'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Saturday, October 10th, 2015
Read the transcript to the Saturday show
Show: MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY
Date: October 10, 2015
Guest: Martin Fletcher, Earl Catagnus, Brittney Cooper, Jason Cone, Tracie
Keesee, Mychal Denzel Smith, Emily Nagoski, Dorie Clark, Bobbito Garcia
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning, my question, can women
change the meaning of the word "slut"? Plus, 20 years since the Million
Man March and Stephon Marbury calls out Michael Jordan. But first, the
struggle continues with America`s obsession with guns.
Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. Yesterday, President Obama
traveled to Roseburg, Oregon, to meet privately with families of victims of
the Umpqua community college shooting, where nine people, plus the shooter
were killed and nine more were injured last Thursday when a heavily armed
gunman opened fire on students in classes. Even as the president was
preparing to depart for the Pacific Northwest. Media outlets begin
reporting early Friday morning that one student was dead and three more
injured in the overnight shooting at Northern Arizona University in
Now this Arizona shooting seems to be unlike the one in Oregon. Early
reports suggest that shooting began as the confrontation between student
groups that turn deadly, when an 18-year-old freshman produced a gun and
Unlike Oregon, except that one person again was dead and the weapon used to
kill was a gun. And then even more incredibly, before noon yesterday, came
report of yet another campus shooting. One person was killed, and another
wounded near a student housing complex for Texas Southern University,
prompting the school to cancel classes and lock down campus. This incident
also seems to be different than the other two. This time police detained
two people for questioning and were still seeking a third. Different,
except that again a person is dead and the weapon again is a gun.
12 dead, eight days, three campuses. The weapons each time guns. Now, I
can remember when enough time passed between these tragedies that the
public would absorb the names of the schools and the towns, blink at media
coverage which sear them into our memory. Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy
Hook. But now the gun violence, the mass killings, they seem to happen
with such ferocious regularity that we barely even register the location of
the most recent brutality. Ft. Hood, Tucson, Aurora, Oak Creek. East La
And now, the public response seems routine, news reports, shutter and an
otherwise dull news cycle, watching. We catch our breath in horror, we
shake our heads in disbelief. We take to social media to express our
outrage to offer our prayers, and then - then we return to our ordinary
daily lives. And maybe this is best. Because gun violence is absolutely
ordinary in America. Take last year in Chicago, more than 2,000 people
were shot in that one city in one year alone. And more than a quarter
million Americans have died by guns in the past decade. And for young
people, the risk is particularly acute, in part, because suicide is the
second most common cause of death for young people age 15 to 34 and guns
are the most common and effective weapon of suicide. And for women the
risk is particularly acute because the presence of a gun in a home
increases the risk of homicide in a domestic violence situation by 500
percent for women.
As a public, we seem to barely notice as our fellow citizens died in
gunshots inflicted by themselves or by their beloveds or by strangers on
city streets and campus classrooms and holy sanctuaries. This, it seems,
is our new normal. Except that President Obama is increasingly unwilling
to accept the routinization of gun deaths. Perhaps it`s the number of
eulogies he`s had to deliver as president. The number of times he`s been
called to the podium to address a mass shooting. Maybe it`s the
frustration of a father on the precipice of sending daughters off to
college. But in the after math of the Oregon massacre, President Obama
struck a very different tone, one that insists on action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: When you decide
to vote for somebody, on making a determination as to whether this cause of
continuing death for innocent people should be a relevant factor in your
decision. If you think this is a problem, then you should expect your
elected officials to reflect your views and each time this happens, I`m
going to bring this up. Each thyme this happens, I am going to say that we
can actually do something about it, but we are going to have to change our
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, if you share the president`s visible frustration, the
weariness, the sense that nothing can change, welcome to the struggle.
Now, I get it. We want to see things change, and we want to see them
change now. After all, recent decades have rewarded us with stunning
examples of global political change. I`ve seen the Berlin Wall crumble.
Witnessed Nelson Mandela walk free and then go on to be elected president.
I stood in awe as our own nation, with all its imperfections, elected a
black man president. Twice. I`ve had the privilege to report in the
moment when the Supreme Court declared marriage equality the law of the
land. And not get even ready to embrace the mantle of middle age. I
personally have witnessed breathtaking change in my lifetime.
So, I understand why we`ve come to believe that change is linear and swift
and why the unwillingness of the nation to change in the face of such loss
and tragedy is baffling and maddening, but swift change is a mirage. In
our retelling of social movement history, we tend to focus only on the
final moments of battle when victory is finally at hand.
For example, we think of the civil rights movement as beginning in 1955 in
Montgomery, Alabama and completing its work in 1965 with the passage of the
Voting Rights Act. Like whoohoo. It took just one decade to change
But look more carefully. And you can see Dred Scott told he has no rights
in 1857, Homer Plessy losing in 1896 at separate, but equal dissent over
the land. You can see street car boycotts throughout the South crushed in
the early 1900s.
The civil rights movement didn`t take ten years to change America. It took
closer to 110 years to bring those changes. And the movement continues
even today. Because those victories remain fragile. Fighting, and
failing, fighting and failing. This is what we mean when we say as we so
often do on this show, the struggle continues.
No one promised us that our part of the struggle would be the part that
enjoys the victory. Our efforts may fail and fail and fail. But those
failures do not absolve us of the responsibility to try and right now in
our country, our fellow citizens are dying and they are dying in part
because guns are too plentiful, too easily obtained and too deadly. They
are dying in part because we have not made the choices we must make to
limit the number, the access and the sheer killing power of American
firearms. We are failing.
But that does not mean we are allowed to look away, to fall silent or to
cease trying to make change. Christina Taylor Green was just nine-years-
old when she went to see her congresswoman Gabby Giffords at a political
event at her hometown in Tucson, Arizona. She was just nine-years-old.
But she was already an enthusiastic patriot, a school girl interested in
politics who went to meet her representative and to learn more about her
country. She was just nine-years-old when the gunman opened fire on
January 8, 2011 and shot Representative Giffords and killed six others.
Christina Taylor died on the scene. President Obama delivered the eulogy
for those who were slaughtered in Tucson, including for Christina Taylor,
who was born on September 11, 2001. the day we remember as the most
egregious act of terrorism in our history. She died on January 8, 2011 as
a result of an act that has come to routinely terrorize us. Gun violence.
On the next day the president said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. I
want America to be as good as she imagined it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: And the struggle to achieve that change continues.
I want to turn now to the epic chaos unfolded this week in Washington, D.C.
It was all over a job that pays $223,000 a year. The person who holds it
is second in line to succeed the president after the vice president and the
power of the office is such that no legislation in Washington can move
forward without his or her say, in other words, it seemed like a good job.
But California congressman Kevin McCarthy dropped a political bombshell on
Thursday when he said he would know longer pursue the position of speaker
of the House and the seeming consensus candidate, Congressman Paul Ryan
doesn`t seem to want the job either. So what happens next? Joining me now
is NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker. Kristen, so things
down there in Washington seem a little unsettled.
KRISTEN WELKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, to say the least, Melissa, look.
Basically, in this array right now, lawmakers are trying to regroup. Most
of them at home this holiday weekend. And as you just pointed out the name
emerging as the most likely replacement for the current House Speaker is
former vice presidential nominee Congressman Paul Ryan. But it`s not clear
that he wants the job. Top Republicans are pushing him to have it. But
Ryan has called his current position a dream job. He`s currently chairman
of the House Ways and Means Committee. Now, this all comes as you pointed
out, Melissa, after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy stunned everyone
on Thursday by announcing he was dropping out. McCarthy essentially wasn`t
sure he would get enough votes to be elected and just to remind everyone,
he was recently criticized by Democrats and Republicans for suggesting that
Benghazi committee was aimed at destroying Secretary Hillary Clinton`s poll
numbers, that it was basically political. Meanwhile, the House is facing a
long to do list. That`s what makes the timing of this so critical. He
needs to pass a spending bill to keep the government open, and it needs to
raise the debt limit or face default. But again, Melissa, for now
lawmakers are all on vacation. So this situation is very much unresolved.
HARRIS-PERRY: It is. Definitely may be. You see the center of the
universe for the past couple of days. Thank you, to NBC Kristen Welker in
And up next, the startling reminder that America is still very much a
country at war.
HARRIS-PERRY: As of this morning, 33 people remain unaccounted for in the
U.S. airstrike that devastated the Doctors without Borders trauma hospital
in Kunduz, Afghanistan, taking the lives of nearly two dozen doctors and
patients. Now the medical aid group is calling for an unprecedented
international and independent investigation with the rules of the Geneva
Convention and to what they are calling a war crime.
