'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Saturday, October 11th, 2014
Read the transcript to the Saturday show
Show: MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY
Date: October 11, 2014
Guest: Corey Hebert, Laura Flanders, Mychal Denzel Smith, Michael
Skolnik, Daniel Denver, Marva Robinson, Cora Daniels, Brittney Cooper, Jill
Filipovic, Darius Clark Monroe
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning my question. Will there be
an indictment in Ferguson? Plus, Ramon Simon takes issues with labels.
And Jennifer Lawrence tells us when it is OK to look. But first Ebola in
the U.S. and the possible global pandemic.
Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry: And we`re standing by for a news
conference on the enhanced Ebola screenings beginning today at JFK
International Airport here in New York. We`re going to bring that to you
live when it begins. And this morning less than 20 miles away from where
I`m sitting, the busiest hub for international travel in the United States
is beginning to implement a new rigorous screening process in order to
determine if passengers entering the United States from certain West
African countries have contracted the deadly Ebola virus. These new
precautions will be in place at four other major airports. And officials
say that U.S. citizens who refused to be screened could be quarantined for
up to three weeks. Now, this development comes just days after a man
sneezed on a U.S. Airways plane and proceeded to alarm the entire flight by
allegedly yelling "I have Ebola." Health care workers in hazmat suits
boarded the plane when it landed in Dominican Republic and escorted the man
away as a flight attendant helped to calm everyone down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need your attention. OK? It`s going to look worse
than it is. I`ve done this for 36 years. I think the man that has said
this is an idiot. And I`ll say that straight out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Health care professionals say there is still virtually no
chance of an Ebola outbreak like the one currently devastating West Africa
happening here in the United States, but there are more questions about the
risks we face after Dallas patient Thomas Eric Duncan became the first ever
Ebola death in the U.S.
And now we know that he was initially sent home from the hospital, even
though he had a fever of 103 degrees. And in Spain, Teresa Romero, a
nursing assistant at a hospital in Madrid has become the first person to
ever contract the disease from another person outside of West Africa.
Meanwhile, the United States continues to ramp up its response in West
Africa, where the official death toll has now topped 4,000. On Thursday
100 U.S. Marines landed Roberts Airport in Monrovia, bringing the total
number of U.S. military personnel there up to 300. The Obama
administration has pledged to send up to 4,000 troops in order to try and
stop the spread of this deadly disease. Joining me now is NBC News
correspondent Kristen Dahlgren at JFK airport in New York. Kristen, we
will soon enter this kind of busy holiday travel season. What are
officials at airports doing right now to make passengers feel safe?
KRISTEN DAHLGREN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning. And I think
that flight (INAUDIBLE) from the Dominican Republic shows just how anxious
some air travelers are. And that will continue, I think, as we go into the
busy holiday travel season. So what they are doing is that the five major
airports where those passengers from West Africa come in, they are having
this enhanced screening. We`re waiting for an update from the CDC in
customs and border protection about how things are going this morning here
at JFK. This is the first airport to implement it. A flight coming in
from Guinea will be screened now with this additional screening. And what
that means is that passengers who have been traveling in this West African
countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea will be - will have their
temperature taken with this no touch infrared gun, so they will be able to
tell us if anyone is running an elevated temperature. There will also be
questions about where they have been. Whether they might have been exposed
to another patient who had Ebola. If they suspect that somebody has some
type of exposure, they`ll then hand it over to the CDCs for some more
additional screening. And they do have the option of quarantining someone
if they are suspect.
So, that`s what`s happening here today. If we go into next week that will
be added at Newark at Washington Dallas, at Atlanta`s Hartsfield-Jackson
and also at Chicago O`Hare. But it was interesting. We heard from a Texas
law maker who was asking them to extend that to Dallas and Houston.
Remember, Thomas Eric Duncan ended up in Dallas after his travels. So, we
haven`t heard anything from the government. Really, the airports that they
are focusing on, 94 percent of travelers from these West African countries
come in through here. 43 percent of them come in through JFK, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you so much, Kristen Dahlgren at JFK International
Airport in New York.
Now, this is crisis that continues to develop. Each day we`re presented
with staggering death tolls and predictions about how many people this
virus will claim. And as the numbers grow, and the headlines start to
stack up, the human cost can become more and more of an abstraction. And
real lives lost in this epidemic quickly fade from our understanding of
what`s going on, which is why it is important that after the first Ebola
death on American soil, we remember Thomas Eric Duncan as a person. That
is as a person with a long and complicated story. A person who was no
stranger to conflict and the ravages of infections and disease. Duncan
grew up near a Liberian leper colony and fled his home during a period of
brutal civil war. His father - excuse me, he fathered a son in an Ivory
Coast refugee camp. But he parted with that son for 16 years when the boy`s
mother was given a life changing opportunity to resettle in the United
States. Duncan returned to Liberia and he made plans to once again upend
his life with a move to the United States where he came to marry his long-
time girlfriend and to witness his son graduate from high school. But
despite those plans, Duncan selflessly risked his life and his health to
help a neighbor in need by assisting a pregnant teenage girl infected with
the Ebola virus, by helping to get her to the hospital. We should remember
that. When that girl was turned away from that hospital, it was Thomas
Eric Duncan who helped carry her home to spend her final moments among
family. The Duncan`s is a unique story in certain ways. But it`s also a
reminder that death may seem to come in the thousands, the tens of
thousands. Almost inconceivably it may eventually come in the hundreds of
thousands. But it comes one person at a time. Each death is the end of a
story that most of us will never know, but a story that is undoubtedly
intertwined with so many others. We can`t let ourselves think of the Ebola
crisis solely as thousands of deaths. We must think of it as one death and
another and another and one more. Because this is the experience of far
too many in West Africa. And though he was not an American citizen, Thomas
Eric Duncan was a man with a story who despite all the resources of our
health system died here in our nation. And in mourning Thomas Eric
Duncan`s death, we must ask the tough questions about why he became the
first person in this country not to recover from this disease and what we
can do to prevent this from happening here again.
But first right now we want to take you live to JFK international airport
here in New York where federal officials are holding a press conference on
the new enhanced Ebola screenings beginning today at the airport.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
R. GIL KERLIKOWSKE, COMM. U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION: . complete
CDC questionnaire and contact information. Customs and border protection
has authorized and coordinated medical staff that will take the travelers`
temperature and assess if it is being - if it is within a normal range.
Right now United States Coast Guard core men will be providing that. But
eventually, we are contracting actually very quickly with professional
medical staff to do that. Well, if the traveler has a fever or other
symptoms or has been exposed to Ebola, customs and border protection will
then refer that traveler to the Centers for Disease Control for a public
health assessment. And from there the CDC determines whether the traveler
can continue on or is taken to a hospital or for further evaluation or
referred to a local health department for further monitoring. CBP
continually evaluates and updates our guidance to our frontline personnel
regarding Ebola. Background information on the outbreak, impacted regions,
origin, pathology, mode of transmission. Symptoms, all of these
operational procedures and precautions for processing passengers showing
signs of illness. A CDC quarantine officer liaison is actually located at
CBP headquarters and they provide and continue to give us subject matter
expertise. They facilitate the requests for information between our two
organizations. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and
prevention can provide a do not board notification to CBP regarding
individuals who are considered to be infected with a highly contagious
disease, present a threat to public health and that should be prevented
from traveling via commercial aircraft. Once the passengers arrive in the
United States, they are subject to additional measures. As part of every
inspection, CBP officers at the ports of entry conduct an observation of
travelers that includes monitoring them for signs of illness. And
notification to CDC or other local public health entities.
Our officers are trained and have been trained for many years in illness
recognition by the CDC. And they look for overt signs of illness, and they
obtain additional information from travelers for additional inspections.
And if the traveler is identified with a sign of a communicable disease of
public health significance, that traveler is isolated from the traveling
public, referred to CDC`s regional quarantine officers, or as I said
before, other local public health entities.
The CDC maintains jurisdiction to determine whether to detain, isolate,
quarantine or issue monitoring orders to potentially infected individuals.
And CBP personnel may be called upon to help with enforcement for the CDC`s
determinations. And we stand ready to help them. CBP has distributed
health advisories to travelers arriving in the United States from those
Ebola-affected countries. The advisories provide the traveler with
information on Ebola, the health signs to look for, and information for
their doctors, should they need to seek medical attention in the future.
CVP and the Transportation Security Administration posted messages from the
CDC on select airports locations to provide awareness of how to prevent the
spread of infectious disease. The typical symptoms of Ebola and
instructions to call a doctor if a traveler becomes ill. CBP personnel at
all airports of entry, not just the five that I mentioned, continue to
observe travelers entering the United States for the signs of illness. CBP
and CDC will continue to assess the risk of the spread of Ebola into the
United States. We are going to take additional measures as necessary to
protect the American people.
