'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Sunday, July 27th, 2014
Read the transcript to the Sunday show
July 27, 2014
Guest: Steve Monroe, Laurie Garrett, Tarik Jasarevic, Nicole Paultre Bell,
Eugene O`Donnell, Mychal Denzel Smith, Elon James White, Brittney Cooper,
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning, my question. Is there
hope for a cease-fire in Gaza?
Plus, the consequences of aggressive policing.
And all the things that magical black fathers can`t fix.
But, first, the growing outbreak killing hundreds across the continent.
Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
This morning there are what appear to be the first reports of an American
infected with Ebola stemming from the current outbreak in western Africa.
Three weeks ago on this program when we last covered the spreading Ebola
outbreak we already knew it was the worst ever since we learned about the
virus in 1976. Now, the cases are spreading and the death tolls are
Here`s where we stand. As of Friday, the Centers for Disease Control
report 1,093 medical cases 786 of which are or were confirmed as Ebola
infections. At least 660 people had died in (INAUDIBLE). We learned this
morning that a senior Liberian doctor has also died the first in that
The Ebola virus, according to the CDC spreads mainly through direct contact
with blood and other bodily fluid and indirect contact with objects such as
needles. Ebola symptoms include headaches, fever, joint and muscle aches,
weakness, vomiting and profuse bleeding. There is no cure. There is no
vaccine. Ebola kills up to 90 percent of its victims and quickly. And in
western Africa, the current outbreak is spreading.
We learned this week that the virus reached Nigeria, the African
continent`s most populous nation. Nigerian authorities say a man died
after flying into Lagos from Liberia last Sunday. A World Health
Organization spokesman gave an indication of how fast Ebola can work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL GARWOOD, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION SPOKESMAN: He apparently arrived
to Lagos, I understand, by plane. He left -- he departed on the plane with
no symptoms. He reported being symptomatic on arrival. So, on Sunday he
was vomiting. And he then turned him so far that basically made it known
that he was not doing well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Later, an autopsy reveals a confirmed diagnosis of Ebola in
the traveler. Then on Wednesday, we learned that the lead doctor fighting
the virus in Sierra Leone (INAUDIBLE) has himself contracted the virus.
And in a Pentagon disease development, a 32-year-old patient who had tested
positive for Ebola was forcibly removed by her family from this hospital in
the capital of Freetown. Population there about 1 million. Here`s a
doctor at that hospital on Saturday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOCTOR AMADU SISI, SENIOR DOCTOR: This is in the hands of authorities and
I believe there are leads. Definitely be able to locate and we have
information and we followed the leads and we are still not able to get a
hold of the patient.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The BBC reported Saturday night the patient died shortly
after turning herself in.
And now there is this report. A 33-year-old American doctor has been
infected in Liberia and is now undergoing treatment. His organization,
Samaritan`s Purse is committed to doing everything possible to help Dor.
Brantly during this time of crisis. We ask everyone to please pray for him
and his family."
Without surface-to-air missiles, bombs, rockets or guns, the Ebola virus is
quickly claiming as many lives as any of the international conflicts that
have been our focus this week. And there was no telling where the
suffering and dying will stop.
Joining me now in the studio, Laurie Garrett who is a senior fellow for
global health at the council on foreign relations, from Atlanta, Steve
Monroe, deputy director at the CDC`s National Center for Emerging and
Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, and joining us from Sierra Leone by phone is
Tarik Jasarevic who is a spokesman for the World Health Organization.
Good morning to all of you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning.
HARRIS-PERRY: Tarik, let me begin with you. What is the mood of the
medical community in western Africa relative to this outbreak? Is there
optimism about the ability to stem this?
TARIK JASAREVIC, SPOKESMAN, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (via phone): Thank
you very much for having me on your program, Melissa.
As you put in your introduction, we are seeing medical personnel being
infected. And just to put things in perspective since the beginning of the
outbreak, we had about 100 medical personnel being infected in three
countries and half of them died. So, this just shows how vulnerable health
workers are and how much we need to correct them properly, we need to train
them properly and we need to have enough of them so they can do reasonable
shifts and they can take care of infection and prevention and control
We are really working around the clock with the ministries of health, of
free infected country. And with other partners who are providing their
expertise. You just mentioned, Samaritan`s Purse, but there are others
like doctors without borders, like the Red Cross. We work really around
the clock trying to find every sick patient and every contact basically
those who have been in contact with these infected people, you know, to try
to stop this transmission.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let me ask you one more follow-up on that. When you say
more than 100 health care workers have been infected, half of them having
passed, is there any danger that local health care workers will begin to
refuse to, in fact, care for these patients?
JASAREVIC: Well, it is, it definitely is normal that there is an anxiety,
that there is a fear for health workers. We should not forget this is the
first time that Ebola outbreak has been identified. It is a free country.
So, health workers have not been prepared for this. And this is what I
heard yesterday from the chief medical officer from Sierra Leone who said
exactly that our health care workers are not prepared.
And that`s why so much is need, expertise from outside. We need people who
have been dealing with Ebola before in other countries. We need them to
come here and train local health workers to give them proper equipment and
to tell them how to use this equipment so we don`t have these infections
any longer. World Health Organization has more than 120 people in free
country trying to do a (INAUDIBLE).
HARRIS-PERRY: Stay with us.
Laurie, let me come out to you for a moment. The last time that you were
here three weeks ago, you began by saying let`s take off the table the
possibility that this infectious disease is unlikely to come on a plane and
come to the U.S. As we watch it grow, is that still largely your
LAURIE GARRETT, SENIOR FELLOW, GLOBAL HEALTH AT THE COUNCIL ON FOREIGN
RELATIONS: Yes, I would say so, unless it actually does, at some point,
takes hold in Nigeria or Synagogue where major international airports have
a huge amount of traffic. Even then, I`m sure you`ll hear from the CDC
that we have a very rapid response capacity in the United States.
I think what people are missing, when they try to understand why this is so
out of control in West Africa, is the history of these three countries.
From 1985 until 2003, they were locked in the most brutal civil wars seen
anywhere in the world at the time. Child soldiers cutting off arms.
People being brutally treated 400,000 deaths, millions of people lost their
homes or loved ones. And, so, today what you`re seeing is a tax on health
care workers. Riots attacking hospitals and so on, with the rumors
spreading that would never be held true here.
No one here would think, right, doctors are cannibals. And what`s going on
in the hospitals is they`re eating the people or doctors are actually
cutting off their arms and it`s a thing to sell arms overseas, literal arms
not military arms. And we would never see rumors like that in the United
States. But in fact during the civil war, people got their arms cut off.
There was cannibalism. There was everything that the rumors are saying.
And this is making conquering this problem far, far more difficult.
HARRIS-PERRY: So useful to me because part of the, again, I think the
language I used was panic inducing about the woman whose family forcibly
removed her from this hospital in Sierra Leone. The notion that not
everyone was going in for treatment has to do with the relatively treatment
of these horrible and violent wars.
GARRETT: Let`s not forget Charles Taylor is one of the world`s only
convicted in prison war criminals today. He started a series of events
that led to civil wars in both Sierra Leone and Liberia with spill over in
to Guinea and operatives coming in and out Guinea. The tribes here all
have mutual suspicion of each other. All the ethnic groups and religious
groups distrust one another. And now tons of foreigners dressed in space
suits walking around and it`s, I think, far more difficult than the one I
was in (INAUDIBLE), because there you had an isolated, very large 450,000-
person town, but totally isolated. No way those people were going
anywhere, all one ethnic group, all one religion, and all one language.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let me come to you Steve Monroe down at centers of disease
So given what Laurie helped has me to understand in terms of a broad social
political context, given what we`re hearing out of Sierra Leone about the
potential that these are nations not prepared in terms of also medical
training. From your perspective there at the CDC then, obviously, we can`t
wait for complete social and political justice to address this infectious
disease, so, how do we begin to do it in these contexts that are
STEVE MONROE, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, CDC`S NATIONAL CENTER FOR EMERGING AND
ZOONOTIC INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I think as both of the previous speakers
have pointed out, one of the big needs right now is communication and
education. Both for the health care workers, for the community at large
and also for family members.
The other major route of transmission is person-to-person and family
members caring for a sick loved one in their home or preparing bodies for
burial. And we need to educate people that they need to get people with
symptoms into one of these isolation facilities as quickly as possible and
then educate them on the practices for safe burial.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, when you talk about public education, particularly
public health education that always rests at its core on trust that you
could trust who`s telling you these things, who are the brokers who can be
trusted in these contexts?
