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'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Saturday, July 6th, 2013

Read the transcript to the Saturday show

July 6, 2013
Guests: Kenya Moore, Tonya Lewis Lee, Issa Rae, Aletha Maybank, Julianne
Malveaux, Denese Shervington, Anthea Butler, Myrlie Evers-Williams, Vanessa
K. Bush, Karen Carter Peterson, Nick Trenticosta

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning, my question.
Will a trial of George Zimmerman show how post racial we aren`t? Plus, the
portrayal of black women in reality shows and film. And advice from the
extraordinary Myrlie Evers on how to protect voting rights. But first,
it`s Nerdland from New Orleans!

Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry, live from the "Essence"
Festival in my home city of New Orleans. "Essence" magazine, the premiere
magazine for African-American women has been hosting this festival in New
Orleans for almost 20 years. And it regularly attracts hundreds of
thousands of people. This weekend is a celebration of African-American
music, Beyonce, hey, girl, and culture. We have an incredible amount to
get to this morning. But first, we want to bring you the latest on the
important international news, still developing out of Egypt. For that, let
me bring in from Cairo, NBC`s Ayman Mohyeldin. What`s happening there in
Egypt, Ian?

AYMAN MOHYELDIN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, the situation right now
remains extremely tense across the country, particularly here in Cairo,
where health officials say the death toll from overnight clashes between
those who supported President Morsi, the ousted President Morsi and those
that oppose him has now reached 30. Now, there was intense fighting not
only in Cairo, but also in the city of Alexandria as well. And in between
these two rival camps now is building tension. Now, at the core of this
debate, obviously, is the military`s action that was backed by popular
revolt over the course of the last week, that ousted the former president,
the supporters, and mostly the Islamist backers of the former president
have been calling this a military coup. They want the former president
reinstated. They went to the streets yesterday, demanding that the
democratically elected leader come back to office.

For his part, though, the new interim leader is in the process of
trying to form a caretaker government that can get this country back up and
running and try to address some of the immediate challenges facing Egypt.
Nonetheless, the situation here remains tense, as the military now has
deployed across the country, as well as additional resources near various
presidential buildings, where there are protesters supporting the former
president have gathered to try and force the military to bring him back
into office. There is no indication that is going to be happening anytime
soon, Melissa.

HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you, Ayman, in Cairo, Egypt. We will keep our
eyes on this continuing situation, both throughout the day today and
tomorrow. But for right now, we are going to bring it back to this
incredible festival in New Orleans. It is a celebration of black culture
and music, and part of what is really great about the "Essence" festival is
that it gives us kind of this amazing space to discuss the challenges
facing African-American communities. And especially African-American
women. And the big question for women of color right now is how to make
the most of the political power that they wielded in the 2012 presidential

Because make no mistake, women of color won the election for
President Obama. That`s right, 96 percent of black women and three
quarters of Latinos voted for President Obama. They are the source of the
famous gender gap, making up for white women who actually voted for Mitt
Romney by an eight-point margin. And it is those women, the women who are
here today, at the "Essence" festival who are needed to stop the radical
conservative agenda and the all-out assault on women`s bodies. But how do
we translate our voting power into real change? The problem is politicians
on both sides assume that women of color will vote for Democrats, and the
Democrats simply take that for granted. And the Republicans write them off
as impossible to get. So Republicans feel free to support policies that
harm women of color and Democrats don`t feel enough pressure to stop them.

Take a look at the latest assault on women`s health care. Draconian
restrictions on reproductive rights in Texas, Ohio, North Carolina. The
U.S. House of Representatives that will disproportionately affect poor and
minority women. What we need is a coalition, broad and strong, that
includes groups that the parties don`t want to lose, can`t afford to lose.
That is how we fight back. And the progressive movement needs women,
especially women of color. And we need them now.

Joining me now are Vanessa K. Bush, acting managing editor of
"Essence" magazine. Louisiana State Senator, Karen Carter Peterson, chair
of the Louisiana Democratic Party. Anthea Butler, Africana Studies
Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and of course, friend of
Nerdland, and Alex Wagner, host of "Now With Alex Wagner" here on MSNBC.
Thank you all for being here.



HARRIS-PERRY: And so, Alex, I want to start with you. What do we
do with a coalition of women who we know showed up in part because
President Obama was at the top of that ticket. How do we get that
coalition out in 2014 and in 2016?

ALEX WAGNER: Well, Mitt Romney was certainly an energizer.


WAGNER: Everybody looked at him and thought, that can`t be the man
that sits at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I think what`s happening, you`re
seeing the Republican Party at a real crisis in a crossroads, both on
national level and the state level. And I actually think, the national
level is what we pay attention to a lot in the media in terms of Congress
and the debates they have and the panels they have featuring all white
males talking about women`s issues.


WAGNER: And that certainly in and of itself is enough to, I think,
get people at least outraged.


WAGNER: But what is happening at the state level across the
country, whether it`s through defunding Planned Parenthood, whether it`s
through transvaginal ultrasounds, there`s an ongoing battle taking place at
state houses across this country that has the dramatic repercussions for
women, but really, especially women of color.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, and, you know, I always want to sort of remind
folks that the kinds of policies that we`re seeing right now, if you have a
private ob/gyn and you have a private health insurance, then you just go to
your physician and can have a first trimester abortion with very little
trouble. Right? When they shut down clinics, what that does is to impact
poor women, teenagers, you know, women of color who may not have access to
health insurance. Anthea, black women are turning out at 70 percent, in
the 2012 election, black women turned out 70 percent of us, turned out to
vote. Is there any possibility that in 2014, we can return people to polls
at that level?

you figure out that now. Let`s take Texas, for an example. I mean you go
from 45 abortion clinics to like five .