And I want to thank the men and women of CBP at these ports of entry for
their dedication and for their vigilance to keeping our country safe, and
for upholding the mission of protecting the American public.
Let me just close by saying that in partnership with the Centers for
Disease Control, these two organizations of highly trained, highly skilled,
very professional, very dedicated people that worked hard through a number
of public health issues. SARS, H1N1, MERS, et cetera, and they`ve always
upheld that tradition of protecting the American public. So right now I
would like to turn this over to the director of global migration and
quarantine program at CDC Dr. Martin Cetron. Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was government officials briefing on the latest plans
for Ebola screenings at select U.S. airports. The first of which starts
today at New York`s JFK. So right now I want to bring in my guests. Here
at the table, Laura Flanders, host and founder of grittv.org. And from New
Orleans, Dr. Corey Hebert, who is assistant professor at LSU health science
center and Tulane University Medical Center. As well as the CEO of
community health TV. I want to start with you, doctor. We just heard sort
of what these new screening procedures will be. Based on your expertise,
does that sound like reasonable steps to be taking?
DR. COREY HEBERT, ASST. PROF., LSU HEALTH SCIENCES CTR.: Well, make no
mistake, if Ebola spreads in the United States, it`s not going to be
because of the virulence of that virus. Measles is more contagious. It
will be because of the lack of the communication of health care workers on
the ground, as evidenced in Dallas, but it will also be because of the lack
of coordination of medical systems and administration and agencies of the
federal government. What I think is that this is a good start to be able
to stop the spread of this disease in the United States. Meaning stopping
it at the border. I appreciate it. But we always have to know. It`s just
a firewall. It is not 100 percent. So, therefore, medical personnel in
the United States, we have to be on our peas and queues (ph), I mean 24/7,
because if a person gets through this firewall, which is very easily done,
then that person, you know, can actually have the disease and spread it.
HARRIS-PERRY: And it`s easily done. So help me to understand, because
part of what I`ve been experiencing. I was off last week, I was spending
time with normal people who aren`t making television, and I kept hearing
all the time an anxiety about two things. One, that people were purposely
trying to come into the U.S. knowing that they have the disease, in hopes
that they would benefit from the health care system here, and the second
anxiety that somehow we weren`t being told the truth about how it spreads.
And the language I kept hearing, was it`s airborne, it`s airborne. And
sort of no matter what I said, given that I am a doctor of political
science and not any kind of health science, and so I would say no, no,
that`s not what it is. But those seem to be boiling fears underneath.
Because you are an actual doctor, can you help us to put some of those
fears to rest?
HEBERT: OK, yes. And we have to be very clear about this. This is not
spread by airborne droplets like the flu or the measles. This is spread by
direct contact. And we`ve said this over and over and over. But America
is a place that loves to be alarmed. Let`s be very clear. We make movies
about this kind of stuff. So we loved to be alarmed. So, let`s just allay
any fear right now that what - from what we know the virus can be spread by
direct contact with bodily fluids. There have been some isolated cases in
Canada and other places where an animal has transmitted to another animal
by a respiratory droplet, but those types of things have not been proven.
And so, at this point all we can know is that you have to come into direct
contact with bodily fluids. Also, people will try to come into this
country. Because in their country they don`t have the infrastructure. But
let`s be very clear again. If you want to stop the spread of Ebola in the
United States, you must start by stopping the spread of Ebola in West
Africa. Because this is a global community that we`re dealing with, and
people are going to try to do that. That`s human nature. And if they
don`t have a fever when they get off that plane and their flight may have
originated some other place besides West Africa, then they could slip
through the cracks. And that`s just something that - there`s no way to get
HARRIS-PERRY: Dr. Hebert, hold on for a second. Because what was said
just there, what the doctors said to me is so key. On the one hand, we
have Americans feeling some alarm. And we see resources being mobilized to
generate the firewall. But the point that he just made. That you cannot
stop here unless you cure it in West Africa.
LAURA FLANDERS, AUTHOR "BLUE GRIT": There`s nothing more important to
stress. I mean you hear the border control people talking about this
border and American - protecting the American people. But what the doctor
said is absolutely right. When wealth and resources migrate from poor to
rich countries, people will do the same. So, unless we deal with the
inequality in the world that we`re a part of, we`ve got a problem,
secondly, the first part of the press conference was all about public
health. We always talk about public health when we are in a situation like
this. We don`t have a public health system. We have a private health
system for the most part. For most people. And the story out of Dallas
has to do with a man who didn`t have insurance. A hospital that didn`t
have protocols, nurses that weren`t listened to. The most striking thing
I`ve read this week is the really brilliant work being done by National
Nurses United, who did a survey of almost 1,900 nurses, their members, many
of them, in 46 states. So this is a national legitimate survey pool,
asking them do you feel prepared. Have you had the kind of preparation
that enabled you to ask questions? Hands-on training? 85 percent said
know. This goes back to we need a health system that puts prevention and
people ahead of profits and we need registered nurses and hands-on care.
Not robots controlled by remote providing that kind of multiple choice
medical records system healthcare, which the nurses say leaves them no time
to actually do the communicating.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`ll say that the Texas hospital did release a statement
saying that it wasn`t about this patient not having health care. I do want
to just say that ..
FLANDERS: Sure, absolutely.
HARRIS-PERRY: That - for the hospital, they`re saying that he simply had
low grade fever and abdominal pain, which didn`t warn admission.
FLANDERS: But there`s a policy in hospitals to stop admission .
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right.
FLANDERS: To reduce admissions. They`re trying to channel patients into
higher profit clinics and home care. That`s a national trend. It`s not
Dallas. It`s the nation.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s the nation.
FLANDERS: Dr. Corey Hebert, in New Orleans, Louisiana, thank you so much
and for the clarity of your positions here. Laurie is going to stick
around for much of the rest of the show. But still to come this morning,
Hollywood star Jennifer Lawrence shows us just how much of her naked body
she wants us to see. But first, we`re going to go live to St. Louis,
Missouri, where demonstrators are lining up right now as part of a weekend
of action. More than 60 days since Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed
unarmed teen Michael Brown. And still not even an arrest in the case.
HARRIS-PERRY: On Wednesday night in St. Louis, Missouri, an off-duty
police officer shot and killed an 18-year-old after a chase that began with
a physical altercation between the teen and the officer. Now during the
pursuit, the St. Louis police chief says Vonderrit Myers shot at the
officer at least three times. And the officer fired 17 shots in return.
Myers` parents are saying he was unarmed. Ordinarily, this kind of a
story, a man that police say is armed shoots at the police and the police
shoots back would not amount to much more than a lead story on the local
news, but this story of a young African-American shot by police made
headlines nationally, because it happened just 16 miles from Ferguson,
Missouri. It happened just miles from a Ferguson community still reeling
from the killing of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Williams - Wilson. And
the days of heavily militarized police responses to mostly peaceful
And although, unlike Michael Brown, there is evidence that this man was
armed when he was killed by police, it is why the recent shooting sparked a
scene familiar from Ferguson. Two nights of protest during which police
armed in riot gear using tear gas to control crowds clashed with angry
demonstrators in the streets of St. Louis. And a third night, a peaceful
protest in the south St. Louis neighborhood. Those demonstrations joined
the ongoing movement for justice for Michael Brown, which has recently
begun borrowing the spotlight from high profile public events in order to
amplify its message.
Last Saturday, the St. Louis Symphony was interrupted by protesters making
some noise of their own. When during the intermission demonstrators in the
audience stood up and sang for two minutes what they called a requiem for
Michael Brown. Two days later that call for justice sounded again, this
time outside of St. Louis`s Busch stadium where the Cardinals played the
Dodgers in a Major League Baseball playoff game. That protest turned into
an ugly confrontation when protests demanding the prosecution of Officer
Darren Wilson came face-to-face with the Cardinal fans. This week the
Justice for Michael Brown protest movement is culminating in four days of
organized action in St. Louis County called Ferguson October. The weekend
of resistance began yesterday and includes a series of public events to
build momentum towards a nationwide movement against police violence. A
march at the prosecuting attorney`s Bob McCulloch`s office yesterday
afternoon and a candlelight march last night are followed today by a
national Justice for All march and rally. We`re now awaiting the start of
today`s march in downtown St. Louis, which will be getting under way around
11:00 a.m. Eastern time. Standing by in St. Louis at the site of the
"Justice for All" march is MSNBC reporter Trymaine Lee.
Trymaine, last night brought more demonstrations. Tell me first about what
the scene was last night, and then what is expected just a little bit later
TRYMAINE LEE, NBC CORRESPONDENT: So, last night as you mentioned earlier,
there was a rally outside of the office of St. Louis County prosecutor Bob
McCulloch. Hundreds braved the whipping rain and cold and marched and
rallied around that block.