MONROE: Absolutely. What we need to do is engage the local leaders in
these villages, whoever the trusted person is and first convince them of
what the important messages are. We know what the messages are for
interrupting transmission. But we need to have the right trusts source, as
you point out, who can deliver that message so that people can accept it.
HARRIS-PERRY: Hold for me one moment for me. Laurie, jump in here.
GARRETT: Yes. One of the things that we have a long history of it in this
particular region, in Sierra Leone and Liberia in particular, is really
strong competition between traditional healers and the western trained
physicians and nurses. Those are the classic case of an individual who was
deliberately infected with (INAUDIBLE) virus which is a close cousin to
Ebola by a competing traditional healer because he was a German physician
working on the problem in the country. He nearly died back in Germany.
Fortunately, he survived. This was several years ago.
But the point is I don`t think that from all the reports I`m getting that
it`s been found way to really bridge this gap between the traditional
healers and the, you know, western-style physicians. And the result is
that the traditional healers are actually encouraging a lot of practices
that run counter to what it takes to stop an epidemic such as stay at home,
take care of your loved one. Don`t put them in the hospital. Don`t let
them put drugs in you, don`t let them put needles in you. Come have my
traditional healing approach. And I think one of the crucial steps is to
make more bridges with religious leaders of all types of religions and the
traditional healers. And this is going to be a very hard, long struggle.
HARRIS-PERRY: Tarik Jasarevic in Sierra Leone with the world health
organization, thank you for joining us here in remote today. To Steve
Monroe, from the center for Disease control in Atlanta, thank you for
joining us this morning. To Laurie Garret here in studio with me this
morning, thanks to all of you for helping me to understand this crisis
which is still very much under way.
We have much more to come this morning, including understanding the
consequences brought by a lengthy culture of aggressive police tactics.
But first, a dire warning for American citizens caught in a battle zone.
HARRIS-PERRY: The U.S. is taking dramatic actions of familiar trouble
spots flairs again in the Middle East. More than 150 Americans were
evacuated from the U.S. embassy in Tripoli Libya Saturday and transported
to neighboring Tunisia in a heavily guarded convoy.
U.S. intelligence official say there was no direct threat. But secretary
of state John Kerry says the embassy is in an area where rival militias are
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: A lot of violence is surrounding our
embassy, but not on the embassy. But, nevertheless, it presents a very
real risk to our personnel. So, we are suspending our current diplomatic
activities at the embassy, not closing the embassy, but suspending the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The state department also issued a travel warning advising
all Americans to leave Libya immediately explaining that various groups
called for attacks on U.S. citizens and U.S. interests. The warning goes
on to say that travelers should be aware that they may be targeted for
kidnapping, violent attacks or death. That stark advice is a sign of how
tense things are in Libya and other regions in the Middle East.
When we come back, the latest on efforts to stop the bloodshed in Gaza.
HARRIS-PERRY: This morning, the world is waiting to see if yet another
cease-fire attempt will take hold between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Hamas is called for a 24-hour break in the fighting after previous brief
cease-fire collapsed overnight. But this morning in an interview with
NBC`s David Gregory on "Meet the Press." Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu
had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We`ve accepted five cease-
fires acted upon them. Hamas has rejected every single one of them,
violated them, including two humanitarian cease-fires, which we accepted
and implemented in the last 24 hours. Now, Hamas is suggesting the cease-
fire and, believe it or not, David, they have even violated their own
cease-fire. So they continue to fire at us. And, of course, we`ll take
the necessary action to protect ourselves, to protect our people, including
against the terror tunnels that they`re digging under our border and try to
reach and blow up our people. We`ll do whatever is necessary to defend
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The violence so far has claimed the lives of at least 1,049
Palestinians and 46 Israelis. And this latest cease-fire attempt comes
after a particularly violent week.
On Wednesday, the United Nations human rights council voted in favor of
launching the commission to investigate potential war crimes in the region.
The council`s highest ranking official said that both Israel and Hamas were
likely responsible for indiscriminate attacks civilians. The United States
cast alone descending votes against launching the investigation.
On Thursday a U.N.-run school, sheltering Palestinians in Northern Gaza,
was shelled killing at least 15 people and wounding many more. The source
of the attack is still unknown. Israeli defense forces denied targeting
the school building but admit to firing into the area and also claim that
they gave advance warning to the U.N. facility to evacuate.
U.N. workers countered those claims by saying they had given the precise
coordinates to the school to the IDF and attempted to negotiate a window of
time for evacuation that Israeli forces never granted.
Later, Thursday evening as violence spread across the Gaza Strip, miles
away thousands of Palestinian protesters in the West Bank marched towards
Jerusalem as part of the largest protest the region had seen in a decade in
what some are called a third (INAUDIBLE) or uprising.
On Friday, attempts by secretary of state John Kerry to help secure a week-
long cease-fire fell apart. That was followed Saturday by a brief cease-
fire, but overnight Israel resumed its offensive after a barrage of rockets
were fired from Gaza. And as we mentioned now Hamas says it wants another
But as Prime Minister Netanyahu made clear this morning, the Israeli
government is skeptical and vowing to do whatever it takes to protect its
Joining me now from Tel Aviv is NBC News Correspondent Martin Fletcher.
Martin, is there any sign of a possible break in the fighting that would be
honored by both sides?
MARTIN FLETCHER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Melissa, it`s happened and
they`re talking about it, but right now it doesn`t appear to be. You
mentioned that Hamas had offered a cease-fire, a 24-hour humanitarian
cease-fire beginning at 2:00 local time.
Well, since then, Hamas has fired 13 rockets, at least, into Israel and
joined their own self-declared cease-fire. But Israel did not accept that
cease-fire because previously, Israel offered cease-fire which Hamas did
So it is becoming a bit ridiculous as an urgency on both sides, clearly, to
allow the Palestinians civilians in Gaza to recuperate to get food, water,
look after their loved ones in the hospitals and find out what happened to
their homes. But Israel and Hamas, neither side really seems to see any
urgency in halting the fighting.
HARRIS-PERRY: When you talk about feeling or seeming ridiculous that
almost always suggest to me that there is political issues involved here.
So, for Israel and for Hamas, what are the internal politics that lead them
to continuously fail to have an urgency about holding on both sides a
FLETCHER: I think it`s because this is still at a stage of being a
military operation on both sides. You know, Hamas when they say we will
agree to a cease-fire with Israel, they lay conditions that for Israel, it
would be impossible to accept. They say for instance, Hamas says they will
only accept a cease-fire if the entire Israeli army pulls out of Gaza
first. Well, that is not going to happen, is it?
At the same time, the Israelis are insisting that they continue looking for
tunnels during the cease-fire. And they`re saying that in the event of a
real negotiations, they want a complete demilitarization of Gaza which
means Hamas will give up all of its weaponry, all of his rocket and start
making new ones. Well, anybody who knows Hamas knows that is not going to
So these two impossible sets of conditions are laid down. Now, whether
this because is because political infighting on both sides isn`t clear.
But it is clear that Prime Minister Netanyahu does have a very serious
problem inside his own government and cabinet. Three, at least two, maybe
three of the members of the security cabinet, which is only eight people,
way to the right and want to fight to continue until Hamas is destroyed.
(INAUDIBLE) inside the government and surprisingly for some this includes
the prime minister, do not want that. They prefer to somehow find an end
to the fighting.
But, you know, if Netanyahu calls a cease-fire now without really achieving
serious goals, everybody here says his time now as prime minister will be
over. So there is a serious pressure on Prime Minister Netanyahu in terms
to keep fighting until he achieves at least one serious goal like ending
the tunnel threat.
And as far as Hamas is concerned, they are completely divided. They have
the military leadership in Gaza, the political leadership in Gaza, the
political leadership outside Gaza and they don`t seem to have such a great
coordination at all. The military leadership inside apparently has been
signaling need of a cease-fire. It appears to be the political leadership
outside but it is not ready for it -- Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: Martin, one last question, in the meantime while all of this
is happening, the toll for civilians is enormous. How is that impacting
world opinion towards both sides in the context of this ongoing fight?
