February 23, 2013
Guests: Charlie Leduff, Jemele Hill, Peter Goodman, Lisa Cook, Robert Bobb, Josh Fox, Maya Wiley, Frances Beinecke, Julia Bond, Dina Dariotis, Nick Dranias, Kenji Yoshino
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning, my question, what is the
true measure of a man? Plus, the stars of an Oscar nominated film who are
shaving heads on Monday night. And, how a scene from "Footloose" is the
best thing that we can find to explain the sequester. But first, the death
of a great American city.
Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. This week, the news out of the
Midwest was that of a city in crisis. Detroit, Michigan, once the nation`s
richest city per capita, once the nation`s fifth largest city, once a
symbol of U.S. innovation, industry and success, is in such dire straits
that the city is in need of an intervention. On Tuesday afternoon, a panel
of state-appointed experts released their findings that the city of Detroit
faces, quote, "a financial emergency," one which they say the city is not
equipped to address. As a result, Detroit may soon become the largest
American municipality in history to file for bankruptcy. The decision may
be left to just one person.
If Michigan Governor Rick Snyder decides to act on the panel`s report and
appoint an emergency financial manager, a decision expected to be made in
the coming week. Key findings of the six-person panel include that the
Detroit police department has more than 2,000 employees, but no accurate
information on how they are deployed. That the city`s long-term
liabilities in 2012 grew beyond $14 billion and that the city officials
violated accounting and budgeting rules. Detroit is on the verge of
collapse, but if you`re thinking wait a minute, didn`t we already save
Detroit, the confusion is understandable. Because in the American lexicon,
there really are two Detroits, the proverbial one and the literal one. The
proverbial one is the one that Mitt Romney famously wrote about in 2008
"New York Times" op-ed entitled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt." That is the
Detroit where we all lived when the floor fell out of the 2008 economy.
That was the Detroit represented by the three big auto manufacturers whose
failure would have symbolized to many of us the very failure of America,
and that Detroit as the Obama for America campaign reminded us repeatedly,
is now very much alive and kicking. But that Detroit, the Detroit we all
want to see survive, exists in the entire country, not within any specific
municipal bounds. Then there is the literal Detroit, the one where people
live, the renaissance city founded initially in 1701.
Once it was a hub for mechanical manufacturing and Detroit in the mid 20th
century was a magnet for those looking for work. The city`s population
grew to more than 1.8 million residents in the 1950s. Today, according to
the latest census, Detroit is the only -- the country`s 18th largest city
with just more than 700,000 inhabitants, this for a city that covers almost
139 square miles. A space that San Francisco, Boston and Manhattan could
all fit in with room to spare. There are so many factors contributing to
the city`s financial distress but among them, an 18.2 percent unemployment
rate and there is this. "The Detroit News" reported this week that nearly
half of the city`s owners of residential properties failed to pay their tax
bills last year, amounting to nearly $250 million uncollected. No taxes,
no revenue. Even if everyone had a job in the city and they all paid all
their taxes it wouldn`t be enough because there simply are not enough
Detroiters. Michigan`s Republican governor, that tough nerd, Rick Snyder,
drove the population point home in a Thursday media roundtable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK SNYDER (R), MICHIGAN: And our overriding strategic goal for the
city of Detroit is back to this. We need to grow the city of Detroit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Man, when you see a chart, you know you`ve got an answer.
But actually, what I`ve got is a deafening question. How? How will you
build the city for 2 million people and more than 1 million of them leave,
can you ever get your city back? Joining me now, are a son and a daughter
of Detroit. First, Charlie Leduff, who is a Pulitzer prize winning
journalist and investigative reporter for Detroit`s Fox 2. He`s also the
author of the new book "Detroit, an American Autopsy." Also with me is a
Nerdland favorite, Jemele Hill, who is a Detroit native and also a
columnist for ESPN.com and the co-host of a new ESPN podcast, "His and
Hers." Thank you both for being here.
CHARLIE LEDUFF, AUTHOR, "DETROIT: AN AMERICAN AUTOPSY": Thank you, then.
JEMELE HILL, ESPN.COM COLUMNIST: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Jemele, I actually want to start with you, because to
me, Detroit feels like New Orleans in a lot of ways in that people have an
almost irrational attachment and love for the city, so I will give you a
chance. Represent for Detroit. Why should we care?
HILL: Well, I think what you said in your open was so true. This is not
just the story of one city. This is the story of America. This is the
story of boom or bust. As you so eloquently pointed out in your novel. We
have all been a nation of overspenders, we were a nation of people who
bought into the craze of industry and Detroit, that is exactly what
happened. You had a lot of people that migrated from the south, that moved
to Detroit because of the promise of big dollars and big jobs, and when
that started to cave in, it left kind of a permanent underclass and this is
a city, and I know we`ll get to this a little later, that was stung by the
riots and if you go down many Detroit blocks, it`s almost as if the riots
just happened yesterday. So as much as we like to talk about how Detroit,
you know, is just now kind of failing, truthfully, I lived there all my
life, Detroit has been failing for decades.
HILL: This is not a new problem.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, Charlie, you make exactly that point. You`re like OK,
this golden age of Detroit narrative, right, you ...
LEDUFF: The thing mom told us.
HARRIS-PERRY: ... you were like that`s not true.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. That never existed.
LEDUFF: No, it didn`t. In - look, why should you care? Because first of
all, there`s human beings in Detroit, period.
LEDUFF: That`s not liberal or conservative. We`re all on earth together
so it`s hell on earth over there. The ambulances don`t show up, the police
aren`t working, we ran out of money, but we ran out of money everywhere,
didn`t we? So Detroit`s failures, you could actually look across the
country and it mirrors it. There`s no Detroit Democratic liberal running
Wall Street. There`s no Detroit Democratic liberal running Haliburton.
Right? This is a national sickness. It is sloth, greed, ripping off our
kids, not paying our bills. Detroit built this country, everybody knows
it, that`s why we`re talking about it. This isn`t Baltimore. Detroit went
down and ...
HARRIS-PERRY: I just ...
LEDUFF: No, this is not Baltimore. I love Baltimore.
I love - I mean Baltimore. You know, my - pay attention. Pay attention.
Because if you don`t pay your bills, this is what happens to you.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, but so let me ask about that. Because I do think
there`s kind of two ways to read it. And then certainly, if even your book
operates on these multiple levels. So, if there`s corruption and greed and
bad things happening, but as you point out, that`s true in tons of American
cities, where things are fine. So, or at least where they`re limping along
in a relatively reasonable way where we`re still seeing economic growth,
and yet you can uncover -- scratch the surface, plenty of corruption and
bad choices and not paying your bills.
LEDUFF: Poor government.
HARRIS-PERRY: ... in those cities. So why did more than a million people
leave? What is it that led to that kind of exodus from Detroit?
LEDUFF: Seriously, what - we never dealt with our racial issues, right? I
mean we`re from Detroit. We thought we`re the terminus of the underground
railroad. As it turns out we`re the southern town. We never dealt with
race, did we?
LEDUFF: Never did. It`s eight mile, everybody knows eight mile, right?
Well, eight mile is now 14 mile. And that`s one reason. Another reason
Detroit collapses, well, listen, that we`re uneducated but you could come
to Detroit and make a life. And you can have a boat and a country home.
You can do -- put your kids through college, but we didn`t put our kids
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I guess what - part of what occurs to me as I hear the
stories of the human beings who live in Detroit, not just the municipal
LEDUFF: But thanks for saying that, by the way.
LEDUFF: This is not a book about dead buildings.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Right. Right. Not just - you know, you`ve got the
governor there with his chart and I just keep feeling like that chart is
not telling me, so I can give you a chart of the arson in the city, right?
I can give you the chart of the blight in the city. But I can`t tell you
what it is like to be a person living next door to a home that then has
burned down and that is - so - what?
HILL: ... or an empty block.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah. So, tell me, what is that - talk to me about what
that kind of real life experience feels like on the ground.
HILL: Well, I mean I still have many relatives that live in the city of
Detroit and I look at how they`re ...
LEDUFF: Is there (inaudible) in the house?
HILL: I know what it is.
HILL: I`m not (ph) like that, Charlie ...
HILL: No, but I look at what`s happened to their neighborhoods. There
used to be a source of pride where you could shop in your own neighborhoods
and feel comfortable and safe, and that has all been eliminated because the
population has shrunk, people have moved out, and because of the economic
forces, you wrote about a couple of these cases in the book and
unfortunately, everybody who is from Detroit knows someone who does this,
but if you get underwater in your house, the first solution is burn it
down, get the insurance money. So you have a lot of people ...
LEDUFF: It`s huge.
HILL: Yeah, it`s a huge problem.
LEDUFF: Burn it down.
HILL: So you have people sort of feeding on the underclass that`s already
there and what - and you talk about this irrational detachment to Detroit.
The reason that is, is because Detroiters are very sensitive to the fact
that our problems somehow become the butt of the joke in the entire nation.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, yeah, yeah, yeah.