Later in the evening they gathered around not far from the scene of Michael
Brown`s killing, where there was an altar dedicated to those who have been
killed by police violence or violent manifestations of racism. But they
also carried a mirrored coffin from that side two miles to the Ferguson
police headquarters where about 300 protesters or so rallied. Now, these
protest was a little bit different than what we`ve seen because there were
people from - that drove away from Philly, from Brooklyn, New York, from
Tennessee and Georgia, all to be here in support of justice or call for
justice for Michael Brown.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Trymaine, when you say that, that there are people from
all over the country, we know that in some of the early reporting, those
kinds of folks were called outside agitators. Kind of taking us back to an
era 50 years ago. Explain what those folks are doing in Missouri. Why is
it important to them? What are they articulating about why they are there?
LEE: This crowd of outsiders is a little different in a way than other
outsiders were described. These groups have been organized by clergy.
They`ve been organized on college campuses. But they`re here to highlight
and spotlight that, is not just an issue of what they see as racial
profiling and police abuses. It`s not about just what happened to Michael
Brown in Ferguson. It`s not just about what happened in St. Louis with
Vonderrit Myers a few nights earlier this week. It`s about a national
issue and concerns about holding police accountable. And again, raising
the voices of so many people who have been killed by violence and their
voices have gone unheard. And so again, people are streaming from all over
the country to be here. Now, last night there were only a few hundred.
Some of - were damping by the rain and cold. So, organizers are hoping
today they get that estimated 4,000 to 5,000 or more that registered to
HARRIS-PERRY: MSNBC`s Trymaine Lee in St. Louis, Missouri. Thank you so
much for your continued reporting. Now I want to bring in my panel in
studio. Still with me is Laura Flanders, host and founder of GritTv.rg.
Joining us now is Mychal Denzel Smith, writer for "The Nation" and fellow
at the Nation Institute. Also, Michael Skolnik, editor-in-chief at
globalgrind.com and Russell Simmons` political director and Cora Daniels,
author of "Impolite Conversations on Race, Politics, Sex, Money and
Religion." Thank you all for being here. Michael, I just want to start
with you. The point that Trymaine just made. The flashpoint is Ferguson,
is St. Louis. But this ain`t just about what`s happening in Missouri.
This is about a national problem.
MICHAEL SKOLNIK, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, GLOBALGRIND.COM: Well, I think what`s
inspiring is we are 60 days past the death of Michael Brown and there are
still young people, a lot of young folks in Ferguson. The (INAUDIBLE)
posts, the netos (ph). You know, people who just known by Twitter. Music
over people. AKA "Charles Way." (ph). These folks have been - have
maintained a movement for 60 plus days and have inspired folks as Trymaine
just said to come from across the country. I send folks from Global Grind
out there yesterday just to be on the ground to capture and witness, I
think a historic moment where young people and especially young women have
taken the lead to galvanize the generation around that issue that happens
to be a hot spot in Ferguson, but we know it`s happening across this
country in so many cities, not just Ferguson.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, that point feels so critical to me. And Mychal, it
feels like visually you can see it. Because when this started it was hot.
It was August. And so, if you think about how protesters were dressed in
those hot August initial protests. And then you`re seeing people standing
in the rain and the cold. And you`re starting to get a sense of just how
long this is dragging on. On one hand I love that it is an enduring
movement that it looks that it`s actually turning into something. On the
other hand, it is 60 days, no indictment, no arrest. Is justice delayed,
fundamentally justice denied in this case?
MYCHAL DENZEL SMITH, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE NATION: Well, for me, like
justice again is not confined to whether or not Darren Wilson is arrested.
And whether or not he`s indicted. I think that justice is the other
demand, right? So, that is talking about how we shift police culture and
how we - how the interactions between young black people and police go from
here forward. And I think that that`s what they are in this for. Like
that - I think that`s the bigger movement thing that we`re talking about
that`s been building for a while now, even before Michael Brown. In
addressing the criminalization of black youth. And I think that for me,
like the images of the baseball game, and the athlete - I think those are
the things that are really, for me, the biggest images. Because now we`re
taking this and making people uncomfortable. Right? Like it`s meeting
them where they are. And like in their safe havens. Like particularly
white people. And like saying to them, look, racism affects my life every
day. Now it`s going to affect yours. And it`s going to disrupt your every
day. And we`re going to make sure that you are so uncomfortable you`re
forced to do something about it.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, so Cora, I just thought - this is part of why I want
to use the table, was exactly those moments. Particularly that baseball
game where we are seeing played out that drama of impolite conversations.
Of conversations where people`s privilege is about, I`m at the baseball
game. I don`t want to talk about racism.
CORA DANIELS, AUTHOR "IMPOLITE CONVERSATIONS": Right.
HARRIS-PERRY: And these protesters forcing that conversation.
DANIELS: Right, because right now our conversations about race tend to
happen with people who look like us and think like us. It`s not a table
like this here. And we have to move beyond that moment. And - and force
people to engage in that conversation and elevate the dialogue. Part of
what`s happening it`s what`s so worrisome is folks are still surprised. I
think that they are still surprised. And at that just a continuous - we
keep hearing that over, and over again. And at that point it doesn`t
really matter. What matters to me is, OK, you want to say you`re
surprised, well, let`s validate what my experience is and what I`m
experiencing and we`ll .
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So that`s exactly -- I want us to take a break.
But I want to come back exactly on that question of surprise and this
continuing kind of gulf in opinion. I want to ask you a little bit about
the politics of that gulf when we get back, Laura. Up next, the surprising
news that the white residents of Ferguson received.
HARRIS-PERRY: For some citizens of Ferguson, Missouri, the city is a sight
of unrest and discontent. Their hometown is a place where they have been
subject to police surveillance and militarization and where they are still
seeking justice for the unarmed boy killed by the police. For others,
Ferguson is - it has always been a place of harmony and unity among the
city`s residents. This week a report in the "Washington Post" examined the
stark racial divide that separates those two perceptions. "The Post" spoke
with some white residents of Ferguson, who were surprised at the racial
tensions that were exposed in the wake of Michael Brown`s death and
concluded of those residents that, quote, "They have discovered that blacks
and whites here profoundly disagree about the existence of racism and the
fairness of the justice system. And now whites who once believed their
town was an exception in the country struggling with racial divisions have
to confront the possibility it is not." Laura, is it actual confusion, or
is it willful confusion?
FLANDERS: Well, who the heck knows? At this point there`s plenty of
information out there, so there`s a willful element about it. But our
society is more segregated racially than ever. Those statistics have
people behind them. And they have people who are self-selecting the
information they absorb, who are presented with media that doesn`t
encourage people to see any side of the story opposite than theirs. Your
program, of course, excepted. And, you know, no surprise. I don`t want to
be a Pollyanna here, but I wish "The Post," this is an important story for
sure, and I hope that the folks are reading ProPublica`s report today about
a black man 21 times more likely to be killed than white men by cops. This
is statistical facts that we need to absorb. We need to absorb the history
of this country, 250 years of slavery, 95 years of Jim Crowe, half a
century of racist housing policy. And then a drug war. We have a systemic
national problem. But I also think there`s some stories that are not being
reported this week that would be interesting.
One is the role of the fight for 15 folks, the people trying to raise the
minimum wage. On the ground, there in Ferguson. Another one would be the
engagement this weekend. All the headlines are about will there be riots?
The Moral Monday movement is there. They will be there on Monday. Are we
going to see the same kind of coverage as we do of the Moral Monday
movement now after many months? Coming out of North Carolina? Or this
talk of outside agitators. I would love to see Bill McKibben stand up
today and say you didn`t call me an outside agitator when I - a massive
climate match in New York.
FLANDERS: Let`s see a growing movement. I think it is what we`re seeing.
We`ve gone from reaction in Ferguson to organized resistance. And it`s
something to keep an eye on. And these stories, while they are important,
it`s not where the press I think need to be focusing full time. It`s
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. It`s an interesting perspective. And part of,
as you began, Laura, you were sort of citing these statistics, these facts,
this history, and Cora, part of - part of I think what I find distressing
in part as an academic, right, is the idea that we`re meant to if we
present information change opinions. And so, there`s kind of theories
about how we could fix this problem. If people understood the history. If
they knew the facts. And also there`s this kind of contact hypothesis, and
if we live near one another, I think - so the Ferguson Major James Knowles,
this is from the "Washington Post." He said in "The Post, "I keep a lot of
African-American friends. Some of my dearest friends, but when we hang out
at the brew house, we don`t talk about these issues. A lot of residents
are going down. I never realized my friends felt that way or had these
experiences." There is that kind of black friend mean that makes this
troubling. But I take him at his word. That he actually probably does
have intimates and yet somehow none of that changes that capacity to see
through the same viewpoint.