FLETCHER: Well, let`s be clear. Of course, as you know, I`m just stating
the obvious that the casualty toll is among civilians on the Palestinian
side. On the Israeli side, it`s actually three civilians being killed on
the Palestinian side, as well. 1,064 people is the latest number people
killed, of whom a good majority, maybe 80 percent are civilians.
While outside the world is seeing these pictures, the horrific pictures of
children which have been killed in Gaza, which has been repeated on all the
TV screens who are following the story. And this has a horrific cumulative
effect on people`s perspective on what Israel is doing.
Everybody is saying, I mean, Israel is under tremendous pressure from
governments and from the media outside Israel saying stop the carnage. But
that is not reflected inside Israel. The people of Israel, for the most
part, are clearly behind the government, behind the military and that
saying this is the time to finish Hamas, once and for all. Sorry about the
carnage, we regret it but it is now or never to take out Hamas. And that
the pressure that Netanyahu is under because he is very concerned about
continuing the fighting.
HARRIS-PERRY: Martin Fletcher in Tel Aviv, thank you for joining us.
Please try to stay safe.
FLETCHER: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Up next, we turn our attention to violence right back here
at home and the tragically avoidable death of Eric Garner.
HARRIS-PERRY: By now, you`ve probably seen the video depicting the arrest
of 43-year-old Eric Garner, a father of six from Staten Island.
Here`s what we know. Garner was approached by NYPD officers on July 17th
for allegedly selling illegal and untaxed cigarettes. He is heard saying
that he feels harassed by the police and that it quote "stops today."
What appears to happen next is that Garner is put in an apparent choke hold
and wrestled to the ground. He repeatedly says that he cannot breathe.
Garner spent roughly seven minutes on the ground while four EMS workers
appeared to be doing little to help him. Eric Garner was taken to Richmond
University medical center where he was pronounced dead. The case is still
under investigation, but so far the NYPD officer who placed the apparent
choke hold on Garner has been stripped of his gun and badge and placed on
desk duty. And the four emergency medical service workers who responded to
the scene and were initially placed on modified duty have now been
suspended without pay.
For a moment, let us not look at the outcome, but rather the policing
tactic that contributes to the over enforcement of petty crimes, like the
one police initially approached Eric Garner about on that fateful day.
That tactic is called broken windows and a tactic that current New York
City police Commissioner Bill Bratton advocated in his previous tenure as
the police commissioner of both New York and Los Angeles. When police uses
that, they go aggressively go off their minor offenses because they see it
as a way to deter more violent crimes. The minor crimes I`m referring to
littering, sitting on stoops, also selling loosies or loose cigarettes.
Broken windows policing is, in its variance, including zero tolerance,
quality of life and stop and frisk disproportionately affect African-
Americans and Latinos even though the latter practice was ruled
unconstitutional last year.
While the numbers stopped were down last year, 56 percent of those stopped
were African-American and 29 percent Latino and 11 percent white. And
while the await enters and action in regard to Eric Garner`s death, it is
certain by the attention being given to this case that the investigation
will remain under scrutiny as evidence by Attorney General Eric Holder
weighing in on Friday with this statement.
In the aftermath of this tragic event, justice department officials have
been in touch with Mr. Garner`s family members. We are closely monitoring
the city`s investigation into the incident.
At the table, Michael Eric Dyson, an MSNBC political analyst and professor
at Georgetown University, Eugene O`Donnell, a former NYPD police officer
and professor of law of police studies at John Jay College of Criminal of
justice, Mychal Denzel Smith, blogger at nation.com and a fellow at the
Nation Institute, and Nicole Paultre Bell who is president of the When it
is Real, it is Forever organization. You will remember that her fianc‚,
Sean Bell, was killed by police officers on his wedding day in 2006.
Thank you so much.
Let`s start with broken windows as a policy. What does a broken windows
policy at the top mean for police officers who are on the ground? What
kind of advice are they given about how they are supposed to behave on a
EUGENE O`DONNELL, PROFESSOR, JOHN JAY COLLEGE: It is a great question
because it is really a policy issue and it is a legal issue in the sense
that lawmakers are continuously passing laws directing the police to be in
conflict of people. And we have to really come to reckon with that. That`s
the reality. And so, the idea that the police are out there arresting
people for loose cigarettes should really shock people unless there is some
really major reason to be doing this.
We have kind of made arrests, not a big deal. Certainly after the `90s in
New York, we need to restate, taking somebody`s liberty, taking some of
these freedom, even for a few seconds is a massive thing. And by the way,
we should start looking at using technology. And when you decide you have
to do enforcement to release people on the spot.
This idea that you would presume innocent while being handcuffed and
dragged to court is sort of inconsistent. And we should have a technology
now. If you decide this is important enough, not to have these custodial
scuffles with people, there should be a way to say, sir, I am nothing
against you, there is nothing personal, we will see you in court. Not to
have these things resolve in a sidewalk.
HARRIS-PERRY: So the language that you just used was interesting. This,
the notion that sort of the over legislation or the over passing of laws
creates the on the ground reality of police in conflict with people.
In this moment, though, with the kind of conflict that we were seeing
inside or outside of what should have been police practice. So you`re
talking here about a technology that would say, man, this is the law,
here`s your citation, I`ll see you next Tuesday, right? The other
possibility is in this case that this wasn`t so much about law, in other
words, when I`m looking at this, is this a rogue set of police officers
behaving outside the scope of what they should be doing or is this mandated
from the top?
O`DONNELL: Probably had minor offense enforcement is. People flip out a
lot of times because rightfully so. People say, you have nothing better to
do on this beautiful afternoon than to come after me for loose cigarettes?
You`ll see that with a lot of enforcement.
So, it`s very hard to actually get to the bottom of the dynamic. But, we
need to say that these things are always going to be problematic,
potentially. NYPD has to do a better job training. They have to do a
better job minimizing these encounters. But any time they have the
contacts, they can always say. By the way, I have never heard anybody say
let`s not do loose cigarette enforcement. Never heard one law enforcement
official say that yet.
HARRIS-PERRY: Nicole, 2006 is when you lost John. It is 2014 and a wife
just lost her husband, six children, their father, two children their
grandfather. Before passing Mr. Garner`s final words were, this stops
today. Do you have some optimism about this stopping today?
NICOLE PAULTRE BELL, PRESIDENT, WHEN IT IS REAL, IT IS FOREVER
ORGANIZATION: One thing that separates this from Sean, what happened to us
is that there is a video. And what happened with Sean when Sean was
killed, the aftermath of what happened, who could have did what and who
should have done what was so high, the intensity was so high because no one
knew what happened that day.
BELL: Your video phones are power. They are your power.
HARRIS-PERRY: They were not nearly, in 2006, people didn`t have a video
camera on them at all times.
BELL: No. Absolutely not. And it just shows right now the technology we
have and how it can save lives and also potentially get justice for this
family, hopefully. Because, you know, with my family and with the Dialo
family and so many other families when you go to state court, criminal
court for police officers, there is no justice.
HARRIS-PERRY: So when you say that, I want to take moment and listen,
MSNBC own Reverend Al Sharpton spoke at the funeral on Wednesday and he
talked for a moment about that question of justice. I`d like to listen to
Reverend Sharpen and then ask you what justice looks like in this context.
Let`s take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR, POLITICS NATION: When the tapes show
he was laying lifeless, you think we are not going to fight this one? You
can get ready for the long haul. We are not going to stop until we get
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So, what is justice? Mr. Garner is gone, Sean is gone.
What does justice for the family look like?
BELL: Someone has to be held accountable. At the end of the day, it goes
down to accountability. How are we going to get change here? How is this
going to stop? You can`t keep slapping these men on the wrists for these
crimes or these killings, these murders that are being committed. They
have to be held accountable.
For my family, all we were looking for and to this day, we have accepted,
you know. We are full of faith and we are a prayerful family so we
accepted exactly what the outcome is because we know that God is the
ultimate judge. But this family needs someone to be held accountable in
order for something to be done not only for this family, but for families
HARRIS-PERRY: Michael, accountability in this context is it about police
officers or the police chief or mayoralty in the sense of what he was
elected to do if, in fact, that police chief stays in office or can that
police chief and that mayor stay and hold accountable the men on the bottom
and allow it to be a context of justice and accountability?