HILL: I`m not picking on Chicago. Chicago`s murder rate, what`s happening
there, is unbelievable to me.
HILL: But everybody still wants to go to Chicago. Chicago is still seen
as this great American city.
LEDUFF: I got to jump in.
LEDUFF: Chicago a week ago Friday, I was checking the numbers, had 50
homicides. Detroit, which is one quarter the size and population, had 45.
LEDUFF: So if Detroit was Chicago, we would have 200 murders.
LEDUFF: Nobody cares.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. The murder rate in Detroit is higher. And, you
know, it`s interesting to me you make this point. We`ll go to break. So,
I want to come back and talk more about this. But we have been pushing to
try to get the ordinary nature of daily urban violence a place at the
national table and it`s Hadiya Pendleton`s tragic death, which finally
gives us the chance to talk about it. But as you point out, that`s still
Chicago and there`s a way in which Chicago matters. Right? You don`t even
have to make the claim for it ...
HARRIS-PERRY: ... but trying to make that same claim for Detroit. So,
when we come back, I want to talk about exactly that. Why does Detroit
matter and therefore, is it a job for more than just one person?
HARRIS-PERRY: Right now, it`s about survival. That`s what Detroit Mayor
Dave Bing told Forbes about his city in 2011, two years before the magazine
named Detroit "the most miserable place in the country for 2013." The
article notes that Detroit home prices already at historic lows, plummeted
further by 35 percent during the past three years to a median of $40,000 as
net migration out of the city continues. And the housing crisis is only
one of Detroit`s myriad problems. Along with a staggering murder rate,
high unemployment and scarce public services. If an emergency manager does
come to Detroit, that is an awful lot for one person, probably not even
from Detroit, to fix. Back with me are author Charlie Leduff and ESPN`s
Jemele Hill. Also, joining them, Peter Goodman, the executive business
editor of "The Huffington Post" and Lisa Cook, assistant professor of
economics and international relations at Michigan State University.
Previously, she served on the president`s, President Obama`s, Council of
Economic Advisors. All right.
This is a complicated question and as we have just been talking about, it`s
the microcosm of our big piece. What do we need to learn economically as
we go into so-called save Detroit?
PETER GOODMAN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: I mean I think we`ve got to look at it
that this is not like a charity case. This is not that we`re pitying the
city that`s been struggling. If Detroit doesn`t work, America`s not
working, because, you know, as you correctly say, what Detroit`s dealing
with is emblematic of what America is dealing with. We`ve had
manufacturing jobs that sustained people at middle class wages for
generations, those jobs are gone. We haven`t figured out how to replace
those jobs. We haven`t tended to the basics, government services, things
that people depend on, whether it`s public safety or somebody keeping the
lights on, picking the trash up. We`ve got a city that`s now, you know, 25
percent smaller than it was a decade ago. We haven`t figured out how to
apportion the services and we have all these unfunded pension liabilities
for people who actually did work and did do their part and, you know,
should be entitled to a decent retirement and now the math doesn`t add up.
If we don`t solve that there and figure out how to get people back to work,
which is the only long term solution to Detroit`s problem, it`s the only
long term solution to the American economic problem ...
GOODMAN: ... we need good jobs.
HARRIS-PERRY: Bus so - so, let me ask you this. Because it feels - I
mean it feels to me like what you just said, if I`m a conservative and I`m
looking at this and I`m saying Detroit is the miner`s canary, that I say,
well, yeah, this is how unions killed cities, this is how getting tied into
pensions and long term care for workers ends up bankrupting who you are,
and this is how extending public services into all of these poor
communities is exactly the problem. Yes, it`s the miner`s canary,
therefore, let`s go austerity. And that`s exactly what we can expect from
an emergency manager, right? Austerity measures.
LISA COOK, MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY: I think this is what we would
expect, but I think this is what we would expect from anybody who is going
to be leading Detroit. I mean, this is a downsizing that has been
happening over 100 years, actually. It may have been much too large. I
mean this is not a city, this is a state. I mean when I`m driving through
HARRIS-PERRY: ... the size of it.
COOK: Yes, exactly. Exactly. Exactly. So, when I`m driving through it,
I`m wondering when it`s going to end. I mean, OK, I`m a newcomer to
Michigan, so, you know ...
COOK: You all talk about a great lake. It`s not a lake. It`s a sea.
HILL: It has a tide!
COOK: Everything is big.
Exactly. I can`t see the other side.
COOK: So the same is true for Detroit. So, this is possibly right sizing
a city and it is very expensive to fund a city that people no longer live
in, to achieve these economies of scale that you would have achieved had
there been many more people there.
HARRIS-PERRY: But, Charlie, I can`t think of anything that creates quicker
cries of injustice than talking about right sizing cities. I mean when I
hear that as a New Orleanian living there post-Katrina, I mean that was
exactly the discourse. Make the city smaller, bring people in, you just
can`t live in the neighborhood - but you always thought it was your
LEDUFF: Well, don`t live on a flood plain. There`s nothing crazy about
that. But look, I mean, yeah ...
HARRIS-PERRY: There is, actually. I mean because rich folks are allowed
to make that choice all the time. Right?
LEDUFF: Well, rich folks live up on the hill. They don`t live next to the
river. You get what I`m saying? That`s what happened here in Detroit. We
have to get to right size it. You know what happened? Economist,
professor, we have uneducated people that had factory jobs and we never
educated our grandchildren. And the factories are gone. It`s time to
leave. The city can`t support itself in its big state version. It`s got
to downsize. It has to. Whether you`re a liberal or a conservative, we
all know the money`s done. The money`s done. Stop spending it.
GOODMAN: But it can`t be contained just to Detroit. I mean what`s ...
LEDUFF: Now, (inaudible), that`s ...
GOODMAN: Still people - you still got people with good ideas in
entrepreneurial world, you`ve got people who are eager for work. You have
a lot of work that needs to be done in Detroit and its environment ...
LEDUFF: But brother, they`re not going anywhere. They`re staying in
GOODMAN: But if we simply bring in an emergency manager and we say, OK, do
the math, I`m going to pay this, the only thing you can do is cut.
LEDUFF: We have to.
GOODMAN: Invest in Detroit.
LEDUFF: We have to.
GOODMAN: Wait, but you need help from outside. It has to be poured ...
We have to ask the banks, we have to ask the creditors to give us a break.
HARRIS-PERRY: But I guess - but I guess part of it ...
LEDUFF: That hasn`t happened on the federal level.
HARRIS-PERRY: would be like is you can`t - you can`t just ask, right?
This is your point about it being, you know, you can`t - you can`t frame it
as please come and charitably save my city, right?
HARRIS-PERRY: It has to be about generating an environment where business
wants to come and where investment wants to occur and it seems to me that
cutting city services, cutting the quality of public education, does
exactly the opposite. It ends up not right sizing but just downsizing.
HILL: And Detroit unfortunately has one of the worst national public
relations problems, even though our problems are indicative of things
happening everywhere, that`s why I brought up the Chicago example. They
have a lot of problems there. They have problems here in New York. They
have problems in L.A. You know, L.A. had a gang problem for a long time.
HARRIS-PERRY: But you had ....
HILL: That didn`t stop people from coming there.
HARRIS-PERRY: You had the Super Bowl commercial from Eminem ...
HILL: We did.
HARRIS-PERRY: Which was like the great public relations moment.
HILL: It was great. But that`s the perception of Detroit is that why
should we care, just let the city eat itself alive and I don`t know what we
can do to change this perception.
GOODMAN: The (inaudible) public relations issue, it`s a real issue.
HILL: It is. But I`m saying that ...
GOODMAN: ... and not in America where we can cut our way back to
prosperity. That`s all ...
LEDUFF: Jefferson County, Birmingham, Alabama is broke.
LEDUFF: Phoenix is broke.
LEDUFF: L.A. has got worse financial problems than Detroit.
COOK: Pittsburgh was broke.
LEDUFF: Pittsburgh`s still broke.
COOK: They`re coming back.
LEDUFF: No, they`re not back.
GOODMAN: What would you do, Charlie? Just cut and hope it`s ...
COOK: But this was really a long tough pass.
LEDUFF: We`re cutting anyway. You have to - Listen, man, there comes a
LEDUFF: There comes a time when the money runs out. Listen, we already
spent $20 billion. That`s our that`s our long term debt. Our deficit
today is a half a billion dollars.
GOODMAN: We have to (inaudible) an investment, we have to ...
LEDUFF: I`m not saying just --
GOODMAN: Reconfigure what you`re doing, definitely.
LEDUFF: ... whether you`re an Occupier, or a Tea Party ..
LEDUFF: We all know the government stinks.
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, no ...
LEDUFF: The government stinks. They`re not spending our money right.
HARRIS-PERRY: I would not concur that the government stinks. But I think,
in this moment, that the only potential solution is, in fact, initially a
government-based solution because investors ...
GOODMAN: I don`t agree.