DANIELS: Right. Because now we`re moving from, it`s different to just say
you`re surprised. Which is sort of like a passive act. To move to the
action of apathy. And I think that`s where - what we`re seeing in that
"Post" story, what`s happening. So it`s not just people are surprised.
They`re like, well, I don`t get it. And that`s a very deliberate action
that you`re not valuing the experience or trusting. While you don`t -
you`re surprised. You don`t see it, but we`re telling you this is what`s
happening. And that`s - I think we`re shifting at that point.
SMITH: I think part of it, though, is people`s understanding of what
racism is, right? I think that that`s the problem. Is that everyone
believes it to be a personal hatred that is expressed by an ignorant
person. Right? And so as long as like the police didn`t stop you and say,
hey, you`re a black person driving a car, and I want to stop you, like
people don`t - didn`t get it. Like they don`t - this is not a visceral
reaction to that, because that`s like a really easy bigotry to understand.
FLANDERS: And it`s not just people. It`s the Supreme Court .
FLANDERS: . makes that assessment. The Supreme Court does that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Right, right, right. So this is the big challenge
when you talk about the court. You`re talking about the fact that we may
be going away from a discoursed (ph) impact standard for determining
discrimination so that you would actually have to be standing there on your
front porch basically screaming the "N" word. There`s a Pew poll on racial
issues raised by the Michael Brown shooting that shows exactly what you`re
suggesting, that for white Americans, they simply don`t see race as the
primary question. It`s a little bit hard to see that. But basically they
were asked do you see race as central here for African-Americans? 80
percent said yeah, race is in here somewhere. For white folks, just over a
third. When we come back, Michael, I want to ask you about that. In part,
because this question of moving from information and away from apathy and
towards allyship, how we get that actually happening, when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: And now an update to a story we reported last week. We told
you about a report from the St. Louis County elections board that voter
registration in Ferguson has surged since Officer Darren Wilson killed
Michael Brown on August 9. So the board initially reported that 3,287
Ferguson residents had registered to vote. And that would have been both a
significant increase and a political statement when the city where two-
thirds of its 21,000 people are African-American, but where the mayor and
every member of the city council but one is white. Now this week we have
learned that the number released by the county elections board was simply
wrong. The board has revised the actual number of newly registered voters
down from 3,287 to just 128, raising the question about the extent to which
this moment and this movement can be translated into meaningful political
So Michael, my question is, of course, the question that is the new
campaign, turn out for what? Like, if I am living in Ferguson at this
moment, and I have a Democratic governor, but what he did during this was
to show up and impose a curfew. If I`m living there and my mayor hangs out
with black folks at the ale house, but this is all - Turn out for what?
Like why would I show up to vote? What would voting do to fix this?
SKOLNIK: Well, I think that before we talk to people about voting, let`s
talk to people about justice. I think there`s a much deeper conversation.
Just go vote tomorrow or go vote in four weeks and everything will change.
SKOLNIK: And back to the - and exactly. Nope. I think back to the
question of alliedship (ph). If I look about white people and how we`re
viewing this, right? For far too long we just said, oh, racism happened a
long time ago and now we have a black president and now we have black
friends or now I have a black classmate. But now with technology I think
it`s a game changer. Because we`re seeing things as white people that we
didn`t really think existed. Right? We`re seeing Eric Garner get choked
and killed by the police. We`re seeing police in riot gear looking to riot
against the people of Ferguson, witnessing police attacking people. We`re
seeing our family in a car and a woman calling the police on the police
when she gets pulled over and saying I don`t want to roll down my windows
because the police is going to hurt me and my children, and the police
smashed the window. So we`re seeing these videotapes and footage online.
HARRIS-PERRY: But isn`t the funky part of American racial divide that we
can look at the same stimuli, but not see the same thing. Like either the
problem - that even when I show it to you .
HARRIS-PERRY: You and I see different sides.
HARRIS-PERRY: Not you and I.
SKOLNIK: Certainly. Not you and me.
SKOLNIK: But, certainly, that is the challenge, because if you look at
that symphony, there are white folks in that audience standing up and
singing "Which side are you on?"
SKOLNIK: Right? So, I actually think there might be a turning point. Not
in 60 days or 40 days. Or four weeks, but maybe in a generation that could
turn and say I`m on the side of justice, and not just on the side of the
HARRIS-PERRY: And there have always been, right? I mean that on the one
hand you show these graphs of the sort of dramatic differences, and it
feels like this is a fully racialized story. So you look at the racial
perceptions of discrimination. And you have black folks and white folks
both thinking that racism towards black is declining. But only white folks
thinking that racism towards white people is increasing. But it`s not
quite that -- forgive me -- black and white, right?
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, there is - there`s actually - because I think that`s
what I`m trying to get to. So who are the folks where it shifts and
there`s something meaningful that happens?
FLANDERS: Well, this is so important that we need to see and I think we
are seeing a shift from generations of focus on identity politics, which we
needed at that time, to discussion of justice. And that discussion of
justice like the folks who are involved in the union movement endorsing
this action this weekend, this weekend of actions in Ferguson. You have
the AFL-CIO. You have the SCIU, you have - well, you have the Richard
Trumka tweeting this is all about one union. One union of people. We`re
talking about politics and policies and principles and how do we move
forward as a nation? I think people get it. That we have been a nation
ruled by divide and conquer too long.
SMITH: And I think that there are - obviously white people that get it and
they are participating. But I think that for too many white people it is,
I`m not like that.
SMITH: And then, I`m absolved and so I don`t need to get involved in the
actual fight for justice. I don`t need to be a protester. I don`t need to
worry about who - what the racial politics of someone is when I`m voting
for them. Because that`s just not an issue that I need to work, because I
am personally holding no bias.
And each of these guests is going to return in our next hour. But still to
come this morning, the blowup over Ramon Simone`s rejection of labels. But
first, the article is entitled how to destroy a public school system.
Perhaps more to the point. Why would anyone want to? And that is next.
HARRIS-PERRY: About 200 students walked out of class in Philadelphia on
Wednesday in a show of support for teachers still reeling from an
unexpected bombshell earlier in the week. In an unprecedented move, the
school reform commission, or SRC, blindsided educators by calling a
surprise meeting to announce the cancellation of their union contract.
Teachers had been working under an expired deal for more than a year. But
after months of bitter negotiations, the commission claims it ran out of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: PFT has refused to make any meaningful financial
concessions to help us deal with our structural deficit. After 21 months
the time has come for them to share in the sacrifice.
HARRIS-PERRY: The vote allows the commission to impose new rules on
teachers. One big change, teachers will now pay a portion of their health
care premiums for the first time. But the district says pay cuts and new
layoff (ph) are off the table for the time being.
The move saves an estimated $54 million desperately needed in classrooms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to provide and get these resources into schools
so that they are able to support our children as quickly as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Teachers say it`s difficult not to be outraged by a decision
carried out with little warning and no chance for public debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I wanted to speak on that resolution how am I
going to do that when they already passed the resolution? This is an
absolute act of cowardness (ph) by an SRC that the people in the city do
not want anymore. And if they weren`t sure before, they know it now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, as Philadelphia public schoolteachers strategize about
how to respond, some fear the unintended casualty of this battle will be
nothing less than the future of a city and its children. Journalist Daniel
Denver has covered the Philly school crisis extensively and just recently
filed the piece for "The Nation" entitled "How to Destroy a Public School
System?" Dan is a reporter for The Philadelphia "City Paper and a
contributor for "The Nation" magazine. And he joins me now.
Dan, just for folks who are not from Philly, what exactly is the SRC and
what in the world gives them the authority to do this?
DANIEL DENVER, REPORTER, PHILADELPHIA CITY PAPER: So the state of
Pennsylvania took over Philadelphia public schools in 2001, basically
making this argument, which is the part and parcel of the self -described
reform movement, which is that segregation and funding inequities are not
the problem. The problem is that public management and unions have failed
children in big urban public school systems. And they established the
school reform commission, which is controlled by the governor. He gets
three out of five seats. The mayor gets the other two. And it was
supposed to - people hoped that maybe the state finally taking control of
city schools would maybe take responsibility for adequately funding them.
DENVER: But that hasn`t been the case.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. No, in fact, as you point out in the piece, there`s
this kind of discourse about it being about teachers, right? I mean
there`s this weird language in this. 54 million will now go into the
classrooms. Right? It will come out of teachers and go into the
classrooms, as though teachers are not the ones in the classrooms. I want
to listen, however, just for a moment to Representative James Roebuck, who
is on the education committee who said something really interesting about
how you can possibly get good teachers under these circumstances. Let`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE REP. JAMES ROEBUCK, (D-PA) HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE: Why would I
come and teach in Philadelphia given this kind of approach? Why would
anyone stay in Philadelphia given this kind of approach? It seems that
this undercut all of the progress we`ve made in Philadelphia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So, why would a teacher come to Philadelphia in this moment?