BUTLER: . across the state. That`s like 800 miles along at one
point. And black women really have to get involved in this, because this
is affecting our health care, it`s affecting everything about who we are.
And whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, the fact that white men are
making decisions about your body and what you do with it should be enough
to take every woman to the polls in 2012, no matter what color you are.
But I also think the biggest thing, is we have to think about, we have to
think about, how do we make different kinds of coalitions .


BUTLER: What was very interesting to me in Texas, was that I looked
across the pictures and how people looked and the crowd for when they were
fighting SB 10 with Wendy, and that was a predominantly white crowd.


BUTLER: Where were the African-American women? I need to see that
at least .

HARRIS-PERRY: And in Texas, Latinas, right?

BUTLER: Exactly.

HARRIS-PERRY: I want a broad coalition.

BUTLER: I want a broad coalition, and that`s what we have to start
to think about, that this is just not a black issue, this is an issue for
all of us, but it`s going to impact the African-American community

HARRIS-PERRY: But K. let me ask you that, in part on the position of
"Essence," right? So, obviously, "Essence" is not a political magazine,
it`s a lifestyle magazine, but the issues that affect women of color are so
frequently wrought in the political sphere, how -- an information source
like "Essence," what role does it play in moving women to the polls?

that "Essence" is absolutely critical to being part of the conversation.
Raising these issues about what`s going on in our community, making sure
that people have the information to make the right decisions at the polls,
that they have complete information. That`s part of "Essence", part of
what we do, provide, is that resource. And you know, because we speak to
such a broad swath of African-American women, black Caribbean women .


BUSH: . African women, we - you know, we don`t take that
responsibility lightly, at all.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. We do the reminder that immigration reform is
also a woman`s issue, right? We talk about abortion and health care,
childcare, but we don`t always remember that immigration is not just a
Latino woman`s issue, right? It is a - it`s a black women`s issue.

BUSH: Yes, absolutely, and in a recent issue, we spoke to a woman,
black, undocumented immigrant, and talked to her about being seen and kind
of unseen.


BUSH: But not being a part of that conversation. The conversation
is always around border patrols. It`s always around, you know, English as
a second language.


BUSH: What we forget is that there is a huge, a huge population
that is contributing to this country, black, Caribbean, and African, that
are investing in this country, that they`re paying taxes in this country.
And yet, we haven`t invested in them.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right, right, and we don`t even think of the issue that
way. Karen, it is one thing to get voters out, right? So, when I say 70
percent of black women showed up at the polls in 2012. But the other piece
of this, if we`re going to beat these kinds of restrictions, is women have
to run. And so, you know, as head of the Democratic Party here in the red
state, how do we get more women, especially women in red states, to put
their name in the hat?

absolutely right, Melissa. I mean it`s really embarrassing that I serve in
Louisiana state senate and there are only four women out of 39 .


PETERSON: . in the senate, right? And then we wonder why the
policies that come out of bodies like this are so, you know, horribly
impactful for women. You`re right. But it`s going to take working before
we get to the presidential, as Alex mentioned, we`re going to have to get
into the state campaigns .


PETERSON: . the legislative campaigns, and other local elections,
because the folks that end up running for Congress in those higher offices
ultimately come from school boards and state legislatures.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Right.

PETERSON: And so, it starts really at the bottom. And what we`re
doing in Louisiana with the Democratic Party is having training and we`re
starting those. And we`ve got something coming up in two weeks here in
Louisiana. And so, we`re teaching them the things that you need to do
before you jump out there. And more and more women are thinking about it
now, because there`s so much at stake. It`s a sacrifice.

HARRIS-PERRY: I want to come back to you on exactly that issue as
soon as we get back. In part because it looks like there may be some
states that have been red states that could go blue. And so, you know,
here you are, you`re kind of finding that out here .


HARRIS-PERRY: Four women out of 39 in that body. That is
something. Stay right here, we`re going to be right back. And we`ve got
more live from "The Essence" festival here in New Orleans.


HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry, and we are
live at the "Essence" festival in New Orleans. We`ve been talking about
women of color and their increasing influence in the voting booth. In
recent elections, more Latinas, blacks, and Asian-American women have been
finding their way to the polls. But that trend could be reversed by voter
suppression efforts underway in several states, efforts that just got a
boost by the Supreme Court.

These efforts, such as requiring certain photo I.D.s in order to
vote disproportionately target women. Women make up the greatest share of
groups unlikely to have required voter identification. Groups like the
elderly, the poor, and the very young. Women change their names more often
than men when they marry or divorce, making it more of a challenge to carry
I.D. or proof of citizenship in their current legal name. Women also vote
early. In Louisiana, most early voters in 2012, 57 percent of them, were
women. So we`re seeing these restrictions on what could be women`s ability
to actually cast their vote. Before we get to that, though, I do want to
come back to this idea, when we are seeing Wendy Davis standing there
filibustering and sort of the huge outpouring for her, my first thought is,
can we turn Texas blue? And if we can turn Texas blue, who else goes blue,
right? I mean .


HARRIS-PERRY: Louisiana, we`re right next door. Is it possible for
Democratic parties to make real inroads into these Republican states?

PETERSON: Without question. I mean we are on a path. We in
Louisiana have a strategy to re-elect Mary Landrieu in 2014 .


PETERSON: . and make sure we see nothing like Governor Jindal in

HARRIS-PERRY: O, Lord, Lord, Lord, Lord .