It was a wake-up call for many that the war in Afghanistan continues as the
longest period of sustained conflict in U.S. history. Now, the idea that a
wake-up call is even necessary, highlights the yawn in gap between the
majority of American people and a much smaller and often invisible
communities of Americans who serve in the nation`s armed forces.
This distance between the people and the war effort was non-existent during
World War II and the Vietnam War, two conflicts that saturated the cultural
consciousness of the times. The war in Afghanistan is 14-years-old and
it`s cost U.S. taxpayers more than a trillion dollars, more than 2,350 U.S.
Service members have died. Yet this war is being fought by a historically
small U.S. military. The military draft ended in 1973 and less than one
percent of American adults have served on active duty at any given time in
the past decade, compared to roughly nine percent at the height of World
War II. According to the Pew Research Center, there is a large generation
gap in terms of Americans who have family connections to the military.
Younger adults are far less likely to have family ties to the Armed Forces
and in a recent survey, more than three-quarters of adults ages 50 and
older said they have immediate family member who served, but among those 18
to 29, this share was only one third.
That overall decline in the veteran population in that sense is also
represented in Congress. In the 1970s more than 70 percent of the members
of Congress had some military service, but today, only about 20 percent do.
And only a few have children in uniform. Now, that`s a sharp contrast to
the military officers who have sons and daughters serving, and that`s noted
in this Op-Ed published in the "New York Times," "Here are the makings of a
self-perpetuating military caste sharply segregated from the larger society
and with its enlisted ranks disproportionately recruited from the
Joining me now is Brittney Cooper, assistant professor of Women and Gender
Studies at Rutgers University. Earl Catagnus Jr., assistant professor at
Valley Forge Military College and an Iraq war veteran. And Martin
Fletcher, long time war correspondent for NBC News. So nice to have you
all here. I want to ask this question, Martin, about this idea that we
have a separate soldier class or warrior class that most Americans don`t
even - aren`t related to, don`t see, aren`t part of in communities. I live
in North Carolina during the week. And so we have a very saturated
military culture in North Carolina, but there are lots of places, where
that just is not true.
MARTIN FLETCHER, AUTHOR "THE WAR REPORTER": I find as a non-American, I
find it astonishing. And I`m pretty sure that most Americans don`t know
anybody in the military. And, you know, I spent a lot of time reporting
and living in Israel where the country has been at war for almost 60 years
on and off, and every single family has somebody in the military. Because
they have - they set up constrictions. So ...
HARRIS-PERRY: Universal, men and women.
FLETCHER: Men and women, boys and girls, they`ve got to go into the army.
Many don`t for different reasons, but the whole country is involved in the
struggle all the time. It`s a very personal issue. You come to the United
States, and as you say, it`s - there is a difficult important gap between
those involved and those not involved, and the vast majority are simply not
involved in the military.
HARRIS-PERRY: And so, I wonder what the consequences then are. I wonder
if it is easier for us to deploy our men and women, and if we don`t even
have to watch it or recognize it or absorb those losses ourselves?
EARL CATAGNUS, JR., CTR. FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF SECURITY STUDIES: One, I
do have to say, historically speaking, America has always been anti-
military, always been historically speaking, since the time of the
revolution, didn`t want to stay in the Army. The draft - the draft, the
peace time daft was a horrible mistake. It served its purposes - purpose
up in the `70s. But then it should have gone away and it did.
HARRIS-PERRY: So you are not someone who would say let`s re-institute the
draft in order to have shared sacrifice?
CATAGNUS: No. And it`s 300, I think, our population is 300 million, which
is a relative - it`s a huge country. Not only that, but we don`t have, the
reason why there is this disconnect is we don`t have a common enemy, we
have the common idea that, we don`t want terrorists to come to get us. We
don`t have the Soviet Union, this big lumbering giant. Although Russia is
making overtures. But still, it`s not seen as a personal and existential
threat. Because we don`t have that existential threat, you are not going
to have that personal buy-in for the people.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, on the one hand there is this question of whether or not
the people buy into the military. But the other piece for me, Brittney, is
whether or not the military buys into its civilian leadership, because part
of the sort of the U.S. context of anxiety about a standing military is
this idea that in the democracy it is civilians who will lead, who is the
command-in-chief who will make the decisions out of Congress. But it`s
increasingly, our president and our members of Congress don`t have any
military experience, the great threat to freedom that we will often hear
about is this idea that the military like, you all can`t tell us what to do
because you don`t understand war.
BRITTNEY COOPER, ASSISTANT PROF. OF WOMEN AND GENDER STUDIES, RUTGERS:
Absolutely. So, this is really interesting. Both my father and my
grandfather were in the military. And I do continue to know a small group
of African-Americans core in the military. Because it continues to be one
of the key pathways. If you are a working class person without access to
education and increasing college costs and folks go into the military. So
I`m not so sure that - so that`s one side of this. I think another side of
this though, is the fatigue of war. So I think that this is less about
whether we trust civilians to lead and more about the fact that folks are
tired of fighting and it becomes easy to not think about the casualties
that we are causing and the distraction that happens when it gets farther
and farther away. So this war has been so long. People are fatigued,
they`re tired. And so then we just stop thinking about it. It`s too much
to hold and handle.
HARRIS-PERRY: But that - I mean I think there are many Americans who
legitimately like, wait a minute. I thought the president said the war in
Afghanistan was over, and then this week suddenly we realize, no, it`s not.
CATAGNUS: So, again, I think that the idea that it`s conventional forces
and relatively conventional forces that are doing this, even though there
are special operations, which it`s the military, wherein when you see in a
cold war after this - after - I mean after Vietnam you have in the 1980s,
you saw a lot of conflict with the CIA running things, and then even though
there were military forces there, it wasn`t that Department of Defense
running it or they were running it in covert ways and I still don`t see
that there is that - compared to like Vietnam. It`s a very short time
period. Decades, maybe. Not necessarily, you know, these hundreds of
years or 50 years. So I`m not so sure that there is a disconnect. And
there`s always been whether or not a civilian leader can lead a military
force. That has always been a part of the conversation. It`s one of the
cyclical things in American dialogue, which makes America great. Because
we constantly challenge it, but then there is constantly a reaffirmation
that civilians have to be in charge because of that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Absolutely. Stick with us. So, when we come back, I do
want to bring in the United States executive director of Doctors without
Borders. His organization is calling for the U.S. strike to be
investigated as a war crime.
HARRIS-PERRY: The U.S. airstrike that devastated the Doctors without
Borders hospital in Afghanistan has sharpened the focus on the fighting
that continues there, despite President Obama announcing the end of U.S.
combat operations in 2014. The U.S. military has taken responsibility for
the airstrike that devastated the charity hospital killing at least 22
people and wounding dozens more. General John Campbell, top commander of
the U.S. Forces in Afghanistan testified before the Senate Armed Services
Committee on Tuesday, directly acknowledging that the hospital strike was
carried out by U.S. Forces. He also said that U.S. Forces were responding
to a request by Afghan forces fighting to retake Kunduz from Taliban
militants, who captured the provincial capital last month. Now, a U.S.
Special Operations unit in the close vicinity was communicating with the
crew of the armed AC-130, gunship that delivered the strikes, each of the
attacks specifically targeted the hospital, even though it`s GPS
coordinates were regularly shared with military officials as recently as
I want to bring in now Jason Cone, the U.S. executive director of Doctors
JASON CONE, U.S. EXEC. DIR., DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS: Hi, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: Hi. So this, everything about the story is appalling. We
heard from General Campbell at the Senate hearing that it was a mistake.
I`m going to listen to that for a moment and then have you respond.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GENERAL JOHN CAMPBELL, COMMANDER OF U.S. FORCES, AFGHANISTAN: To be clear,
the decision to provide aerial fires was a U.S. decision made within the
U.S. chain of command. The hospital was mistakenly struck. We would never
intentionally target a protected medical facility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: What`s your response?
CONE: Well, our response is one, is that since there has been such a
changing narrative around the circumstances that led to the death of my 22
colleagues and our patients, that we really think it`s imperative that
there is an independent and impartial investigation. The reason we`ve gone
to the international humanitarian fact finding commission is because its
main role is to investigate these kinds of breeches of the laws of war and
humanitarian law. That`s why we haven`t pursued a criminal investigation
with the International Criminal Court or gone to the U.N. Human Rights
Council. We really think this is the framework in which we operate not
just in Afghanistan, but around the world and the stakes are very high in
this regard. We openly operate. We are talking with U.S. - Afghan, every
armed group and every country we work in, our transparency that what we are
doing, how we provide medical care is the key, I think, to our security.
We don`t have armed guards. We don`t do any of these things, we operate
basically on the principles of medical ethics.