HARRIS-PERRY: ... will only come once you have an infrastructure in place.
GOODMAN: I don`t agree.
HARRIS-PERRY: But I`ll tell you what, I`m going to ask exactly that
question about how we`re going to manage this crisis to the man who was
sent in to rescue Detroit`s schools. How did that turn out? What we can
HARRIS-PERRY: On the same day Michigan`s Republican governor, that tough
nerd Rick Snyder, fielded questions about whether he would appoint an
emergency manager to rescue Detroit from its financial doldrums, he was
asked whether anyone had already turned down the job. Snyder told the
Associated Press, quote, "Oh, yeah. There were quite a few people who are
in that camp because if you think about it, and this is not going to imply
we`re going to do one, but it would be an extremely challenging position.
Joining our panel from Washington, D.C. is someone who has been in that
position, Robert Bobb, who was the emergency financial manager for the
Detroit public schools until May of 2011. He has 30 years of executive
management experience having worked in California, Virginia, Michigan and
Washington, D.C. Hi, Bob, how are you this morning?
ROBERT BOBB, THE ROBERT BOBB GROUP: Good morning. How are you?
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, so I am concerned and I`m particularly concerned with
what happens if we bring in a kind of technocratic, you know, financial
manager, exactly the sort of person you are, to do this turnaround. Tell
me sort of how does an outsider come in to a situation like this and make a
BOBB: Well, first of all, the outsider must recognize that Detroit is, in
fact, one is - one of - is a great American city and when you look at it
from the outside, you appreciate that. When you`re inside of Detroit and
in Michigan, you have a great appreciation for it. So anyone who comes in
as an emergency financial manager must recognize the fact that the human -
the human side of the business is equally as important as the financial
side of addressing the difficult financial issues, and making the very
difficult and tough decisions which has to be made.
HARRIS-PERRY: So let me ask you about democracy and democratic
accountability. Because on the one hand, Bob, the idea of a technocratic
manager who comes in who is free from election concerns is that you can
make the tough choices without having to worry about a constituency. But
on the other hand, you then don`t have a constituency that can hold you
accountable. How do we manage the democratic concern here?
BOBB: Oh, that is an excellent question. And - it is a question, which,
you know, I faced on many occasions while I was in Detroit. Having been an
elected official in my career, I could really appreciate that question, but
by the same token, the emergency manager, and there are some important
lessons learned, that I learned in having looked back, one of which is that
you have to have a deep appreciation for those individuals who are elected
to represent the citizens of whether it`s a school district and - or
whether it`s the city. And you have to work extraordinarily hard to forge
a relationship with those individuals so that they and you are on the same
page, as it were, seeking to address an issue that would bring solvency to
a situation where there is in fact insolvency. And so, as I look back on
my tenure as an emergency financial manager, and say what were the
important lessons learned, the important lesson learned is the fact that
you can`t dismiss the voices of people who challenged and criticized me on
a daily basis for the difficult decisions that I had to make because of the
whole notion of having been an emergency manager and having a negative
impact on the whole notion of democracy and citizens` engagement and
involvement in the process.
HARRIS-PERRY: In this kind of circumstance, what`s the very first thing,
if an emergency manager is put in place, what is the very first thing that
he or she is going to have to do?
BOBB: First they have to do, is make - ensure that there is a plan for
insolvency. Take all of the studies which have already been done and then
consolidate those into one systemic, one plan. Additionally as the crisis
manager, you have to put in place the infrastructure to collect every
penny, every dollar that`s needed on the revenue side. The second thing
which has to be done is that you have to have an infrastructure of very
smart people around you, both on the technical side as well as on the human
resources side. And quite frankly, we in this business, we focus so much
on the financial side that sometimes we dismiss the fact that there is a
human side as well. And so, you have to have someone on that team who,
when you`re digging deeply into the financial issues, who can say OK, but
what about the human issues and how those financial decisions impact people
at every level. And then the third thing you have to do is what I have
found, having been a city manager in a number of U.S. cities, is that some
of the best ideas for how to bring financial solvency comes directly from
those employees who have been in the trenches for years and upon years. I
learned this lesson very well when I went to Oakland, California, as the
city manager and engaged the entire workforce in recommendations as to how
we can move that city forward.
HARRIS-PERRY: Bob, I really appreciate you taking the time to join us.
This is complicated. And for those of us who love Detroit and care about
what happens in this city, it`s clearly just the start of a very long road.
BOBB: Oh, it is. And it`s not going to happen within 18 months. It`s
going to take ...
BOBB: It`s going to take - it`s a long - it`s a long road to travel.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you for joining us from Washington, D.C. And when we
come back, the long simmering racial tensions of Detroit.
HARRIS-PERRY: 80 percent of the residents of Detroit are African-American.
80 percent of the residents of Michigan are white. Is that all we need to
know about this crisis?
LEDUFF: There`s something to know.
HILL: In fact, that says a lot about the divide that`s still there. And
as I mentioned before, the riots, it`s like it just happened yesterday, not
because of physically the way Detroit looks, but also the way that
residents view one another. I was brought up, my mother, she grew up
during the riots and you were brought up that when you crossed eight mile,
the Thoroughfare that separates city from suburbs, you behave on this way
on the other side of eight mile. You know - you know this, Charlie.
HILL: You follow the speed limit, you do all this because if they find out
you`re from Detroit ...
LEDUFF: That`s what happens. That`s what happens.
HILL: You`re going to have some problems.
LEDUFF: Half the black population in the metropolitan area lives on the
other side of eight mile now.
LEDUFF: We`re over it.
LEDUFF: We`re over it.
HARRIS-PERRY: But - not over the racial --
LEDUFF: ... not completely over it, but ...
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re not over the racial tension. And let me ask you this
- this is part of the difficulty of bringing back cities with large black
populations, right, because the bizarre thing that happens is you move into
a neighborhood and then you decrease the value of the neighborhood by
moving into it, right? So this is as Dream Hampton, who is kind of a
friend of the show, when we were reading her work around sort of what
happened in her community, it was all about the attempt to integrate,
right, black middle class Detroiters trying to do better, integrating, but
then as soon as they move in, you start seeing block busting. White
families moving out. So you striving, you trying to do better, decreases
the value of the very thing you`re part of.
GOODMAN: When we talk about bringing back a majority African-American
city, we`re talking about going against the grain of decades of development
policy that covertly --
HARRIS-PERRY: Destroyed it.
GOODMAN: it generated white flight. We talk about Fannie and Freddie
making mortgages available to everyone. Forget race. We built suburban
sprawl. What was suburban sprawl about? Well, it was about a lot of
things, but one of the things it was about was white people saying I would
like to get my kids over the line to a brand new school, where suddenly
there`s mostly going to be white kids around. And that`s the reality
that`s baked into American history. So now we get to a point where a lot
of people who left the city and who were feeling real good about themselves
in the suburbs find out that we always knew that Detroit was going to be a
catastrophe. Look, they can`t even pay their bills, all these murders.
After we`ve completely let the infrastructure rot, we haven`t maintained
it, there`s no money to throw at basic services, and so it validates the
very fear that a lot of predominantly white suburban families have had
about the inner city forever. So in that context, we`re now supposed to
come up with capital and ideas to go and redevelop. That`s a lot of stuff
to take on.
HARRIS-PERRY: it is. Undoubtedly.
COOK: I think it`s a big problem. I think in my classes, what I see is
people who are really trained to think about the city, Detroit, and outside
Detroit, the suburbs. So I confuse them when I say where I live which is
Ann Arbor, because it is a city but it is not a suburb. But I think you
have to retrain people to think about not living in a segregated
environment. This is -- Michigan State is not a segregated environment,
and they have to get used to that. People are so accustomed to living in a
place that looks like my home state of Georgia did 40 years ago or 50 years
ago. So I think that we really have an issue there, and it`s an ongoing
one, and it`s not just in Detroit.
LEDUFF: And I can`t let that go, because I wrote a little couple things
down on this "Wall Street Journal." Buy newspapers, you got it. Look,
number one, do not miss the point. It used to be the most segregated city
area, in the United States. It`s not like that anymore. Black middle
class and white middle class live together in the Detroit metropolitan
region. What you have is a sore of poverty. That`s a fact. Two, Eight
Mile is a construct (ph) from a long time ago. We`re talking money. We`re
GOODMAN: But what happens when you integrate? This is a point you often
make and it bears repeating here. Once we integrate, suddenly there`s no
LEDUFF: This isn`t 1969. This is 2013.
HARRIS-PERRY: And yet those public processes continue to exist that way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s no white flight anymore.
GOODMAN: This is integration by disintegration. Suddenly we have
integration by dint of the fact that everybody left, and all that`s left
are the people who can`t get out.
HARRIS-PERRY: Then once that happens, right, so the lovely part of that
story is, so we want to tell the story of on the one hand some of the block
busting that occurs when black and brown families move in. But then when
white families move in, on the one hand we want to say, great, that`s
integration, that`s the return of these cities, except then we end up with
a gentrification problem.
