June 30, 2013
Guests: Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Charlayne Hunter-Gult, Gordon Chang,
Danielle Moodie-Mills, Josh Fox, Mark Quarterman, Amy Goodman, Daryl Parks,
Janet Taylor, Malcolm Woodland, David Klemanski
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning my question, just who was
on trial in Florida this week.
Plus, the president`s speech on the environment.
And MSNBC is coming to New Orleans and we`re bringing a free clinic with
But first, the first black president and what he means to so many of us.
Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. Thank you for joining us.
There is great significance in President Obama`s trip to Africa this week.
The president is traveling through three African countries in his first
major political trip to the continent. The focus, to develop the
investment relationship between Africa and the U.S. but the importance of
this trip is about much more than economic development, the president`s
trip couldn`t come at a more critical time given the health of Nelson
Mandela, the man who is synonymous with South Africa`s troubles and
Imprisoned for nearly 27 years because of his quest for equality and the
end of apartheid, Mandela emerged from prison in 1990 victorious and
undaunted. Mandela would go on to cast hires first vote of his lifetime in
1994, the same year he became the first black president in South Africa`s
It`s an undeniable link they share as the first black presidents of their
respective countries. But it`s not the only link. In a week where both
the Voting Rights Act and affirmative action and education saw setbacks
from the Supreme Court, Mandela`s importance as the figure that most
clearly the civil rights struggles of Africa without of African-American is
abundantly clear, while Mandela employed the on-violent resistance of
Gandy, the struggle for civil rights in South Africa was also informed by
the civil rights movement in the U.S. And one of the first causes for us
here in a post civil rights movement world where the campaigns against
apartheid in South Africa.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My first act of political
activism was when I was at the accidental college as a 19-year-old, I got
involved in the anti-apartheid movement back in 1979 and 80 because I was
inspired in what was taking place in South Africa.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Our involvement in the anti-apartheid movement gave
Americans who were beneficiaries of our parents` battles for civil rights
here the chance to support our brothers and sisters there. It was our
chance to support their continued struggle that culminated in what was once
thought to be impossible, the election of Nelson Mandela. So, as our first
black president tours Africa, the well-being and possible loss of Mandela
is on everyone`s mind even President Obama`s.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I think he`s a hero for the world. And if and when he passes from
this place, one thing I think we`ll all know is that his legacy is one that
will linger on throughout the ages.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: As we witness the Supreme Court-imposed sunset of key civil
rights achievements here in the U.S., we are simultaneously seeing the
sunset of one of the greatest living embodiments of nonviolent resistance
and change. Because of our movement for civil rights and because they are
inextricably linked, feels like a sad end note to a brilliant legacy of
So, while President Obama makes history on his first official trip to the
African continent, I can`t help but ask, where do we go from here? For the
latest on President Obama`s trip and Nelson Mandela`s health I`m joined by
Ron Allen in Soweto, South Africa in front of Mandela`s home which is now a
Niece to see you this morning, Ron.
RON ALLEN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.
HARRIS-PERRY: What is the latest on Mandela`s condition?
ALLEN: It`s unchanged from critical. And at this point he`s stable is the
best we know. We believe he`s on a ventilator helping him breathe. We
know that President Obama was not able to visit him yesterday because of
his condition, because the president didn`t want to create such a huge
scene he did speak to Brasa Michel, Nelson Mandela`s wife by phone. We
don`t know if she was in the room with Nelson Mandela at the time of the
cal, perhaps she was. Perhaps they were together. And of course, we know
that President Obama met with several of Mandela`s daughters,
grandchildren, apparently a moving and emotional visit involving Mr. Obama
and the Mandela family, a very emotional time here, of course. People are
very anxious about word. But, at this point, for the past few days, things
have remained pretty stable, critical. But the last word we heard a couple
of days ago from Wendy Mandela was that he was improving, if slightly, but
still very unwell -- Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: Ron, you talked about the emotion there. And I know that
you lived there in that country for a while. That you have deep ties
there. How are the president and first lady being received there in South
ALLEN: Well, President Obama, this time around, it is really feels like a
business trip. A lot of talk about trade, and of course, the reason for
that is to some extent because Nelson Mandela`s health hangs heavy over
everything that happens here. There have been no big huge celebrations.
There are no big welcoming crowds. It`s really a business trip with, of
course, a lot of reflections by President Obama about Nelson Mandela.
We know that he and the family, first family, just left Robben Island where
Nelson Mandela was imprisoned so many years. He`s about to give a speech
in Cape Town at the university there where he will give reflections many of
his own personal poster reflection about Nelson Mandela and the impact on
his own life. That`s the keynote highlight of the president`s business
He`s going to talk about trade, business opportunities. He`s going to talk
about continuing relief on the area of aids and education. He`s also going
to talk about a program to help half a dozen African countries add
electricity to their power grid. There are some two-third of Africa that
don`t have power. And he is also going to talk about summit of African
leaders coming to Washington.
But again, the general mood here is one that`s somewhat subdued, again, no
big celebratory crowds. There is also a narrative here among some union
leaders about disappointment that people on the continent have in President
Obama. It sort of echoes the same sort of sentiment you here in some
corners of African-American community there. High expectations, but
disappointment that he hasn`t focused more time here in the black community
there. So, that`s sort of what you are hearing gently. But again, for the
most part, he`s receiving a warm welcome particularly from young people
here who idolize him and see him as a great inspiration -- Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: As always, Ron Allen, I appreciate your reporting so much.
Thank you for being there for us in South Africa.
And joining me at the table to discuss the president`s trip to Africa and
the legacy of Nelson Mandela are Charlayne Hunter-Gault, an NBC News
contributor who is an award-winning journalist and the first African-
American woman to integrate university of Georgia and Mark Quarterman,
research director at the Enough Project, a project that works to end
genocide and crime against humanity.
Thank you both for being here.
I want to start with you Charlene. We are left on this moment, you know, I
tried to set up there`s this deep interconnection between blacks in America
and the civil rights struggle here and anti-apartheid movement which Nelson
Mandela embodies and represents. But then, I also hear from Ron Allen
there, there are some disappointments, some angst in that relationship.
You live in both countries over the course of year. How would you
characterize where we are right now?
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT, NBC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, he talked
about young people. And as in this country, South Africa`s young people
are what they call born free. They were born -- many of them after Nelson
Mandela was released. And so, their connection to the past is extremely
When you ask young people about the civil rights in America they know two
names, Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks and it`s the same in South Africa.
And you know, the young people, they are so disenchanted about their
situation. Fifty percent of the populations in South Africa are young
people. Very few of them are getting quality education. Very few are
prepared for a modern industrial society. So I think there`s anxiety.
So, I don`t know how far inspiration takes you when you`re confronted with
such challenging situations. One hopes that as Michelle Obama told the
young people yesterday, no matter how hard it is, you have to keep on
keeping on. But at some point, they are going to have to have something
substantive. They are going to have to have an educational system that
responds. Another thing you`ll appreciate and so will our guest here,
there`s a discussion going on in America here now, as well as there, that
went on between WEB Dubois and Booker T. Washington, you know.
And so South Africa has been lining up potential vocational schools. But
my understanding is that they are not in place. That may have to
eventually happen in order to absorb these millions of young people who
have no options.
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, when you describe that, Mark, again, I get this
sense of the ways in which our nations and our narratives are so
interconnected. This notion of young people facing structural reality, in
part, disconnected from history that is as recent as obviously, clearly in
living memory. And yet, what that set of challenges they face around
economic and social opportunity seem to be larger than what this history
So in both spaces, Mark, how do we -- the president is there, as Ron said,
on a business trip, $7 billion he`s talking about for power, but how do we
move towards these structural solutions?
MARK QUARTERMAN, RESEARCH DIRECTOR, ENOUGH PROJECT: I think that this --
the events the Supreme Court decisions, especially the ones on voting
rights, gutting the Voting Rights Act, and now thinking about the
possibility of Mandela dying soon reminds me how slow and fitful social
change can be.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. That arc of history.