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you raised a
significant set of questions and I think in the throw in the question you
asked before, I think it was police practice. That`s part of the problem,
that role cops. They are cops doing exactly what the broken windows theory
says. That is, if the window was broken, watch out because then later on
the house is going to be attacked and later on the people are going to be
So the reality is here that the policy itself has to be reexamined. If the
"New York Times" says broken windows, broken lives, it is not the broken
window, it is the motion door. It is the door that shuts black people and
Latino people in an iron cage of incarceration of over policing of over
surveillance and closes them out of economic opportunities that lead to
selling loose cigarettes on the street corners of Staten Island.
And then more broadly, yes, it is a question of challenge to Mr. De Blasio.
Because Mr. De Blasio ran on, you know, reducing some of the stop and
frisk, of course. But the reality is, he believes in broken windows. And
he says even after the death of Mr. Garner, we are not going to (INAUDIBLE)
in this and that`s part of the problem. The problem is that, you know, a
discretion of police is employed differently when it comes to black and
brown people than when it is applied to white Americans and others. And I
think that`s part of the difficulty.
HARRIS-PERRY: You have brought us exactly to where I want to go right
after the break which is this notion that even the "New York Times" has
weighed in, it is said that Mr. De Blasio was, in fact, elected to address
exactly this. And so, one of the political consequences for this
mayoralty, in addition to the human consequences for this family members,
I`m bringing you back, Mychal Denzel Smith, when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY: It is too early to jump to any
conclusions about this case. We must wait for all the facts and details of
the incident to emerge. But I assure all New Yorkers there will be a full
and thorough investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was New York City mayor Bill De Blasio holding a press
conference last Friday, the day after Eric Garner died. While De Blasio`s
response in the aftermath of Garner`s death is swift and has not stopped
call to the resignation of De Blasio`s top cop New York City police
commissioner Bill Bratton.
Mychal, I am convinced after living in Chicago and New Orleans, the most
important thing that mayor does in their first days in office is the choice
of their top police officer, their police commissioner. And, honestly, for
a man who was elected in large part because of where he stood in stop and
frisk early on, this was a surprising choice. And I wonder if the guy was
cast with that choice, maybe not for Mr. Garner, in particular, but that
someone would be victimized in this way.
MYCHAL DENZEL SMITH, BLOGGER, THENATION.COM: Let`s say, one, there is no
justice with (INAUDIBLE). That`s where we are. And you bring aboard the
architect of these racists policing practice. Broken window is racism in
action like that -- and we need to say that as well.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So, let`s pause there. Because I think it is valuable
to make a point that strong. But, also, incumbent upon us to explain what
it is when you say that. So, in what way, because it`s not as though the
policy itself says, go get black people?
SMITH: Right. But here`s the problem. We have seeded the idea of
preventing crime, however we`ve defined it, like we defined it way too
broadly in my opinion. But we seeded that responsibility to police.
Police are not equipped to do that. We are trying to get it on the back
end. And, so, that`s when you have the birth of these type of policies
where you think that, if I go after these small petty crimes, that will
lead me to preventing bigger crimes, which you can`t do that as police.
That`s just not in the purview of what a police officer is capable of
doing. But then if you are then giving license to police to essentially
harass the public, who are they going to choose? They`re going to choose
the people that are already most vulnerable and the most vulnerable are
black and brown bodies.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. That`s right. So, let me underline this a little bit,
right, because this is part of your point, Mychal, about standing on the
street corner and selling loosies. So when we hear, you go after every
petty crime, that`s not quite true accurate. Because you don`t actually
like run up to Hunter College, right, and start turning out the pockets of
all the kids on campus and you don`t actually go after all the kids
cheating on their tests so that they don`t bring down Wall Street in 25
SMITH: That`s a great point.
HARRIS-PERRY: A very particular kind of thing that we think of as crime
and it has everything to do which bodies are in public space to be seen by
DYSON: That`s a great point. And what we are dealing with to draw upon
brother Smith`s point here, is the ramification that we already
predetermined who is going to be more likely a criminal than others. So,
there is a criminalization of black people and brown people to begin with
so that the behavior fits the narrative and fits the theory.
But look at it this. Look at it imperially. Twenty years ago, when there
were three times as many murders in New York City, for every felony arrest
there was 1.3 misdemeanor arrests.
Now, there are 2.5 misdemeanor arrests for every felony. So, the point is,
it`s not even working in terms of the reduction of crime because the
reduction of crime doesn`t rest upon a broken window, it rests upon
understanding the context of how police people should be there, not to
conflict with people, but to engage to protect and serve.
HARRIS-PERRY: Can a change at the top, if Bratton were replaced, would it
change what happened on the bottom or is the culture too deeply embedded
about the presumptions of criminality?
O`DONNELL: Well, and this is the great thing that has not been said is the
need for community policing. We had a little bit of tryout of this and it
really never took off. And I was telling somebody the other day there was
a community in Brooklyn. We used to have a sergeant there. The elected
officials that they had a problem in Brooklyn would go to the sergeant.
Nobody was handcuffed. There no physical force. He could talk people
down. He had stature in the neighborhood. We need to go back and look at
community policing. And we need to, again, say arresting people, detaining
people, taking liberty away is a gigantic step. In the `90s it became not
a big deal. We need to say every time you`re stopping somebody and
depriving them of freedom, that`s a big deal.
HARRIS-PERRY: It is a big deal.
Stay with us because I want to come back. And Nicole, I want to get your
response to the suffering that the Garner family is currently experiencing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELLISHA FLAGG. ERIC GARNER`S SISTER: Millions of people who own stores
sell illegal cigarettes. They use their license, not their life.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let`s get justice done for my husband, he deserves
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just knowing that my daughter`s birthday is coming
up, my father never missed a birthday. The only thing my daughter asks is
for her Papa to bring the cake. I don`t know how to explain to her that
this year Papa is not bringing the cake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was reaction from the sister, wife and daughter of Eric
Garner whose funeral was held in Brooklyn this past Wednesday.
I don`t even know what quite to ask you, Nicole, except I don`t know if you
had an opportunity to speak with the Garner family. If you did, any advice
for navigating what they are about to go through?
BELL: I did. I attended the service and I met them with Nation Action
Network with Reverend Sharpton. And, you know, looking at that family, it
opens up those wounds that never really heal. You just patch them up and
move on because life goes on and you have to. You have no choice. So, all
I could do is just really offer some words of courage and you know, kind of
let them know that this is going to be a long haul. But you have a new
family that you have no idea now. You`re now adopted into this new family
that you had no idea you had. People you don`t even know are out there
fighting for you and hold on to that strength because Eric Garner`s death
won`t be in vain.
HARRIS-PERRY: The man who would have been your husband, the man who was
their husband and father and grandfather, why do you think it is so
difficult, maybe Mychal you`re the one to ask on this, why do you think it
is so difficult to see the man standing on the street as a father, a
fiance, a husband, a grandfather as a human in relationship and family.
Why are they only seen as the potential threat?
SMITH: I wish I knew the answer to that. I really do because I worry so
much about all of us, when we`re just being in public, like existing. What
will it take for our humanity to be recognized in a way that our fates
aren`t this? The fact that you can just, the man was sitting on the stoop.
He was not bothering anyone by all accounts from everyone standing around.
HARRIS-PERRY: It seems he may have even broken up a fight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
SMITH: And even in this moment, which they`re focusing on is the idea that
he was selling looseies and that drove them to a choke hold and letting the
man die on the sidewalk.
HARRIS-PERRY: What I hear in your voice is and Nicole in yours is that
sense of the constant vulnerability. And the notion that there is, that it
is somehow still illegal just to exist and be (INAUDIBLE).
Thank you to Eugene O`Donnell and Nicole Bell, both of our Michaels are
sticking around for the next hour.
Still to come this morning, want to talk to my guest Mychal Denzel Smith
about his piece, entitled "the myth of the magical black father."
There is more MHP show at the top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. The summer of 2014
is more than halfway over and so far not too kind to Hollywood
blockbusters. In fact, it`s been headline grabbing awful, the worst summer
in eight years, the worst year over year decline in box office revenues in
three decades. Apparently, this summer`s movies are missing the
magnanimous logic define hero who stunning keep movie theater seats filled.
Here on MHP show we couldn`t believe Hollywood producers missed out on the
hero to end all heroes. Someone who could end all the troubles plaguing
the nation, poverty, hunger, if you are an avid news consumer you probably
know just who I am talking about.