HARRIS-PERRY: And so, my understanding is that part of the anxiety here
was that because you are operating on the principles of medical ethics,
that includes allowing people to visit their family members and friends who
may be injured or receiving care in the hospital. And so, the language was
that there are - there were militants, there were folks who were potential
combatants who would come into the hospital. But then the language that
it`s a mistake, and so I think that what was hard for me to understand.
That`s part of ...
CONE: Yeah, first of all, anyone who is wounded combatant is considered a
civilian, treated, that`s widely recognized, that`s been recognized for
longer than my organization has been around. It`s a principle that`s
recognized by all militaries and governments, they are supposed to adhere
to the Geneva Conventions, we don`t allow anyone with armed weapons to come
into the hospital. That would put them in danger. There are many cases
where when we`ve had armed forces, rebel groups not respect that. That we
suspended operations in countries. So, this is a very important principle
As far as we know, from all of our staff that we`ve interviewed, it was a
very quiet night. One of the first quiet nights in a long battle that
week. We have no evidence on our side to suggest otherwise. And we think
it`s all the more reason why there should be this independent investigation
to look at those facts, and it`s in the burden of those who made decisions
to fire on a hospital repeatedly after much information was shared. It`s
one of the most widely recognized structures in a city of 300,000 people.
We just think that that`s important. We want answers. I think everyone
deserves some answers to this. And it`s also important just for our
ability to work in many places around the world.
HARRIS-PERRY: Martin, let me let you weigh on this.
FLETCHER: Well, you know, these things happen. It`s a terrible thing to
say. It`s a war. And there is always confusion. What I found in my
visit, these is the first stories that have come out. The first responses
are always confused and then the facts trickle out. And example, it was in
the last war in Gaza when Israel hit the United Nations schools and the
United Nations was immediately accusing Israel of war crimes. Then it
turned out, and guess what, there are - there are actually weapons cached,
weapons stacked from the mosque (ph) inside the hospital. People were
firing from nearby, so I think in this case, I mean this is a tragedy that
needs to be investigated fully. But I wouldn`t jump to conclusion, myself.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Earl, is that a fair ...
CATAGNUS: Obviously, it has to be investigated. And one thing that is
good, I would encourage every investigative reporter to file for
information requests for the tape. There is tape, there is language, you
can actually probably see the attack there from before and after, it will
be there in the AC-130. They`re reviewing it. They have the actual - they
have to get clearance to the tactical operations center through -
coordination center where they actually have it. I think the initials of
the officer clearing those fires are actually given to for that.
HARRIS-PERRY: So part of what I`m wondering, because you know, you name
check there, basically the technology by which this happened. And, you
know, we were talking in the last segment about this kind of disconnect
between the American people and - and I also wonder the ways, in which
technology is part of this. There`s been kind of drone conversations.
This was not that circumstance. But I wonder if there are men and women on
the ground walking towards it. They can see it`s hospital, that the same -
if it`s a mistake, this is the same mistake.
CATAGNUS: That was the question I think one of the senators asked was
where was the Special Forces, the tact - our controller at? And they said
that they relied on, well, you can - they relied on the air asset as well,
so you can do it. It`s called a forward air controller aerial. So that
way they can clear fired in the air, so that AC-130 can clear to shoot as
long as there is other - gets through the clearance for the fire spot
coordination center. So they can actually see it. And you will be able to
see with that tape whether there are people moving with guns. And the
question is, is really, was that information about the GPS coordinates
shared from higher to lower to that tactical side? And if it wasn`t, then
who it is? Because there should have been an NFA, a no fire area. Or
restricted out fire area. And there are actually fire sport coordination
limits, so that way you can go through extra checklists. And if that was
an information was not shared or the people on the ground were not familiar
with the hospital, that is where the ...
HARRIS-PERRY: Then there is responsibility. I want to say thank you to
Earl Catagnus Jr., and to Jason Cone, and I also want to say, I`m so sorry
for the loss of your colleagues.
CONE: Thank you
HARRIS-PERRY: Brittney Cooper and Martin Fletcher are going to be back in
our next hour. But before we go to break, we want to update you on deadly
explosions in the Turkish capital. Turkey health minister reports 86
people are dead and 186 are injured after two blasts rocked a peace rally.
Video shows young people holding hands and singing moments before the
explosions. Turkey`s president condemned the attacks as terrorist acts.
And we will be sure to bring you any new information right here on MSNBC.
Up next, we are going to go live to Wilmington, Delaware for an update on
Vice President Joe Biden`s decision about 2016.
HARRIS-PERRY: The "New Yorker" magazine says there is now a new clue
suggesting Vice President Biden may run. The people connected to the VP
met with DNC staffers about the rules of running in the Democratic primary.
Now if the idea of a clue suggesting what Mr. Biden might do isn`t vague
enough for you, well, there is this. In Politico`s playbook block, Mike
Allen reports, quote, "no Biden announcement before the Tuesday debate.
Yes, the decision was supposed to be this weekend, but he keeps putting it
off." And so here is what we know. The Beltway media constantly yearning
for a new story, desperate for another battle of the titans Democratic
primary that can match the drama of 2008 is getting antsy, and what we
don`t know is if Mr. Biden is going to accommodate, and, if so, when? Or do
we? Let me ask NBC`s Ron Allen, who is in Wilmington, Delaware, not far
from the vice president`s home. Ran, have you seen the vice president? I
don`t know, maybe getting mail? And did he tell you he is going to run or
RON ALLEN, NBC NEWS: We have seen him actually leave his home behind me
and go down the road with his wife to an event, a school event. One of his
grandkis is taking part in what is going to be a cross-country race.
Typical Saturday morning family stuff, with is what Joe Biden is well known
for here in these parts of Wilmington. And, no, he has not revealed yet
his intentions to me or anyone else, and that`s what we know. And you are
right, there is a lot of speculation, and you raise a good point, how much
of this is the result of an antsy, I think is the word you used, Beltway
media, or just what? We don`t know. There are some considerations, and
there are a lot of clues out there, but they can be interpreted in so many
different ways. For example, Tuesday is a big moment for the Democrats
when the debate happens and the country will see candidates like Jim Webb,
and Lincoln Chafee and Bernie Sanders and Martin O`Malley, whom they don`t
know a lot about, along with Hillary Clinton, and Vice President Biden has
opted not to be a part of it. But does that mean he is not going to run or
he`s going to lay in the backgrounds? One of the driving narratives is that
if Hillary Clinton runs into a lot of big problems at some point, that the
vice president might jump in. This meeting with the Democratic --
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to ask.
ALLEN: Sure, go ahead.
HARRIS-PERRY: How much this shadow of the possibility of the vice
president running actually constitutes a problem for the Clinton campaign?
Do they see it as energizing, kind of running against someone they`re not
actually running against, or is it like a constant distraction?
ALLEN: Well, I think the Clinton campaign is mostly concerned about just
trying to run their own race and not appear to be the inevitable candidate,
which seemed to be one of the issues that really dogged her back in 2008.
But at some point, you are right, this whole shadow campaign or this whole
will he or won`t he does become a distraction, does becomes a practical
problem for the Democrats. I`m sure the vice president is well aware of
that. Are we at that point now? Maybe not. The harder things to look at
perhaps are the deadlines for getting on the ballot, which happen in early
November and later November and the fact that those races are about raising
money and building an organization. Where are we? We don`t know. I know
he`s down the road at (inaudible) one of his granddaughters is having, and
that I can confirm.
HARRIS-PERRY: So where are we? Apparently in Wilmington, outside the vice
president`s house. Nice to see you, Ron.
ALLEN: And you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Still to come this morning, Janet Mock interviews Amber
Rose. And just why is Stephon Marbury calling out Michael Jordan? But
first, city leaders from across the country tell Attorney General Loretta
Lynch that their police are afraid of Youtube, and that`s why crime rates
HARRIS-PERRY: This week, dozens of city leaders and top law enforcement
officials gathered in Washington to discuss the recent rise in violent
crime in some parts of the country. Now, the summit, led by Attorney
General Loretta Lynch, was meant to be a private forum to examine
contributing factors and crime reduction strategies. But according to the
Washington Post, one of their reporters observed more than three hours of
the discussion, in which the paper says the group unified behind one
That theory, as the Post puts it, is quote, "officers in American cities
have pulled back and have stopped policing as aggressively as they used to,
fearing that they could be the next person in a uniform featured on a
career-ending viral video." Now, the Post says New York city police
commissioner, Bill Bratton, whose officers were seen on camera putting Eric
Garner in a chokehold, even called it the quote, "Youtube effect." And
another attendee, a top political - excuse me, police official in Boston,
suggested it`s led to a reduction in proactive policing. Joining me now is
Tracie Keesee, who is the co-founder and director of Research Partnerships
at the Center for Policing Equity. She is also a retired 25-year veteran
of the Denver Police Department and a graduate of the FBI national academy.