QUARTERMAN: Exactly. Just because there was an election in `94 and there
was such hope, both of us were in South Africa then. It was incredibly
dicey at times. And then when it finally came off and they had the
election and AMC won, it was extraordinary. There was such hope. I
remember having breakfast the day after results announced with some black
South African friends, people who wouldn`t been classified as South African
in the old days, who were saying this is the first time that this felt like
their country. But that doesn`t mean that election could overturn
centuries of economic, physical and psychological violence that the
apartheid system carried out against the South African people. And we are
seeing with the overturning of the Voting Rights Act prematurely, I would
say, that social change is not something that happens because of one person
or one event.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Which is of course, also, the story we had to learn
post 2008 here in the U.S. I was in South Africa in 2009 and was on a tour
of one of the townships and we told them -- we lived in New Orleans. My
husband and I said, yes, we live in New Orleans. And the language -- the
sentence that this man said back at us is, I am sorry that your government
hates you. We saw what happened in Katrina. I`m sorry that your
government hates you.
And I thought, wow, the sense that what we experienced in the context of
Katrina would evoke from someone living in the township of South Africa,
the sense that that is the government that had done wrong by its people.
So, how then do we move beyond the symbolic and move to a set of
relationships where what the U.S. is doing in its partnership with South
Africa isn`t just charitable or inspirational but is structurally important
for assisting both countries.
HUNTER-GAULT: Well, one of the things that has to happen, and I understand
you have a guest who is going to talk about this, but you know, China has
been in there big time, longer than -- in the whole continent. And China
doesn`t go in with preconditions like respect for human rights, which is
one of the preconditions America has always had. But the more -- and so
American investment in South Africa private sector I lagging behind the
Chinese and all of the so-called Brit countries like Brazil and Turkey and
China and so forth.
So if that investment goes in there, there has to be some way, and I`m not
an economist or social planner to involve these young people. You know,
the positive thing about 1994 and young people was that more young people
entered school in 1994 than prior, more young black people. But what has
happened subsequently, is that they haven`t had the support, the
counseling, whatever you want to call it, to help them stay in school. So
somehow you`ve got to accommodate those young people who are not prepared
and maybe it would be through the kind of investment that these businesses
can make, although most of them are not going to be, you know, those employ
a lot of people.
HARRIS-PERRY: The issues you`re bringing up is exactly where we`ll go
after the break as we talk about the business trip aspect of President
Obama`s trip to Africa.
Up next, we will talk about President Obama`s legacy in Africa versus that
of presidents Bush and Clinton. We know there`s one Clinton moment in
Africa that he can never top.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
HARRIS-PERRY: Make no mistake about it, President Obama`s trip to Africa
this week is very significant. It`s the president`s first official trip to
the continent where he`ll visit the nation of Senegal, South Africa and
Tanzania. And while the trip is noteworthy for its economic focus, the
comparison to his two predecessors, President Obama`s policies and direct
dealings with Africa seem to come up short.
President Clinton hosted Nelson Mandela in 1994 after elected as first
black president of South Africa. And although the U.S. is little to stop
the genocide in (INAUDIBLE) in 1994, it was President Bill Clinton who
traveled to the country in 1998 to offer apology for the failure of the
international community to do anything to prevent it. It was Clinton who
signed the African growth and opportunity act in 2000 which increased aid
trade between the U.S. Sub-Saharan, Africa. In 2002, President George W.
Bush began his initiative to combat AIDS in Africa.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, I announced
that my administration plans to make $500 million available to prevent
mother to child transmission of HIV. This new effort which will be funded
over the next 16 months will allow us to treat one million women annually
and reduce mother to child transmission by 40 percent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Bush furthered that initiative in his 2003 state of the
union address when he proposed the president emergency plan for AIDS relief
who are pet far which committed $15 billion over five years to fight the
disease in the nation`s most afflicted in Africa and Caribbean. President
Bush is so committed in Africa that he and his wife are there now in Zambia
promoting their cancer fighting initiative.
So, while some may argue that President Obama leads U.S. not Africa, this
trips signals that even he knows he must do more. And in fact, later today
he will do just that with multi-billion dollar initiative to double Sub-
Saharan, Africa access to electricity within a decade.
Back at the table are Charlayne Hunter-Gult and Mark Quarterman. Joining
me now are also Khalil Gibran Muhammad, director of the Schomburg center
for research and black culture and author of "the condemnation of
blackness," and also Gordon Chang, columnist at Forbes.com and the author
of "the coming collapse of China."
Nice to have you all join the table.
Khalil, I want to ask about this. Ron Allen suggested earlier that there
are some anxiety about President Obama`s inspiration and yet also feeling
been, there hasn`t been enough. And his immediate predecessors, both
Clinton and Bush, had this, at least, apparently better records. Is the
president there to shore up his legacy on the cont then?
KHALIL GIBRAN MUHAMMAD, DIRECTOR, THE SCHOMBURG CENTER FOR RESEARCH AND
BLACK CULTURE: I think so. Part of this is explained as a check the box
tour. Meaning that two trips seems to be a quota for the past couple of
presidencies and the president is running out of time. This is also a
moment, I mean, we are in the midst of these recent decisions by the
Supreme Court. But the opportunity, I think, for him to make a mark is
now. He`s taking advantage of that opportunity. And to the extent that
this will not transform anything on the continent is certainly the question
of the hour. But there`s no question that for him this had to happen.
HARRIS-PERRY: Gordon, I wonder, part of, you know, when I say the legacy
seems to be better for Clinton and George W. Bush, they also had a
relationship with the continent that was charitable, for the most part or
was about the foreign policy questions around genocide. Does this
president have the opportunity to enter into something quite different than
we ever had with the continent which is a sense of Africa as a partner, an
equal partner in economic relationships.
GORDON CHANG, COLUMNIST, FORBES.COM: I think that`s very important because
what we see with President Obama is, of course, the inspirational figure.
But also he is giving space to Africa to develop on its own. He`s talked
about that. This is really important because this is not the developed
world, the United States or China helping Africa. This is Africa building
itself. And that`s been Obama`s view. And I think that is important. You
know, with his power and initiative, what it does is creates the
infrastructure for Africa to take advantage of the freedom that Mandela
really brought to the continent.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. And it seems to me that part of what is also happening
here in the U.S. in terms of our own policy, this week on Friday, we had
the immigration reform pass the Senate but not probably going to die in the
house, we always talk about immigration reform as those from South America
and Central America, but what about the question of African immigration to
the U.S. which also seems to be deeply part of that public policy? So, if
we are thinking about partnership, it is not going to be just goods and
services. It is also going to be people moving back and forth across these
MUHAMMAD: Well, to that point I want to say that so Harlem is one of the
largest legalese communities he care in the United States. So there, it is
an interesting moments to think about the president`s relationship both to
black communities in general in the United States as well as his connection
to those African immigrant communities here in the United States. And
there is a little bit of difference between the visit Senegal and the lack
of president in a Senegalese community here in the United States. This, I
think, is a reflection of the lateness to the party that the president is
because you would think there would be a natural connection. I mean,
President (INAUDIBLE) visited Harlem from Senegal before the recent
election at the center in Schomburg center in Harlem to great ceremony just
a couple years ago. So, you have to sort of think about how he`s not
really taken advantage of six years of his presidency in cultivating a more
HARRIS-PERRY: With those African communities in the U.S.
Charlayne, I want to ask also about why these particular countries, so, the
president is there in South Africa. I think that we talked a little bit
about why that connection. He went to Senegal. But yet, he`s not going
anywhere east. You know, obviously, it`s an enormous continent. There are
many. I`m wondering why these countries and not others on this trip.
HUNTER-GAULT: Well, for one thing in the east, there`s a problem in Kenya.
HUNTER-GAULT: The international criminal court has indicted the new
president of Kenya, Mr. Kenyatta. And although that probably is going to
go away, I think that would have been very difficult. And I think that
unlike what Hillary Clinton did, you know, here, here, here, you know, she
was in did (INAUDIBLE) as she traveled around, I think it limits. And
their challenges here in this country. And I think a lot of Africans
understand the pre-occupation at the president has had and it sort of
relates to one of the things that Mr. Mohammed was talking about because a
lot of these African in the United States send money home to their people.