DENVER: Well, the SRC has been making this argument that everyone
sacrificed. They`ve, you know, it`s time for the teachers to step up. In
fact, teachers have already been under a pay freeze for a year, which the
district says it saved them tens of millions of dollars already. But this
isn`t really just about an individual teacher`s finances and how they might
feel about having to pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year in
health care costs that they didn`t have to pay before. So, the teachers in
Philadelphia are already paid less than their - significantly less than
their suburban counterparts to teach in far more difficult conditions. How
are - how is the city of Philadelphia, as the school district of
Philadelphia, going to recruit and retrain the best educators possible for
Philadelphia students when they can get paid more to teach in better
conditions just across the city line?
HARRIS-PERRY: Help me to understand what charter schools have to do with
all of this?
DENVER: Well, basically like in Philadelphia and in many places, they were
described as the silver bullet solution. That private sector management
would fix the public school system. There`s some great charter schools in
Philadelphia. There`s some mediocre ones. There`s some really bad ones.
There`s some straight up corrupt ones. But overall they`ve not been that
silver bullet. And in fact, the way the financing is structured in
Pennsylvania, actually means that charter schooled are funded literally at
traditional public school expenses.
HARRIS-PERRY: Because the money follows -- if a student leaves the
traditional public school and goes to a charter school. The $8,000 goes
with the student.
DENVER: Exactly. But it`s not just that. The money goes with the
student, but the costs don`t all go with the student. Because if you have,
you know, ten students in a classroom, obviously, you would never have a
class size that small in Philadelphia. Let`s just say for, you know,
abstractly, and one of those students goes to a charter school, the
district can`t then pay the teacher 10 percent less.
DENVER: So, the cost remaining. There`s an estimated cost of an
additional $7,000 on top of that for every student who enrolls in a charter
for the district.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, much of this has happened under the current governor.
There is a race right now. It is a very close race. Is this race about
DENVER: It has very much become that. Our Republican Governor Tom Corbett
was elected on this Tea Party wave or fervor in 2010. And his first budget
cut about $860 million from K-12 education spending in the state. Said in
his budget address. "I`m here to say that education will not be the only
industry exempt from the recession." And look what happened. Thousands of
educator jobs across the state, particularly in Philadelphia, but really
across the state, have been lost. He`s now considered the most endangered
governor in many polls. Incumbent governor in the country. And it`s
really because he hasn`t been able to marginalize Philadelphia as, oh, look
at this poor city, poor disproportionately black city that messed itself up
again. Because his education cuts have hurt working class and middle class
districts across the whole state.
HARRIS-PERRY: Dan Denver. Thank you so much for reporting and for staying
on this. And we will keep reading your reporting and trying to stay on it
Still to come this morning, Jennifer Lawrence says it`s OK to look so long
as it is on her terms. But first we`re going to go live to St. Louis,
Missouri. Where demonstrators are just about to begin this morning`s
Justice for All march. There`s more MHP at the top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. Right now in
downtown St. Louis, the Justice For All national march and rally is getting
under way. More than two months since Michael Brown was killed by Officer
Darren Wilson. Thousands of people from Ferguson and from around the
nation are converging in a united stand against police violence.
Today`s march is part of Ferguson, October, a four-day weekend of marches,
gatherings and panels all with a goal of building momentum for a national
movement to resist police violence in communities of color. The weekend
got under way yesterday with a day-long schedule of events.
Including a march at prosecuting attorney`s Bob McCullough`s office
yesterday afternoon and a candle light march last night. The planned
protest in response to the killing of Michael Brown are coinciding with a
separate round of protests that began Wednesday night in South St. Louis
after police shot and killed 18-year-old Vonderritt Myers.
Police say the officer was returning fire after Myers fired at least three
shots and that a weapon was recovered at the scene. But Myers` parents
were saying he was unarmed. State and city leaders are calling for a
federal investigation into the shooting.
But even as a weekend of peaceful protests in Ferguson gets under way, the
scene in South St. Louis in the two nights after Myers` shooting echoed the
images we saw out of Ferguson just a few weeks ago. Police outfitted in
riot gear, using pepper spray in a clash with the crowd of demonstrators, a
reminder of tensions that are still simmering.
Joining me now are Laura Flanders, host and founder of grittv.org, Mychal
Denzel Smith, writer for "The Nation" and fellow at the Nation Institute,
Michael Skolnik, editor-in-chief at globalgrind.com and Russell Simons,
political director and Cora Daniels, a journalism professor at New York
And joining us from St. Louis, Missouri, Dr. Marva Robinson, she is a
licensed clinical psychologist and president of the St. Louis Chapter of
the Association of Black Psychologists.
Dr. Robinson, you`ve also been with us from the beginning, from the
earliest days of resistance in Ferguson. How would you compare where the
city is right now to where it was a month or even two months ago?
DR. MARVA ROBINSON, LICENSED CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: I would say that
things have become a little more intense. It`s been 64 days since the
initial incident and we`ve had two more officer-involved shootings where
African-American men have been killed, James Powell and now Vonderrit
So as you can imagine, while you already had protesters in place marching
for justice and answers, to have two more incidents since that time, things
have rightfully so become a little bit more intense.
PERRY: And a level of trauma is what you have been talking about with us
over these weeks is this feeling that it`s not only the immediate families
who are traumatized in each one of these officer-involved shootings, but
that the whole community feels this wound again, which is of course is
still not closed in part because there`s still no grand jury indictment of
ROBINSON: Yes. Definitely still a lot of nightmares, flashbacks. I`ve
spoken to protesters who have lost anywhere from ten or more pounds within
a couple of weeks. People getting no more than three or four hours a night
of sleep, because they feel responsible for standing outside and holding a
sign and protesting because the sentiment is we cannot let this unrest just
If I`m not out there, then who else will be? But I`ve been on panels that
talk about the psychological impact of law enforcement as well and so
looking at the duties and the responsibilities that they have and some
officers that have been on the streets dealing with this day in and day
It`s been 64 days. So there`s a lot of psychological impact across the
spectrum throughout the city and county.
PERRY: Stay with us. I want to come out to the panel for a sec. I want
to come to you for a moment, Cora, because part of what I keep feeling here
is that when police are showing up with the riot gear and tear gas, it
feels like no one is listening.
That part of the protest was about Michael Brown, but then the protests
were also about the treatment of peaceful protesters who have a right to
say something about -- and when they keep doing it months later it just
feels like no one is listening.
DANIELS: Right, that`s part of the problem that`s why we had that number
where no one was registering to vote. Why should you trust a system that
constantly doesn`t listen?
And hopefully, this is sort of a watershed movement where we can sort of
move into that action. Otherwise, I mean, I think not to feel totally
melodramatic, but I think the repercussions are going to be felt for
generations if we can`t sort of move forward.
PERRY: I keep thinking, Michael, about the likely angst. We know we are
moving up and the grand jury is going to make a decision. I think, Dr.
Robinson, there`s a certain empathy there to make that point. That not
only are protesters exhausted and distressed and being unheard.
But police officers, as just a matter of human, sleep and eating and water
and like the things that human beings need. They`re probably not in a good
place either. And I just keep thinking this is a toxic cocktail.
SKOLNIK: Yes, and I think, look, this police department and this mayor --
and the governor, and the supervisor of the county have made so many
mistakes from day one, talk about no one listening.
When they didn`t have a town hall meeting for four weeks after Michael
Brown was killed and when they did, they didn`t respond. They let people
speak with no response. How do you have a town hall conversation with your
own community and not even respond to the questions being asked by your
Now here we are now, as the doctor said, 64 days after the death of Mike
Brown with no indictment. We have no autopsy. We have no police incident
report. Forget about an indictment. Give us an incident report. One
wasn`t even recorded until 30 days after Michael Brown was killed.
When the ACLU filed for the report, they said there wasn`t one. I think
you said a toxic recipe for disaster here. And I would urge folks who are
watching and talk about, you know, reinforcement backup.
The folks who are on the ground are tired and certainly many police
officers are tired. So we all have to keep going out there. If we don`t
live in Ferguson, we need to go and support the local folks on the ground
in Ferguson, who had been there every single day when there isn`t a call to
action for a special weekend. Every single night, they are out there
fighting for justice.
PERRY: And Michael, you at this table talked about the residual
experiences of trauma, and it`s getting to a place where it feels like on a
daily, weekly basis we`re sharing the kinds of videos that Michael was
talking about earlier of the violence against black bodies.
