racist, then how can N be bad coming out of
And what I appreciate about what Tim Allen is saying here is that it is
complicated. And given the kinds of uncomplicated things I`ve said, at
least there`s some thoughtfulness here, but I do just want to ask, Elon?
WHITE: I would like Tim Allen to shut up. Here`s why. First of all, I`m
getting a little bit tired of white dudes telling me, one, what I can say
or what they can say and then, two, about my neighborhood and my community.
I`m getting a little tired of it across the board because they`re talking
directly about people like me, like who are from the hood, who grew up
single parents and stuff like that.
And then about the language thing. I -- being a performer for years, I`ve
heard people make this argument, oh, I can say whatever I want. Anything
can be funny. I do not deny that. Anything. I`m not someone who tells
people they can`t tell jokes. But 99 percent of people aren`t funny. And
then on top of it even the people who think they`re funny, half the time
their material sucks.
And so you`re sitting here, you want to make an argument that you -- that
we should just say the word, we`re going to say the word and we`re going to
take the power away from it so no one can be offended. Guess what? I`m
offended. And you can`t make -- oh, it`s -- listen, you can hear how I`m
saying it. Guess what? You`re just another pinpoint in the larger issue
overall in America.
You are now adding -- this thing about listen, man, I`m just trying to take
the power away from it. Shut up. You don`t have the right to take the
power away from it.
ROSA: The other thing is if Tim Allen wants to carve out a space for
himself in which he can use language however he wants, go for it and try it
out and see if that works and see how it`s received, right? If he thinks
he`s capable of doing that. But it reminds me, his commentary, this notion
that, you know, you know what`s in my heart.
You know what I really belie, this idea that it`s not entirely unlike Rand
Paul`s commentary, you know, I don`t have a racist bone in my body, this
sort of thing.
ROSA: So if you know what`s really in my heart, then I can say whatever I
want. Which really undermines the idea that language shows us what`s in
your heart, right? That language is a way of revealing your heart in a
HARRIS-PERRY: And you don`t necessarily have the power to -- I mean, the
notion of taking power away linguistically, right? I just -- so, you know,
I try to be an ally of certain movements and I mess up. Right? I`ve had
folks in LGBT communities, I`ve had, you know, Jewish friends come up to me
and say that, no. That, not so much. I know that -- we know you`re our
ally, we know you`re down with us, but demonstrate that you are down with
us by not saying these things anymore.
And for me the ally response is oh, OK, well, then I`m -- I mean, basically
the ally response is sometimes to shut up.
DYSON: Right. You see that`s the point. He wants to move from ally to
reassume the appropriate privilege of whiteness, which is to dictate the
terms of the debate. Look, you all invented the N word. We didn`t
BARBARA LEE: Yes.
DYSON: We just co-opted it. We hijacked it. We did a carjacking on that
word a few decades ago and now you`re mad because we`ve made more sexy use
of it. Some denigration as well. And now you want back in. No, you can`t
have back in. I refuse to infantilize white people. He says it`s
confusing to me. It ain`t confusing.
Here`s -- here`s a general rule of thumb to follow when using the N word
for white people. Never. When you do that, then you understand you can`t
do it. And then finally what`s interesting here --
HARRIS-PERRY: Then it`s not confusing.
DYSON -- is that using this kind of word as Chris Rock said, white people
control the whole world but they feel if they can`t use the N word somehow
their power has been removed. No. Grow up, allow us to determine what is
in and out and as a result of that be our ally and challenge white people
not to use it at home. You`re already using it. You just want to use it
BARBARA LEE: Yes, Melissa, you know what, I don`t buy his explanation.
BARBARA LEE: First of all, it`s a deep psychological, sociological
analysis that he put out there. Come on. He should know better. You
know, he should know better and I think I agree with what everyone has said
here, this is something that, first of all, very offensive to the African-
You couple that now with what`s taking place in terms of racial profiling,
in terms of all of the income inequality, poverty raids, food stamp cuts,
Medicaid, the structural -- you know, the structural issues.
BARBARA LEE: This is very dangerous and volatile and you just don`t do it.
DYSON: And I know he uses the B word around me all the time, but I don`t
use the B word.
HARRIS-PERRY: But, right, you don`t get to use it.
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m such a softy because I really like -- I read it, I was
like, well, at least he`s trying it, and maybe we could -- we could book
him, OK, they all just said be quiet.
WHITE: But also, but also, basically like a smaller version of America
itself. My heart says this, that I can`t be racist, and that is nonsense.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. The intent. Well, that was the actual thing on
which the entire Zimmerman verdict was based.
DYSON: But you don`t have a racism bone in your body --
HARRIS-PERRY: Michael Eric Dyson, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Jonathan
Rosa, Elon James White, you know he`s just going to keep going into the
Up next, what my daughter and I do during summer vacation.
HARRIS-PERRY: I know it`s still July, but in just a few short weeks,
schoolteachers around the country will ask their students, what did you do
during your summer vacation?
For one group of ambitious young ladies the answer will be, I ran for
elected public office. This summer, the Political Institute for Women, a
nonprofit organization, that trains women to run for office, office hosted
a weeklong Camp Congress for Girls in cities across the country.
The camp introduces girls to the American political system, and teaches
them how to raise campaign funds, mount an effective candidacy, draft
legislation and pass a bill.
My 11-year-old daughter Parker and my 10-year-old niece Nathiay just
finished their week in Washington, D.C.`s Camp Congress for Girls.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PARKER LACEWELL, MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY`S DAUGHTER: We learned so much
stuff. Like how women can be an empowerment and we even wrote our own
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Jasmine (INAUDIBLE). I`m running for U.S.
House of Representatives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m running for the president of the United States of
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m running for the president of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m a qualified candidate for this office because I
am determined, confident, goal-oriented, decisive and most importantly, I
am drawn to equal rights.
LACEWELL: Don`t forget to tell them what we are running for.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Nythia Tellyle (ph). I am running for the
House of Representatives from the state of Massachusetts.
LACEWELL: I`m running for the House of Representatives from the state of
Why do you think there haven`t been women presidents?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is very hard. There`s a lot of money involved and
also there are not that many opportunities for women.
LACEWELL: In the United States?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, if I stick to it. If I don`t get -- I stay in
school, I can probably do it.
LACEWELL: Girls can be in office. They can -- they are power. It`s not
just men who are in power, so I am encouraged now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Parker, if you really want to doing something, if you
want to be president, go for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right, girls. Go for it, your country needs your
leadership. Any last thoughts?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Everybody say we love MSNBC.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love MSNBC.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. And that`s our show for today. Thanks so much for
joining us. We`ll see you next week on both Saturday and Sunday at 10:00
a.m. Eastern and now it`s time for "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT."
ALEX WITT, MSNBC ANCHOR: I wish I was in the studio, like I love this.
Best footnote ever. Very good. Thank you so much, Melissa.
New interview with President Obama today. He`s vowing to do one thing for
the rest of his days in office. Plus "The Grio`s" Chris Witherspoon joins
me to share his interview with Spike Lee which includes the chances he`ll
do a Trayvon Martin documentary.
Also my conversation with Star Jones. We talked with her exclusively and
also about her O.J. Simpson interview during his civil trial and she gives
me the inside scoop on what`s coming up next for her. It`s pretty huge so
don`t go anywhere. I`ll be right back.
WITT: A remarkable scene in Brazil. Millions crowd miles of beach for an
audience with the Pope. We have details on an epic mass and a live report.
Tragedy on the Hudson. New details on what might have caused that wedding
party boat crash that turned deadly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Everything that I am proposing and everything I will be proposing
over the next three years goes right at that issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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