And I`m told that in the last few years given the economy downturns here
and around the world, that those contributions have been getting less and
But, a critical thing, and this goes back to this U.S.-Africa, China-Africa
thing. I think one of the things that has been a problem for the United
States is this in assistance on human rights. And the one thing that I
think President Obama did in Senegal very publicly was to affirm the rights
of gay and lesbian people right there with the president of Senegal who had
to say, well, we don`t go for that. But, I think it is really important
for a country that does have in its constitution all these guarantees, even
though they aren`t always met in their own country to articulate those for
these young struggling democracies that are trying to find their mature
feet. Right now they are doing baby steps.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, at this point is exactly what where we will go.
Thank you so much for joining us, Charlayne.
And when we come back, what I want to talk about, the other folks who have,
in fact, been traveling extensively on the continent and the different
kinds of messages, for example, around human rights.
This morning also we are seeing pictures of President Obama touring the
Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprison for so many years.
Up next, we will talk about the president in Africa. But also, how his
focus is on China.
We are going to explain when we get back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I`m here in Africa because I think the United States needs to
engage in a continent full of promise and possibility. I think it`s good
for the United States, regardless of what others do. I actually welcome
the attention take Africa is receiving from countries like China and Brazil
and India and Turkey.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was President Obama Saturday in South Africa responding
to a question about China`s economic involvement in Africa, and whether the
United States feels threatened by it. According to Africa research
Institute, China is not only Africa`s leading bilateral trade partner, but
increased its investment in the continent by 30 fold between 2003 and 2011.
Looks likes the U.S. has a lot of catching up to do.
Joining out table now is Amy Goodman, host and executive producer of
Gordon, my first question for you is, look, the president Jinping, first
place he goes is Africa. He travels all over the continent. Is that why
we are there as a country now.
CHANG: I think that`s part of it. But also because, you know, you see the
United States has long-standing themes in Asia and in Africa. And they
really have very little to do with China. So, President Obama was going to
make this trip. He was going to visit the democracies regardless whether
the Chinese were there. But obviously, there is an economic impact to this
because the Chinese has been out investing and out trading us in Africa.
When you look at the numbers, you know, China`s trade with Africa last year
was about $200 billion. Ours was a little under $100 billion. That is
just stunning numbers. I don`t think this is sustainable. But
nonetheless, this is --
HARRIS-PERRY: China`s relationship is not sustainable or ours isn`t.
CHANG: The China`s relationship is not sustainable for any number of
different reasons. You know, Xi Jinping went there in March he was on the
offensive because had to rebut charges of neo-colonialism. Because Chinese
have been basically extracting raw materials from Africa and selling in
manufactured goods. And what`s even worse is you have a lot of Chinese
workers in Africa doing jobs that really should be done by African workers.
HARRIS-PERRY: And that question of neo-colonialism and whether or not the
mineral extraction actually benefits Africa, I mean, that is now a
centuries old question and it is different nation`s playing this role. So,
when we look at the question of China and its investment, is it an
investment policy or is it a neo-colonial policy?
QUARTERMAN: I think it`s relative of neo-colonial period in the late 19th
century, early 20th century. The resource extraction, the refining of
those resources elsewhere and selling back of manufactured goods doesn`t
necessarily help the African economies as much as they should. We`re also
seeing, too, that the resource curse that many African countries have
fallen prey to, having large amounts of incredibly natural resources has
helped to fuel continents -- I should say conflicts across the continent in
eastern Congo, in Sudan. And you see China and other countries that are
interested in extracting those resources not necessarily helping to end the
conflicts but helping fuel the conflicts by their incredible need, demand
for these services.
HARRIS-PERRY: And that point feels important to me and one that it often
misaiming in the sort of public discourse around what Africa is. I think
we can think of it as this dark continent with whom we have no particular
relationship. And when we do see civil wars, when we do see genocides,
almost all this described as ancient, and as tribal rather than related to
things that are occurring largely as a result of our own economic policies.
I wonder as the U.S. clearly seems to be positioning itself as a challenger
to China economically is it attempting to offer human rights or democracy
platform that is different than what China brings?
AMY GOODMAN, HOST, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, DEMOCRACY NOW: Well, I mean, this
is a critical opponent you raise about wars being considered tribal versus
wars for resources. For example, the Democratic Republic of Congo, which
is such a resource rich country, so many millions of people have died. But
what the United States brings to Africa sadly right now on the one hand,
you know, extracting resources perhaps not quite as much as China but very
seriously there with its oil companies and human rights are not the focus
of these oil companies, spend time in Niger delta looking at corporations
like Shell, looking at corporations like Chevron. You know, it`s about
drilling and killing sadly enough. Then the host communities do not
benefit very much. But you also have to look at what President Obama is
not talking about but which is very much a presence of United States and
Africa, that`s it`s militarism, Africom (ph), you know, the drone attacks
taking place in Yemen and Somalia, these are very serious.
HARRIS-PERRY: Those drones take off from African nations.
GOODMAN: Right. But they are the United States. And the U.S. relies on
these African nations to provide the militaristic base. And if this is the
way the United States wants to be seen in Africa as being a source of
militarism on the content, that is why the U.S. has had such a serious
present there and it is growing.
HARRIS-PERRY: More on these topics as soon as we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re back and talking about the complicated economic and
political relationships between China, U.S. and continent of Africa. I
want to let you in on this Khalil.
MUHAMMAD: So, the University of Johannesburg will be giving the president
an honorary doctorate soon. And it has elicited a storm of protests in and
around Johannesburg because young people, students feel that the president
is undeserving of such an honor in the wake of what they describe as U.S.
imperialism. And they are citing precisely the president of Africom and
(INAUDIBLE) that Amy talked about as the reason for calling into question
the priorities of a president who is essentially using Africa as a platform
to wage U.S. interest in the Middle East.
HARRIS-PERRY: And have these students also had similar either discourse or
action over and against the relationship of China on the continent? I`m
just sort of wondering if in fact the U.S. and China are seen as
differently by the students?
MUHAMMAD: Well, in this most recent round of protests, I`m not aware of
that. But there are in Ghana, recent attacks on Chinese miners as a
response to the exploitive nature as they see it of the presence of Chinese
coming and taking their natural resources away from them.
CHANG: And President Obama did talk during his trip in Africa about the
nature of the relationship between the continent and countries investing in
it and said it needs to be more sustainable. You can`t have relationships
where countries come in and take out raw materials.
And I think that`s very important. Because he said you need to bargain
better with foreign countries that are doing business in Africa. And I
think that`s absolutely tension. He is talking about equal relationship.
And I know that it`s very hard to get there but at least we`re getting to a
point where we can have those conversations and where we can actually start
to implement them.
And his power initiative, I think, is very important because it does create
that infrastructure that Africa needs for its economic takeoff. And
really, what we`re seeing, five to ten of the world`s fastest growing
economies are in Africa. You ad Libya, that`s six. So, this is really the
HARRIS-PERRY: So let me ask then. What incentives and what is in the
structure other than the kind of moral or ethical discourse exist for
generating a more fair and human rights and democratic way of doing
business both for us and the country of China. Because it`s one thing to
say it should be that way. It`s another thing to say here are the market
incentives or geopolitical incentives to make it happen.
GOODMAN: Well, I mean, I think the discourse is coming from people on the
ground. It is not coming from the leaders, and people pushing very hard.
I was recently in Durbin for the climate change talks. I know we`ll talk
about climate change later. But the thousands of young people there
gathered around the world deeply concern about the land grab. And that`s
an issue in China, and Africa, the buying up of one Saudi Arabia buying up
large tracts of ld so they will provide for their people. Corporations
using this and leasing the land because Africa is poor.
And we also have to change our whole view of Africa. It doesn`t owe a debt
to the west, we owe a debt to it. And we simply got our cell phones where
does call pen come from in a cell phone. So many of these resources, we
have to look back.
You know, Obama was at Gory (ph) Island, the Obama family, of course, and
that is so deeply meaningful where the Africans were enslaved and sent on
middle passage across to the United States as slaves. He didn`t talk about
reparations. But we do have to talk about reparations when it comes to
Africa, what we owe to Africa for our civilization.
QUARTERMAN: I think we also need to unpack, when talk about how fast the
African continent is growing economically and how certain African economies
are growing so fast. We need to understand that so much of that is based
on resource exploitation, though, extraction and not necessarily on the
sort of economic development and wealth creation that would spread the
wealth among people.