LEDUFF: It`s not a problem to bring money into a community.
LEDUFF: We`re not talking about the suburbs of Detroit, which have
emergency financial managers. Allen Park (ph), which is white, is broke.
LEDUFF: That`s inside Detroit. Roseville, Warren. Southfield. Westland
(ph). It`s not a race -- don`t make it so much about race. It`s about --
it`s green. It`s green. Yeah, whites ran away and there`s no place to run
HARRIS-PERRY: What I`m saying, Charlie, is one of the things we learned is
that green and black are often connected in ways that you can`t simply
LEDUFF: But don`t forget to say the good things about this country and
black and white relations. We`re doing OK. We`re doing OK.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re doing OK, comparatively. But I think it`s a bit like
saying once you`re halfway through a race, well, great, then give up at
LEDUFF: No, I didn`t say that.
LEDUFF: We`re doing OK.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re doing what we`re doing, and suggesting sort of
platitudes about we`re doing OK does not actually get us to a policy
prescription and discussion about how race does in fact affect the economic
decisions that we make.
GOODMAN: -- didn`t want to sit in the back of the bus, the bus service was
better across the southern United States than it is today.
GOODMAN: -- except the bus does not show up.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to say thanks to Charlie Leduff. The rest are back
later on the program. But up next, I want you to grab your passports.
Because we`ve got a fun fact. The U.S. passport contains 13 inspirational
quotes, and only one of them is from a woman. Her story is next.
HARRIS-PERRY: Do you have a U.S. passport? If so, pull it out, take a
moment, look at pages 26 and 27. There you will find an image of the
Statue of Liberty and you will find these words written across the top.
"The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, a party or a
class. It is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity."
Any guess on the author of these words? Jefferson, Kennedy? Nope. This
is the one and only quote in the U.S. passport that belongs to a woman.
They are the words of Anna Julia Cooper. Born into slavery in North
Carolina in 1858, Cooper lived 105 years, passing away just months before
the 1964 Civil Rights Act was signed into law.
During her century of scholarship and activism, Cooper became a visionary
political theorist, activist, orator, educator and human rights advocate.
In 1925, she became the first black woman to earn a Ph.D. at the Sorbonne
in Paris. Cooper is author of "Voice from the South," a foundational text
of black feminism, where she argues, "only the black woman can say when and
where I enter, in the quiet undisputed dignity of my womanhood without
violence and without suing or special patronage. Then and there the whole
Negro race enters with me." Cooper described her vocation as the education
of neglected people. She fought to ensure access for her students, but her
success was received with hostility rather than celebration from a power
structure that was not necessarily interested in the advancement of black
My guest this morning is Alison Stewart. She writes extensively about
Cooper in her new book, "First Class, the Legacy of Dunbar, America`s First
Black Public High School." So nice to have you here.
ALISON STEWART, AUTHOR: It is nice to be with you.
HARRIS-PERRY: So talk to me about Cooper as an educator and what she was
trying to do.
STEWART: She used to say -- one of her favorite proverbs was where there
is no vision, the people perish. So her sense of vision was, as you said,
the neglected, and in her mind, it was the whole Negro race, but women
specifically. A lot of times people would ask her well, what about the
boys. She would say not the boys less, the girls more. It was from her
own personal experience, as you mentioned. Born into slavery, went to
school, became a teacher, married at 19, widowed at 21. So as a 21-year-
old, what did she decide to do? Not stay and teach grammar school, which is
an excellent profession, but she decided she wanted to go to college. That
HARRIS-PERRY: Can you imagine being born into slavery and then having the
audacity of self to say no, I`m going not only to college but to graduate
school, and then to become a leader, an education leader.
STEWART: She had to fight her whole way through, she had to get fight to
get people to recommend her to go to Overland. Once she got to Overland,
she whizzed through the classes that were allowed for women, she had to let
them - let her take Greek, math, Latin, all of which she aced. And one of
her biggest issues was secondary education for African-American, for
colored boys and girls. That`s how she ended up the principal of M Street,
the predecessor to Dunbar, this book. It was a powerhouse school, produced
some of the greatest African-American scholars of the 21st century. She
was the principal there, and she refused to let the power structure there
roll back the curriculum.
HARRIS-PERRY: Which they wanted to do because they had this vocational
perspective, right? It was this OK, what we need to teach these young
colored kids to do is to get these sort of narrow set of jobs, and she says
no, we must educate their whole selves and their minds.
STEWART: Absolutely. She said we are educating not men and women, we are
educating the race. At one point they wanted her to trade in Shakespeare
for "Treasure Island." She called it the wearing that handkerchief moment
of "Othello." In "Othello," Othello the Moor, the African, says, "Lend me
thine handkerchief that you`ve given me, Desdemona." And she says, you
know what, there are people who were just here wearing that handkerchief.
That`s all you could understand. And that`s all that people thought
Negroes and coloreds could have the capacity for. She said, that`s
absolutely not true.
HARRIS-PERRY: So she lived 105 years.
STEWART: Can you imagine what she experienced in her life?
HARRIS-PERRY: To go from the (inaudible) slavery to the civil rights
movement, to live just before the `64 Civil Rights Act. But she`s not just
parochial. Her world is not just the U.S. She also was an international
STEWART: Yes, that was interesting. Think about this. She was a high
school teacher and principal and she spoke at the pan-African conference.
It was sort of interesting, there aren`t Melissa Harris-Perrys and there
weren`t NPRs where people got their word out and talked about intellectual
thoughts. What they did was they went on these long tours, these speaking
tours, and she would publish papers and go speak at these conferences just
to get this message out that we must put the African race forward, the
African-American race forward through education.
HARRIS-PERRY: And let`s talk just momentarily also about the fact that for
her, it was the race, but also at the intersection of gender. She is
really our black feminist foremother, she is the one who says you can`t
talk just race if you ignore the ways that gender cross-cuts it.
STEWART: And she also would not back down in any way. Often, Dubois would
quote her and not give her credit, which is kind of interesting. Bottom
line, she`s a badass. I don`t know if I want to say that--
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, you said it.
STEWART: But she was. She had that sort of strength and would not back
down to the detriment of her career. She was run out of her job for not
backing down. Her job as this principal, for not backing down.
HARRIS-PERRY: I love that you brought up the point about Dubois, who many
of us know sort of the contributions of Dubois, but we have been silent
about the contributions of Anna Julia Cooper. Thank you so much for
bringing her back to us in your new text.
And also, if you would like to learn more about Anna Julia Cooper, in my
day job, the thing that I do during the week, I am the director of Anna
Julia Cooper project on gender, race and politics in the South at Tulane
University. You can learn more about Cooper at cooperproject.org.
Coming up, VAWA, apple pie and my letter of the week. Congressman Duncan,
this one`s for you.
HARRIS-PERRY: It was one of those weeks in Congress again. The House
stood in recess, meaning nothing could get done. Last week, the Senate
voted overwhelmingly in favor of VAWA reauthorization. That`s the Violence
Against Women Act. They voted 78-22. Yep, 78 means that this bill has
bipartisan support in the Senate. Over in the House, we continue to wait,
even as reports surfaced this week saying that some Republicans are pushing
to get a bill of their own passed soon. That is, assuming they can get
their own members on board.
Which is why my letter this week goes out to one of the most vocal
holdouts, Republican Congressman John Duncan of Tennessee. Better known as
Dear Congressman Duncan, it`s me, Melissa. This week, you were really on a
metaphorical rampage with this lovely little insight about your resistance
to the Violence Against Women Act. You said every bill is given a
motherhood and apple pie title, but if you voted based on the title, you
would vote for every bill up here.
OK, Jimmy. You sort of have a point there. I mean, there have been a lot
of destructive legislative actions that are given deceptively friendly
names. No Child Left Behind. Of course, no one wants to leave a kid
behind, but we should totally have left that law behind. Or the Defense of
Marriage Act. It`s pretty clear it doesn`t defend anything but inequality.
And then there`s the Patriot Act. Yeah. Right.
OK, the titles all sound good, but that`s before you read the fine print.
So Jimmy, that`s just not the case with the Violence Against Women Act.
It`s not just a bill with a good name. It`s a good bill.
This legislation has been reauthorized twice with consistent bipartisan
support. Even you have voted for it twice. And it`s a good thing, because
it`s partly responsible for a 67 percent decline in the rate of intimate
partner violence. But even if you can get past the name issue,
Congressman, you said your main concern was cost. Oh, yeah, the
Republicans` favorite red herring for shredding the social safety net. It
all just costs too much, except that argument doesn`t hold up, Jimmy. The
new bill will cost $659 million over five years. But that`s a decrease in
cost since 2005. Even though the bill offers more protections, and isn`t
that what you business-savvy folks like best? Doing more with less?