Some of them it happened months ago, but the videos are just becoming
available. That sense of trauma, again, exhaustion and sense of potential
lack of justice even in the smallest sense.
SMITH: Yes, yes. And that to me, like what you`re saying about the police
still being there and using the military reference, even not listening to
the protesters, that to me speaks to the power of this moment in this
Because these are tactics that they`re using to quell that voice because
they recognize that they are in it for the long haul. This is two months
on and these people exhausted physically and emotionally drained have this
psychic toll taken on them. They are still there.
People are still showing up and the power structure needs something to say,
like to protect themselves. That`s what the police are still there for.
PERRY: And the thing they come with is tear gas.
SMITH: That`s we don`t have any of this because it`s like we`re not going
to relinquish anything to you, no matter what your demands. I think it
will intensify the longer this goes on.
FLANDERS: In addition to people coming, I also we need to nationalize in
struggle. It is going to be what happened next. With the moment of
silence, there`s a sense of back in the summer, the sense of everybody has
something they can do. Everybody has this problem on their doorstep.
And I mean, everybody, we are traumatized nation. Not everybody the same.
But everybody needs to look at this, and what Beth Richie calls "the cause
roll state," it doesn`t just affect the people that are put blind bars. It
affects the whole state.
We had the extraordinary report from our city defenders about how fines on
the people of Ferguson, $25,000 fines, three per household. It looked like
they were funding the city.
There`s a very good campaign from color of change being launched this week
that I think is important. That will remind people via Twitter every day
for at least a week of a black person killed by police.
I urge, particularly people who are not African-American, to go and
research every story they find out about through that campaign.
PERRY: I want to come back to you just before we go here, on the ground
there. We up here in New York are sitting here talking about, does that
resonate? Are these the kinds of things that the people of Ferguson need
to keep going? Is there a specific call from the ground that you would
like to issue?
ROBINSON: I think what`s been said is so true and that there is a type of
motivation here that despite the fatigue, not eating, not sleeping.
Despite not spending leisure time with friends and family, that there`s a
certain type of motivation, a type of persistence.
That people here on the ground are saying we will not let this go. We
deserve to be heard. We want to be seen and so it`s definitely a strong
movement here, for sure.
PERRY: I keep recalling that the Montgomery busboy cot went on for an
entire year with an entire city making a decision for a year to car pool at
all of the power of the state that came against them and then, that was the
moment. It didn`t fix the world, but it was a change moment. I feel that.
So I want to say thank you to Dr. Marva Robinson in St. Louis and to all of
the people who are doing work there on the ground in Missouri. Also here
in New York, thank you to Laura Flanders and the rest of my panel, who is
going to be back a little bit later in the program.
Coming up, the news made this week by both Raven-Symone and Jennifer
Lawrence, women making choices for themselves, but first, my letter of the
PERRY: This was the scene in Madison, Wisconsin, in early 2011. Thousands
of protesters fighting to stop a bill that would eliminate the public
employees` unions` rights to negotiate health care and pensions and
everything else except wages.
Part of the outrage was just shock. I mean, the new governor had not
campaigned on gutting public sector unions. According to "Politifact
Wisconsin," he never hinted at it once months of campaigning. This is a
man who can hide his true feelings until it`s too late. He is reportedly
considering a run for president.
That`s why my letter of the week is to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
Dear Governor Walker, it`s me, Melissa. Before you run for president, you
probably need to re-elected as governor next month. And I know that your
opponent, Mary Burke, has you against the ropes. So I want to talk about
your new campaign ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER, WISCONSIN: I`m pro-life, but there`s no doubt in my
mind the decision of whether or not to end a pregnancy is an agonizing one.
That`s why I support legislation to increase safety and to provide more
information for a woman considering her options.
The bill leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor. Reasonable
people can disagree on this issue. Our priority is to protect the health
and safety of all Wisconsin citizens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: Well, that just sounds gosh darn reasonable. I mean, you
reasonably believe that the choice to terminate a pregnancy should be
between a woman and her doctor and nobody else. There`s a problem with all
these reasonableness, you and what you really think.
Because you, Governor, don`t want the choice to be between a woman and her
doctor, you oppose abortion, all of it. You`re on the record as being
quote, "One hundred percent pro-life." That`s not a throwaway line.
That`s a designation from anti-abortion group, Pro-life Wisconsin.
And it is hard to win Pro-life Wisconsin`s political endorsement. You had
to say you believe in no abortions, under any circumstances. Not early in
the pregnancy. Not late in the pregnancy. Not for rape or incest. Not to
protect the health or even the life of a pregnant woman.
Not for financial reasons. Not because the woman thinks it`s her own best
interest to terminate. As a state representative in 1999, you wrote a bill
that would outlaw the University of Wisconsin Madison Medical School from
teaching medical students how to perform abortions.
You wrote another bill in 2001 that would allow pharmacists to refuse to
fill prescriptions that conflict with their beliefs. So even if a woman
and her doctor had decided emergency contraception was the right call, a
pharmacist could deny her that care.
You are so pro-life that you used to oppose the death penalty until that
became politically untenable and then there`s the law you signed just last
year. The one you`re defending in that new TV ad that would require
doctors performing termination services to have admitting privileges at a
hospital within 30 miles.
Governor, it is difficult bordering on impossible to obtain those
privileges because abortion is so safe already that doctors performing them
don`t bring in enough patients to a hospital to warrant admitting
This law is being challenged in the courts. If allowed to go into effect,
it would close down at least one of your state`s four clinics that provide
abortion. It would greatly reduce the number of abortions performed at
And it would severely restrict women`s access to legal reproductive care.
And you hide this behind the seemingly good intention of protecting women.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: Our priority is to protect the health and safety of all Wisconsin
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: You want to make abortion safer, Governor? Make it easier to
access, that way women can terminate a pregnancy early on, under the care
of a doctor, waiting until late in the pregnancy when the risk of
complications is higher.
You`re pro-life, so surely you want to prevent abortion, the way to do that
is simple. Help women prevent unplanned pregnancies. Make sure they have
access to affordable birth control and to affordable nearby qualified
If you were doing that, I might believe you that your goal is to protect
the health and safety of all Wisconsin citizens. But you have done the
exact opposite. Your budget eliminated state funding for Planned
It was sold as a way to prevent taxpayer dollars from funding abortions,
but what really happened is that five clinics ran by Planned Parenthood,
all in rural areas have shut down as a direct result of losing state
Not one of those clinics even performed abortions. They provided other
crucial affordable health care for women, screenings for breast and
cervical cancer and birth control and STD testing and treatment and health
exams. And you shut them down.
You say you care about women`s health and safety, but come on, Governor.
Don`t hide your anti-abortion ideals. When someone asks who opposes
reproductive freedom, just raise your hand. Let that anti-choice flag fly
because the people of Wisconsin have a right to know the real you this time
around. Sincerely, Melissa.
PERRY: This Sunday 28-year-old actor, Raven-Symone, made a return to
television. But not to play one of roles viewers best remember her for,
like Olivia in the "Cosby Show" or her character in Disney`s "That`s So
This time, she was on the set of Oprah`s weekly talk show "Where Are They
Now" sitting down with the media mogul to talk about her child stardom, her
recent experiences as a college student and more.
So Raven was also asked some questions about her relationship specifically
her relationship with model, Azmarie Livingston. The couple made headlines
in August, 2013, Raven responded to news about additional states legalizing
same-sex marriage by tweeting, "I can finally get married. Yay,
government, so proud of you."
During Sunday`s show Oprah asked Raven if that tweet was her way of coming
out and this was part of Raven`s response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAVEN-SYMONE, ACTRESS: I don`t want to be labeled gay. I want to be
labeled a human who loves human. I`m tired of being labeled. I`m an
American. I`m not an African-American. I`m an American. I don`t know
where my roots go to. I don`t know how far back they go. I don`t know how
And I don`t know what country in Africa I`m from. But I know my roots are
in Louisiana. I`m an American and that`s a colorless person because we`re
all people. I have lots of things running through my veins.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: After hearing Raven-Symone self-identify as an American and
outright reject being labeled an African-American or gay, Oprah shared the
following reaction with many of her viewers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPRAH, MEDIA MOGUL: Girl, you starting up Twitter on fire. What? Good
Lord! What did you just say? Stop, stop, stop the tape right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: And set the Twitter on fire she did. While some Twitter users
supported Raven`s request not to be labeled, others were bothered by her
assertions, tweeting, she was rejecting her heritage or appearing ignorant
about race and sexuality.
If Raven set Twitter on fire, she also set media outlets in the blogosphere
blaze. Throughout the week, op-ed after op-ed, dissected Symone`s comments
calling her views about racial labels blind or infuriating.