What do you make of this argument about aggressive proactive policing?
TRACIE KEESEE, CO-FOUNDER, CENTER FOR POLICING EQUITY: I think one of the
things -- first we should say this unprecedented access by the media I
don`t think was something that was really expected. What it did was sort
of highlight the conversations that are happening on the ground with law
enforcement, and when we talk about this Youtube effect that everyone is
discussing now this morning, it is really about officers` weariness in
engaging. And it`s not that officers have stopped doing their jobs, it is
what types of things do you now get involved with? And I believe that`s
what the conversation was about.
HARRIS-PERRY: So I appreciate the point about finally getting a chance to
see conversations we`re often not privy to. It is one of my frustrations,
even in hosting the show, is that I often want to have an officer who is
currently on the force to talk with us. And it`s not just something that
really happens in public spaces, right, retired officers with you. But that
said, I got to tell you, my main response to that is, I`m calling bs on it.
Because as much as I can see that officers could have those feelings, all
of the data point to the idea that aggressive policing, stop and frisk,
broken windows, does not in fact reduce crime. Now, suddenly, we are meant
to believe that it`s the cause of this rising crime rate.
KEESEE: I think that`s a part of the problem. Right. So we don`t really
have the data to say whether or not that`s what`s happening here. I think
what the chiefs were trying to express to the attorney general is that the
officers are feeling this weariness. A lot of that is due to the
conversations that are happening. A lot of officers on the ground, and
when we are talking about officers on the ground, we are talking about
patrol officers, don`t really understand how we got to this moment in time.
So even the conversations that have been happening over the last 18 months
have really involved the upper leadership of law enforcement. And so what
law enforcement and patrol officers typically look to, is that we are doing
what our sergeants and lieutenants are telling us to do. We are following
policy. And so there is this confusion so to speak about what`s really
HARRIS-PERRY: But it still feels so divorced for me from the homicide
right. I think there is a conversation to be had about officer morale,
about the ways in which - it impacts the difficult job that the officers
do. But I do think that it is both unfair, and I think also will distract
us from what may be actually causing a rise in the homicide rates, to say
that officer morale -- what you need is a police force that believes it`s
not being watched, in order to actively police - we`re a democracy. We are
going to watch the police. We pay their salaries. That should not keep
you from doing your job.
KEESEE: I don`t think it was meant to be a distraction. Let`s turn away
and say officers are feeling this way and they don`t want to interact with
the community. I think it`s one more of an element of what`s happening and
what we are seeing in these rises of crimes in a lot of our urban areas,
but I don`t think it was meant to say because of this, this is happening.
HARRIS-PERRY: I think that is what they`re claiming. I do, and I think
that to me, is the distress (ph). Because I`m not even sure we know for
certain that there is a homicide increase that is durable.
HARRIS-PERRY: We will keep having this conversation. It was fascinating
to get to pull back the curtain. (inaudible). Thank you, Tracie Keesee,
and I just want to say before we go, that I want to note the passing this
week of a true revolutionary, whose life work amplified the message that
black lives matter. Grace Lee Boggs, who spent seven decades fiercely
pushing for social justice, died Monday at the age of 100. The daughter of
Chinese immigrants, Boggs worked against discrimination in housing and the
armed forces in the 1940s, and in the civil rights and black power movement
of the 1960s. And until the very end, she worked on improving social
conditions in her long-time home town of Detroit. Her extraordinary life
was captured in the documentary, "American Revolutionary: The Evolution of
Grace Lee Boggs." I had the pleasure of welcoming Grace to the MHP show in
2013 to talk about the film.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE LEE BOGGS: People want revolution but don`t know what it is. People
think of a revolution only in terms of 1917 and taking power and all that
other. So hostility, and it isn`t. It`s a very healing, solutionary
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The director of the documentary, Grace Lee, was among those
paying tribute to Boggs this week. In a statement, she says, "Grace Lee
Boggs taught me to listen, reflect, think dialectically and imagine a
better world. All skills that helped me meet the challenge of capturing
her extraordinary life and journey in one 82-minute film. Her love of the
questions themselves will stay with me always. She is a true American
revolutionary, whose century encompasses all of our stories. As Americans,
I hope her legacy will help us navigate the next 100 years without her."
Coming up the million man march, then and now. We go live to Washington,
D.C. where the anniversary event is already under way.
HARRIS-PERRY: Today in Washington, D.C., the Nation of Islam is holding a
rally to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the million man march. The
original gathering of mostly African-American men was one of the largest
demonstrations held in the nation`s capital, with crowd estimates ranging
from 400,000 to more than a million. It was organized by a controversial
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who had come under fire for anti-
Semitic comments and the decision to exclude women from the demonstration.
But his message of atonement and personal responsibility resonated with
many who wanted to challenge negative stereotypes of black men in the wake
of soaring prison rates triggered by the war on drugs. Today`s rally has
been dubbed justice or else. MSNBC`s Trymaine Lee has been talking to
participants about the original rally 20 years ago and the one on the mall
today. He joins us now from Washington. Trymaine.
TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: How are you doing, Melissa? So before
sunrise, thousands of people have already gathered here on the National
Mall for this 20th anniversary of the million man march. It`s kind of hard
to believe that it`s been 20 years. But when you look out into the crowd,
you see thousands and thousands of not just black men, black men, Hispanics
have been invited. There have been a contingency of Native Americans from
different reservations to come here on the mall.
Now you spoke about last time, again it was about atonement, about
responsibility within the community. Those men were sent on a mission to
go back into the community and fight for change within themselves. This
time, it`s about justice, and as you mentioned in the title, it`s called
justice or else. Just a few minutes ago, one of the speakers said out
loud, are you ready to demand justice? That`s what it`s about this time.
But again, kind of harkening back to that original theme, it is about the
black family, the black opportunity. I had an opportunity to speak with
three generations in one family that decided to be here today to witness
history. Let`s take a listen what they had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEE: When you think about your son and the world he will be emerging into,
and your grandson, the world he will inhabit and be a leader in some day,
are you concerned about whether he`ll make it through or not? Or whether
his friends will make it through or not? Or whether this generation will
make it through?
VICTORIOUS HALL, ATTENDED MARCH: Always been the youth. If you look back
and consider the march on Washington, if you look back at the civil rights
movement, it`s always been the youth who have been the ones who have been
the spark. So that is why it`s such a responsibility for us to make sure
that they are there, they`re exposed, and if they are -- it`s not even a
question whether or not they will make it. They`re going to produce.
ACEM HALL, ATTENDED MARCH: It will be a lot easier for him than most
because of the upbringing. But we`d like to make sure that he knows he has
to share it with others, to make sure he brings people along.
LEE: Is this just another march, another feel good thing, where brothers
come together, and hug it out, and maybe feel it, but do you hope, think,
believe that from this, though, it will spur this movement or is it about
V. HALL: You know we are a collection of our experiences, right, so this
idea of this feel good moment, even if it was just that, even if it was
just a day for us to feel good and for us to escape the injustices, there
is power in that.
LEE: How does it feel for you to have, to be close to both your father and
your grandfather? And to be going with them?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have cousins that are going, family that`s going.
Family that I don`t see that much that is going. And it`s fun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Trymaine, that was powerful, the little kid there, he was
LEE: That`s right. For this family to come together -- again 20 years ago
Victorious Hall was just 13 years old, and he talked about getting on top
of his father`s shoulders and seeing nothing but a sea of black men, and
that regardless of whether some big movement was sparked from that, he
changed as a man. Now he is a vice principal now, and in his school, he
calls all the young men and women kings and queens, harkening back to those
days when he was 13 years old, and saw the true power and unity and love
displayed between all those black people 20 years ago. And here they are
again coming to this march, as a family, three generations trying to make
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to MSNBC`s Trymaine Lee in Washington, D.C, we
appreciate your reporting. Coming up next, Bill Cosby questioned under
oath. And Sneaker wars, why Stephon Marbury says Michael Jordan is robing
the hood. There`s more Nerdland at the top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
Yesterday, in an undisclosed location, Bill Cosby answered questions under
oath about allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman in 1974 when she
was 15-years-old. The deposition is a part of a civil lawsuit filed
against Cosby last year. And plaintiff Judy Huth claims that Cosby forced
her to perform a sex act with him at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles.
More than 50 women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, ranging from
rape to harassment. Several have accused him of drugging him without
consent. Cosby has never been charged with the crime related to the
allegations and his attorneys have repeatedly denied the allegations
against him. His attorneys also point out that none of the accusers filed
police reports at the time the incidents allegedly happened.
Many of the alleged incidents happened decades ago and are now beyond the
statute of limitations. But Huth`s attorney Gloria Allred says she is able
to sue because this individual was a minor at the time of the alleged
assault. The deposition will remain sealed until December when a judge
will decide whether any portions of it can be paid public.