So it`s not the name and it`s not really the cost. Maybe your reluctance
lies in this other bizarre point you made this week. You said "like most
men, I`m more opposed to violence against women than even violence against
men, because most men can handle it a little better than a lot of women
Say what? You were all for this bill when it protected a narrow slice of
victims, but now you`re not so sure. I don`t really know what to make of
that, but maybe it`s because the new Senate version of VAWA expands
protection for men and women in same-sex relationships. Is it that
lesbians and gay men can just take a punch better than straight women? Or
maybe you`ve decided that Native American women are particularly good at
handling intimate violence, because you and other House Republicans still
refuse to support a bill that gives tribal authorities the ability to
prosecute those who commit acts of violence on tribal lands. Maybe your
refusal to reauthorize VAWA is actually based on a belief that when some
people are abused, it`s just not a big deal, because they can handle it.
Well, Jimmy, every year 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically
assaulted by an intimate partner in the United States, and while you`re
over there making excuses, these human beings are left without meaningful
and effective protections that VAWA offers. So how about getting over
yourself and getting on board? It`s time to reauthorize the bill with both
a good name and good effects. We are not buying your lies and lines any
When we come back, the state of the American man and why Kevin Bacon may be
the best actor to play the movie version of President Obama. More Nerdland
at the top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. There`s not much
good to be said about Congress` inability to get it together and finally
reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, except the spotlight on the
opposition to VAWA has also amplified the reasons why there is such a
pressing need for VAWA in the first place. Reasons like one in three women
who will be assaulted, beaten or raped in her lifetime. Reasons like the
nine-second interval that separates a woman who was just assaulted from
another woman who is about to be.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris Perry.
Since day one of his second term, President Obama put climate change on the
top of his agenda as we heard in his inaugural address.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will respond to the
threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray
our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming
judgment of science. But none can avoid the devastating impact of fires
and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Yet, one of the first decisions President Obama will make on
environmental issues may be to approve an expansive energy project that
activists say would have devastating effects on our climate.
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would stretch nearly 2,000 miles,
connecting the oil sands of Canada to American refineries around Houston
and the Gulf of Mexico. The $7 billion project would deliver more than
700,000 barrels of heavy crude oil into the country every day if build,
allowing production at Canada tar sands to explode and emit what activists
are calling a carbon bomb.
Extraction of crude oil from tar sands is particularly a dirty process. If
allowed to go forward, full production of Canadian tar sands could release
into our atmosphere two times the amount of carbon dioxide burned in all
the oil used throughout our entire history. In fact, one of the country`s
climate scientists and the head of NASA`s institute said, building the
Keystone pipeline would be game over for the climate -- which, of course,
means game over for us. We live in the climate.
OK. So, approval of the pipeline appeared imminent in 2012 but was delayed
due to concerns over the environmental impact. Now the proposal is back on
the president`s desk. Technically, it is the jurisdiction of the State
Department to decide. But President Obama has the unique singular
authority to decide this matter. And yesterday, Republicans were calling
on the president to rubber stamp it.
Joining me is civil rights attorney Maya Wiley, founder and president of
the Center for Social Inclusion, and filmmaker and activist, Josh Fox,
director of "Gasland"; and Frances Beinecke, who is president of the
Natural Resources Defense Council.
And, Frances, I actually want to start with you because, you know, often we
hear the president is constrained by Congress, by all the other forces he`s
facing. But in this case, this is the president`s call.
FRANCES BEINECKE, PRES., NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL: Yes, it is.
The president has to decide whether this is in the national interest. The
State Department is going to do the environmental review. It`s not yet
completed, but then it`s on the president`s desk. We`re not sure when that
will be, sometime this spring.
But it is his decision to decide whether this is in the national interest
or not. And it`s not because of the climate of locations that you just
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, the claim, Josh, is -- but there are jobs. And the
national interest is a short-term interest based on jobs. How do we
balance this game over for the climate next to jobs?
JOSH FOX, DIRECTOR, "GASLAND": Well, there are more jobs in the renewable
FOX: What I want to say is I come into this not as a lifelong
environmental campaigner, but a person who lives in an area being invaded
by the fossil fuel industry.
FOX: And when you are in the sights of, in my case, the natural gas
industry, as people are in 24 states around the country, or if you are in
the line of the Keystone XL, or in Appalachia, where they are blowing up
mountains, this represents a paradigm shit in energy development, to
something called extreme energy.
It`s no longer, you can just drill and tap and get oil or gas. You are
fracturing rocks, you are blowing up mountains, you`re scraping off the
entire surface of the boreal forest in Canada to get at this energy.
So, this is a moment, actually, the president can take bold leadership and
say, you know what? We cannot allow more and more of the environment and
now with the climate, everybody is a member of the front line community.
HARRIS-PERRY: And, you know, as you describe that, as you describe what it
takes to this extreme energy development, keep thinking, part of this is a
fundamental, ethical, moral question, which is -- yes, if a resource
exists, does it belong to us, humans, to do with what we want, or does it
belong to the Earth? Do we -- because I think part of what we just miss
is, yes, there`s oil there. That doesn`t mean it`s ours. It just might
belong to the Earth itself.
MAYA WILEY, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTOREY: It`s interesting, I got a tweet before
coming on the show from someone who said, you know, this is a divine
resource given to us. Therefore, it`s our divine right to use it.
You know, I think it`s one thing to say, I think it`s important to see the
divinity of this resource. The planet is part of that divinity and people
are as well. If you actually look -- does that mean we use it in a way
that exhausts it and destroys? I think that`s the frame we are talking
about -- when you look at what`s happening in native populations around
these oil sands and these tar sands, we have seen incredible jumps in
cancer rates, we`ve seen deformed fish.
You know, we are not talking extracting a resource that exists. We are
talking about actually the impacts on real people`s lives when we do it the
way we are doing it and the great and tremendous health risks that we`re
BEINECKE: I think what`s happening, Melissa, is we have a choice as a
country, are we going to go down a clean energy pathway that addresses the
urgency of climate change that we are seeing here in New York? We had
hurricane Sandy and everyone who`s here was on the front lines of that, or
are we going to go down a fossil fuel, carbon-emitting pathway that we have
been on for 100 years and causing more and more and more devastation across
the world, not just across the United States.
So, this is a leadership moment for the president. To say I am going to
step forward and make a -- act on climate principle and we are not going to
continue down that fossil fuel pathway.
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, it does feels to me like the LBJ moment, right?
So, Johnson at that moment of the `64 Civil Rights Act, as a Southern
Democrat, has to make the decision in signing `64 Civil Rights and `65
Voting Rights Acts, that he`s going to give away the South for the
Democratic Party. And he does so on principle because of what it means for
And that feels like who the president is called to. It is not easy. I
don`t want to make it small in that sense. But, certainly, politically,
our time horizon is much shorter.
But, you know, I live in New Orleans. I saw BP. We all saw it.
FOX: Well, the fourth piece of this extreme energy is also deep water
drilling. We were drilling into water into depths that we`ve -- that are
uncontrollable. And you saw what happened, the devastating effects.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`ve tried to put golf balls down there to fix it.
That`s part of the other thing here, is that there`s absolutely no
accountability or long term planning for what happens when disaster occurs.
And with these extreme forms, it`s a foregone conclusion that you are going
to have absolutely environmental ruin.
But what`s happening now is whether they are coming from fracking or from
mountain top removal or from the Gulf or climate change, is this incredible
movement of people. I toured the country with Bill McKibben (ph) who
really is to be credited with these Keystone protests. And we had
thousands of people at every location, 50,000 people in Washington, D.C. on
what was, I think the coldest day of the year.
This is what I`m seeing over and over again. As you see these extreme
energy moves into these places in America, you get all of the above
resistance to this all of the above strategy.
Maya, let me show you the Harris poll about support for the Keystone
Pipeline, because I think this is part of your question about whether or
not we see a movement. We have 69 percent of Americans saying that they
support the Keystone Pipeline, but that feels to me in part because they
may not have clear information about what the consequences of building are.
WILEY: Yes. I think going back to your point, Melissa, about the
president and the political position he`s in right now. And one thing that
makes it a little different from the `64 act, the Civil Rights Act of
Johnson, it`s a moral dilemma, except that part of the problem is the
notion of scarcity, right?
We are in this frame of scarcity. We have so many people who need jobs.
We are in part where our economy is not completely recovered from a
tremendous recession. Where the president rightly used, as an opportunity
to try to rebuild the economy, also invest in renewable energy, which is
Now, trying to figure out how in the context of incredible, real pain that
real people are feeling on the job market, most of how people are seeing
keystone is in this frame of jobs -- jobs, jobs, jobs.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. So you end up with 69 percent of the people
WILEY: And the part of the conversation that`s not happening to your point
about information is if we invest in renewable energy, it`s 1.9 million
jobs compared to the 20,000 that Keystone will create. And also, what are
those jobs going to produce in terms of our communities?
WILEY: I would rather see the energy that ensures that our kids aren`t
getting cancer and our asthma rates are not increasing and that, you know,
one of the biggest contributors to the deficit is our health care costs.