PETERSON: When we have a gubernatorial election. And we are on
that path. We are having phenomenal interest. And I think that he`s
setting the stage, he`s created a window for us to really energize folks,
similar to what Rick Perry is doing next-door in Texas.


PETERSON: People are like, really? No, that`s not what I`m trying
to have, you know, for my children and my grandchildren, and they are
fully, fully engaged. So I really do, I mean we`ve got a plan, it`s being
executed, and there are a lot of people involved in it. There is no
question about it. But we need more women elected .


PETERSON: . to carry the torch.

HARRIS-PERRY: And I wonder - you know, when I talk to women`s
students, they often say that no one`s ever even asked me to run for
office. No one`s ever said, oh, you`d be a great state senator, you`d be a
great city council person. Is there something that an organization like
"Essence" could do? I mean I`m imagining here at this incredible festival,
what if there was a run, sister, run, that would help get women ready for
running for office?

BUSH: Well, absolutely I mean I think that that - we have an
incredible opportunity to put forth young women who have the potential to
be the next governor, to be, you know, and what we have to do is create the
structure and the process. So we need to create some mentoring. We need
to create some funding, an Emily`s list, for example, for people who want
to be able to run. "Essence" magazine, I feel, really is a place where
people can get that inspiration, read about those young ladies, how they`re
getting their start, and then that can inspire you to jump into the fray


BUSH: So, yeah, I think we have a real opportunity here.

HARRIS-PERRY: And, you know, so the inspiration always feels like
it`s part of it to me, but the other part of it is, man, this is ugly in
the political world.

BUTLER: Absolutely.

HARRIS-PERRY: And, you know, people sometimes are like, are you
going to run for office? Like run what? No, absolutely not!


HARRIS-PERRY: Because it does feel like the level of ugliness and
attack can be a deterrent often for women showing up to run.

BUTLER: Yes. Exactly. And, you know, I`m thinking about what
happened with Rick Perry making its (inaudible) comment about Wendy, you
know, and saying, now, you know, you think she would know from her own
background. And I think that`s what keeps women away from doing this. And
one of the things we have to do, is to say, just like we did Souls to the
Polls in 2012, we need to do women to the polls and women to run in 2014.

HARRIS-PERRY: Uterus to the polls!


BUTLER: Yes, exactly. I mean you have to be able to push past this.
Because these stories are not liabilities, they`re assets to speak to other
women, whatever your experience has been, whether you`ve had abortion or
you`re a single parent, however those things are, you have to make them
pluses, and not minuses. And that`s what`s very important, because
Republicans are going to put women out there who are, you know, a lot of
show and no tell.



WAGNER: I mean I would also say, I mean, maybe this is somewhat
controversial .


WAGNER: . is women disproportionately need to be asked to run.


WAGNER: And we`ve got to get rid of that. I mean women need to
stop waiting for the invitation. Effectively, they need to - women need to
push other women into the arena. And look, it is going to be hard. We
live in a world where there are, you know, gender parody doesn`t exist in a
lot of arenas. Women candidates are judged differently. It is tougher for
women to run. There`s a reason why women are not an equal share of our
elected officials. That doesn`t mean it`s right, that doesn`t mean it`s
easy, but it`s, I mean, women have to be -- women have to motivate other
women. And I think women also need to act as support networks for other
women, which is also something we don`t talk about.

HARRIS-PERRY: And Alex, I want to ask you another thing on this.
Because part of what`s surprising to me is that the Republican Party
clearly wants - apparently to brand itself as the party against women,
right? So why such a desire to stand out there at the forefront of this?
What do you think is the trade-off there?

WAGNER: Because I think that this is about the long game and the
short game. And the Democratic Party is playing a long game. We have an
incredibly broad coalition of women, old people, people of color ..


WAGNER: Young people.

HARRIS-PERRY: Young people.

WAGNER: That`s the long game. The policy is that the Democratic
Party is embracing our long-term policies. Policies that the Republican
Party are embracing, look at what Bobby Jindal is doing on Medicaid and
expanding the Medicaid rolls.


WAGNER: Is that a long-term - is that a long term prognosis, a long
term strategy for the state of Louisiana and poor people who need health
care? No, of course it`s not.


WAGNER: The short-term ideology, which is trumping the long-term
goals of the party. And really, I think, ultimately results in the GOP
losing a generation.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah. Also, unless, of course, they can keep them
suppressed at the polls .


HARRIS-PERRY: . so that that generation then can`t come out, which
is why we need a new Voting Rights Act. We`ll talk more about that a bit
later in the show. Thank you to Vanessa K. Bush and to Karen Carter
Peterson. I so appreciate you joining us and, you know, I`m always rooting
to turn Louisiana blue and .

PETERSON: I wish I did.


Up next, the George Zimmerman trial. Is it a referendum on race for
a new generation?


HARRIS-PERRY: No mother should ever have to bury her child. No
mother should have to listen as her child cries for help, moments before
his life ends. Sybrina Fulton says she has now done both. She took the
stand Friday in the trial of George Zimmerman, who has pleaded not guilty
to the charge of second-degree murder in the February 2012 shooting death
of her son, Trayvon Martin. Citing self-defense. So Sybrina Fulton
listened again to her son`s final moments, identifying the voice screaming
for help on a 911 call as that of her son, before a gunshot rang out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ma`am, that screaming or yelling, if you recognize


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And who do you recognize that to be, ma`am?

FULTON: Trayvon Benjamin Martin.


HARRIS-PERRY: Later, George Zimmerman`s defense attorney, Mark
O`Mara, questioned Fulton about her recognition of her son`s voice.