Also because of the nature of so many African regions. The countries that
President Obama chose to visit was a very selective, carefully selected
group. Senegal which had recently had a successful presidential election
is not an economic powerhouse for west Africa. Nigeria would have been
difficult to visit. South Africa, Nelson Mandela, the legacy of apartheid.
Tanzania, next to Kenya. Kenya is the economic engine for East Africa is
going to tense here because they recently had an election, too. I mean,
that`s important. It is extremely important.
GOODMAN: And interesting because his father is from Kenya.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Precisely. There are feels like there`s this kind
of biographic reason to head there.
Thank you all for giving us some insight on this. We are going to talk a
little bit more about a country who didn`t go to Nigeria as we Shift our
focus just a little bit. Because I want to talk about environmental speech
he gave but no one heard this week because of the language of the Supreme
Court this week.
I also want to say thank you to Gordon Chang, the rest are all back later
in the show. And we are going to talk about the biggest news on the planet
you may not have heard anything about.
HARRIS-PERRY: The day before the president went to Africa, he gave a major
climate speech laying out the things he plans to do to reduce greenhouse
gas emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change without any help
from the no account Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: As a president, as a father, and as an American I`m here to say we
need to act. I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to
a planet that`s beyond fixing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s the centerpiece of this strategy, President Obama is
directing the Environmental Protection Agency to create new regulations
restricting carbon from existing power plants. Power plants are the
largest source of carbon emissions in the U.S. And as of yet, there are no
federal standard limiting those emissions. It was a major speech. But, we
don`t blame you if you didn`t hear anything about it. Because President
Obama gave the address in the middle of an extremely busy Newsweek and with
Joining our table are Josh Fox, the director of the documentary "gas land"
and the upcoming "gas land 2" and Danielle Moodie-Mills, an adviser at the
center for American progress and former director of education advocacy for
national wildlife federation.
Josh, I want to start with you. What is up with giving this speech at this
JOSH FOX, DIRECTOR, GAS LAND: Well, I`m not sure about the timing of it.
I mean, certainly, it`s welcome to see President Obama with all his powers
of oration to find the number one problem facing humanity on the plane
versus climate change.
HARRIS-PERRY: It is the planet.
FOX: Well, yes, and it has to be addressed as a planetary scale, not just
as one nation and now talk about that. But, what`s so disturbing to me is
that this plan is an advocacy for fracked gas all over the United States
and indeed all over the world. And if you actually look at what -- it is
not just carbon emission dioxide emission which is planet book is on, but
all green house gases.
And methane, a natural gas is 105 times more potent to warming the
atmosphere than CO2 is in the 20-year time frame. And we know now that
looking at field studies we have huge rates of leakage of methane coming
from all the drilling going directly into the atmosphere which means
natural gas and frack gas, the bulwark of this plan is worse than coal to
exploit. So, when we`re talking about actual solutions, this is the
completely wrong plan.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, you see, this is the plan that just about substituting
and that the substitution doesn`t necessarily move us on the fundamental
question of climate change.
FOX: Well, there were some good things you said about renewable and there
are some good things you said about efficiency. But really, this is about
frack in the United States, export fracking technology to the rest of the
world and transition from coal to gas. We need to transition from coal and
gas to renewable energy. And we know that the president has met many times
with the natural gas industry. What we`d like to advocate is for him to
meet with some of the family that are at the receiving end all over
America. This exploitation and with the scientist who will say to him,
first of all, these wells are failing and contaminating aquifers. And that
actually, if you look at the science frack gas is worse or on par with
coal, depending on the timeframe you`re looking at.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Daniel, Josh, started by saying that this is the single
biggest issue facing humanity on the planet. But when we ask Americans
sort of how they perceive climate change, they put it below the nuclear
program in North Korea, below extremist threat, below Iran`s nuclear firm.
All things that may, you know, I mean, I don`t know, I guess problematic
but pretty unlikely to happen versus something that`s occurring. How do
you think about how we actually move this up as an agenda item?
DANIELLE MOODIE-MILLS, ADVISER, THE CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: The
issue is we don`t actually educate the public and this is something that I
constantly saying. What the president did I terms of introducing this
speech and plan in the busiest week. This must have been the busiest week
ever. If people don`t understand it and are not aware of what`s going on,
then how can they be involved in changing it. And education has a big
piece in that. How do we talk to the public about the issue, about climate
change and why it`s important. And why if something bad, as Josh has said
when we were talking earlier, we don`t have 20 years to wait, for the rest
of the world to catch up like they did this week in terms of marriage
equality. It`s imminent, happening now. You have superstorm Sandy that is
happening now. And they are more and more frequent. But people are not
getting the connection between those issues.
And so, education of the public in our schools, which you know, the
conservatives don`t really want us to educate kids about what`s happening
because we are going to pretend it as an insult.
Forget about that science thing. That`s silly. But, I mean, these are
real issues and kind of dropping this in the middle of a week that where no
one knows that it happened. That`s part of the problem that we are having.
HARRIS-PERRY: Give me 90 seconds, I promise we are going to right back
because I want to bring Amy and Mark into this conversation because it is a
global issue, it was an American president that spoke, but we had the
global issue as soon as we get back.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re back and talking about the thing no one seems to be
talking about this week and that`s the earth.
I wanted to, you know, one of the things President Obama mentioned in the
speech was the Keystone pipeline. Not a lot of talk about it but a quick
mention, and I kept thinking as we were talking about Africa, no place has
more experience with human rights and environmental degradation issues than
Nigeria when it comes to pipelines.
GOODMAN: Well, one quick thing, on the issue of education, I just want to
say the media plays a key role. As long as networks keep flashing the word
climate change -- keep flashing extreme weather and severe weather, they
should be flashing another two words and they are climate change. The
minute the networks do that and meteorologists start talking pout that in
those constant weather reports, which we need constant weather reports, I
think the whole country will change because the whole country cared about
superstorm Sandy, tornadoes in Oklahoma. Right now Salt Lake City, Las
Vegas record heat. We are all dealing with it, not just Sub-Saharan Africa
or the island nations, and even in those cases it matters. And that`s for
Nigeria, having spent time there and doing a documentary there. How often
a pipeline there would be a leak and the immediate response of corporation,
the vandals, those that are trying to break in to these pipelines to get
I can see something like this happening in the United States. It`s never
their fault, corporations. But Keystone XL pipeline is absolutely a
critical issue. And again, as you focus so much on grassroots movement, it
is a grassroots movement who have brought it to this point. The fact that
the state department did the first report to say it would not affect
climate change, and it turns out that the person, the consultant doing the
report, do his paying member of the American petroleum institute, the EPA
even saying the state department`s report was wrong. This is extremely
significant. The fact that well over 1,000 people have been arrested
outside of the White House saying no to Keystone XL. That`s why we`re even
at this point because President Obama was ready to do this more than a year
ago. At even vice president Biden said, he was talking to Sea-Earth (ph)
club member and he said, I`m the only one in the White House who is
actually against this.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. And the pressure is always about economics versus
earth. The discourse is always somehow jobs versus saving the earth.
QUARTERMAN: And that was exactly the point I was going to make, too, that
we were talking about how so much of Africa`s economic growth and all the
superlatives people are using about Africa`s economic growth is based on
unsustainable natural resource extraction. And now, we`re building our
clawing out of economic crisis in the United States on the backs of fossil
FOX: And this is not economic development, it is not sustainable, it`s a
fire sale. It`s basically going in, talk to crying communities, I mean,
this is the story of Africans, this is story of South Africa and now this
is happening all across America.
But to Amy`s points when you have millions of people in 34 states right now
being invade by natural gas industry, you`re seeing awareness rise in
unexpected places on climate change. I mean, I know that when I`m out
there, I`m watching tea party activists where, Marcellus patriots for land
rights, where there on the land rights is you working hand and hand with
tree huggers who were talking about the environment, and all of the sudden,
here in central Pennsylvania, in central Colorado, you`ve got a
conversation about climate change. But we watch Sandy, MTV, Atlantic
ocean, and to New York city subway system, we are talking about climate
change. When we were in Colorado Springs, conservative Colorado Springs,
you`ve got the worst wildfires in history. I think that what we`re talking
about here is a frontline community that`s expanding and expanding and
HARRIS-PERRY: So finally, that environmental justice organizing movement
actually becomes the voice of the climate change.