The magical black daddy. The allegedly absent black father. He figured
prominently in a news story out of New Jersey earlier this month. A
reporter from New Jersey`s news 12 station was covering the story of a 23-
year-old police officer who was shot and killed while on the job.
Allegedly by this man, Lawrence Campbell.
The station decided to play part of an interview with Campbell`s wife in
which she suggested her husband should have killed more officers. Comments
she later apologized for. Then News 12 reporter, Sean Bergen decided he
wanted to explain to viewers why the station aired the woman`s
Off script, but on air, he told viewers, "We decided to air it because it
is important to shine a light on this anti-cop mentality that has so
contaminated America`s inner cities. It has made the police officer`s job
impossible and it has got to stop. The underlying cause for all of this,
of course, young black men growing up without fathers.
Unfortunately, no one in the news media has the courage to touch that
subject." Those comments led to his suspension and eventually resigned,
but he also landed an interview on Fox News where he doubled down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can certainly draw a connection between fatherless
young men and this feeling of anti-authoritarianism and disrespect for
authority in all its forms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: The first to ever draw a link between the alleged absence of black
fathers and negative community outcomes, but tapping into a long,
perpetuated narrative. In a new column for "The Nation" entitled "The Myth
of the Magical Black Father," Mychal Denzel Smith writes, "The missing
black father is a discourse in our media, popular culture and academia for
at least the past 30 years. It`s one of the more common and insulting
tropes we have in the canon of black pathology.
Smith asked if there could maybe just possibly be any other reason for
young black men to harbor distrust of the police like say experiencing
disproportionate harassment and violence at the hands of the police. But
this is the disconnect he writes, Bergin and others who think like him
don`t see the harassment of young black men as a result of racism.
They take the view that there are certain criminal behaviors prevalent
among black men to which police are responding and those criminal
behaviors, according to the narrative, are direct result of growing up
without a father in the home. The missing black father has been a popular
scapegoat for the real structural especially those of lower income problems
that our legislators over the decades have failed to use policy to
As Smith writes in his article, the legacy of racism and white supremacy
will not be undone by an army of magical black fathers.
With me at the table one magical black father, Michael Eric Dyson, MSNBC
political analyst, and professor at Georgetown University, Elon James
White, media director for Nethouts Nation and the CEO of "This Week" and
Brittney Cooper, assistant professor of Women and Gender Studies at Rutgers
So, Michael, we had a good time when we saw your piece. Not because of a
funny piece, but because the headline, kind of reveals that sense of angst
in which the way it constantly becomes the story.
DYSON: This is new to me to blame anti-cop mentality on the lack of black
PERRY: Anti-authoritarian --
DYSON: You`re denying the experience of young black men with police. If
all of a sudden whatever number of grew up without fathers are 900 percent.
If all of the fathers show up tomorrow, it`s not going to mean that black
children are going to respect police. Because those black fathers are
going to come with their own experiences with those police and pass those
lessons down to their children.
PERRY: Given that we just spent half an hour talking about an African-
American father who was killed during an encounter with police, it
underlines that point. Ilan, I also want to underline that, although we
were seeing that happen on Fox News in that one clip, but this is almost a
So, I want to listen to President Obama talking about the power of the
black father for a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: There`s no more
important ingredient for success. Nothing that would be more important for
us reducing violence than strong, stable families, which means we should do
more to promote marriage and encourage fatherhood.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ELON JAMES WHITE, MEDIA DIRECTOR, NETHOUTS NATION: I understand what Obama
wants to do. I get it. But at the same time, he doesn`t understand how
he`s actively adding to this that it`s so false that I don`t know what to
do with it any more. Someone was raised like me, without the father. I
didn`t have that father around and I told people on numerous occasions, God
forbid my father stayed around. So much more problems would have been
My single black mother is the reason I am able to sit here today and do
what I do and speak on the things I speak of. If I had a father, I would
have been abused. People try to pretend that father means like magical fix
for everything and it doesn`t.
DYSON: It`s this mix of, what you think black people are missing
discipline and the idea of the father as a disciplinarian within the
WHITE: And the black mother is evil and abusive and she`s a problem.
PERRY: This is not just you guys mouthing off. I want to go to the
Moynehan report and so glad you made this point because it brings us to
this critical issue. In a moment when there is still legalized segregation
in the nation, we have a Democrat writing, "Fundamental fact that Negro
American family life is often reversed roles of husband and wife.
The matriarchal pattern of so many Negro families reinforces itself over
the generations. Negro children without fathers flounder and fail. And
then I want to point out that is sort of deep and old and entrenched notion
of black fathers then has a very real effect.
Sarah Shona writing about domestic violence in "New York Times" mental
health professionals and judges and members of the clergy often show
greater concerns of the maintenance of a two-parent family than for the
safety of the mother and her children. Women who left abusive men were
frequently perceived as mothers who had not successfully kept their
children out of harm`s way.
Brittney, I feel like it`s not just that it`s wrong, it is that it is
potentially quite dangerous to continue to have this narrative.
BRITTNEY COOPER, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: Yes. That was
my story. Elon is speaking to my story. My life was infinitely better
when my father left. He was a domestic abuser. We needed to help my
mother come out of poverty and be able to support me and keep a safe and
healthy household. I want to be clear, we don`t have to be anti-black
PERRY: I like my black daddy. I like my black daddy.
COOPER: We will be accused of that. Two problems here. One is
recognizing that blaming black fathers and black mothers for these
pathologies is unfair to both. Black fathers are not responsible for
overcoming the legacies of structural racism that we all fight with that we
all are struggling against and these kinds of discourses give them powers
they don`t have.
We talk about magic when folks won`t have an honest conversation about
structural realities. You know, the second problem here is that we just,
that we need to support our black fathers and make a way for a different
sort of narrative about how family structures can exist so the real issue
here is that there is an indictment of black people not being in narrative.
As opposed to so not achieving a normative nuclear family ideal. That`s
what the Moynihan report does in a particular way. So the last point is
that the state then goes around acting like a baby daddy and giving welfare
to black mothers so we should be thankful for that disciplining black
fathers to the point of literally killing them.
We should reject the narrative that patriarchy that the state acting like a
baby daddy is going to solve any of these problems.
DYSON: The nation has rejected Barack Obama as the collective paternal
influence on this nation.
PERRY: Because he actually was insufficiently magical. Turned out that
the election of President Obama did not, in fact, remove all the problems
of the world. He was not able to sprinkle a magical dust. But, let me
also just, I want to go back to the point that we don`t want to suggest,
again, I like my black father.
And my husband is an extraordinary father and even my ex-husband who wasn`t
a very good husband is a really good father to our child. But can we
separate out a question about the emotional angst or joy that people may
feel in the relationship from the possibility of life outcomes.
My child from divorce will likely have as good an outcome as my child in
the context of marriage because I have education and wealth and income and
opportunity. Not because daddy exists or doesn`t.
DYSON: Look, absolutely right. The reality is that we want healthy
families, not nuclear families. Anything nuclear is bound to react
ultimately anyway. So, what`s interesting, exactly -- so, the thing is, if
we have it as an outcome here the healthiness and spiritually of this child
or the mother who is the primary care taker or the father then it says that
that relationship may be destructive and therefore we have to leave it.
Don`t forget here that we have this Christian narrative that`s been
interpolated within the context of African-American culture where you have
a lot of conservative black people on a Sunday morning going yup, the
problem is, including women, we need the daddy in the house because when
the daddy has the authority then the child will be blessed and the family
will be healthy.
So what we`re fighting against is not simply social pathology, we`re
talking about the bishop and the reverend and the minister who is
expressing theological justification for some of the most violent
consequences of black domestic realities in the country.
PERRY: TV at 11:00 on a Sunday morning. You know church is going to
Up next a little more on this because I want to talk about some of
nerdland`s favorite black, but not magical, daddies.
PERRY: Given all the anxiety about black children growing up without
fathers at home, you would think the public models of engage fatherhood
would elicit praise and task forces, but six months ago one image of
fatherhood went viral and was met with hateful comments and responses, many
of them homophobic. It is an image of fathers, Kordell Lewis and Caleb
Anthony with two of their children.
Being fathers is getting our daughters up at 5:30 a.m. and making them
breakfast and getting them dressed for school and on the bus by 6:30. The
caption read. This is a typical day in our household and it`s not easy but
we enjoy every moment and every minute of #fatherhood.