MARK O`MARA: You certainly hope, as a mom, you certainly hope that
your son, Trayvon Martin would not have done anything that would have led
to his own death, correct.

FULTON: What I hope for is that this would have never happened and
he would still be here. That`s what - that`s my hope.

O`MARA: Absolutely. And now dealing with the reality that he`s no
longer here, it is certainly your hope, as a mom, holdout hope, as long as
you can, that Trayvon Martin was in no way responsible for his own death,

FULTON: I don`t believe he was.


HARRIS-PERRY: It was a painful week of testimony, but this morning,
we`re going to move past the machinations of the trial itself, which is in
recess until Monday morning, and step out of the courtroom to discuss what
the trial is telling us about ourselves. And for that, I`m joined by MSNBC
contributor, Joy-Ann Reid of the Grio, and Toure, co-host of MSNBC`s "The
Cycle." Also here again, a University of Pennsylvania religious studies
professor Anthea Butler and Alex Wagner, host of MSNBC`s "Now with Alex

Joy, let me start with you. We were just looking at numbers around
the O.J. Simpson trial .


HARRIS-PERRY: And looking at the belief about guilt and innocence,
broken down by race, in the O.J. Simpson trial. And those numbers
demonstrated this kind of clear difference between blacks and whites in
terms of the sense, 27 percent in 1995, saying they believed that he was
guilty. 73 percent of whites saying that the charges were true, and those
numbers changing only a little bit four years later. Very, very similar
numbers when we look at the 2012 Zimmerman poll, that - where 73 percent of
African-Americans said that they believe that George Zimmerman would have
been arrested if the boy whom he shot, Trayvon Martin, was white, and a
tiny minority of whites agreeing. Have we made any progress since O.J.

REID: I think, clearly, in a lot of ways, no. And if you go to
Sanford and ask black people in Sanford what would have happened if -- even
if Trayvon Martin was still black and the racial identities were still the
same, but he was local, this sort of sense of defeatism. This sort of
sense that their deaths don`t count. That even sack of - you know, a mile
high stack of black boys` bodies and no one would care. And their feeling
that because he was an out-of-towner, that`s the only reason anybody cared.
That was a sense you even got in Sanford. And I think you also throw into
the mix the racial polarization that happened around Barack Obama. I think
the moment that Barack Obama said that if he had a son, he would look like
Trayvon .


REID: . the polarization around this case began and it`s never

HARRIS-PERRY: And, you know, I don`t think - Alex, there have been
other cases recently that have kind of captured our attention, gone 24
hours on the news cycle, Jodi Arias and Casey Anthony, but it didn`t feel
as though sort of white women`s sense of belonging in the country hang in
the balance of what those verdicts were, right? People - there was a kind
of salacious aspect to them, but there wasn`t a sense of, if this verdict
comes down one way, that will signal something about a whole people, and
yet, over and over again, it keeps feeling that way, when we have these
kind of race trials.

WAGNER: Well, I mean, I think because America, obviously, has an
incredibly difficult history on the question of race.


WAGNER: It is something that still haunts us. There was this
widespread belief, or at least a hope that the president`s election in 2008
represented a post-racial chapter in America. That is proven to be
anything but true. And I think the other part of this trial is gun
culture. And it exposes an urban rural divide, a north/south divide, I
mean all the parts of America that are cleave lines along the racial divide
as well. I mean is there - there are so - it is a jigsaw puzzle piece, and
the Trayvon Martin trial in very - in many ways throws that into really
sharp relief.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, and it gives - I keep feeling, Toure, like I am
almost more invested in this verdict, for what it will do to us than what
it will or won`t do to George Zimmerman, right? And so, you know, I sort
of hate trial coverage in a certain way, because here we are, predicting
what a jury will do and whether or not they`ve shown the burden of proof
and all of that. I`m not a lawyer, right?


HARRIS-PERRY: But I do feel like a murder II, a manslaughter or a
release or an acquittal .

TOURE: Yeah.

HARRIS-PERRY: . are going to cause very different responses for

TOURE: I think that`s true. I mean, look, I keep trying to
remember that, when this first happened, what we wanted was an inquiry.


TOURE: We wanted a trial. We wanted a black boy who was killed, to
have a discussion around that, and not just, we wiped this under, we move
on, this is no big deal. So we got to the trial. If the lawyers, from
this date, cannot prove the case, then the man should not go to jail just
because he`s black. But the thing that I`ve come down at this too, is that
this generation is learning, what is the - what is the meaning of racism
today? Is it that a person is racist all day long and maybe they have a
clanhood in the back of their mind, in the back of their closet? No, that
test doesn`t really work. Because George Zimmerman can say, look, I have a
black friend, right, remember the black friend who was all over the media .


TOURE: I have black kids I tutored. There`s no sort of hypocrisy
in saying, I tutor these black kids .


TOURE: . but I see a black boy in the distance, and I put all these
stereotypes on him, and then I chase him with my gun because of those
stereotypes. The test is not, the people who are normalized in your life,
and I`m not racist toward those people, but can you extend that sort of
humanity to strangers and see black strangers as human beings in complex
and not criminals who are on drugs and have a gun?

HARRIS-PERRY: I make sure, right, what you just said, to me that
is, that`s precisely sort of my discomfort around this Paula Deen scenario,


HARRIS-PERRY: I mean the idea that we can call out racism only if
it carries the "N" word with it, only if it sort of shows itself in this
very particular, old-style way, and other than that, we`re just not even
interested in what racism looks like.