I hate to do this, but they are screaming at me. Thank you to Josh Fox and
to Mark Quarterman. Amy and Danielle are going to stay with us for more
because it is a two-hour show, but if I don`t pay for the first hour, we
can`t do it the second one.
So, coming up next, who was really on trial really in Florida this week?
There is more Nerdland at the top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
You know, when we have these big deal, fully televised courtroom trial
events, it tends to be a witness who surprisingly steals the spotlight.
Perhaps they become important to the case or not. But not matter what,
they become a main player, kind of emblematic of the case in the public
Remember Kato Kaelin testifying in the O.J. Simpson murder trial and earned
him his 15 minutes of pop culture fame. He became a thing regardless of
his importance to the prosecution.
Ex-roommate of Casey Anthony who was famously accused of murdering her
young daughter Caylee became well-known for what they said in court than
out. One gave a tell-all interview and garnered some notoriety for herself
in the process.
That brings us to the first week of the trial of George Zimmerman who has
pled not guilty to second degree murder charges in the death of 17-year-old
Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman says he shot and killed Martin in self-defense
in February of last year. The key witness for the prosecution, 19-year-old
Rachel Jeantel, is a high school senior who has been described sometimes as
This week, she testified for several hours over two separate days giving
searing details of her friend`s final moments as she heard them over a
cellular connection. But judging by what we read and heard in the teenager
witness, all forms of media, especially social media last week, her most
indelible impact on the trial may be in exposing how judgmental all of us
Critics, largely depending on their own cultural background may have either
been snarking on Jeantel`s speech patterns, appearance, and weight. Some
were acting as if she were somehow insufficiently reputable, embarrassing
us, shaming the race.
And then there was George Zimmerman`s defense attorney Don West and his
daughter Molly who posted this Instagram photo this afternoon with her dad
and with her dad and another sister celebrating long-standing tradition of
eating ice cream after he goes to court. Below the picture is a caption,
we beat stupidity, celebration cones. Next to #Zimmerman, #defense,
Don West spokesman later responded by saying the photo stands against
everything we stand for and the way things we have conducted ourselves for
over the year. His daughter`s account was later deleted. We see it
because, of course, the Internet is forever.
Speaking of lasting impressions, we must grasp how we say about and what we
do about Rachel Jeantel reverberates especially considering all she has
been through lately.
Remember, this is a teenager girl whose unarmed friend was killed while she
was on the phone with him. How is it the first instinct of so many of us
is to mock her or be worried how she represents to others? As the post
published yesterday on the NPR`s blog said, "What we see in Rachel Jeantel
says more about us as individuals than as members of a group and certainly
more than Jeantel herself.
Joining me now are MSNBC reporter Trymaine Lee, who`s been covering the
case and trial since the beginning. Also back with me are Daniele Moodie-
Mills from the Center for American Progress, Khalil Muhammad, author of
"Condemnation of Blackness", and Amy Goodman, of Democracy Now.
How are we to take how we`re responding to this young woman`s testimony?
TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC.COM: We talk so often about how black bodies are
criminalized and black people are criminalized, and in this case, by proxy,
seeing a whole class criminalized by her addiction and her grammar. But
beyond the implication just in the courtroom and how the joy you`ll receive
all we`ve heard, outside of the courtroom, as we see the speed the lynch
mob assembled, what happens when you have confrontations in communities, in
streets, job interviews, stop and frisk in some communities? How do we
react and how people see us just by the nature of who we are?
HARRIS-PERRY: This issue of how we`re seen -- it`s been a little painful
to watch our public reaction to Rachel Jeantel. In my book, "Sister
Citizen," I talk about it as the crooked room, all of these negative myths
about who black women are that impact how others can see us, what sort of
category they put us in.
So, we saw, for example, Lolo Jones tweeting something about Rachel Jeantel
being the Madea goes to court. There it is, "Rachel Jeantel looked so
irritated during the cross-examination that I burned it on a CD and I`m
going to sell it as `Made Goes to Court`".
Really, she`s a teenager girl who lost her friend.
MOODIE-MILLS: This is what`s so disturbing about this entire thing. You
know, what I`ve realized is that we have a way in society of meaning black
people`s tragedy, right? So, you can look at the Antoine Dodson and the
Sweet Browns and we turn, we cut their tragedy, whether their homes are
being burned down, whether their sisters are being raped and they run to
their aid, we cut them down and put these videos up maiming them and using
their tragedy for our entertainment.
That`s exactly what has been happening to Rachel, is that we are watching
this show, right, as if it is a movie, right? We`re watching it like "Law
& Order" and "CSI" and all these things and we`re saying, oh, this is my
This is a young girl who lost her best friend while she was on the phone
with him and didn`t go to a funeral. They twist that into a lie they told.
I don`t know how many 19 years old would be able to go into a funeral and
see their friend lying in a coffin with their friend they were just on the
HARRIS-PERRY: It feels to me that part of the reason that we mean it is
because we are so proud by what we see in popular culture, for an
expectation certain kinds of bodies will experience certain sort of things.
An overweight dark skinned black woman`s friend being dead, isn`t that what
she expected out of life? Since those are the stories we tell, we think
that is the story she expects to live.
MUHAMMAD: There`s also a deeper historical problem here. First of all,
this is a case where it`s clear we are not as far along the post-civil
rights yellow brick road as we think we are.
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, lots of evidence of that this week.
MUHAMMAD: A kind of fantastic Oz that is going to reveal there`s a lot of
work to do.
GOODMAN: I hope Supreme Court justices are listening.
MUHAMMAD: When we think about this historically, what we really see here
is a generational moment for millennials to be on the national stage in the
Zimmerman trial that I see as analogous to for my generation what Rodney
King and O.J. Simpson trial was.
In each of these cases we see that poverty becomes the basis for being
disqualified for one`s full democratic rights and one`s full humanity. And
if we go even deeper, we look at the Scottsboro boy case, we look at these
13 years olds or 21 years olds who are railroaded into one of the greatest
injustices in history. And guess who was participating in that? Not just
Lolo Jones today but NAACP, standard bearer middle class turned their back
on those boys, too complicated, poor, share croppers` children. We can`t
entirely buy their story.
And, finally, Claudette Colvin case.
MUHAMMAD: In the Claudette Colvin`s case, here she is at the moment of
challenging segregation in Montgomery and yet because she`s poor, because
she`s dark skinned --
HARRIS-PERRY: She`s pregnant and unmarried.
MUHAMMAD: She`s later pregnant as it turns. Jean Harris (ph) pointed out
in her new book, it wasn`t the pregnancy at the time. It was the fact she
wasn`t a proper poster girl for representing a black middle class movement
at the moment.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, it`s interesting because when you say poverty not just
resource deprivation, it`s a very sort of, when you said millennials,
right, it`s the presentation of the self that middle class black civil
rights movements have long defined as outside the boundaries of what we
want to call the reputable movement of civil rights. But I want to ask you
this in part, Amy, as a very serious question in the context of sort of who
is on trial.
I have to tread carefully here because NBC Universal in continuing legal
battles with the Zimmerman defense on this. But it does seem like part of
what hinges here in this case is whether or not Trayvon Martin, in fact,
hit George Zimmerman and whether or not he did so first. And there`s
images now of Mr. Zimmerman injured. We know there clearly was some kind
of physical altercation.
But why -- why is it that if this person hit someone who was prepared to
use lethal force against him. And we know because he is dead, there was a
person prepared to use legal force against him.
GOODMAN: Had a gun.
HARRIS-PERRY: Why wouldn`t he have a right to stand his ground? Is that
not racialized? Is there something in the law I`m missing here?
GOODMAN: I think in the law the issue of who was the first aggressor, who
was like moving in on him. Clearly, Rachel lays this out over and over on
this phone call. He`s watching me. He`s following me.
Once he starts following him and moves up on him, that is the first most
threatening part of this. I also wanted to say something else about
Think about this young woman in this courtroom, on one side she sees the
man who admittedly killed her best friend, George Zimmerman, and on the
other side his parents. I felt eloquently, she felt so guilty when she
learned she was the last person to speak to their son -- she didn`t know
that at the time.