Cordell has since released a memoire titled "Picture Perfect?" in which he
discusses his childhood including having an incarcerated father since he
was 2. But growing up without his father in the house doesn`t seem to have
prevented him from being an engaged and loving father himself.
So, this goes to that point that when we talk about fatherhood, here you
had two extraordinary black men raising their children, doing hair, which I
know they were like, this is hard, but we are in it. And instead of like
love for this, there was, because it wasn`t that model that we wanted to
WHITE: That`s the problem overall. People don`t want the best for their
child. They want what`s best in their own mind and in religion you have to
have the mother and father as opposed to the fact when I was growing up I
had a single mother and a community of folks around me.
My grandfather was around and a preacher at the church. That was there.
All my fake aunties, if I said or did something wrong they got right back
to my mother and this is how my family worked. But on paper a lot of
folks, conservatives especially, say this is a problem. That is going to
lead to some sort of criminal there and then it didn`t.
You got lucky. Well, why don`t you acknowledge how many other people are
just like me, I am not an anomaly in this situation and that many people
have these environments and many people in these situations and come out
just fine but it doesn`t fit your narrative.
PERRY: For me, my father was always in my life but my parent were not
married and the reason, part of the reason it works out is because we had
great public schools. Had my mother lived in this moment and not had high-
quality, integrated public schools to send her children to, I don`t know
how it would have turned out. I need a public structural environment that
doesn`t need two incomes to send a kid to kindergarten.
DYSON: When I responded to Barack Obama`s chastiseman of black fathers.
Just because you aren`t married doesn`t mean you`re not present in your
PERRY: Sometimes people think we are just saying words and don`t have any
data. This is from the National Center of Health Statistics report.
Fathers age 15 to 44 who don`t live with their children. Right? If you
don`t live with your children. Have you bathed, diapered or dressed your
child every day in the last four weeks? Almost 13 percent of black fathers
as compared to 6 percent of white fathers.
Have you played with your child in the last four weeks, 16.5 percent of
black fathers as compared with just 6 percent of white fathers. Have you
helped your child with homework every day in the last four weeks? Up to 10
percent of black fathers in that context as compared that with half that of
These are people not living with their children, but nonetheless, engaged
at twice the rate as that of white fathers but no crisis of the white.
DYSON: Of the white patriarch in white families. That`s the point that
black participation has been mandated. The laws of the state when Dr.
Huber talked about the welfare of baby daddy. It was mandated the father
couldn`t be present. The very outcome you undercut legally and politically
in public policy because the daddy can`t be there. If he`s there, you
can`t get no dough.
The black fathers are so desirous of being present in their children`s
lives that even when they have problem with baby ma, they understand they
have a paternal responsibility. It may not be perfect, but neither are the
absent present fathers who go into their dens for 16, 17 hours and who are
absent from the lives of their children versus those who were outside
trying to get in because they spend quality time. That`s the outcome we
should have, healthy families. Not nuclear families.
PERRY: Sometimes the absent of a parent, a father or a mother, is, in
fact, it can be painful. I don`t want to take away the pain. But in terms
of life outcomes may be better.
WHITE: A blessing.
PERRY: My argument is President Obama whatever angst he feels, human
angst, he would likely not be president of the United States had his
parents stayed together because his father was not an immigrant. His
father was a student who returned and he would have lived a very different.
So, I get it. Pain, but on the other hand, like the opportunities came not
so much for your black father, but through your mama.
The rest of the panel sticking around. Up next, the thing about acting
white which is, by the way, not a thing.
PERRY: At an event promoting my brother`s keeper initiative this week,
President Obama suggested African-American boys faced the problem of being
teased and taunted for academic success by those who claimed these
attributes are acting white.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Sometimes African-Americans in communities where I`ve worked
there`s been a notion of acting white, which sometimes is overstated, but
there`s an element of truth to it where, OK, if boys are reading too much.
Then why are you doing that or why are you speaking so properly?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: What the president just described named for researcher who
popularized the belief that black youth shun educational achievement as a
way of proving the racial authenticity. Other scholars like the University
of Texas Kevin Coakley have shown that issues of racial identity and
educational achievement are far more complicated than what Agbo initially
As you can hear from the president`s remarks, it is caused by taunts of
stop acting white persists. So much that it sometimes can obscure focus on
deep structural inequalities that disadvantage black students. So, why we
ask if black youth refuse to achieve for fear of acting white, why don`t we
also ask what is the political value for candidates in acting black. That
when we come back.
PERRY: In 2008, for the first time in America, young African-Americans
voted in higher proportions than their counterparts. Black women had the
highest turnout of any group. In 2012 the trend continued, black voter
turnout exceeded that of white Americans, 66 percent to 64 percent. All
politicians attempt to speak to voters in terms that will energize and
mobilize and convey shared perspective and show those voters how much they
understand and care.
In the case of politicians talking to African-American audiences, the
effect can be rhetorically fascinating. Here`s a sampling of some of my
most memorable moments. There was Vice President Joe Biden speaking to the
NAACP conference in 2012.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: And I went
through the battle with mouse. Mousy, you out there? Mouse, how are you
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: Or, former Governor Mitt Romney campaigning in Florida in 2008 at
the staging area for a local Martin Luther King Day parade.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY, FORMER GOVERNOR: Who let the dogs out? Thanks, guys.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: Who let the dogs out or Hillary Clinton speaking at the First
Baptist Church in Selma, Alabama, in 2007 for commemoration of bloody
Sunday especially when she quoted the gospel singer, Reverend James
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I don`t feel tired. I`ve come
too far from where I started from. Nobody told me that the road would be
easy. I don`t believe he brought me this far to leave me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: It`s getting crazy at the table. Even black politicians do it.
Even President Obama like when he did this memorable moment in April of
2008 talking about a tax from the Hillary Clinton moment at the debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: When you`re running for the presidency, then you`ve got to expect
it. And, you know, you`ve just got to kind of let it, you know. It`s what
you got to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: You all remember that a candidate for the presidency. For your
viewers who, for the viewers who don`t know. That was Mr. Obama
channelling his inner Jay-Z and some of those instances are code switching
and some more authentic than others. But another way to connect with black
audiences. Talk in your regular white man voice from Kentucky, but talk
about policies that you believe will resonate with African-Americans.
Senator Rand Paul visited the National Urban League Conference this week to
tell his efforts to lessen the burden of incarceration especially on men of
color. He did not try to imitate African-American vernacular English. But
he did want the audience to know that he knows their stories, Rand Paul.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL, (R) KENTUCKY: But we must realize that race still plays a
role in the enforcement of the law just ask Raliek, Daequon, and
Wan`Tauhjs. They we`re just standing on a street corner up in the North
East when a policeman arrived on the scene and told them to move on or be
arrested. What was their crime? Some have written and said well maybe
their crime was waiting while being Black.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: With me is MSNBC Political Analyst Michael Eric Dyson.
DYSON: What`s up?
HARRIS-PERRY: You want him, right? This week we are in so much trouble.
This week in blind (ph) is Paul Frymer. The -- And he`s playing the normal
guy today, Associate Professor on the Department of Politics at Princeton
University and Brittney Cooper, Assistant Professor at Rutgers.
So let me back up here because we wanted to have a little bit of fun with
all the candidates, Democrats and Republican, Black and White sort of
performing Blackness. But in the case of Rand Paul he wasn`t performing a
code switching. But he was doing something interesting as a Libertarian
Republican going, talking to the NAACP about a substance of policy issue.
What do you make of it?
PAUL FRYMER, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: No, that`s right.
I mean, I think its awkward and its cringe-worthy. At the same time it`s
remarkable for how rare it is. Most candidates just don`t talk about race
at all. In part it`s because they get -- they`re afraid of doing so. Very
few candidates, Obama obviously maybe Bill Clinton are more comfortable
speaking before diverse audiences, many are not.
And so, you know, we need to encourage in some level this kind of
conversation because it`s so rare. The fact that Rand Paul talked about
criminalization, sentencing, surveillance, these are topics again that not
just Republicans won`t talk about, the Democrats won`t talk about.