BUTLER: No, exactly. And it`s this whole stereotype, even Paula Deen
in the sense was a stereotype, because you`ll get - here`s the white woman
saying a n-word, who, you know, who has a southern accent and she could be
hated upon all this up. But when something happens like a George Zimmerman
trial, well, of course, he can`t be a racist, he was just following
somebody in a neighborhood who looked suspicious, right? But I think what
this is going to do, especially for young people, is make them wake up and
realize racism is real. We are not post-racial.

HARRIS-PERRY: Do you think they have forgotten? I think like .


HARRIS-PERRY: . young people living in this society of mass
incarceration, that they`ve already got that.

BUTLER: I think those are African-American kids got it, but I don`t
think the rest of these kids got it. And this is what I think is really
interesting. Because I think, you know, Trayvon would be somebody that
they would have hung out with, had fun with, listened to rap music, he
could have had a hoodie on, and a white boy would have had a hoodie on, and
it would have been all good until he got shot, and then they`re just like,
well, he must have been doing something wrong.


BUTLER: But they would never think .

WAGNER: I think there are going to be ultimately a lot of lessons
to learn from the Trayvon Martin trial, but I mean there are some really
practical implications as well. And regardless of the outcome, revisiting
of the stand your ground laws .

BUTLER: Yeah, right.

WAGNER: . a re-examination of the incarceration rate and the
incarceration culture in and around the African-American communities ..

BUTLER: The way that black men are targeted, and there is an
acceptance of black man on street goes to jail doing something violent. I
mean that is a given. We need to re-examine that trope in American
society. I mean getting to a sort of racially harmonious future is going
to require very practical steps.


HARRIS-PERRY: It`s not just about what`s in our hearts, it`s about
what`s in our lawbooks.



HARRIS-PERRY: We`re going to be more on this case and what it means
for us as we come back. Also later in the show, civil rights legend Myrlie
Evers is going to join us. Later on this morning. Stay with us. There is
a lot more from the "Essence" festival, next.


HARRIS-PERRY: I`m Melissa Harris-Perry and we are coming to you live
from the "Essence" festival in New Orleans. We`re talking this morning
about the case of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin and what it tells us
about who we are and where we are on the questions of race in this country.

TOURE: Well, I`ll just talk about the practical matters that we`re
going to get out of this, and of course the Voting Rights Act ties into
that. Because if you`re not registered to vote, you`re not going to be on
a jury, right? And we have a jury with no black people on it. And when -
you know, I know you know as a professor .


TOURE: . that the South has used all white juries as a way to
perpetuate racism, as a way to allow violence against black people to
happen with no punishment. So we have a future where our voting - where if
we`re depressing the voting rolls, then we`re going to have more and more
white juries that are saying, a black person gets killed - so what?

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Right. And, of course, we don`t know yet
what this jury will or won`t do. And I think this is part of what`s tough,
Joy, about like the question of a trial, which is based on evidence and
whether or not the prosecution can make its case beyond reasonable doubt.
But then the symbols of all of this that are overlaid on top of it. Do you
have any sense coming out of this that there will be either this sort of
awakening of young people or a kind of protesting or even just a change of
some of our legislation around this.

REID: Right. I mean, unfortunately in Florida, so far the answer is
no. There was this taskforce that was created by the governor, the former
lieutenant governor, the first African-American lieutenant governor was
asked to head it. They came out with zero recommendations. They came out
with no changes at all to the "stand your ground law."


REID: And the other thing is, is that`s what`s built into this
case, and I think for a lot of young, black men is that in order for
Trayvon Martin, in order for George Zimmerman to be not guilty, you have to
presume that just the movements .


REID: . the appearance .


REID: He`s reaching forward, there`s just something about Trayvon
Martin`s being was so suspicious, that you would fear him too .


REID: And the idea that we never think of the notion of fear in a
young black man. I`ve never heard anyone say, well, maybe he was scared of


REID: But people have presumed that black, young men are only
scary, they`re never scared.

BUTLER: Exactly.

REID: That is bizarre for me.

HARRIS-PERRY: For Joy, that is so - I mean for me, Anthea, that is
- that`s the whole thing turns on because whether - because there`s no
question that George Zimmerman pulled the trigger. That`s the fact, not
dispute. And there`s no question that Trayvon Martin was not armed. Those
things are not in dispute. So the question of threat and those - and
whether or not it was self-defense has everything to do then with how we
characterize Trayvon Martin.

BUTLER: Absolutely. And we heard it in the trial yesterday, when
his mother was being questioned. We would have to hope that he didn`t do
anything wrong, as though, you know, that is the reason why he would be
killed in the first place. So it is devaluing of a black life over
everybody else`s life. A black man is worthy to die just because he looks
suspicious. And, I mean, that is a very profound thing. People need to
really think about that, that this man, who said -- George Zimmerman who
said, I cared about black kids, I did all this stuff, that he sees a black
man, he just thinks - the first thing - I need to get my hand on my gun and
I need to go after this person. Obviously, there`s a disconnect for him
and that disconnect is all throughout our culture. So, we definitely have
to begin to say that every life is valuable, it is not just a white man`s
life that is valuable. It is a young black man`s life that is valuable and
begin to care about that.

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, and again, for me, Alex, you know, I can`t know
what is in George Zimmerman`s mind. The jury is apparently going to have
to make some decisions about that, but I am worried about what it make -
what it says about, sort of permissiveness about this stance in our
culture. So just like in any rape trial, my concern is in part about
whether or not we say, if you girl were out late at night or if you were
wearing a short skirt, then maybe you brought this on yourself. On there -
on the one hand, we`re going to have the set of policies that you want to
change and that many of us may want to change. But then if you`re the
parent of a young boy wearing a hoodie, I mean, is this a moment when we
have to, once again have the conversation?