When they said, why didn`t you call the police? Remember, the phone just
went dead. She didn`t know what had taken place. And to see his parents,
this causes her so much pain. It was also part of why she didn`t go to the
funeral, to see Trayvon lying there and to see his parents.
She didn`t intend to be that person who was the last one who would speak to
their beloved son. I mean, her testimony was riveting throughout -- the
honesty, the authenticity. And one of the most revealing moments was when
attorney West said to her, why didn`t you call the police? Why didn`t you
call the police?
And I thought, think about saying that to so many African-American men and
HARRIS-PERRY: For whom the police aren`t your friend. Yes.
GOODMAN: Why didn`t you call police?
HARRIS-PERRY: Stay right there. Up next, we`re also going to talk to the
attorney for Trayvon Martin`s parents. What kind of week has this been for
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON WEST, ZIMMERMAN DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Knock knock. Who`s there? George
Zimmerman. George Zimmerman, who? All right, good. You`re on the jury.
Nothing? That`s funny.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That knock-knock joke was part of the opening statements at
George Zimmerman`s defense offered on Monday. Trayvon Martin`s parents
sitting in the courtroom.
Joining me now from Sanford, Florida, is Daryl Parks, attorney for Trayvon
Thank you for joining us, Mr. Parks.
DARYL PARKS, MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: Good afternoon.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, we`ve been talking about the case a bit here. How do
you think it went this week?
PARKS: I think it was a strong week. I think we started off with some
witnesses who clearly put George Zimmerman on top of Trayvon. We heard
from a very strong Rachel Jeantel, who was very authentic, came across as
believable and told us the way it was.
And so, now, it`s rather clear that, one, we knew Trayvon was fearful. He
described the gentleman as creepy. We realized George Zimmerman followed
him. He tried to get away. And George Zimmerman continued to come after
him after the dispatcher told him not to.
So, that`s been powerful testimony. Probably most importantly, though,
they promised in opening statement they were going to prove that Trayvon
used concrete to try to kill and do damage to George Zimmerman. Now we
know there`s no blood on the concrete whatsoever. They have attempted to
try and play up the injuries George Zimmerman had.
We now know the two gashes, one was 0.5 centimeters and one was 2
centimeters. The serious bodily injured and life threatening injury h
claimed, although you do see blood, is not there. And so, we feel very,
very encouraged what we`ve seen so far in the case here in Sanford.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let me ask you, what we`ve seen at the table here at the
break, to what extent did Trayvon Martin have a right to defend himself
against someone following him, who was armed, and who clearly had the
willingness to use lethal force against him. It keeps feeling to me as
I`ve been watching as though this whole thing turns on whether or not
Trayvon Martin threw a punch, whether he was in a physical altercation with
But does he not have a right to self-defense in this situation?
PARKS: He has every right. First of all, Trayvon was walking. George
Zimmerman was in a truck. George Zimmerman had to stop his truck, get out
of his truck, walk behind Trayvon. Now you may remember initially he said
he was going to look for a number, to find out what address. Somehow he
ends up far behind the town houses.
We believe that he was going after Trayvon trying to find Trayvon.
Ultimately, he found Trayvon. Trayvon asked him, why are you following me?
George Zimmerman asked him, what are you doing here?
And so, Trayvon had every right to be there. He was visiting his father`s
fiancee there in that complex. So he had the right to be there without
question. And he didn`t know this guy.
So, if a child sees a guy that he doesn`t know, he has every right to be
fearful and every right to protect himself in that situation, especially
given the fact that George Zimmerman had a gun.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Mr. Parks, I want to come out to my panel for a
second. I want to ask, I think a point made earlier, millennials, where
courtroom drama positions where black folks are in the country, what is the
state of our citizenship.
What do you think happens if this case ends, this trial ends, and Mr.
Zimmerman is, in fact, not found guilty?
LEE: I think trickling down from the generation that witnessed so many
racial hurts and stings, what will resonate with young people is have we
not arrived yet. We are living in this largely integrated society. You
know, white kids and black kids going to school together. They`re on
Facebook together, they`re sharing. Are we not there yet, are we not equal
yet. And I think there`s an assumption.
Young people, it`s a balance. Goldsboro, talking to young people who feel
like if this doesn`t go down, what does that say to me and could I be next?
Not just for George Zimmerman but my own, what happens to them.
HARRIS-PERRY: When we`re talking about Rachel Jeantel, that -- talking
about Rachel Jeantel, that authenticity, I just felt her. Is there a way
Trayvon Martin is this generation, representative for them?
MUHAMMAD: I think absolutely. There hasn`t been a case as cut and dry on
the racial divide as this, what it means for the future of being young and
black in America.
I also want to connect it back to something we said earlier, we talked
about Mandela`s history. If you recall, the laws passed in the late 1950s
that gave birth to the student protest movements that led to the
Sharpeville riot in 1960 which launched Mandela on his way to being this
activist who had been a lawyer.
GOODMAN: And following up on movements, whatever happens in this trial,
the fact that this case is on trial, the murder of Trayvon Martin is in a
courtroom now is a result of movements. Do not forget, he was killed on
February 26th. The special prosecutor was appointed March 11th. George
Zimmerman was not arrested, March 22nd.
April 11th was when the special prosecutor said, don`t think this is
because of movements. This is because I have found the facts. I think
that`s true. What was because of movements because the fact she was
deciding this point.
HARRIS-PERRY: The public attention.
GOODMAN: Because there was such mass protest. The media didn`t pick this
up for a while. You did, Melissa, very early on.
HARRIS-PERRY: Reverend Sharpton.
GOODMAN: Someday soon, you`ll know this young man`s name.
GOODIE-MILLS: The reality is, though, what`s really important is the idea
black people seem to constantly be visiting, right? There is never an idea
we actually belong in a neighborhood where we are unless it is a low in
come, urban area.
And like you said earlier, things like this happen to those type of people,
right? It`s the idea we are perpetually visiting wherever we are, wherever
we are not in the majority. And that -- if this trial does not go in the
way where I hope that it goes, then how does that sink into the culture of
young people of millenials, right, that they are constantly not wanted,
just visitors here.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let me finish up with you, because we`ve been talking a lot
about the impact of Trayvon Martin of Rachel Jeantel on young people. But,
of course, I`m also, always as a parent, thinking about Trayvon Martin`s
parents. How are they holding up this time? This must have been a tough
week for them?
PARKS: It was a very tough week for them, because you remember, a lot of
the evidence is reputation. They have seen and had to hear the gunshot
time and time again. They have seen and had to see his body laying on the
ground, including the one you saw his dad had to leave the courtroom,
showed his face.
Every time they do it, it`s another experience for them. They are enduring
and trying to hold strong. Obviously, it`s very tough. They are very
committed to seeing this through all the way.
HARRIS-PERRY: Attorney Parks, thank you so much. Of course, we will all
be riveted watching to see what happens next. Also thank you, you`re one
of the people out there very early on on this question. Danielle Moodie-
Mills and Amy Goodman, Khalil is staying with us.
Up next, New York`s mayor said too many white folks are being stopped and
frisked. Shake it off, folks. Wow, seriously?
HARRIS-PERRY: And now for that time in our show where we just say, wow,
Now, if you joined us last week, you`ll remember we dedicated our entirely
wow, seriously segment to Paula Deen. This week, we are back to our normal
format but I still have though start with Paula or more specifically Paula
Deen`s fans. Deen`s empire has taken some serous hits since she admitted
to using racial slurs and planning an antebellum wedding.
She`s been dropped by JCPenney, Sears, Kmart, Caesars Casinos, Home Depot,
Target, Walmart, QVC, and Food Network. Oh, yeah, also the diabetes
drugmaker, Nova Nordisk.
But in some corners, her popularity has surged. Her latest cookbook
entitled "Paula Deen`s New Testament", yes, it shot up to number one in the
Amazon`s best seller list -- well before her publisher dropped it, that is.
May I offer, instead, the Ron Paul family cookbook? No.
OK. And the Paula Deen cruise is going on as planned with an outpouring of
support of the cruise, which has been going on for years consists of Deen
and 500 paying guests attending events like cooking demos and the Deen
family Olympics while sailing around the Caribbean with stops in places
like Jamaica and Haiti.