And he will do is he`s -- if he keeps talking about it, if he`s going to
force people to talk about it with him. And what he might even do as well
is make a safe or make Democrats feel safe to talk about it.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, so this is interesting to me, in part because I think it
is worth remembering that the moment that is the Obama moment has lead to
enormous majority of African-Americans voting for the Democratic Party, for
the African-American candidate or the support of this President. But that
-- just prior to this George W. Bush had won 9 percent of the African-
American vote and then in 2004 had won 11 percent of the African-American
And I want to go back even a little bit further, Michael. I want to listen
to Jack Kemp talking about wanting 50 percent of the Black vote. Let`s
take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK KEMP, POLITICIAN: We are the party of Lincoln and we must be an
inclusionary party. I`d like to see in America where half of all Black-
Americans are voting Democrat or the other half are voting Republican.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, I bet he would because if half of Black folks voted
Republican there would never be another Democratic National Office holder,
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, right.
HARRIS-PERRY: But if that`s something to even imagine as a worthy goal
here, this idea of making the African-American voter more swing vote?
DYSON: Well, look first of all Jack Kemp was a kind of Republican hat we
could use more of. And I think African-American people resonated with him.
But aspirational politics are important and I think that Professor Frymer
was exactly right that Rand Paul cringe-worthy notwithstanding did
something that even some Democrats can do. We got to underscore what he
said, talked about race and policy. Don`t just show up and be Black and
then resonate emotionally with me. Speak about public policies that have
the impact on my life.
So in a way Rand Paul did something that Barrack Obama hasn`t felt free
enough to do to speak directly to his experience as a Black man being
harassed by the police and do it within the context of policy and what he
will promise to do.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well I was going to put that I should think that the
President did more powerfully than any public figure I`ve ever seen when he
did his Trevor Martin moments.
DYSON: Right. Of course, of course.
HARRIS-PERRY: I think he had his moments.
DYSON: But it`s not the policy.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. But it is -- there is something about watching a
Republican do it and again if he was -- I`m sorry, it wasn`t at the NAA
speech from the Urban League.
HARRIS-PERRY: But Republican whose incredible candidate for the 2016 GOP
nomination. Like I`m kind of into it not because I think we should all be
voting for Republicans, but I like this idea of forcing the conversation.
COOPER: Well, the thing is Rand is getting better so last year he tried
this at Howard and he whoa. He went to Howard and told the people that
they own (inaudible). Right. He got it wrong, yeah.
You know my own mother (ph) represented very well and handled that. So I
think he`s getting more savvy in recognizing that we don`t need a history
lesson. We need issues. So what strikes me is that one segment of the
Republican Party might be trying to cultivate a certain kind of African-
American voter. They may not swing him 2016 but I`ll swing hammer her in
2016. But a voter who is socially conservative but still has some level of
racial analysis. So a person who says, "I don`t like abortion. I`m a
fiscal conservative but like mass incarceration," I recognize does hinder
(ph) communities, right?
So, you know, in Connecticut this week we saw the firing of an African-
American woman who was the consultant in the gubernatorial race there in
(inaudible) governor`s race because she used the words "white privilege."
So on the local level there`s still the resistance which you do have folks
coming up in the GOP who are trying to push some level of a racial
WHITE: OK and maybe I`m the bad the guy here. One, I don`t give a Rand
Paul that much credit for this is one, Republicans are stirred as all get
out. Because they realize they`re not going to keep winning. They know
that the browning of America is coming and so you can keep doing what the
Republicans have been doing for awhile and you can lose.
So Rand Paul actually understands that particular part on this part,
Libertarians have been better than our Conservatives in general. But this
-- what he`s doing right now, one he`s learning as a, Dr. Copper said that
-- the how to speak to people. And at the same time he knows that the
writing is on the wall they can keep trying that if they don`t speak to us.
Eventually like this one we`ve seen we`re like -- we`re specifically black
women with the reason why people had won.
So you can keep not talking us and fail, or you can learn about our issues
and then maybe we can have a conversation.
DYSON: Or you can become a Tea Party, but look here`s another alternative,
you can become a Tea Party and get more deeply entrenched and they`ve had
some marginal success. So the point is I give him credit because at least
having seen the hieroglyphics of (inaudible) ascribed on the wall, he`s
responding in a -- an attempt to be more progressive and to address the
public policy consequence, that`s what I mean. I know Obama have been
bringing about addressing, I mean in terms of public policy.
HARRIS-PERRY: So when we come back we`ll talk more about this learning
curve on which Rand Paul is moving and what we think of it when we come
HARRIS-PERRY: May of 2010 after now Senator Rand Paul won the Republican
Primary for his seat. He appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show and said this
about the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Had I been there, there would have been some discussion over one of
the titles of the Civil Rights. And I think that`s a valid point, and
still a valid discussion, because the thing is, is if we want to harbor in
on private businesses and their policies, then you have to have a
discussion about do you want to abridge the First Amendment as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Paul was talking about Title II which prohibits places of
public accommodation including private businesses from discriminating or
segregating based on race. But in this past Friday after speaking at the
National Urban League Conference, Senator Paul sat down with NBC News
political reporter Kasie Hunt and had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KASIE HUNT, NBC NEWS POLITICAL REPORTER: You noted in your speech you
support the Civil Rights Act but specifically, do you think that private
businesses should be allowed to discriminate based on race?
HUNT: So you`ve changed from when you said before you were concerned about
RYAN: No I never said, never said that before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So that makes me feel eeky. Right, so on the one hand like
I want to give Paul the credit that he is standing there talking about
something substantive. On the other hand I need him to account for what at
least did sound like a support for private businesses having the right to
discriminate and that Civil Rights Act kind of overreached.
FRYMER: Right. You know, I agree, you know, in an ideal world that`s
eeky. But the problem is that again so few candidates will embrace these
topics. Abraham Lincoln supported colonization before he supported
emancipation or at least linked them actually. Lyndon Johnson, famously,
right before the Civil Rights Act of `64, hardly was a supporter of civil
We need to allow these candidates -- I mean, we need to, you know, what`s
best for everyone is that these candidates make these changes. If they go
the other way, you know, obviously we should attack but, you`re absolutely
right. He`s saying something different and who knows what he`s thinking in
his head but it`s good he`s saying it.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. What do you think?
WHITE: There`s a thing with that. And this is my issue with all this. My
issue is that Kennedy shouldn`t be allowed to grow obviously it should be
growing. They should grow.
I am against when people say that people flip-flopping whatever like
sometimes you changed your mind. But don`t pretend that I`m stupid because
when you did this, in that clip there, he was like, "Oh well, no. That`s
not really what I said." Like dude actually that`s exactly what you said.
I watched you say it. And now you realize that the writings on the wall,
you can`t play up for the groups that you were playing up to at that point
when you were talking about maybe the Civil Rights Act might be a
problematic because now you realize you ain`t going to win on that.
So now you have to change your entire argument which is cool but
acknowledge the fact that you basically said that thing before and I`m not
HARRIS-PERRY: So in other words, he evolved on it, right?
HARRIS-PERRY: So rather than just bring it on. No, I mean, I don`t mean
that as a jab (ph), I mean that a disappointment which the President of the
United States as running for Senate felt that standing for marriage
equality was not politically policeable and then later he says, right, in a
way that is very politically valuable, that maybe it is a psychological or
emotional or moral evolution maybe some political one but he doesn`t say,
"Oh, I never said that." He`s like now I have a different position.
DYSON: It is important I think, look, I get you and I understand that,
don`t insult my intelligence, but I`d rather that he make the change and
therefore live up to it and face public pressure. What I like about this
is that black people now constitute enough of a constituency that they have
to be talked to or even emulated or even imitated.
Yes, the fact that you`re trying to talk Black, the fact that, you know, be
black even more importantly or to think about public policy consequences of
my blackness is extremely important to me. I don`t care about your
existence, your connection to blackness. I want your intimate connection
to public policies that transform the landscape for Black people.
COOPER: But does he really -- he doesn`t have anything to gain by doubling
down on his old Civil Rights point and especially since the gutting of the
rest of the voting white act is doing the work, right.
HARRIS-PERRY: Although he did say. I will -- I just want to give him
credit because we will have the sound cut, (ph) he did say after this thing
about the Civil Rights he said I am a Republican who supports a new formula
for Section V of the Voting Rights Act, which my God we need a new formula,
COPPER: Right. You know, but the thing is it`s like at this point Black
folks are getting sort of slaughtered, you know, politically all these
other ways and so what is to be gained by then say what actually I don`t
think you also be able going all the businesses that you want. So it`s not
politically savvy anymore.