TOURE: Oh, yes.

WAGNER: Well, I mean Jonathan Capehart has talked and written about
this too, growing up as a young black man, he was told to act and dress a
certain way, because that stereotype -- I mean, I think it`s fairly
profound, as Joy said, if this trial ends up finding George Zimmerman not
guilty, that is a tacit acknowledgement that a young black man walking down
the street in a hoodie late at night is a threat.

HARRIS-PERRY: Is a threat.

WAGNER: And that becomes profound implications for a society.


WAGNER: And also for black families and black men and the way they
are raised and the way they purport themselves.


TOURE: I was raised with that, that if you go into a store, keep
your hands out of your pockets, don`t run if you don`t have to. All those
sort of things you need to do. When Barack Obama talks about, you know, no
drama as a child, no sudden moves, right, we`re all taught those sort of
things and we all understand, even if your parents don`t tell you -- my
parents told me overtly, but even if you parents don`t tell you, you see
the way that you can activate fear in other people .


TOURE: . and the way that you can go back and try to not activate
that. But you can`t always control that.

HARRIS-PERRY: But that`s the burden on Trayvon here. The question
is, why didn`t he say, sir, my name is Trayvon .


HARRIS-PERRY: . I live in this -- right, like, in other words, why
didn`t he immediately defer to a stranger who was following him at night?!

TOURE: Why didn`t he say, I`m neighborhood, watch.


TOURE: That`s why I`m here.

REID: But I mean we just have (ph) teenagers, and I do it with my
kids. Like I feel uncomfortable if my son or -- you know, they`re very
young, very small, but I feel a little uncomfortable if they walk outside
in a hoodie. You have to sort of always have that fear that how someone
may perceive them. You know your child, and you know your child is
absolutely sweet and adorable, but you see them and you understand that
they present a certain image to the world.


REID: And I think the same thing was done to Rachel Jeantel.
Because she wasn`t differential .


REID: Because she wasn`t humbling herself, to someone who was being
rather rude to her.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right.

REID: Yes.

HARRIS-PERRY: Then, you know, she`s also - and a young woman is
clearly having posttraumatic stress. Her friend, did, in fact, die and she
was the last one to speak to him. But again, that point that races is kind
of filter. It`s painful to watch how this is once again playing out.
Thank you to MSNBC`s Alex Wagner and to Toure. I love having my fellow
MSNBC hosts here at the table.

Up next, the prisoner who`s been in solitary confinement for 41
years, he`s now facing truly the fight of his life.


HARRIS-PERRY: 41 years and counting, that`s how long Herman Wallace,
one of the two remaining imprisoned members of the Angola Three has spent
in solitary confinement for the 1972 murder conviction of prison guard,
Brent Miller, despite maintaining his innocence. At 71, Wallace has been
diagnosed with liver cancer and is gravely ill, yet he is still on
lockdown. Joining me is Nick Trenticosta, one of Herman Wallace`s
attorneys. Thank you for joining us today.


HARRIS-PERRY: So, first of all, tell me about Mr. Wallace`s

TRENTICOSTA: Well, he`s gravely ill, for sure. He`s lost about 55
pounds in four months and he is being treated completely negligently.


TRENTICOSTA: I would say he`s being killed through intentional

HARRIS-PERRY: And is he still in solitary confinement?

TRENTICOSTA: Presently, he`s in a hospital.

HARRIS-PERRY: OK. I got a letter from Mr. Wallace right after I
wrote my letter to Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, asking him to
reconsider the situation of solitary confinement for the Angola Three, a
lovely note from Mr. Wallace. Remind our viewers who know a little bit
about it, what the kind of controversy around the Angola Three is.

TRENTICOSTA: Well, in 1972, Angola penitentiary was nothing but a
cauldron of violence and brutality. And Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox,
and Robert King arrived there as Black Panther members. Their mission was
to stop the brutality. Because of that, they were challenging a
plantation, they were challenging the status quo at a plantation where
brutality worked to the advantage of the overseers.

HARRIS-PERRY: . of the prison guards.

TRENTICOSTA: A young white guard was killed. They immediately said,
let`s go round up the Panthers. They must have done it. The trials were
nothing but kangaroo courts.


TRENTICOSTA: Prosecutor misconduct, discrimination on juries, grand
juries .


TRENTICOSTA: . the list goes on and on.

HARRIS-PERRY: So here - here we are now, 41 years later, Herman
Wallace is terminally ill, and asking for compassionate release. He is at
all points, always maintained that he is innocent. Is there any likelihood
that Mr. Wallace will get compassionate release, as an elderly gentleman,
who is going to die?

TRENTICOSTA: I don`t think so. And part of the reason is, the state
of Louisiana in the past six years has spent $6 million in lawyer fees to
keep a 71-year-old man in solitary confinement.


TRENTICOSTA: . and to fight his habeas corpus case. That`s our
taxpayers` money. $6 million, Buddy Caldwell decides should be spent here.

HARRIS-PERRY: Is this indicative of what our criminal justice system
is, or is this an outlier?

TRENTICOSTA: Well, the criminal justice system frustrates justice .


TRENTICOSTA: . especially post-trial. Prosecutors do not want to
admit mistakes. Judges do not want to admit mistakes. It`s the main event
happened, you were found guilty, case closed. And we know now, through DNA
exonerations, that there are many innocent people in prison.