In a 2005 deposition in another lawsuit accusing Cosby of sexual assault,
Mr. Cosby acknowledged obtaining drugs with the intention of having sex
with women. His lawyers say he never drugged women without their knowledge
or had sex with them without consent.
Many of the women who have accused Cosby have come forward in last year.
And last night on NBC`s "Dateline," 27 of the accusers appeared together in
an interview with NBC News` Kate Snow. They explained why it took some of
them decades to come forward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CINDRA LADD: When it happened to me, there was no such. As like date
rape. I never heard of somebody being drugged and raped.
KATE SNOW, NBC NEWS: Cindra Ladd, wife of Hollywood producer Alan Ladd,
says Bill Cosby assaulted her into 1969.
LADD: I never thought of going to the police. It wasn`t a thought in my
SNOW: It wasn`t even a thought in your mind.
LADD: Because let`s just what is done, rape was done by somebody in the
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn`t report my sexual assault because I blamed
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: "Dateline" did reach out to Bill Cosby and his legal team
repeatedly over the past six weeks for comment on the allegations by the
women interviewed for the segment. Both he and his attorneys declined to
provide that comment.
Now, joining me now is Brittney Cooper, assistant professor of women and
gender studies and Africana studies at Rutgers University, also a
contributor for salon.com.
Karen Desoto is defense attorney and former prosecutor and an NBC News
Emily Nagoski is author and director of wellness education at Smith
And Mychal Denzel Smith is contributing writer for thenation.com, and a
fellow of The Nation Institute.
Thank you guys for being here.
Let`s start with a little bit of a legal piece here. So, again, remind us
why this case is being deposed, sort of why this can go forward and the
difference between a civil and a criminal.
KAREN DESOTO, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Oh, gosh, that will take me about an hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Right. You have 32 seconds.
DESOTO: So, California has very relaxed laws. If you`re a minor, they
have this extra time limit that you can file a civil lawsuit. They also
have very relaxed laws on criminal cases as well where former accusers can
come forward and testify in cases. So, back in 1995, the federal court did
what is called rule 413. Rule 413 allows for prior accusers to come
forward and also extensions on time, and that`s what we have in California.
But California is very, very unique, because it`s the most relaxed. So we
hear about these cases from the `70s and the `80s. Normally, in federal
and state court, you cannot bring these cases, the statute of limitations.
So, this is one of those very rare exceptions.
HARRIS-PERRY: So it`s an interesting moment because some of the pushback
in support of Mr. Cosby has generally been, he has never been charged.
There`s never been a guilt finding.
You know, I keep thinking we as a society, as a culture, as a public, we
can convey guilt. We can have a sense of whether or not someone is guilty
or innocent, even without necessarily a court finding. I`m wondering if
that is what is at risk here for Mr. Cosby?
COOPER: So he deserves to be played and displayed in the court of public
opinion. He built an entire career manipulating that court of public
opinion to have us look at him as this icon of black fatherhood. It seemed
like every day, what he was doing was having his eight glasses of water and
finding another victim. And that is completely unacceptable.
And so, since the law couldn`t help these women there the time when they
work as victims, they deserved their day in the court of public opinion.
HARRIS-PERRY: You bring up such an important point when you put your
finger on the question of race. Let`s just listen to a moment that I
thought was telling from last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEV JOHNSON: There was this black man who is a pillar in the black
community. I`m going to participate in knocking this man off his pedestal.
SNOW: So why done you do it?
JOHNSON: My conscience and my principles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s Bev Johnson talking about that challenge.
Interesting, also, Malcolm Jamal Warner who played Theo on "The Cosby
Show", weighed in an interview with "AP" this week saying, "My biggest
concern is when it comes to negative stereotypes of people of color, we`ve
always had the `Cosby Show` to hold up against them, and the fact that we
no longer have that, that`s the thing that saddens me. The legacy can`t
help but to be tarnished."
And this is certainly not the thing that most troubles me, but this tension
about race is very real in this.
MYCHAL DENZEL SMITH, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THENATION.COM: It`s very real
because the experience of black men in America is one of oppression. But
then there is a rush to defend black men from the oppression they can enact
on others, particularly within it comes to women. And I think we can`t
make those excuses anymore. Like we can`t sit back and say just because
the experience of black men in this country is such that we experience
police violence, we experience structural economic violence all the time --
like we can`t use that as an excuse therefore for other bad behavior,
particularly when you talk about someone like Mr. Cosby, who is supposed to
be the exemplar, right?
He`s supposed to have set that example and chastised everyone else for not
living up to that example. He hasn`t been living up to it, himself.
HARRIS-PERRY: And this language is so important to me also, because this
idea of while we know that this group here is experiencing inequality, but
we don`t maybe talk so much. I mean, women saying, date rape wasn`t a
thing. It didn`t even exist. Of course, I didn`t go to the police. I
didn`t even understand that as a criminal act in that moment.
EMILY NAGOSKI, AUTHOR, "COME AS YOU ARE": Yes, the disclosures are coming
at a moment when the national dialogue around sexual violence is expanding
in a major way. It made it possible for these women to come forward and
watching them last night, I know for sure that there were women watching
thinking, oh, that thing that happened to me, that`s what sexual assault
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, all right, but I want to pick up on that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Because what I`m wondering as I`m watching it is, uh-oh, is
this moment and this visibility and everything happening going to bring
more survivors out, or is it going to send more survivors farther into the
DESOTO: Well, I`m hoping that it`s going to bring more survivors out. The
reason why the change in law by using testimony from premier accusers is as
an attorney who used to try rape case, they`re so hard. It`s so
frustrating and that`s why we did this expansion to make it easier for
prosecutors. But then there is another side of that too that maybe the law
will help to unfortunately innocent people are going to get tumbled up in
So, I`m hoping that people will come forward because it shouldn`t take 25
women. It should be one woman making a complaint and taking it seriously.
You shouldn`t have to have multiple witnesses as a woman.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s interesting. Kate Snow asked the survivors, what would
you say? Let`s listen to one of the survivors here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SNOW: What would you say to Bill Cosby if you had the opportunity right
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`d like to look into the camera and say you didn`t
know we`d all find each other, did you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There you go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: And that moment you didn`t know we`d all find each other.
Your point about the corroborating evidence. Then I also think, my God,
are we saying the only kind of sexual assault we can believe happened is if
it is serial in this way?
COOPER: Absolutely, this is not any kind of sorority that we want groups
of women to have to be apart of. The initiation into the sorority is
absolutely something that`s unacceptable. Beyond that, one of the things
that`s interesting is the racial element. So, there`s been this narrative.
This is a bunch of rich white women trying to take down this iconic black
You see all those black women in the audience, too. He was no racial
respect to a person`s --
DESOTO: A predator is a predator is a predator.
You know, it`s hard, especially when are you a litigator of criminal
defense attorney and a prosecutor like I was, you know, race is an issue.
You know, race is an issue. I`m Hispanic and you know, a lot of times you
see them getting the unfair shake of it. But when you see a woman raped or
victimized, a child or an adult, it really ruins and crushes their soul.
You know what, it`s not taken as seriously as it should be. And women
coming out and speaking and not having to prove or having three
corroborating witnesses is the problem here. So there is an issue with
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m so glad you brought us to that point. We will go to how
that looks like culturally. This idea that women can`t be believed and
women`s sexuality is inherently a problem. I want to say thank you to
The rest of my panel is sticking around, because up next, we`re going to
ask, can the word "slut" become a term of empowerment? MSNBC`s Janet Mock
sat down to talk to the one and only Amber Rose about just that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, just in case you don`t know, this is Amber Rose, the
buzz cut blond who donned statement clothing, including this thousand
iconic VMA body suit. Rose is both dynamic and unabashed, having once made
a living as a stripper. She refused to be ashamed of her bombastic body or
her lively sexuality.
Rose leads a non-profit organization, is the creator of Amber Rose eyewear
and defines herself as a feminist. She is in short a boss.
Despite her tough and independent public persona, though, Rose is still
vulnerable to the kind of sexual shaming reserved for women in the public
spotlight. Ex-boyfriend Kanye West publicly claimed he had to, quote,
"take 30 showers" after dating Rose. Presumably, she took 40.
Her estranged husband was Khalifa rapped that he, quote, "fell in love"
with the stripper and, quote, "fell out of love" quicker.
Never a silent victim, Rose responded by hosting the Amber Rose slutwalk
last Saturday in Los Angeles, to resist shaming and promote equality. She
addressed her personal experiences at the vent.
And my colleague, Janet Mock, host of "So Popular" on Shift by MSNBC
interviewed Rose ahead of last week`s walk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANET MOCK, SO POPULAR: What was the catalyst for you to launch and create
the Amber Rose slutwalk?