So, when you actually think about all the big problems we are trying to
solve in the country, we`re not just talking about whether Keystone is good
or bad for 20,000 jobs. We`re talking about its impact on health, its
impact on communities, it`s impact on environment, and whether there are
better solutions to the problem.
HARRIS-PERRY: With even more jobs.
Yes. We are going to stay on this issue with everyone at the table and
also with the legendary activist Julian Bond who got arrested on this
issue. I want to ask him why when we`re back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Is it possible that one single issue could bring tens of
thousands of Midwest farmers, American-Indians, celebrities, civil rights
activists together? Well, that`s exactly what happened last Sunday when a
broad coalition filled the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to protest the
Keystone XL pipeline in what activists are calling the biggest climate
change rally in U.S. history.
Fighting the pipeline has become a central organizing issue for
environmental activists, leading the nation`s oldest and most influential
environmental organization to lift its 120-year ban on civil disobedience.
And on Sunday, dozens of activists were arrested for acts of non-violent
One of those was picked up was civil right legend Julian Bond, who helped
found the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, a seminal civil
rights organization. No stranger to civil disobedience, Julian Bond has
faced the consequences of activism dating back to his days fighting for
integration in Atlanta`s movie theaters and lunch counters.
And joining us for our discussion from Washington, D.C. is Julian Bond,
chairman emeritus of the NAACP.
It`s so nice to see you today, Mr. Bond.
JULIAN BOND, CHAIRMAN EMERITUS, NAACP: Pleasure to be here. Thanks for
having me on.
HARRIS-PERRY: So hearing last week that you had been arrested, I thought,
OK, this was an interesting moment because you weren`t at this moment being
arrested over an obvious civil rights issue, but clearly there`s a
coalition here who is beginning to understand this environmental question
as a civil rights issue.
BOND: Well, it is a civil rights issue. You know, people of color are
affected by environmental depredation more than other people in the
country. The NAACP, whose board I used to chair, has been on this issue
for almost decades.
And any American who is cognizant of the weather around him or her, what`s
happening, we flooded the biggest city in the country, we had the most hot
-- hottest year in history last year. I mean, how can you deny these
things are happening and need quickly to be stopped?
HARRIS-PERRY: So, you know, I want to ask you, because this trade off
between the idea of jobs particularly for communities that are economically
deprived and economically at a disadvantage. And then, on the other hand,
the environment has often meant that communities of color and poor
communities have been set over and against the very air they breathe and
the water that they drink.
BOND: Exactly. The choice is always, we`ll give you the jobs if you put
up with the trash. But, you know, that`s really a false choice. We heard
on the panel just now that the green economy will create many, many
thousands of jobs while the pipeline will produce relatively few. That`s
an easy choice for most people to make if you can delay some gratification
for a moment and look forward to the long term.
It`s better to go with the green world rather than the awful world that
promises to come if we continue in the current path.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let me pull out to the panel for a little bit. Josh,
because I want to ask -- it`s not just about American citizens, because
it`s not just about domestic civil rights. There`s a whole Canadian
FOX: Actually, I was adopted by the Blood Tribe, which is the largest
reserve in Canada, in southern Alberta. Their reserve was leased out to
fracking to frac gas, to send to the tar sands, to boil down these sands,
So, using enormous amounts of gas and water to get the oil and then they
pipe it to American refineries. And one of them is in Pennsylvania where
they are flaring off the excess gas.
It`s wasteful at every turn. It`s destroying people`s communities.
Whether that`s -- in Warren, Pennsylvania, in the inner city, or on the
Blood reserve in Alberta or further north where the tar sands are, this is
We are not talking about Canada. We are talking multi-national oil
FOX: -- that have no borders, they have no allegiances to nations.
We are just in the way of their business model. When their business model
is destroying the planet and destroying your neighborhood, they are going
to counter resistance.
HARRIS-PERRY: And it`s not the first time.
BEINECKE: No, the interesting thing is TransCanada, the company wants to
bring the pipeline to the United States, because the pipeline to the west,
the gateway pipeline across British Columbia is being blocked by Canadian
citizens and first nations. Pipelines to the east are not accessible
BEINECKE: So, suddenly, the United States is the vehicle to carry the
Canadian oil to export through the Gulf of Mexico. What`s in there for the
BEINECKE: Not a lot. And I think that`s where the president has a real
opportunity to take a very principled action to say, climate is one of the
most devastating things this country and the planet faces and I`m going to
act to deny this.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. I mean, it`s based on the belief that sort of the
Americans are unattached to questions of green politics that you can just
build it straight through us, because there`s so much good, high quality
opposition in Canada.
BEINECKE: Well, but there`s good high quality opposition here, too.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. That`s what we are beginning to see.
BEINECKE: Not only the people in Washington, D.C., but the people all
across the route -- the farmers, the ranchers, the people in Texas who are
chaining themselves to the pipeline, the people in the refinery
But there`s widespread opposition to this.
HARRIS-PERRY: Mr. Bond, I want to come back to you for a moment, because
this question of whether or not, sort of how you build that coalition seems
to be difficult in part because a lot of this coalition, which is going to
be built to pressure President Obama is derived from President Obama`s own
So, it feels tonight, this is right at the crux of exactly the kind of work
that the NAACP always had to do. How do you say to a friend in the White
House, right, somebody who`s generally on board with your legislative
agenda, on this thing, I oppose you and need you to do better?
BOND: You say it just the way you tell them, on this thing, oppose you and
need you to do better and expect you to do better.
BOND: You mention this in your inaugural speech, you leaned in this
direction. You have done impressive things in the environment. Now, do
this one thing. We are asking you to keep on the record you are
establishing for yourself to future generations say, that Barack Obama, he
was just great on the environment, we are so lucky to have had him. He
saved the country for us, he saved the world for us.
And I think that`s the kind of appeal we are making to him, just to do what
you believe to do be the right thing. We believe you feel, as we do, that
the right thing to do is say no to this pipeline.
This is not a pipeline to America. This is a pipeline through America. It
does nothing for us. It does great things for the oil company.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, Maya?
WILEY: Well, I was just going to say that I think one of the important
things we have to talk about, particularly when we talk about communities
of color in this equation, that we have to talk about the solutions that
take the fastest growing segment of the country, right? Communities of
color in this country are very soon going to be half of the country.
And when we look at the solutions that we have, one of the things we need
President Obama and Congress to do is pay attention to how we invest in
local scale renewable energy solutions that communities of color can
WILEY: -- because one of the things happening as we invest in renewable
energy and a stimulus invested in renewable energy, is it didn`t pay
attention enough to how we have to actually look at doing it differently
given how communities of color have been excluded from investment
opportunities. In Boston, there was community of environmental justice
advocates that recognized homeowners in Roxbury, Boston, were not going to
be able to home-weatherize their homes because there weren`t weatherization
companies nearby that were going to weatherize.
Community of color could have worked, they were trying to organize the
cooperative that would create a for-profit model where they would be doing
that home weatherization.
HARRIS-PERRY: It gives an opportunity for entrepreneurship and for
WILEY: Jobs, as well as efficiency.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. I mean, jobs, yes, but not just jobs, also
innovation and ownership.
Josh, I want you to lead us in this on the point I don`t know if we have
clearly driven home enough. This is, in fact, dangerous. We have reasons
to believe that -- I mean, we`ve already seen some spills. This is an
FOX: And for all the things Obama said in his State of the Union address.
You cannot be talking about climate change, and at the same time, approve
FOX: In the same way, I mean, you are seeing this contradiction happening
for people like Andrew Cuomo as well. You have the governor talking about
climate change and on the verge of the decision to open up New York to the
largest fossil fuel expansion in its history. They are in a bind.
But the truth is, it`s a moment for bold leadership. And you have to say
we are going to take a break from the past and we`re going to do all these
thing that make so much sense like develop renewable energy, get jobs for
the future, not the dirty jobs of the past.
HARRIS-PERRY: I just want to say thank you so much to you, Julian Bond,
for joining us. It`s always just a pleasure --
BOND: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: -- for me to have you. And particularly for talking about
possibilities for bold leadership. There`s no -- there`s no face I`d
rather have on set when we are talking about the possibility of bold
leadership. You certainly have a personal and organizational history of
doing exactly that.
BOND: Thank you. That`s kind of you. Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you.
And also, thank you to Josh and to Frances.
Maya is going to stick around for a while longer, because up next, the one-
year anniversary of the moment that sparked international outrage.
HARRIS-PERRY: One year ago, this coming Tuesday, marks the day that
sparked a national conversation about guns. No, it is not the anniversary
of the day James Holmes opened fire in a midnight showing of "The Dark
Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colorado, killing 12 people. Nor are we already
year out from the shooting by Wade Michael Page that killed in a Sikh
temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and the horrors of Sandy Hook Elementary
School in Connecticut where Adam Lanza gunned down 20 children and six
teachers. It`s still very much fresh in our minds.