On Wednesday, Raven doused the flames by releasing a statement to
thegrio.com in an effort to clarify her own comments. "I never said I
wasn`t black. I want to make that very clear. I said I`m not African-
I never expected my personal beliefs and comments to spark such emotion in
people. I think it`s only positive when we can openly discuss race and
being labeled in America." That`s exactly what I want to do with our panel
Joining me now to unpack the questions of race, language and self-
identification that resulted from Raven`s interviews are, Jill Filipovic,
who is a senior political writer for cosmopolitan.com, Brittney Cooper who
is an assistant professor of women and gender studies at Africana Studies
at Rutgers University.
Michael Skolnik, editor-in-chief at globalgrind.com and Russell Simons,
political director, and Cora Daniels, author of "Impolite Conversations On
Race, Politics, Sex, Money and Religion." What do you make of it?
BRITTNEY COOPER, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: You can`t be a Cosby kid talking
about I`m not black or I`m not African-American, but political (inaudible)
that show it was about showing the possibilities for African-American
identity in the U.S. in the 20th Century.
Frankly, I just didn`t truck with the revised comment, saying I didn`t say
I wasn`t black, so you`re black in double negatives now? No. It`s part of
this sort of strain of anti-blackness that I think young black folks
struggle with in particular.
Because there`s a sort of narrative at the base of her comments about
identifying with being an African descendent person as excluding her from
all of the things that come with the label human apparently provides for
PERRY: So that is one way to read it.
PERRY: I legitimately felt no distress in the way that some of the other
folks did especially because I was a little late to the party. So I didn`t
hear the first comment until after I read the second one. I too hate the
imagined Africa situation.
So there`s an actual place, there`s an actual continent. In it are
countries, from those countries there are ethnic groups, from those people
came a people who end in the U.S., but when we do imaginary kwanza that
comes from Southern California and not the west coast of Africa.
I am not in alignment with Raven-Symone, but I can see the ways in which
imagined Africa rather than actual experience, connections and the
continent and its people also lets black folks in America do a weird kind
of performance of blackness that isn`t really quite as authentic as we like
to present it is.
COOPER: But I`m not advocating for her to have an irresponsible connection
to being an African descendent person. She also uncritically embraces what
it means to be American. Part of the schism over claiming black identity
is about the way in which America has foreclosed rights and possibilities
So when she feels the need to assert her humanity as a black queer person,
that`s homophobic, sexism and racist. I want us to have more responsible
notions about African culture, very particularly, but what she`s doing is
not gesturing towards that. I think it`s something different.
PERRY: OK, but she also tweeted, government, yay, so there`s also part of
me that was just maybe that was the level of analysis that the baby Raven
PERRY: The fact is, weather government, yes, I`m not gay. I`m a human
whether that was that a deep or pitiful analysis on her part. It did spark
some of these impolite conversations.
DANIELS: Just the fact that the Twitter lit a fire and it shows just how
much those labels still matter to folks and how we can`t get away from the
labels. And what`s problematic with the color blind argument or I`m not
labeled argument is we should be striving not to ignore our differences,
but respect our differences. That`s something the argument does
PERRY: Race is a social construct, right? I mean, the fact is you can`t
take a black person`s blood and a white person`s blood and set them next to
each other. There isn`t a physiological, biological difference. Race is
socially constructed in history, in law, in time.
So in every meaningful way, Raven-Symone is black. She would have been
enslaved. She would have been Jim Crowed. But isn`t it also because of
the social construct open to reinterpretation and couldn`t she be part of
SKOLNIK: Well, I think she`s reinterpreting it because she`s in
entertainment and Hollywood, which is also a racist system that doesn`t
uplift people or color. It doesn`t uplift queer people. In her mind, in
her head, I don`t want to be black to Hollywood. Then I`m put in a black
I don`t want to this be gay to Hollywood. Then I`m put in the gay box.
And so many other stars in Hollywood have said similar things in the past.
I am post-race and post gay. And also to her point, I`m not being labeled.
Well, being an American is also a label.
PERRY: Yes, my friend.
SKOLNIK: Across the world it`s not always liked.
PERRY: Let`s listen to Zoey Zaldana make a very similar point for a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think you`re kind of questioned or boxed more
in along your ethnic lines now?
ZOEY ZALDANA: No. No. Let me tell you something. I literally run away
from people that use words like ethnic. It`s preposterous, you know. To
me there is so such thing as people of color in reality, people aren`t
white. Paper is white. White paper is white. People are pink.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: OK. So there`s a part of me just like, well, now I`m going to have
a conversation about somebody who said people are pink, which feels bad.
But to go to the Hollywood point, this is the actor who is then cast to
play Nina Simone.
She can feel whatever she wants to feel, but then you don`t get to be Nina
Simone, who did understand blackness and was down with it and critiquing
the ways in in which inequality was operating in people`s lives.
JILL FILIPOVIC, COSMOPOLITAN.COM: Right. I very much understand the
impulse to say I`m a human. It`s like people who say I`m not a feminist.
I`m a humanist. We`re all equal. We`re all the same. I would love it if
we were all treated equally. As human beings we are all equal. We should
have equal rights and opportunities. We don`t.
That`s scary for a lot of people to recognize especially when you have to
recognize it about yourself. I operate in a world where because of my
gender or the color of my skin or my sexual orientation, I`m going to
blocked from certain things.
I can understand the impulse to say I`m just going to say I`m fine and
everyone is equal so I can try as hard as I can to achieve what I can
PERRY: I get the impulse because it`s kind of aggressive individualism
that would allow you to step outside of time and history and space and law.
My mom socially constructs that she was black. It cracks me up. She
Up next, just how much Jennifer Lawrence does Jennifer Lawrence want you to
see? Her body on her terms and her consent.
PERRY: I`m standing in front of the new cover of the November 2014 edition
of "Vanity Fair" magazine, taken by internationally renowned French
fashion photographer, Patrick Demarshale. The cover features Jennifer
Lawrence, the endearingly clumsy, outrageously forthright and hilariously
outspoken star of "The Hunger Games," "Silver Linings Playbook" and
She`s among the most talented actors and compelling personalities in
Hollywood today. But this "Vanity Fair" cover is not about her buoyant
personality. It`s about her buoyant breasts. Sparkling eyes and jewelry
aside, this cover asks us to look at Jennifer Lawrence` implied nakedness.
And while we look at her, she looks at us and says it`s my body. It should
be my choice. So maybe you`re among the millions who viewed her stolen
naked image online. In this moment, Jennifer Lawrence, offers a vivid
reminder. Consent is sexy.
PERRY: Even before "Vanity Fair" released a digital edition of its
November issue Wednesday, images of the magazine`s cover sent a tidal wave
across the internet. There she was, Oscar-award winning, "Hunger Games"
games, Jennifer Lawrence, decked out in a designer necklace and floating
naked in the water.
The internet promptly made the connection to some other photos of the
actress. Private pictures Lawrence took years ago specifically for her
then boyfriend. Pictures nevertheless discovered by hackers who cracked
into actor`s personal iCloud account and posted the photos for the whole
world to see.
Jennifer Lawrence is speaking up about this breach of privacy and her
comments are featured in "Vanity Fair`s" cover story. But the star`s
comments didn`t follow any of the blueprints crafted by PR teams and actors
who have dealt with similar privacy invasions in the past.
In 2007, for example, Disney star, Vanessa Hudgens, responded to an online
photo leaked by apologizing to fans and saying, "I`m embarrassed over the
situation and regret having ever taken these photos."
Disney Channel followed up with the statement of its own saying, "Vanessa
has apologized for what is obviously a lapse in judgment. We hope she`s
learned a valuable lesson."
Sure. Maybe there`s a valuable lesson to be learned, a lesson Lawrence
sums up at her "Vanity Fair" profile when she tells her interviewer, I
started to write an apology, but I don`t have anything to be sorry for.
It`s not a scandal.
It`s a sex crime. It`s my body. It should be my choice and the fact that
it`s not my choice is absolutely disgusting. What do you think of that
FILIPOVIC: I think it`s awesome. I was so happy to see her come out and
say this is a crime. This is a thing done to me without my consent.
Everyone is naked under their clothes. There`s nothing shameful about a
woman being a sexual agent.
If this has been a man, first of all, nobody would have bothered to hack in
and his steal his nude photos in the first place. We assume that men can
be sexual agents and can also be intelligent and talented and professional
actors. And it`s not a scandal.
When it`s a woman, the implication is everyone has seen her naked. She
should be humiliated and she`s a slut. And if she`s a slut, she can`t be
anything else. She`s not smart or talented. That`s definitional of who
she is. I was so glad to see her say, no. You don`t get to put that on
PERRY: It was a moment when you know, we talked earlier about the fact
that she has this big personality. It`s one of the things my 12-year-old
likes about her and she seems quirky and cool. I did appreciate that she
On the other hand, there`s a little bit of a discourse about very much like
in the case of Raven-Symone who from a position of relative privilege talk
about sort of pushing back against labels that from a position of privilege
she can push back against shaming in a way that a woman, for example,
working minimum wage may not be able to.