AMBER ROSE: Well, I initially saw a picture on social media from a
slutwalk. And, you know, there are slutwalks all over the world. I didn`t
invent the slutwalk. I just decided to have my own.
I deal with a lot of equality issues every day. And I started looking
around realizing I`m not the only one and I wanted to do any and everything
in my power to help women anywhere I can. So, I decided to have my own
MOCK: How has those comments and the policing of your own body and
sexuality and behavior affected you and catalyzed you to take on this
ROSE: It just made me extremely strong. It did the opposite of what they
probably wanted. They wanted to belittle me and put me down and dumb me
down, and it didn`t. It was the driving force that brought all this on and
created this feminist monster that always lives inside of me, and now, it`s
here and I`m not stopping.
MOCK: She`s going to stomp on everyone?
ROSE: Oh, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Still with me, Brittney Cooper, Emily Nagoski, and Mychal
Also joining the table also is Dorie Clark, Duke University adjunct
professor and author of "Reinventing You: Defining Your Brand and Imagine
So, let`s just start with, what do we think about the slutwalk as a
strategy for resisting sexual shaming?
COOPER: So, I think it comes out from a moment, victim blaming women in
Toronto in 2011. However, I have always been ambivalent about the
reclamation of the term "slut". I just don`t know, particularly if you are
not a white woman, that you can do it. I don`t know that women of color
who have -- particularly black women -- who have very complicated histories
can put on a tee-shirt and say slut and get the same affect as our white
counterparts who do that.
So, while I`m really excited for Amber Rose to have this conversation about
slut shaming, which I think is incredibly important, I think that Whiz
Khalifa and Kanye did her totally wrong. And so, she has the right to sort
of reclaim space and talk about that that. But we need a more complicated
narrative because I don`t think that young black women, young women of
color who are following her example can be empower to reclaim this word in
the same way.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. I mean, I am a sex positive feminist. I like the idea
of a reclamation of sex positivity. I`m not sure if the slut does it,
COOPER: That`s right.
HARRIS-PERRY: But also, there are other words that we`ve reclaimed that
had been troubling. We`ve reclaimed queer at times, and even the N-word in
various spaces. So, I don`t want to necessarily throw it out.
But I wonder about sort of at least the thing that is behind it. Even if
discursively, it continues to trouble us especially for women of color,
this idea of like, yes, I enjoy my sexuality, yes, I`m boss, yes, I`m
sitting here with my glasses on that reflect back Janet Mock while I`m
looking at here sort of looks like multiple levels of fabulous all
occurring at the same time, I mean, there is something very exciting and
powerful about that.
NAGOSKI: Yes, the interesting. For me is I looked up slut in the Oxford
English dictionary and it`s meaning has changed in the 16th century
example. It`s a sentence about how women dress up very fancy to attract
men outside the house. But at home, they dress up sluttish, which means
basically, my equivalent is sweat pants --
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, like slacks (ph).
But a narrative shift happened the way we construct women`s sexual being in
the English speaking world, where first, women were perceived as being the
more sexual sex, having way more sexual desire and have to be kept on a
leash so they didn`t have sex with women, of anyone of them, the men who
owns their body and find 1800s, 1900s, the narrative totally turned on its
head, where educated women experience almost no sexual desire and
paralleling the change in narrative, came the change in the definition of
slut from slovenly to sexually promiscuous.
SMITH: I think the point about, you know, the changing definition of the
word points to like, it means -- you know, it changes meaning defending on
how baldy you want to belittle women. Like it shifts all the time, well,
I`m talking about the number of sexual partners, now they, how did that
define someone`s sexuality? Well, no, it`s not about the number,
necessarily, it`s about the way you do.
It shifts no matter, whoever is using it. They shift the definition so
that they can belittle women and whatever they choose, they try to define
someone else`s sexuality for themselves, when that`s not your purview.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, this idea, though, of defining, of being defined, of
having sort of a brand, this actually have been an anxiety around Amber
Rose, folks saying, well, you can retake slut because what you do is worth
it public work and kind of Hollywood. But if you`re going to run for
president or president of the school board, you actually can`t use this
kind of self-define it this way.
DORIE CLARK, FORMER SPOKESWOMAN FOR HOWARD DEAN: I think the issue,
Melissa, is that you can`t use it yet, because it takes a while for terms
to have their stigma neutralized. Thirty years ago, queer was a way of
shaming gay people. Twenty years ago, it was very defiant and aggressive
term, there was queer nation, you know, the chant, "We`re here, we`re
queer, get used to it."
Today, if you ask a lot of millennials, it is a completely value neutral
term that they used to define themselves in a very specific facet of gender
and sexual fluidity. So, I think for a slut --
HARRIS-PERRY: And one that becomes expansive. So you don`t have to do the
alphabet soup, right? You can actually talk about an expansive queering of
CLARK: That`s exactly right. And so, for sluts, I think we`re still very
much in the phase that queer was 20 years ago. It`s aggressive, it`s
brazen, many people hear it and recoil from its associations, but in 10 or
20 years, if they`re doing their jobs right, it`s going to be a term that
the stigma has been drained out of.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, in 20 years, everybody is going to be want to be slutty.
Up next, what does slut mean to you?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOCK: Abolishing the slut-shaming is what today is about? What does the
term "slut" mean for you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like personally? I think people normally tell me
slut has a lot of sex. I think slut is just, I mean, you do what you want.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Slut means a woman sexually empowered and gets made
fun for it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The hypocrisy between what men are allowed to do and
what women are allowed to do is really frustrating as well.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We all should be able to express it the way we want,
even women of color. Women of color should be able to reclaim the word
"slut" as much as anybody else would.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s my body, you know? Like if someone is going to
be able to take it from, I`m going to be able to (INAUDIBLE) street tops, I
want to give it to who I want to to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Those are just some of the responses MSNBC`s Janet Mock
received last week, when she was in Los Angeles covering the Amber Rose
So, I was wondering in part about this notion of like women`s sexual
pleasure is being at the root of this anxiety?
NAGOSKI: The difficulty is that slut gets used as a word to -- it`s a
narrative that gives men permission in white supremacist, patriarchal,
slut-shaming, anti-pleasure America, it`s the language that we did that
says this is a woman that says you have permission to touch without her
HARRIS-PERRY: And consent is the key, right? So, for me, it`s like -- you
know, if you want to play with that word in private space around consenting
sexual activity, that`s your business, right? If slut works for you, it`s
right. But then what I also don`t want to do is a policing about it in a
big sense then says, if you like this set of practices privately, then you
are inherently problematic.
COOPER: Yes, look, a woman in control of her own sexuality is the most
dangerous patriarchy we have. Because she understands she owns her own
body. She might also decide that she`s divesting for men if they`re not
doing the things that she needs them to do, right?
And also, it acknowledges that women don`t just only want men. Their
sexuality is very broad and fluid.
I talk about Amber Rose in my intro class in women in gender studies, one
of the students came up and showed me a vide of a man who is the march
heckling women saying, you don`t deserve the right to claim -- you don`t
deserve access to a certain kind of womanhood, you know, you shouldn`t be
proud of being a slut.
So, I do think this is doing very important work in terms of giving women
the terms and language to say, my body is my own. I determine what happens
to it. I do think that`s a victory for patriarchy and I do think it`s very
funny that the victory of patriarchy has come on the back of a word like
"slut". I do think we can celebrate --
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to play for you, Mychal and Emily, let`s play a
little bit of Amber Rose`s Funny or Die on exactly this point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, heavens, it seems that woman hasn`t been home
sense last night.
ROSE: I sure haven`t.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congratulations.
ROSE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nothing I haven`t done before in my day I was no
stranger to the walk of shame.
ROSE: No shame here.
(ENB VIDEO CLIP)
SMITH: Yes. Well, this is the ultimate hypocrisy of slut-shaming is that
we, societally, we want women available sexually to men, but we don`t want
it be on women`s terms, right? So, that`s at the root is the control.
It`s control. That`s all that it is.
Because you get shamed whether or not you are vastly sexually available or
are you not at all. Like if you close off. So, where is the middle
ground? Where are you supposed to be as a woman?
You are supposed to be sexually available whenever a man tells you to be.
HARRIS-PERRY: Which is precisely what happened around the Cosby accusers
saying we didn`t want to come out, we didn`t want to say anything the power
of the slut shaming, despite the fact that they were actually in
circumstances of having not consented to sexual activity.
CLARK: That`s right. And I was particularly interested in the branding
implications of how Amber Rose handled this. I mean, even the name, Amber
Rose slutwalk, it sounds more like memorial walks. You know, like who is
this person? And the fact that she, you know, clearly a very vivacious and
living empowered woman owned this made it an integral part of her brand and
decided that she was going to put herself in her own personal moments of
shame where her ex-boyfriends and ex-husband had been mocking her.