Those horrific and attention-grabbing shootings captivated the country
instantly when they happened. The shooting that took place a year ago
Tuesday was relatively unknown at first -- a single death, not a planned
massacre, but it was an altercation gone horribly wrong. And it almost
escaped national attention given at first, police didn`t make an arrest.
One year ago this Tuesday marked the day that George Zimmerman shot and
killed Trayvon Martin. And one year later, we still await George
We have made a point on this program of not litigating the case against
Zimmerman on television. We are going to leave that to the courts. And by
no means am I suggesting a link between Trayvon, Aurora, Oak Creek, Sandy
Hook, or even to Hadiya Pendleton, or to Jovan Belcher and Kasandra
Perkins, or the 2,200 plus people killed with a gun in this country since
the massacre at Sandy Hook.
Certainly, an altercation between two individual that ends in death is
different from a shooting in a theater or a temple or school. And that`s
all different from city street violence, even different from domestic
But there is one thing. In each and every case, if the assailant has not
had a gun, the victims could not have been shot.
HARRIS-PERRY: Guns are the only recurring themes in all the shootings of
masses of people and individuals that have so captivated the country in the
last year. The notion that our laws are too loose with the conditions
under which those guns are obtained and used has inspired federal and state
policies that tighten those restrictions. But not all those proposals
answer more gun deaths with more gun regulations. Though, there are some
of those who would opt to respond to more gun deaths with more guns.
You see, lawmakers in Arizona, California, Oklahoma, South Dakota and
Tennessee are considering legislation that puts guns in hands of teachers
and other school employees. At least 200 teachers in Utah have already
taken advantage of the state`s allowance of guns in schools and signed
themselves up for firearms training.
Utah lawmakers have also approved a bill that would eliminate the
requirement for a permit to carry a concealed gun. Montana is considering
allowing students to carry firearms on college campuses.
South Carolina lawmakers have advanced a bill that would eliminate all
penalties for carrying concealed weapons in bars and restaurant that serve
alcohol. Sorry, I shouldn`t laugh.
But the philosophy of maximum guns is best summed up by the National Rifle
Association`s leader, Wayne Pierre (ph), when he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA: The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a
good guy with a gun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. Back with me is civil rights attorney, Maya
Wiley; New York University Law School professor Kenji Yoshino; the
Goldwater Institute`s Nick Dranias; and former staffer for New York Mayor
Mike Bloomberg now a board member of the New Yorkers Against Gun Violence,
Dina Dariotis, is that correct?
Dariotis, got it. I am actually epically bad at people`s names.
So, Dina, I want to start with you, because I spent some time last night
and this morning reading this text -- reducing gun violence in America and
Mayor Bloomberg has written the foreword to this text, which he makes a
claim that it really is all gun violence, right? In fact, suicide rates
here in New York -- I mean, not only do we keep people from being killed in
homicides with guns, we have lower gun suicide rates, because once you
don`t have a gun you can`t shoot anybody.
It feels like a basic argument.
DINA DARIOTIS, NEW YORKERS AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE: Well, it`s absolutely
true. The statistics bear that out. I mean, states that have universal
background checks or stronger background check laws have half the suicides
than states that don`t have those types of laws in place. Almost 40
percent of women -- 40 percent fewer women are shot and killed by intimate
partners in states that have better background check laws. States that
have better background check laws are less frequently the sources of
trafficked guns that end up being used in crimes.
So, there`s definitely a huge body of evidence to support that notion.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, on the one hand, there`s this huge body of evidence. On
the other hand, there`s a very simple reality that if I open up my
Constitution, there is a Second Amendment. And that Second Amendment
largely has been understood through our Supreme Court to say you have an
individual right to own a gun.
NICK DRANIAS, GOLDWATER INSTITUTE: Absolutely. Look, that doesn`t mean
there can`t be some reasonable regulation anymore than there can be some
reasonable regulation of speech in the First Amendment. But we have to
recognize that this is a constitutional right. The Supreme Court is
looking to the original meaning and scope to determine where it applies and
we can`t go willy-nilly with just banning guns. Something like a
background check could very pass muster.
HARRIS-PERRY: What do you think, Kenji? Is the Second Amendment actually
a hindrance to making reasonable gun policy in this country?
KENJI YOSHINO, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR, NYU: Yes, I mean, I think it
is. You know, I`m basically with Nick on this one. After 2008 and 2010
when the Supreme Court handed down this pair of rulings saying there was an
individual right to bear arms, the first 2008 ruling against the federal
government, the 2010 ruling applied the right against the states.
Justice Scalia`s major opinion in the 2008 opinion is really clear as a
matter of constitutional law that says, in saying that this isn`t meant to
prohibit reasonable regulation.
But all of that said, there is a floor, right, that the right protects.
Sometimes I think that floor is unreasonable. This is now my normative
view on why the 2008 was wrongly decided.
So, I mean, the idea there is that -- you know, the Second Amendment says
that right to bear arms is connected to the maintenance of a regulated
militia. So, the question is whether or not that law of regulated militia
is preparatory clause is restricted or really descriptive. I lost that
one. The 2008 decision says it`s clearly, you know, descriptive, not meant
to be a precondition on the right, the right as an individual right that is
held by individuals.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, on the one hand there`s a question of what we have a
right to do. On the other hand, a question of what is prudent to do.
And so, we hear Wayne LaPierre saying, all right, you`ve got to arm the
good guys, right? One of the good guys apparently was supposed to arm our
teachers. And my -- I have to say, as a college professor, first of all,
if my students could carry guns, we would no longer have debate over grade
inflation. Everyone would have A`s.
But beyond that, the idea that -- like, for example, students and teachers
should be carrying guns. I immediately was thinking about Amy Bishop in
Alabama, who came in and shot all of her colleagues after not receiving
tenure. We can`t assume certain positions necessarily mean that you are
the good guy, right?
In any given context, the teacher might be the bad guy.
WILEY: So, I`m going to start in this conversation as a mother with two
kids in school.
I am not sending my child to a school where people who have their jobs not
subject to any psychological evaluation, by the way, nor carrying a gun
with any particular training are going to be in a classroom with my child.
I`m not doing it.
HARRIS-PERRY: We don`t even let teachers paddle students anymore.
WILEY: So the idea that our kids are going to be safer because there are a
bunch of guns inside the school is just insane. If you actually look at
some of the research, what it shows particularly from home invasions is
that, you know, the more you introduce a gun into the scenario, the more
likely the guns are going to be used.
So, unless we want video games becoming what is happening inside the
schools, which is people getting into gun battles --
WILEY: -- I don`t actually think that`s a solution. I think the solution
is to figure out certainly how to keep guns out of schools, not let more
guns into schools.
HARRIS-PERRY: Look, there is a point of -- you know, this notion that
there would be shootout and the good guy might be able to win. I`m sorry,
I should not have laughed when I said South Carolina is allowing people to
carry them in bars.
But it does not --
WILEY: Alcohol and guns.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, it just seems like a bad idea.
But even the issue of at home, part of what we are hindered by, right, is a
lack of research. We don`t know how good the brainy laws have been or how
bad the problem is. We are in a circumstance where only $100,000 out of a
$6 billion research budget from the federal budget goes to understanding
DRANIAS: Well, you can actually look at John Lasworth (ph), which shows
there`s a correlation between less gun control and less crime. In fact, I
think that is a reason not to say we shouldn`t have guns in every place in
every school, but it is a reason to have states experiment with their
policies within the scope of the protections of the Second Amendment.
It may be that in New York, having guns in schools is not wise. But, in
Arizona, we have constitutional carry. You don`t need a permit to carry or
conceal a weapon. You can walk around pretty much anywhere with it. And
we don`t have anywhere near the crime rate of New York.
HARRIS-PERRY: But you do have the Gabby like -- so I hear you. And then
Gabby Giffords is standing there saying we must do something.
DARIOTIS: There`s been an effort to limit federal research on this issue.
Yes, we are hamstrung to some level with data being able to support some of
these things. But the evidence is clear. I mean, we saw it in Columbine.
There was an armed guard at Columbine High School, and you know, it didn`t
HARRIS-PERRY: It didn`t make a difference.
We are going to take a quick break. I wonder if there`s an Eighteenth
Amendment issue going on here. That`s next.
HARRIS-PERRY: The late 19th century, when the surge of violence in America
moved concerned citizens and policymakers to declare that something must be
done, that something had nothing to do with guns.
The conventional thinking of the day located the root of violence not at
the end of a barrel but the bottom of a glass. The prohibition movement
considered alcohol and the violence that accompanied it and its consumption
in excess to be a national curse -- so much so that it would take nothing
short of a constitutional amendment to eradicate its existence.
So, was born the Eighteenth Amendment, banning the manufacture and
transportation of liquor. Only prohibition ultimately did not succeed in
prohibiting anything. In fact, it created more violence, not less.
Outlawing liquor gave rise to organized crime, a thriving black market for
bootlegging and gave alcohol an outsize place in the American imagination.