TRENTICOSTA: But for the fact that DNA has allowed them to prove
their innocence, they would still be locked up.

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, we in Nerdland will keep Mr. Wallace in our
thoughts and prayers. And thank you for your continuing work and the
continuing work of Amnesty International to keep him in the spotlight.

TRENTICOSTA: Thank you very much.

HARRIS-PERRY: Coming up, a reality check on reality television.
And how it portrays African-American women. We`re at the "Essence"
festival and you know we`re going to talk about that. That`s next.


HARRIS-PERRY: Nerdland jumped for joy earlier this week when we
found out Kerry Washington was on "Vanity Fair`s" August cover. But it`s
been eight years since another black woman has been on the cover of the
magazine, and Kerry is the first black actor to do it alone. In 2013, why
are there still so few beautiful representations of these gorgeous black
women in media? Joining us now are Issa Rae, creator of the hit Web
series, "The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl," and Tonya Lewis Lee,
founder and editor of So nice to have y`all here.



HARRIS-PERRY: And we still have Joy and Anthea with this. I want
to just start with asking, what difference does it make to have Kerry
Washington on the cover of "Vanity Fair," on the cover of a major fashion
magazine like that?

LEWIS LEE: Oh, it makes a huge difference, I think especially for
young people. We really need to see ourselves represented across the
board. And you know, we need to see images of people like Kerry
Washington, beautiful black women, who are positive role models. So I
think it`s a huge step for all of us.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, I sort of worship Kerry, more than a little bit.
I have "Scandal" parties on the show and all of this kind of thing. But I
do wonder, one of the things that I have learned from black women in my
life which it`s been empowering, it`s the extent to which we have created
alternate measures of ourselves, of our own beauty, of our own worth, that
don`t require kind of mainstream media to tell us, you`re fantastic. Is
there a way in which we celebrate, for example, you know, Kerry on the
cover of "Vanity Fair," but maybe not the women who appear on the cover of
"Essence," for example?

RAE: I think that Kerry is just really, she`s setting an example
right now, because she is one of the lead black actresses on television in
a way. So, it`s .

HARRIS-PERRY: "Scandal"!

RAE: "Scandal". If you go - it`s a huge deal to sort of be, and I
don`t want to say that we need to be validated by mainstream culture .


RAE: . but it`s an important element. We`re still a part of the
society, we`re functioning members, we are beautiful people, and there is a
sense, a need to sort of to feel like we belong, in a way. And Kerry is
setting a standard for beauty, a new standard of beauty that we can all
accept and love. And the world can love it. So, it`s not to say that this
means more, but it just, it`s an affirmation.

HARRIS-PERRY: Joy, let me ask, though, if it`s an affirmation of a
particular kind of beauty. So, you know, one of the sort of controversies
right now in representations of black women is Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone,

REID: Yeah.

HARRIS-PERRY: Nina Simone, who was a dark brown skinned woman who
sang and talked about herself as rejected, as not being sufficiently
beautiful, and here we have a very classic, very different kind of woman
playing her.

REID: Yeah, and it`s really difficult, because you don`t want to
pile on an actress who`s getting beaten up for something, it isn`t her
fault, she went for the role, she got it and good for her.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah. And she might be great.

REID: She might be great, but because Nina Simone`s appearance was
so endemic to her art, because she made it so important to her, because she
made it a part of what she`s saying about part of her pain, part of her
glory, it`s all about who she was as a physical person. So I think casting
someone who looks nothing like her and then you have to have the
prosthetics added, it`s just - it`s something about it just doesn`t feel
right, and it also doesn`t feel affirmative for all the actresses who look
more like Nina Simone and who could have get.


REID: So, it`s sort of unfortunate, I think, all the way around.

BUTLER: Yeah, I mean it`s an unfortunate part because there`s all
these actresses that need jobs, first of all .


BUTLER: But the second - it`s like - it`s a black, this is
interchangeable for them. A black woman is just interchangeable. So, we
can get the kind of black woman we want and we can just frame her into
something else, without seeing us as this diverse, you know, beautiful
women, light skinned to very dark skinned women. And so to just put her in
that spot, is really, I think, denigrates all of us in a different kind of
way, because it just says, we will set the standard of what your beauty is.
And you don`t know what it is.

HARRIS-PERRY: One of my favorite pieces by "Sweet Honey and the Rock"
is the song, "There are no mirrors in my nana`s house", right? That idea
that the affirmation and love that can be given intergenerationally from
one black woman to another doesn`t require something about who we are
visually. And yet, there is, as you pointed out, something very powerful
about the affirmation of beauty that comes from this broader context. How
do we manage, kind of, the light-skinned privilege question and the issue
of hair and all of that, wanting to affirm sort of the totality of who
black women are?

LEWIS LEE: Gosh, that`s an interesting question, how do we manage
that. I think we have to really embrace all of the whole diverse spectrum
of who we are as black women. You know, you know, it doesn`t matter who
you are. My experience as a black woman just because I`m fair skinned does
not mean it`s any different than -- it may be different .


LEWIS LEE: However, I have always felt that being seen by the
broader white world, I`m still seen as a black woman. So therefore, my
experience is that of a black woman, just like a darker sister, you know,
and to me, it doesn`t matter what color you are, we`re all still in this
together. And we all still have to deal with some of the same issues that
come from being a black woman. The world sees me as a black woman, as I
am, and that`s how they deal with me, just as they deal with a sister of
darker color.