She was willing to put that center stage. And she believed it was enough
of a branding asset and a message she wanted to convey is quite powerful.
HARRIS-PERRY: I wonder, though, is there still like an imperative on woman
as a result? I mean, I love Amber Rose, few of us are shaped like that. I
mean, right. If there`s still an imperative to a particularly kind of
beauty, a particular kind of sexuality and a sort of hetero activity that`s
associated with this.
COOPER: The good thing about this work is it opens the work desired more
broadly. So we saw all kind of women reclaiming slut. I saw all kind of
students thinking about the possibility of this term.
And so, look, I still remain ambivalent. We talked about this four years
ago, we were like, you know, black women would move aptly be implicated and
we don`t think we can reclaim "ho" and so, we feel ambivalent. But I do
think that it opens up these kind of possibilities, in a way that we
So, as a fat person, I do like that all kind of bodies get put on the
table. So when women start the real conversation about desire, it becomes
much harder to police anything. Then we get to say, look, everything is
acceptable. Whatever I bring, you accept it or I`m gone.
HARRIS-PERRY: It sort of like we were all besides ourselves about Magic
Mike XXL. The sense of like.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, what I kept saying is, yes, Mike was good, it was
definitely Jada bringing it all, handling it.
Thank you to Emily Nagoski and everyone else is sticking around a little
bit longer. I want you to be sure to catch Janet Mock`s full interview
with Amber Rose on a special edition of MSNBC`s Shift "So Popular" on
Up next for us this morning, Stephon Marbury calls out Michael Jordan for
the price of his sneaker, saying Jordan has been robbing the hood. Sneaker
wars after this.
HARRIS-PERRY: Americans love sneakers. Now one might trace this obsession
to Run DMC`s 1986 track "My Adidas", because after all, me and my Adidas do
the illest things.
But the real marketing of America`s sneaker obsession, an obsession that
now allows the top makers of basketball shoes to sell more than $25 billion
worth of shoes a years, not including the billion dollar resale market,
well, that started 30 years ago, when Nike released the first ever Air
Jordan in his rookie year with the Chicago Bulls created buzz wearing the
shoes on the court and breaking the NBA`s uniform rules.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: On September 15th, Nike created a revolutionary new basketball
shoe. Open October 18th, the NBA threw them out of the game.
Fortunately, the NBA can`t stop you from wearing them. Air Jordans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Nike made $100 million that first year and the kicks quickly
became a pop culture sensation. In 1980, filmmaker Spike Lee used them as
a device in his film "Do The Right."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You stop me down, what about excuse me?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me, I`m sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My brand-new white Air Jordans I just bought. That`s
all can you see?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you serious?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I`m serious.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Lee even starred if commercials for the shoe and character
as super fan Morris Blackman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPIKE LEE: This is something you can buy. This is happening. This is
high flying 360 slam dunk. This is something can you not do.
Let me repeat myself. This is a buy. Can you not do this can, can`t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Globally, Nike now sells $2.5 billion worth of Jordans a
year, and Michael Jordan`s cut has helped make him a billionaire.
But now, fellow basketball star Stephon Marbury is accusing him of, quote,
"robbing the hood" with his $150 plus sneakers. Marbury, who is
relaunching his own line of basketball shoes this week blamed the expensive
sneakers for violence in inner cities. He tweeted, quote, "Jordan has been
robbing the hood since. Kids dying for shoes and the only face this dude
makes is, I don`t care. The time will change."
Marbury says his shoes are manufactured in the same factory as Air Jordans,
and the difference in Marbury shoes, they expect to retail for just 15
Joining my panel is Bobbito Garcia, who is sneaker historian and designer
and author of "Where`d You Get Those: New York`s Sneaker Culture 1960 to
So nice to see you.
BOBBITO GARCIA, AUTHOR, "WHERE`D YOU GET THOSE": Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Talk to me about this kind of sneaker culture in this
moment, because just when I grew up, people would not have bought a $15
shoe that was advertised as a $15 shoe. But like part of the sneaker
culture was the aspiration of the expensive shoe. So I`m kind of wondering
about Stephon`s marketing plan here.
GARCIA: Well, it`s brilliant what he is doing. He has done it before.
This is not his first round with this.
But I would challenge the idea that lower surprise I priced sneakers would
fought have been attractive in any era for decades from the 1920s into the
late 1960s, the only shoe that was of choice was low priced shoe. They wre
under $10. Whether they were canvass Pro-Keds or Chuck Taylors.
In the `70s, you start to see shoes jump up their price to like the $20,
$25 price point.
But even today, a brand like Jordan, yes, they have shoes that cost a lot.
They do have shoes that are priced lower for different communities. And
so, I think -- I`m not sure at the Stephon, although I applaud him for
challenging Michael Jordan and critiquing what happens in the sneaker
industry, I`m not sure he needs to do that. He`s gong to have his own
following, he`s very popular in China.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I`m a little, in a certain way, appalled the Jordans are
still -- I mean, it`s one thing when we see him emerge initially, because
Jordan is playing. I mean, you know, it is connected to this thing that he
is doing on the court that no one has ever seen before. So, part of what
seems to happen is the shoes, themselves, have taken on a life outside of
Michael Jordan, himself.
CLARK: That`s so true. Michael Jordan has been retired for ten years the
HARRIS-PERRY: It was bad before final retirement.
CLARK: That`s right. Yet, last year the sales increased by 17 percent.
It`s incredibly dramatic.
And I think it`s true that he has become is up an icon, he is viewed as the
greatest player ever, the fact that these have 30 years of longevity. I
have them when I was 7-years-old. And now, 30 years later, they`re
bringing in $2.5 million. It accounts for 90 percent of sneaker sales in
America. It`s astonishing.
HARRIS-PERRY: Mychal, do you actually think they look good? There have
been versions over the years, I was like, that is an ugly shoe. But then
it`s many hundreds of dollars and a checker`s item.
SMITH: Yes, I do.
HARRIS-PERRY: You have to generally like them?
SMITH: I like the aesthetics of sneakers.
You know, we`re talking about essentially like why would people want to
continue to buy, like the Jordan symbol, right? Because it`s associated
with that greatness, right? It`s associated with the visibility and the
cool of Michael Jordan.
In talking about people whose lives are essentially defined by
invisibility, trying to covet something that grants them visibility, grants
them the respect of their peers, that that`s what the core.
And like, you know, Stephon Marbury doesn`t have so much moral high ground
to stand on, because if he`s saying they`re being made in the same factory,
well, you are exploiting the same labor, too.
HARRIS-PERRY: But for less profit, Michael.
COOPER: Part of this is to the fact that I remember as a kid watching
Jordan in the late 1980s, the air, it`s the super hero element of it. The
things the ways that he defied gravity, so those shoes gave young black men
and young urban kids an opportunity to feel like they have super hero
status. They can defy gravity. That they could jump up in the air as
(INAUDIBLE) might say. And so, I think they have been so --
HARRIS-PERRY: He`s having a good time.
COOPER: I think the bad part of it.
The other thing is this is also the unique influence of hip hop culture and
baller culture coming together, right. So that this is about the way that
leisure and play have become branded. So that`s something really unique to
the hip-hop generation, the way that they`ve made, like sneakers are not
the shoes you made to work, but that comes later.
So, this is also about the branding of leisure and play that`s really
unique to the hip hop generation.
HARRIS-PERRY: And I think that`s part of why I`m asking about a shoe that
we know cost less, because there`s a way in which like buying the
inexpensive thing is part of wealth culture, right? So, people with a lot
of money purposely go to the second hand stores because that then becomes
the thing to do. But working class people are still trying to consume the
upper level thing, because it is the aspiration.
GARCIA: Well, that`s the value that has been inherent in our communities
for some time. And that predates Jordan. That predates Nike and the
brands marking schemes, it predates advertising. I mean, essentially, our
communities made sneakers cool. Prior to that, there were -- all the
brands were unaware that we were approaching sneakers, created as culture,
these idiosyncratic ideals about, you know, flattening laces so they can be
more presentable, wearing five socks so the shoe could look more the
brands, or all these things came out of the style and sensibility to
express yourself in that individuality through the sneakers.
HARRIS-PERRY: Is that why we would five socks in the `80s? Joe Biden, I
didn`t in a moment I was doing what we had to do. Oh, getting ready to
take a break, oh, man.
GARCIA: They didn`t have all the padding --
HARRIS-PERRY: I totally did not know why we were doing that.
OK, up next, sneaker hype and violence.
HARRIS-PERRY: In May of 1990, "Sports Illustrated" ran a cover story.