A spokesman for the cruise organizer described the guests to the
"Huffington Post" saying, quote, we have a group of gay people who go on,
there are people in their 90s, black, white, I mean, everything. Everyone
enjoys it. Wow, seriously?
Now, in Texas, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, Republican president of
the Senate said Friday he was planning to investigate and maybe arrest
members of the news media for inciting a riot during Wendy Davis`s
filibuster of a bill aiming to restrict legal abortion in the state.
First of all, what riot? You mean the big group of people exercising their
constitutional right to protest. Those protesters were mad as hell on
Oh, yes, what media? I mean, yes, there were Texas reporters doing the
tough on the ground reporting work, but it was far from some kind of
national liberal media zoo. We, the national media, weren`t even there
during the final hour. MSNBC sure didn`t follow it live and neither did
CNN or FOX.
So I don`t know what kind of inciting the media could have been doing.
Neither does Dewhurst apparently. Her staff quickly announced upon review
the media behaved itself during the debate.
So, lessons learned by the Texas governor, don`t mess with the Texas press.
And, finally, a local story. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pushed
back against critics who say they pushed against policies that discriminate
against black and Latino men. He said, and I quote, "I think we
disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little". What?
Are you serious?
According to numbers from the mayor`s office, 87 percent of people stopped
and frisked in 2012 were black and Latino, 9 percent were white. And
that`s disproportionately too many whites? Forty-four percent of New York
residents are white.
But the mayor says it makes sense to stop more black and Latino people
because according to his office 90 percent of murder suspects in 2012 were
black or Latino. He said of his critics, "I don`t know whether they went
to school but they certainly didn`t take a math course or logic course."
Well, all I can say is wow. It`s a good thing you`re not running for mayor
again, Mr. Bloomberg. Seriously.
Up next, we`re counting down to the Essence Festival in New Orleans with a
closer look at a surprising health care crisis in my home city.
HARRIS-PERRY: So let`s start with the good news. Next weekend, MSNBC is
packing up and taking its shows on the road to join in the fun at the 2013
Essence Festival. The four-day celebration of music and culture is put on
every year by a leading lifestyle publication for African-American women,
This year favorite MSNBC hosts, including yours truly, will be broadcasting
live from the convention center in, wait for it, my hometown of New
Orleans, Louisiana. That`s right. Nerdland to NOLA. I`m so excited to
welcome you to my beloved city next weekend.
But here is the bad news: I want to turn to an infamous aspect which you
are familiar, the epidemic of gun violence.
Now, you may already know New Orleans is the murder capital of the United
States with murder rates four to six times higher than that of the national
What you may not know is that New Orleans public safety crisis of community
violence also exposes the vulnerability in public health and more
specifically mental health, because the question of mental illness and gun
violence is not solely about the emotional and mental state of the shooter,
it`s also about the communities terrorized by the actions. In particular,
poor urban communities whose residents live with pervasive loss,
uncertainty and mental health consequences of constant, unrelenting
exposure to gun violence.
For what discussing, we`ll bring back Khalil Muhammad, director of the
Shamburg Center for Research and Black Culture. He`s surrounded by three
Dr. David Klemanski, director of the Yale Center for Anxiety and Mood
Disorders. He`s also a psychology lecturer.
Dr. Janet Taylor, a community psychiatrist in New York City, the Bronx and
Queens. She specializes in mental health.
And, Dr. Malcolm Woodland, a clinical psychologist and director of Young
Doctors D.C. in Washington, D.C., who`s once a foot soldier for us.
So, I want to start with you, Dr. Taylor, in what way is gun violence a
community mental health problem.
DR. JANET TAYLOR, PSYCHIATRIST: It`s a problem because gun violence and
violence in general is a major health issue. But what people don`t
understand is when you`re exposed to gun violence, someone in your family
exposing the whole community, it increases the likelihood, stress,
depression and you mention the word under siege. We have whole families
under siege, which means going to school, trying to eat, go about their
daily lives, they have that constant sense that something bad can happen.
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, we live in the Seventh Ward. And on Mother`s Day
there were 19 people shot in second line. You know New Orleans, second
line is part of what we do. It`s part of what happens on Sunday
The sense of siege that comes from 19 people being shot down the street
from your house, no matter how much you love your neighbors and community,
you can`t not feel that sense of fear.
DR. MALCOLM WOODLAND, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Indeed. You think it`s
something that has a number of deleterious effects when you think about --
I would do forensic work in Washington, D.C., with a lot of people from
these similar neighborhoods you`re talking about in New Orleans.
I see a lot of people saying, you know, doc, I don`t want to go to school.
I`m scared to go to school. In fact, one of the schools where a lot of
teens I work come from had a young man who was killed inside of the school.
WOODLAND: Who was murdered with a gun inside the school. I see a number
of kids who say I just don`t want to go. I`m scared.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. In a way we wouldn`t expect the children of Sandy
Hook to return back to that location of violence, we recognize the kind of
trauma it causes. But if it`s a school on the south side of Chicago, we
might not recognize it as traumatic. Part of what we`re talking about
before in the case of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, these things are
expected to happen to these bodies.
MUHAMMAD: That has led to a distinction between a kind of community of
compassion and this sort of rhetoric of public safety. We confuse in this
country public safety for tending to the mental health, the community
health, the full spiritual values of individuals. In other words, public
safety makes us feel good because it sounds like we`re being responsible.
Really repressive law enforcement, because the very people victimized by
law enforcement or structural inequalities that limit and shape those
communities are then set upon as would be criminals.
So, this further alienates and contributes to any range of aggressive
behaviors because people are carrying guns not just potentially to deal
with their neighbors but also because they don`t want to get gunned down
innocently by law enforcement.
HARRIS-PERRY: And, yet, right -- so there`s a part of me that thinks,
perhaps because I`m so influenced by writings by (INAUDIBLE) and others,
that I`m a little worried about calling what people are dealing with a
mental health crisis, because then it does individuate. It says, lets go
put you on the couch and you can talk it out rather than the kind of
But what could people benefit from in terms of talking it out when they`re
in these kinds of circumstances?
DR. DAVID KLEMANSKI, YALE CENTER FOR ANXIETY AND MOOD DISORDERS: Right. I
think there is a lot of things people can talk about, how it impacts the
community, social basis and the burden taking place in those communities.
When mental health problems occur, we do often individuate it and try and
say this is the individual`s part. It has to be considered in the context
of family, community, society. And I think that`s a really an important
point that gets left out of these discussions on mental health.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let me ask you this, one of the things the psychiatric
community tends to do, or at least understood as doing, is that they
medicate people with mental, or emotional concerns. And yet, these are
communities where people are self-medicating in a number of ways.
What happens if I`m a young person or even an elder in the community and I
go for help and I`m given a pill rather than kind of a broader is the of
TAYLOR: That`s up to the skill of the professional. I think we need to
call out mental health issues. We still do not identify and treat
depression enough and it`s treatable. So, I think you do have to make the
distinction between someone who can`t pay the rent, versus someone who has
a diagnosable mental illness like depression or bipolar disorder and needs
to be medicated.
So, I think, as communities of color, we have to lose the stigma, be open
about what`s going on. But also, the other institutional aspect, bias that
happens in our hospitals and in our clinics. Not only do we have
individuals exposed to violence outside but they add insult to injury
inside and expectation means we don`t inquire about their mental health.
TAYLOR: How are you doing? How stressed out are you? It`s a fine line.
We have to be open, there`s a need for psychotherapy. Sometimes you don`t
need a pill and sometimes you do. We have to lose the stigma of being
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to push more. There`s a difference between if I have
serotonin uptake issue versus if I can`t pay my rent. Is there -- I mean,
can psychiatry tell the difference?
TAYLOR: Absolutely --
TAYLOR: -- you can tell the difference. That`s a difference between
sadness. We all get sad. We have ongoing sadness can`t eat, eat and sleep
too much, you overeat and it lasts longer than two weeks and it impairs
your function. You`re not going to school, relationships, you may have a
major depression and that requires medication.
The key is be knowledgeable about your symptoms go and talk to your health
care provider about how you`re feeling.