COOPER: I`m happy. I love it. That`s what we want folks to do. Create
and make space. That`s what she does. I think the challenge is feminism.
We`re fighting for a world in which women can choose things. That runs
against the limits of a world saying we`re entitled to your body.
We subscribe to the ways you can express yourself. That means the feminist
movement has to create ways to make private decisions and make sure it`s
PERRY: The connection to me was the glass floor sexual harassment in the
industry, published on Tuesday by the Restaurant Opportunity Center, and it
shows those working for that sub minimum wage from basically tips minimum
wage are more likely to be uniquely vulnerable to sexual harassment because
for them if you complain about the customer who sexually harassing you,
they may not leave the tip.
That felt to me like, OK. Yes, go J-Lo and let`s get in what it means for
women on the ground.
SKOLNIK: There`s an interesting campaign started in New York City by the
Commission on Domestic Violence. I think for men especially, we have to
stop being bi-standards and being up standards and stand up for people like
Jennifer Lawrence or when we see a man harassing a woman, say that is not
acceptable. And Jennifer Lawrence has been outspoken about this and her
body in general. She talks about her weight.
PERRY: They called her fat.
SKOLNIK: She was very upfront about her body in general. For men, we have
to be more vocal when we see things like this and we see women stand up for
themselves and say we stand up for you as well.
PERRY: I keep seeing there`s so much nakedness. It`s like to see, right.
To see a naked body it`s just like Tuesday, right, it`s just a regular sort
of thing. So it almost feels like the only thing that makes it a moment is
the idea that it was stolen.
It is the sex crime nature of it because as lovely as I`m sure a naked
Jennifer Lawrence is, it`s the stolen naked Jennifer Lawrence that makes it
something so many want to consume.
DANIELS: That`s what has r what was the most interesting to me. She
wasn`t criticizing the hackers and the folks that post them. She was
criticizing all of us that clicked it. So she was putting the
responsibility on all of this and making us all take responsibility for it.
So it`s like the famous case they teach you in psychology class and how
folks just stood by while she was getting raped and murdered. And we just
click on these things. We`re collectively participating.
PERRY: We`re bystanding in that way. I wonder, though, if there is a
value in the celebrity conversation because there`s a part of me that
thinks, are we about to do two segments on J-Lo and Raven-Symone.
But somehow the celebrity moments allow us to clear the space, bring the
people to the stadium, and have the conversation. On the other hand, the
domestic violence conversation that emerged, then it started to go away.
How do we sustain it?
FILIPOVIC: I wish I knew. You know, I think that what Britney said
earlier is very on point. Celebrities, because of their position of
privilege, can create space for other people that have similar issues.
Revenge porn has been a problem for a long time. There are a lot of women
who ex-boyfriends or jilted lovers have released nude photos of them to
these revenge important web sites. If you`re an average woman and not a
public figure, do you want to fight that publicly?
Are you going to want your name more out there when your body is already
out there? So, I`m hopeful that these celebrity moments can, you know,
have somebody like Jennifer Lopez, who is saying that`s not OK.
And then you have the girl in Texas whose boyfriend sent her photo out who
then feels a little bit more empowered to stand up.
PERRY: And it was Jennifer Lawrence.
FILIPOVIC: Jennifer Lawrence, I`m sorry.
PERRY: We get our celebrities straight. Thank you to Jill Filipovic and
to Brittney Cooper and also to Michael Skolnik and to Cora Daniels.
Up next, the evolution of a criminal, at 16 he robbed a bank. Now he`s
made a movie about why. Don`t miss it.
PERRY: In 1997 when he just 16, Darius Clark Monroe was arrested for
helping to rob a bank. He was sentenced to five years in prison. Stay
with me because this is not a story of a wrongfully convicted teen. Darius
did the crime and he served the time.
Then he did something surprising. After his release, Darius sought an
education and eventually enrolled in film school at New York University.
There he began working on a film about the crime he committed and the lives
"Evolution of A Criminal" is part documentary, part dramatic re-enactment.
It chronicles the events leading up to the robbery and the reaction of
Darius` family, the reaction of his victims and why he felt the need to
take such desperate action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFEID MALE: Once I began to realize the extent or financial
problems or for being a care-free and joyous child to becoming acutely
aware that the world was not as I saw it and the burden that my parents had
was slowly trickling down to me. I don`t know how many times I wished that
money was not an issue and she wasn`t telling me, you need to save me, you
need to rescue me. But it`s like, no one was rescuing anyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: Joining me now, the director and producer of "Evolution of A
Criminal," Darius Clark Monroe and back with us, Mychal Denzel Smith,
contributing writer for "The Nation."
Darius, when I watch the film, I became distressed by the title because of
all the things that you seem to be, son, person who committed crime, the
idea of you as a criminal felt discordant. Why think of it that way?
DARIUS CLARK MONROE, PRODUCER, "EVOLUTION OF A CRIMINAL": For me, the
title is just a play on words. It was just playing on the whole stigma
that if you are a black or brown boy, you are pathologized as a criminal.
You are already labelled this from birth. So I want to go in with the idea
of this criminal and unravel and let humanity and real people speak through
PERRY: It is, as I was saying to you in the commercial, it`s quieter as a
movie than I expected it to be. There is a sense of sorrow that hangs over
it and yet also -- I want to make sure I ask this the right way. There is
a kind of burden of masculinity.
I just wrote for "Essence" magazine about my own angst of growing up with
financial deprivation. I wonder, is fixing it the man part, the
masculinity that you have to make it better when you see that something is
MONROE: I`m not saying it was forced, but you just feel it as a son. And
I was the oldest child as well. So that played into it a little bit. But
just as a young man, I always wanted to make sure I was going to help take
care of my mom and support the household in any way that I could.
I never thought it would be through robbery or through crime. But I`ve
always felt the pressure and didn`t reject that pressure to help out. I
wanted to help out.
PERRY: Mychal, you brought this film to our attention. You were like you
all have to see this. What is it about it that felt so compelling to you?
SMITH: I felt like he`s telling the story of the root causes. I think we
get so caught up in the idea of people committing crimes and then labeling
them and stigmatizing them and locking them away in cages and solving the
problem somehow that way.
But what Darius is talking about is what leads someone to that. These are
not just irrational people acting irrationally. We`re talking about a
story of generational poverty and people living and working hard every
single day but not seeing the light of day.
And then one instance sets them back, like, his home was robbed and that
one thing -- it`s not just that it set them back economically. But it`s
demoralizing. It`s also a story of redemption.
But then I think that opens the doors for talking about how we don`t want
to exceptionalize Darius for what -- it`s about the support systems he`s
had to be able to make it.
PERRY: But for folks who haven`t seen it, it`s not -- you go and re-
interview people who were in the bank at the time you were involved in the
robbery. I want to just listen for a moment to a pastor who was in the
bank when you robbed it and what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I`m grateful to God that when I saw you, there was
nothing in me with any type of malice.
MONROE: How do you feel you would have responded had you met myself and
the other gentlemen if not a week or just a short while after the robbery
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I probably would have hurt you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: How hard was it to stand there and talk to these people?
MONROE: It was very difficult. You have to understand that through all of
this, I had my own experience and my own side of the story. So when I`m
standing in front of these individuals who are victimized and they`re
telling me about their loved ones and how they felt that was going to be
the last moment for them, it`s tough.
And it also -- it creates a brand-new experience all over again. I really
didn`t understand just how traumatic the event was because this was
emotional trauma. This was psychological trauma. A lot of times we don`t
think about that. If it`s not anything physical or violent, we don`t think
about that, but these people had been hurt. They had been traumatized.
PERRY: I so appreciate the film. It`s quiet, careful. It`s important.
Thank you to Darius Clark Monroe and to Mychal Denzel Smith. "Evolution of
A Criminal" is playing at New York`s IFC Center.
That`s our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. See you
tomorrow morning, 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Right now, time for a preview of
"WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT." Hi, Alex.
ALEX WITT: That was such a powerful interview. I loved that. Thank you
so much, Melissa. She is scheduling her own death, a 29-year-old woman
with a terminal illness had picked the day she wants to die. I`ll talk to
a medical ethicist on how iconic this is.
And a building in New York City has just been bought by a Chinese insurance
company. Is there an overall strategy behind the purchase?
In Kentucky, Alison Grimes refused to say if she voted for President Obama.
Now there could be fallout. We`ll get a look at how it could change the
balance of the Senate. I`ll be right back.
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