But I agree that we should have some integrity that he could have just said
look this was my position. I see why there are problems with that. But,
you know, but some of these --
HARRIS-PERRY: Let me ask a partisan question though Paul. As this
question be evolution that -- Elon and Michael had both put on the table.
Is this about courting African-American voters because it seems to me
pretty possible. And one is we would like African-Americans to vote for
the Republican Party. One is we would like African-Americans to simply
stay home, right? So in other words as long as you don`t show up for the
Democrats that`s good enough for us on the national level or is it that we
just want to court white voters who don`t want to be associated with a
race, you know, a party that is labeled racist and so if we court like
voters, we are clearly not racist because people don`t want to be racist.
FRYMER: Right. That`s right. Yeah. My colleague Tasha Philpot (ph) has
worked that (inaudible) when the Republican Party reaches out to African-
Americans it -- the appeal ends of resonating much more with moderate
Whites than with African-Americans. You know, Rand Paul is not necessarily
representing the Republican Party.
FRYMER: It`s unclear what he`s, you know, what kind of ground he`s taking
HARRIS-PERRY: Are you running for president?
FRYMER: He`s running for president, that`s right. So if, you know, what
is he thinking in terms of that this can accomplish certainly, he can in a
very conservative party, reach out a bit to, again to moderate Whites and
say, "You know, I have a bigger tent here."
FRYMER: I want -- the other thing though is that, there is the danger of
the candidate who speaks really well to different communities and who`s
WHITE: That, right -- that`s right there is the problem here because like
the President, I understand what you`re saying Dr. Dyson here. But at the
same time dude if you.
WHITE: --like that then I can`t trust you.
HARRIS-PERRY: All this is going to continue to happen in the break, thank
you to Michael Eric Dyson and Elon James White also to Paul Frymer and
Up next they`re calling it "yellow face", how ugly acting Asian can be.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`ve been talking about the performance of Black racial
solidarity as a campaign strategy now as we`ve seen it can be awkward. But
African-Americans are not alone in experiencing the troubling affects of
cultural appropriation. A classic play now being performed in Seattle is
raising stark questions about racial and cultural attitudes towards Asian-
MSNBC anchor Richard Lui has this report about a controversial performance
of opera "The Mikado."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You cannot use someone`s culture as entertainment and
think that`s OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is not an intellectual exercise.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Outside Seattle`s Repertory Theater, protesters argue
"The Mikado" a Gilbert and Sullivan opera is racially offensive because of
its fictional portrayal of 18th century Japan. While inside begins another
performance of the 129-year-old comedy has been performed thousands of
What the protesters don`t like about this traditional interpretation, they
point to the twist on Asian names Titipu, Yum-Yum, Fish-tush just as
offensive as painful slurs against African-Americans like Amos `n` Andy and
Al Jolson`s portrayals in black face. The expressions and gestures in the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- as insensitive as jokes about how African-Americans
may act or walk. And the costumes 18th century Japanese fashion they say
is the equivalent of the 40 mostly Caucasian actors wearing African tribal
RICHARD LUI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: This is the 10th time they perform this
play here over the last six decades. A question they`re asking why the
protest this time?
SHARON CHAN, ASSOCIATE OPINIONS EDITOR, THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Mikado is
being criticized because of its use of yellow face.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Seattle Times Associate Opinions editor Sharon Chan
says it`s similar to black face characters of African-Americans.
CHAN: I don`t think people were aware of it until I wrote the column.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For nothing is more ridiculous as everyone agrees that
all these Yanks with British accent played Japanese.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society is a well
respected 60-year-old amateur theatre company with experienced actors
performing the opera. Its long-time producer says this controversy is a
catalyst for better understanding.
MIKE STORIE, PRODUCER: Instead of a delegation coming to us a year ago and
say we`re uncomfortable with this, can you change something. It whammed
our opening weekend here was this article in the biggest paper in the
Northwest. We are not putting down Japanese. We`re trying to invoke an
image of Japan as it may have been 130 years ago.
CHRISTINE GOFF, GILBERT AND SULLIVAN SOCIETY COACH: In all the coaching
that I`ve done with the actors I don`t think I`ve said a Japanese person
would do this. This is really a British genre and that`s we`re poking fun
at is in my ancestors.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the country`s oldest Asian-American Civil Rights
group says, it`s poking fun at theirs.
TOSHIKO HASEGAWA, PRESIDENT AT JACL SEATTLE: We are an old community
that`s been here for a long time and there`s been so much that happened
with discriminatory policies that has had a major impact not only in the
way were perceived but in a way we identify.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The producer and director both say they`re open to
removing offensive parts of the Japanese mean. Mo, a performing arts
company in Minneapolis did that. Just as performances no longer use 150-
year-old Uncle Tom portrayals, Mo updated names and costumes seen as
perjured of the Asian-Americans.
Next month a similar outcome may happen in Seattle as both sides sit down
together for the first time to hopefully build the compromise on this
enduring and celebrated opera.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: And joining me now is MSNBC Anchor Richard Lui. So, Richard
what is yellow face, help people to understand.
LUI: Yeah. Yellow face as you saw in the piece, very difficult to
understand and that`s why some of those analogies were drawn. Basically,
when you look at the idea of yellow face it is like black face. For yellow
face it is a representation of Asians in a way that`s offensive to Asian.
So, it`s a portrayal the way they talk perhaps with an accent from Japan.
It`s the way they gesture. So, it`s a shuffle on small wall. Is it a bow?
It`s also the way they appear.
So, what they`re dressing like and in this case you saw that they were
wearing kimonos. And so, for those who are critics of a play like this
they say, "Hey look this is yellow face." And you noticed that my
definition here Melissa when we`re looking at it I didn`t talk about the
color of the face.
LUI: Just like the black face in Al Jolson if you remove the face paint
was it still black face? You would probably say yes.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah. So, culture, music, comedy, those are precisely the
spaces where we would expect an investigation maybe even a clip on this
with questions of race. So -- And culture and identity, you know, Dave
Chappelle was just playing --
LUI: Right, right.
HARRIS-PERRY: -- across the street from, you know, a few weeks ago. Why
is this not bad? Why is this problematic? Why is this offensive?
LUI: You know, not on the same learning curve but I can say that in the
space. So, when you look at the Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society
what`s fantastic is that, you know, it is the perfect space and they`re
learning that they are in a nice intersection. So, they decided and plan
on a get together, a discussion with both sides that`s going to happen in
August. We`re going to discuss some of these ideas.
But the reason in general although it`s the perfect place to discuss such
issues is we`re not seeing that, "Hey we`re doing The Mikado this year so
that we can talk about this intersection of what might be seen as yellow
face or black face or seen as racially offensive. That`s not the purpose
that they`re saying this play is for. It`s not against them because
they`re the society. They just want to put on great plays and they do.
PERRY: Right. Is Seattle a unique sort of location for this sort of
activism for Asian-Americans in a way, you know, when you talk about black
face it was all about the South, right, and the ways in which it imposed in
for the South empowered the African-American communities were able to shift
PERRY: Is that somewhat of what we think the Pacific Northwest is?
LUI: Yeah. Good question because, I mean look at the West, it is a good
place and we`re talking about yellow face in general for all backgrounds.
When we look at the Japanese-Americans that have existed have lived in this
country for many centuries. The Northwest particularly is a hotspot and so
when they see this portrayal of Japanese-Americans in yellow face and
remembering the interment years, it is especially hurtful, especially
And as the producer said, you know, he cannot necessarily understand that.
If he accepts that they may feel that way, so he`s understanding of that.
But when I spoke with the Japanese-American Citizens League which is the
oldest civil rights group for Asian-Americans in the country, I could feel
the emotion that they had.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yup. And that means that there`s some possibility for
change of action. Thank you for your reporting Richard. I greatly
Richard Lui, thank you for being here today and that`s our show for today.
Thanks to you at home for watching. I`m going to see you next Saturday, 10
a.m. Eastern, but right now it`s time for preview of Weekend with Alex
Witt. Hi Alex.
ALEX WITT, MSNBC HOST: Hello to you. Thank you so much Melissa. Well
everyone, there`s new information in the manhunt that is underway in
Philadelphia right now. Police are searching for two men behind the car
jacking that leads to the death of three children as they were raising
money for their church.
After months of strikes and rallies, a first for fastfood workers demanding
living wages plus the best films of the year so far, so don`t go anywhere.
I`ll be right back.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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