"Your Sneakers or Your Life". It details several incidents in which young
men were killed and robbed of their sneakers or clothing. The story
reported that the makers of sports gear, quote, "have been accused of
creating a fantasy fueled market for luxury items and the economically
blasted inner cities and willingly tapping into the flow of drug and gang
money. This has led to a frightening outbreak of crimes among poor black
kids trying to making their marks by busting fresh or dressing at the
height of fashion."
So, on the one hand, that is reflecting what you said about the ways in
which speakers are aspirational. On the other hand, it feels like are you
COOPER: Absolutely. So, we are blaming shoes now for the violence
problem? Absolutely not.
So, look, I do think that Michael Jordan -- we all wish that he would be a
bit more political given his level of visibility in resources.
HARRIS-PERRY: Or not. I mean, I have to come to believe I just want him
to say nothing at all.
COOPER: He`s not going to say the right.
HARRIS-PERRY: This is nothing.
COOPER: I agree with that.
But I do think that this is like severe misdirection. So we know the
reason we have violence in our inner cities, it isn`t because kids aspire
to have particular kind of shoes. You know, it`s because folks need jobs
and access to good schools and good housing.
So what we should be thinking about is what the brands do for folks. It`s
sort of Michael`s point earlier. That one brand has been historically away
that black community versus come into visibility within the marketplace,
and so, like in the early `90s, when Maybelline did the shades of youth
campaign, and folks like, oh, black women wear makeup, right? So, this
wave, so recognition through communities happens not through government,
not through rights, but through brands.
And so, if we began to think about that, when we can talk about the other
problems that come along.
HARRIS-PERRY: Doesn`t Nike push back on this? And back in 1990, wrote,
"What`s baffling to us is how easily people accept the assumption that
black youth is an unruly mob that will do anything to get its hand on what
it wants. They`ll show a black kid something he wants and he`ll kill for
it. I think it raises hysteria."
SMITH: Yes, it is racist, especially don`t moralize to me about this when
we have Black Friday sales advertisements that play into violence that
happens on that date, all across the country, across different races,
particularly, you know, you are seeing white people fight for the sales.
It`s not. It`s the economics of it that produces this.
And then you are talking about like a luxury item for people that they`re
willing to fight over. Well, yes, because like living in poverty -- yes,
like you want access to the luxuries that are available to you. Like this
helps you get through it, in some way.
And then, yes, the status and the invisible that at least shoes will confer
on you. Like why then are we not addressing the root of that? Why are the
sneakers so meaningful to you? Why do you feel like you are invisible
HARRIS-PERRY: I think this point about like if a product can be held
accountable for violence, it just feels to me like maybe we start with
COOPER: It`s reasonable then.
CLARK: From the political argument, Stephon Marbury`s charges are
preposterous. He went nuclear on it. He tweeted about Michael Jordan 50
times in a three-day period.
CLARK: But from a marketing and branding strategy, it was exactly the
right move. I mean, I have two words for you. Beijing Ducks, that is
where the man plays for, nice for him. But he has 79,000 Twitter followers
to Michael Jordan`s 2.5 million. He was a journeyman player during his NBA
career, which ended ignominiously.
He is trying to get attention. And he is doing a challenging marketing
strategy where you tuck upward. Michael jordan is not responding as well,
he shouldn`t because he didn`t have to.
GARCIA: Let me offer, people (INAUDIBLE) sneakers didn`t start with
Jordan. I mean, that happened in the early `70s, throughout the late `70s
and early `80s. And really the gun component, people get murdered for
these sneakers starts at the same time when guns start becoming prevalent
in our communities at a horrific rate.
And so, yes, I saw the tweet. I didn`t really feel like I had much gravity
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to say thank you to Brittney Cooper, and to Bobbito
Garci and to Dorie Clark, and to Mychal Denzel Smith.
And I also want to show you guys, this is what I gave my team for the
holidays last year, a nice Chuck Taylor with Nerdland imprinted on the
side. So, don`t fight over these you can`t buy these in the store.
Up next, the war reporter himself, Martin Fletcher.
HARRIS-PERRY: More than 30 years of conflict broke out around the world to
come on the ground, bringing you the latest news. As an NBC News
correspondent, Fletcher experienced the horrors and tensions of war zones
firsthand, while reporting from Israel, Pakistan, Rwanda and Afghanistan.
In his new novel, "The War Reporter", Fletcher melds his experiences on the
ground, during the siege of Sarajevo with the fictional story of a war
reporter struggling to balance his emotions with his duty to journalistic
integrity. The book is being called stunning, haunting and riveting.
Joining me now is Martin Fletcher.
FLETCHER: Hi, Melissa. Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: So why a novel as a way of telling this story as opposed to
kind of a journal of your own experiences?
FLETCHER: Well, I mean, that is the question. I always thought we`re
great at doing what happened where, when, why, how, et cetera. But we
never really convey what it`s like to be that person. What it`s like to be
in the head of the person, the victim, and in this case, the journalist, as
So I actually feel that you can get inside somebody`s head in fiction
better than non-fiction. So, although I`ve written a couple of nonfiction
books, it`s through fiction I want to do this.
HARRIS-PERRY: We talk about being inside the heads of folks having these
experiences. And I think we often think of PTSD and post-traumatic stress
of something warriors experience and soldiers experience. But we may not
think about the ways that journalists and civilians also experience it.
Talk to me a little bit about sort of how that drives aspects of the book
FLETCHER: Well, you know, I`ve got lots of friends in real life who are
killed or wounded and many who suffer from post-traumatic stress. And one
of the things about being a journalist with post-traumatic stress, is that
it`s kinds of almost illegitimate, because people understand why a soldier
or fireman or a cop would have post-traumatic stress. But a journalist,
you know, you feeling bad, don`t go.
So, there is something illegitimate about having those feelings so you
don`t express them. But actually, when you`re the first responder, and you
go to these places time and time again -- I mean, in Israel, there were 120
suicide bomb attacks and I was in most of them, actually, for a few years.
And, you know, sometimes when the bodies are all still there, you know,
there is a cumulative effect, obviously.
HARRIS-PERRY: When you talk about the language -- you use the language of
being a journalist as being a first responder. And the characters in your
text deal are very long-term, deeply personal consequences of the horrors
that they witness and that are brought on them.
So, why do it? Given that the response is often, hey, you know, go sit in
a news comfy studio in New York instead. Why does it matter?
FLETCHER: Well, I would much happier covering the Paris fashion show if I
were ever sent there, working for network, it`s still about conflict.
And the best stories have been in the heart of the conflict. And so, I
personally, as a journalist, wanted to show people suffering and help
addressed those questions. That`s what I did all of my career. You know,
I went to all kinds of awful places, and met -- you know, my career was
basically, to meet people in the worst day of their life, that`s why I did,
and tell their story, and hopefully, gotten some sympathy. And that was
very important to me.
And there was a price to pay, obviously.
HARRIS-PERRY: Part of what you do here, because you`re telling this -- a
love story, is that you have suffering and healing happening both in a male
character and in a woman. Talk to me about how you see the differences in
how war is gendered and experienced.
FLETCHER: Well, you know, when I began, there were not many women
correspondents. There were no women cameramen. There were a couple of
women producers. Today, there could be more than males all together, you
So, first of all, it`s a main male-female experience, pretty much equal
right now. You know, some of the great female correspondents are women,
and they died too. So, I wanted to tell both sides of the story.
And in -- this is my third novel. People say you write good women
characters. And I think that`s because I like them, as a matter of fact.
And they`re all strong characters. But they suffer as much as men so it`s
important to me in this book to make that point.
And then the story is about what happened in Sarajevo and how a tragic
event occurs and how the male or female characters deal with that through
the rest of their lives and careers, and how they come together again.
It`s a love story. And it`s important to me to make it as authentic as
HARRIS-PERRY: I wonder if in part -- you`re reminding us of Bosnia.
You`re reminding us of this conflict kind of -- it`s a -- kind of
geopolitical recent history that many people might not pick up if it said
geopolitical history but will pick up if it`s a thriller and a love story.
FLETCHER: Well, my original title was "The hunt for (INAUDIBLE)". And my
editor said --
FLETCHER: Who is he? Nope. So, it became "The War Reporter". But the
story is the same.
Because it`s -- the story is about journalists, politics and rehabilitation
through love. And that is a very common -- it`s a universal theme. I
mean, it`s about that part of the world but it could be anywhere.
HARRIS-PERRY: And you get a little bit of the history and politics in
So thank you to Martin Fletcher, the novel once again is called, in fact,
because it`s -- editor said so, "The War Reporter." That is our show for
Thanks to you at home for watching. I`ll see you tomorrow morning, 10:00
But right now, it`s time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT."
Richard Lui is in today.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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