HARRIS-PERRY: I wonder if there`s not depression but posttraumatic stress
that many -- particularly young men must be living with in these
circumstances. How do we begin to think about so-called treating that?
Do we treat it one child at a time or do we treat the whole community?
WOODLAND: I think we treat the whole community. I want to get to another
piece, the victimization of these young people. I want to make sure we
don`t pass that.
WOODLAND: I think Dr. Taylor was talking about what happens when they go
into the hospitals. There` another piece as well, I was telling Khalil
earlier, I`m a forensic psychologist and I work in a setting where I see
young people who have been arrested and have gone through the adjudication
process. I often end up being the first responder or the first doc an
individual has touched base with, because again, we don`t have
understanding of mental health issues.
And what happens is these young people are living in communities and
exhibiting systems similar to PTSD, if not full-blown PTSD, and then they
end up being arrested as a result of these symptoms and coming to me.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. We`re going to stay on this topic because I want
to ask whether or not anybody asked Rachel Jeantel how she was feeling,
even as we were just talking about in the case of Martin and Zimmerman,
when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re back and we`re talking out the importance of access to
mental health care. I want to make sure that everyone is aware that next
week, MSNBC will be helping to provide mental health care in New Orleans.
This network is partnering with the national association of free and
charitable clinics to sponsor a free health clinic on Wednesday July 3rd in
the city. You can help. See the information on screen to donate or set up
At that clinic, patients will have access not only to free mental health
evaluations but also to physical screens, prescriptions and to follow-up
So I want to go to you, Khalil, because this question, you may have been
the first person who someone in intake, or as you were saying, Dr. Taylor,
first person to bother to say how are you feeling. And I was thinking
about that in the context of Rachel Jeantel, others impacted by shootings
What are the community-based resources for people to say, Rachel, how are
you feeling? Are you OK?
MUHAMMAD: Sure. To the credit of the New York city council, they
commissioned a tax force in response to gun violence in New York, in East
New York, Brownsville, Harlem and a couple other communities that were
struggling with this problem. They brought together community stakeholders
doing interruption work, were doing mediation work, who were the credible
messengers trying to create peace on the street.
Ultimately, what they spoke to was the absolute necessity for full
wraparound services. We as a task forward came up with something called
shooting institute crisis management system. The idea being that when a
shooting happens in a community, whether someone dies or not, there are a
lot of people who need to have a conversation, who need to have a
productive way of downloading what the experience was about. Some of those
people never need official counseling but just need to know it`s OK to
release, to talk about it.
In that case, Rachel Jeantel is absolutely indicative of the kind of first
response, which is I`m a professional. I`m here to talk to you about this.
In Harlem, Harlem Mothers Save is an organization of parents who have lost
children to gun violence. They do it as grassroots work.
But the whole idea was these mothers are there as first responders in the
community when they find out about a shooting for the purpose of saying,
let`s talk about this, because this hurts.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. You are allowed to have feelings about it. I wonder
if it`s a part of a sense this is a horror, that gun violence actually does
hurt and you have a right to feel bad, to feel sad, feel scared as a
KLEMANSKI: Absolutely. A lot of people who go through different types of
experiences, gun violence in the inner cities, you know, a lot of people
don`t feel like they can talk about that. Mental health is stigmatized.
There`s a lot of people with a lot of different disorders.
About 50 percent of the population is going to have a mental health
disorder at any point in time in their life. Twenty-five percent in a
given year. Those are staggering numbers, the number of people
experiencing trauma, depression like we were talking about earlier.
And we don`t always have the best way to treat people in terms of the
providers, cost of treatment. But we can start to do difference things
where we use interventions that cut across those groups and feed
interventions to those people called diagnostic approaches looking at the
way we treat people for different symptoms but not necessarily focusing on
TAYLOR: When you think about violence, you don`t have to be a victim of
shooting or stabbing to have the end result, which can be posttraumatic
stress. For women, a third of women, increased risk of posttraumatic
express disorder just by having a weapon in their home, in their vicinity,
in their personal space. So, that increases the likelihood they could have
a posttraumatic stress disorder or incident.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, in other words, for a woman, if there`s a gun near them.
TAYLOR: Pointed at them.
HARRIS-PERRY: Domestic violence circumstance.
TAYLOR: They don`t have to be shot or stabbed. That is exposure, an under
lying risk factor for our mental health.
HARRIS-PERRY: The most depressing statistic I read as I`m preparing for
this, in my city where live, in New Orleans, our single largest mental
health provider, the organization, the institution is doing the most mental
health care provision is Orleans parish prison. That is where there are
actual beds for people who are suffering from mental health -- and as you
might expect, it`s not very good mental health provision because that`s not
what prison is primarily set up for.
How do we move from the criminalization of these communities to treatment
of these communities?
WOODLAND: That`s an excellent question. That was where I was going.
Unfortunately by the time I get to the kids, mental health is secondary.
They obviously have other issues, legal issues to deal with, similar to the
men that you`re refereeing to in prison.
But I think in terms of getting to ways of how to begin to push again this,
I think there are a number of innovative things that are going on on the
ground in terms of community work. One organization I work with, Young
Doctors D.C. There`s another one, Mentors in Medicine, that are really
working to do a couple of things. One, to meet the community needs,
community health needs before they get to someone like me or before young
people end up in prison.
Again, we know that roughly 50 percent of the people who are coming before
the court also have mental health disorders. So --
HARRIS-PERRY: The communities with the problems are also the unities with
the solutions. We have to figure out how to tap them.
Thank you to Khalil, to Dr. Klemanski, to Dr. Taylor, to Dr. Woodland.
Before we go, I`m going to remind you once again that MSNBC is partnering
with National Association of Free Clinics. We`ll be hosting a free one-day
clinic in New Orleans this Wednesday July 3rd where Reverend Al Sharpton
will be hosting politics nation.
If you want to help provide health care to those without insurance or if
you don`t have insurance and want to want to make an appointment to see a
physician, visit the Web site at nafcclinics.org.
Up next, there is a good story out of New Orleans that I can`t wait to
share with you. A 17-year-old cello player set to take the world by storm.
She is here in Nerdland.
HARRIS-PERRY: I recently read about my next guest in the "New Orleans
Times Picayune," and I said I have got to have this talented young woman in
Angelique Montes has been playing the cello since she was the tender age of
5 years old and her years of hard work are paying off. The 17-year-old was
hand picked from a pool of 1,000 candidates to be one of the 120 young
musicians from across the country chosen to be part of the National Youth
Orchestra of the USA, a program created by Carnegie Hall.
Following a two-week training residency, the orchestra will have concerts
at the Kennedy Center in Washington and travel to Moscow in St. Petersburg,
and include with a concert in London.
I am pleased to welcome Angelique here for our summer concert series.
So, nice to have you here.
ANGELIQUE MONTES, CELLIST: Thanks.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, tell me about being chosen for this. How excited are
you about this world tour?
MONTES: Very excited. I was ecstatic when I found out the news and since
then I have been on a cloud. So, it`s been great.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, 5 years old you were playing the cello. What made you
as a 5-year-old say this is the instrument I want?
MONTES: First I chose violin because my mom plays violin. And in that
summer, we went to music camp in Haiti that she was helping out with, and
there was a big like 10 to 12 cello choir there and I listened to them
rehearse like any time I could and since then said that was the instrument
I want to play.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s an extraordinary instrument. I was telling you in the
commercial, that I played in middle school and high school, even a little
bit in high school, but I`m awful. Listening to you is such a joy.
You had the opportunity to play for Yo-Yo Ma, something than any cellist,
even a bad one, would find amazing. How that was experience?
MONTES: It was unreal, amazing. The way it happened, it just kind of
worked out in the very end, and I`m glad I got the opportunity to do that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, what are you going to play for us this morning?
MONTES: Today, I`m going to be Gigue from Bach 3rd Suite in C-Major.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. Please do play for us. Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: That is our show for today. Angelique will continue to play
us out. Thanks to you at home for watching. I`m going to see you again
Saturday, 10:00 a.m. Eastern.
Remember, we`ll be coming to you live from our hometown, New Orleans,
Louisiana and the Essence Music Festival. You don`t want to miss it.
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