1933, the Twenty-First Amendment repealed prohibition and left us with a
lesson of the fallacy of banning our vices.
Yet, as we consider policies to ban certain kinds of guns, is this a lesson
that we need to relearn?
So, Eighteenth Amendment is always my challenge. On the one hand, let`s go
get the guns, and then thinking -- whoops, that could turn into a mess.
DRANIAS: I think this would end up punishing young black men who live in
urban areas where police have failed them, because they are more likely to
be carrying guns for self-protection. If you try to prohibit guns,
innocent people trying to do the right thing, trying to protect themselves
and their family could get swept up in that and destroy their future, very
much like the Warren crack (ph) did.
HARRIS-PERRY: I don`t think that carrying a gun on the South Side makes
you safer. I don`t think that had Pendleton been strapped she would be
safer in the circumstance that killed her.
On the other hand, I do agree these are the kind of laws, the way they are
implemented have a way of sweeping up a certain kind of population`s
effect. It is, unfortunately, the other side of Mayor Bloomberg`s law
here. The other side of that is, of course, stop and frisk.
WILEY: Well, we are assuming that sweeping up the guns means a punitive
way of sweeping up the guns. I think that`s a mistake.
So, number one, I think it`s really important to understand black youth are
15 percent of the population in this country and they are 45 percent of the
youth that are killed by guns. So, it actually is a significant issue for
the black community. It`s a significant issue and we have to get those
guns and deal with those guns.
It`s really important to understand, those guns are coming in many
different ways. No, gun regulation alone is not going to take care of that
problem. I think it`s important to be honest about that.
At the same time, it doesn`t mean going and getting the guns only can be
done in a punitive way that increases the incarceration rates of black
youth. There have been lots of efforts. Some are really about creating
relationships between the police and communities differently. Police, if
they start to accept mediation and mediators into the process, can create a
different relationship with communities and actually create exchange
programs for guns in some places that have been effective in getting guns.
Teaching families not to exchange guns with other family members. That`s
one of the major source like flipping 40 percent of the guns in a black
community are coming from a family member or friend handing the gun over to
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, your brother, your cousin.
Sometimes around this notion of self-protection, you know, you, young men,
are going out to the world, and it`s a dangerous neighborhood, let me get
you strapped, right?
I do wonder, though, because the other piece of it, particularly -- so
there`s the Hadiya Pendleton and there`s the Newtown`s, there`s even the
Trayvon Martins. But the fact is that for most women, the likelihood of
being killed by a firearm is most like to come from intimate partner of
I wonder whether or not background checks are going get us there, right?
So, I think we can`t go and get all the guns, but I think ahh, we`ve got to
figure out something, because that`s where you are most likely to be
DARIOTIS: Well, I got to go back to the background checks systems.
There`s two major systems with the background check system. One, millions
of records are currently missing from the background check system,
including records of people who are seriously mentally ill. In some cases,
people who are domestically violence offenders.
Number every state is doing a great job of putting, get that information
into the database. So, right there, you have one problem.
The second problem is the gaping hole in the background check system that
allows 40 percent of the guns in this country to be sold without a
background check altogether. Right now, the system that exists by licensed
sellers, 2 million people have been stopped from buying guns.
DRANIAS: But you`re not answering the question.
HARRIS-PERRY: Here is my question, though. Could we approach -- so, if
prohibition is a lesson against going, particularly after handguns, are
cigarettes a different model of how you -- you take a cultural practice and
just kill it. Just make it gross, right?
Cigarettes, at one point -- I mean, I would have been doing this show
smoking and you would have smoked anywhere and everywhere. So, you do end
up with important prohibitions, particularly in public space without making
it illegal to own them, right? You just create a huge social cost to being
So, are there still smokers? Of course. But smoking does not have the
same place in our culture or any of that in part because it became a public
DRANIAS: Well, it`s less restrictive than outright bans or even background
One of the interesting things about those who advocate for gun relations is
they often advocate solutions in search of a problem. As you pointed out,
background checks are not going to eliminate the spousal abuse cause of
violence. Banning assault rifles is not going to stop 98 percent of the
gun homicide that happen.
HARRIS-PERRY: Because they are handguns.
DRANIAS: So, there`s a disingenuous to the advocates of gun control. I
don`t say this of you, personally, but I mean, in general, we rarely see a
match between the evidence of what guns are doing and the regulation that`s
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m not sure I come -- I hear what you are saying. I`m not
sure it comes as disingenuous but it does certainly feels constrained as
though the things we have the ability to touch and go to and make policy
about are in a limited space that somehow are not always connected to
exactly the greatest spot of violence.
WILEY: But I don`t think the problem with this whole discussion right now
is that number one, I think actually the evidence is not as clearly
supportive of regulation doesn`t work. And to the -- going back to the
conversation we had earlier, I mean, actually the research that you cited
by Lott (ph) has actually been challenged by other researchers.
So, it goes back to your point earlier, Melissa, that we actually don`t
have enough information.
WILEY: I would say that it would be -- I do think it is a good common
sense step to say if nothing else, register. Put who the owners are.
HARRIS-PERRY: At least we know.
WILEY: Check who they are, put it out in the open. It`s not keeping
people from having them.
WILEY: That`s making sure we know who does and that we make sure they
don`t have a criminal record. That`s actually the American public is
strongly in favor of this, including NRA members.
WILEY: This is not controversial. But I think the other part of it is, if
we actually look at what`s happening with the Trayvon Martin, because
that`s the way we tee this up. Trayvon Martin is probably dead today
because somebody was afraid of him.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, that`s right. And if George Zimmerman was afraid of
him, but not armed, it would have been an ugly circumstance, but Trayvon
would probably be alive.
We have to go but I will suggest this book, "Reducing Gun Violence in
America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis." It is not just one-
sided. It`s a fascinating text, full of the only data we`ve got these
days. Go get it.
More in just a moment, but, first, it`s time for a preview of "WEEKENDS
WITH ALEX WITT."
ALEX WITT, MSNBC ANCHOR: Hi to you. It sounds like a good book to get.
It`s on my list.
Melissa, a short time ago, we had the head of the Daytona International
Speedway talked about that frightening crash that`s injured more than two
dozen spectators. You might be surprised about what he says about the
people who were hurt.
It`s getting nasty in the nation`s capital, whole new round of finger
pointing over sequestration started today. So does America have blame-game
fatigue? I can weigh in and say yes.
And a new report on Florida and the Tea Party effect. How the public there
may have buyer`s remorse.
Then, in office politics, former New York David Dinkins shares a remarkable
story about his friendship with tennis star and pioneer Arthur Ashe. It`s
so good. He`s such a big tennis fan. So cute hear him talking about him.
HARRIS-PERRY: He`s lovely. But where are the pandas? Bring back the
WITT: Oh, we have more pandas today.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, good.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you, Alex.
Up next, the naked truth about body image. What I really look like in the
HARRIS-PERRY: Here are some heartbreaking statistics. Forty-two percent
of first third grade girls want to be thinner. Eighty-one percent of 10-
year-olds are afraid of being fat. And in the past decade,
hospitalizations for eating disorders increased by 119 percent for children
younger than 12.
These distressing numbers come to us from the National Eating Disorders
Association who have set aside this week as National Eating Disorders
Awareness Week. And they point to the ongoing crisis of self-hate and
self-abuse that impacts many young women.
The causes of eating disorders are complicated. For example, studies
report that more than a third of those suffering from bulimia where sexual
assault survivors, and anorexia is a condition that often impacts multiple
generations in a single family.
But with all the complex causes, there is this nagging sense of inadequacy,
a hard to shake feeling that I`m just not good enough as I am.
One local organization in Philadelphia, the Renfrew Center Foundation is
using this week for the Barefaced and Beautiful Campaign. They are
encouraging women to go without makeup tomorrow and to post pictures of
their scrubbed mugs on social media.
No, there is no reason to think that wearing makeup is causally linked to
eating disorders. I mean, makeup can be a perfectly healthy, playful, fun
way to present yourself to the world, like big earrings or your favorite
shoes -- kind of a chance to highlight our fierce fabulousness.
But makeup can become a mask that shields our authentic selves full of
perceived imperfections from a world that judges women harshly and
repeatedly on how we look rather than what we think or how we contribute or
who we are.
Renfrew`s research has shown that more than a quarter of girls who wear
makeup rarely or never leave the house without it. So I decided to take
the makeup off and share in this effort, because even baby steps towards
self-acceptance, maybe even if adult women can show a little more
acceptance of ourselves, we can be models of self-love for our daughters
and our nieces and our students.
So this is it. My almost 40-year-old face without any makeup, not even lip
gloss. It`s imperfect, inconsistent, and wonderfully mine.
Join me, take it all off and revel in the realness. Tweet your picture and
use the #barefacedbeauty.
That`s our show for today.
Thank you to Maya, Kenji, Nick and Dina.
And thanks to you at home for watching. I`m going to see you again next
Saturday 10:00 a.m. Eastern.
Coming up, "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT."
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