HARRIS-PERRY: So you`ve laid out that gauntlet, the world sees me as
a black woman. And so, the question is, what is it that the world thinks
that black women are? And one of the things that helps to shape that is,
of course, reality television. And, so we are going to talk about that as
we come back. Stay with us, everyone. We are just getting started.
Remember, "MHP" show is two hours. There is more Nerdland at the top of
the hour from New Orleans.



We are live from the 2013 Essence Festival in my home city of New
Orleans. "Essence," the premiere magazine for African-American women, has
hosted this event for nearly 20 years. "Essence" magazine is one of the
few national publications that is targeted primarily to black women.

So while a diverse array of black women are featured in the pages of
"Essence," too often in most mainstream media, the representation of our
lives look like stereotypes rather than complicated and full human beings.

In response, we`ve looked to the success as black women as producers
and executives as a step forward for maybe more accurate representations of
black women on TV. Take Chandra Rimes, who has brought us the complicated
characters of Olivia Pope and Miranda Bailey.

And then there`s Tracy Edmonds, Mara Brock Akil, and Ava DuVernay,
the success of these women has shown that there`s a market for television
targeted to black women and TV executives have taken notice. And as a
result, we do have more shows in fact targeted to us. Some of them look
like this.


HARRIS-PERRY: TV executives produce, televise, and air what there is
a market for. And with the success of reality shows like "Real Housewives
of Atlanta" and "Basketball Wives" and others, there are obviously many of
us who enjoy watching rather than debating representation of black women on
shows like "Real Housewives" are positive or negative, a better question
is, why are so many people tuning in to see them? And is there a market
for anything different than what we have just tapped?

With me at the table, managing editor, Joy Reid, former
Miss USA and star of Bravo`s "Real Housewives of Atlanta," Miss Gone with
the Wind, fabulous herself, Kenya Moore; Issa Rae of the award-winning web
series, "The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl"; and Tonya Lewis Lee,
editor and founder of

All right. Kenya, you take all kinds of criticism. So, I appreciate
you being here to sit at the Nerdland table, in part because I despise like
positive versus negative. I`m more interested in complicated.

So, tell me the complicated story. Tell me the complicated story of
the value of what we see and why so many people tune in to watch, for
example, "Real Housewives" and "Basketball Wives."

our show, we are the number one show on the Bravo network, and that`s for a
reason. It`s because when people, black, white, Asian watch our show, when
women watch our show, they identify with the women that they`re seeing.
They`re mothers, they`re businesswomen, they`re married, in relationships
or not, and you show them in everyday circumstances dealing with their
problems and trying to navigate their lives.

And that`s what women identify with. It`s not necessarily the
negative aspect, although we do see some of that, but it`s a small portion
of the show. What you get involved in are these people`s lives.

So, when you`re watching, oh, I understand that she`s having an issue
with her son, that was just in jail for a misdemeanor or something. Or
another woman might be watching and says, "I`m having issues with my
husband and how do I resolve that." That`s what I`m tuning in for, is this
show, what everyday life looks like.

HARRIS-PERRY: Let me push back a little bit and suggest that maybe
part of what goes on is that actually people don`t identify, and they would
prefer to say, man, whatever problems I have, they are not those problems.
And whatever challenges I have in dealing with them, at least I`m not
dealing with them like that.

Part of my concern is that to the extent that you and other people
are actual real human beings, you`re not actresses portraying a part,
you`re not Olivia Pope. You`re an actual person.

MOORE: Right.

HARRIS-PERRY: But it becomes easy to denigrate you in these moments
in ways that then flop over into real life, so then when we see Rachel
Jeantel sitting on a jury stand, it becomes less about that human
experience of that black woman, and she`s just one of those people like the
ones I see on reality TV.

Am I -- am I completely off-base on that?

MOORE: No, you`re not completely off, but people in glass houses
shouldn`t throw stones. And no one`s life is perfect.

HARRIS-PERRY: No, ma`am.

MOORE: I don`t see Jesus walking around here.

So, we all have those moments when we yell at our child and we lose
control and we feel like the world is ending, but those moments aren`t
captured on television. And I think that`s the difference is our show is a
reality show and you open yourself up to those vulnerable aspects of your
life, and that is what it is. That`s what you`re watching.

So, there`s no one walking this earth that can say, "Oh, I`m beneath
that." Michelle Obama is a fan of our show and I think the world of her

So I think people identify with at they`re seeing and it is what it
is. And it`s real and sometimes it`s ugly and sometimes it`s really

HARRIS-PERRY: Joy-Ann Reid, off little expression over there. And I
wanted to give you a chance to jump in.

JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM: I think there has to be a balance. And I
think because you have an Olivia Pope, because you do have -- there was a
time when there was a big vacuum teen the Cosby show and a different world,
where was saw all these great affirmative portrayals of ourselves and a
sort of long drought when there wasn`t much.

And now, you do see a glut of reality television that I think does
represent one view of black women, there`s one way to look at this. But
it`s still difficult to see African-American women as actresses getting
lead roles in serious dramas. There`s not enough of a variety.

And I think as long as there`s balance, there`s room for everything.
I mean, I watch my Braxtons, I watch it, it`s one of my shows I like. And
you know, you have to have a little bit of fun in TV, too. We can`t be
serious all the time.

I think there`s room for both. But I do worry a little bit that the
image of black women is becoming one dimensional in terms of the way the
rest of the world sort of looks at us. That we`re only seen as reality TV
and we`re not given the opportunity for a Kenya Moore to be cast in another

But in some ways you`re saying, look, NeNe Leakes is now a bona fide
actress. She managed to make a lot out of her experience. So I think
there`s an opportunity to grow from it. And I think as long as there`s
balance, it`s OK.

HARRIS-PERRY: Tonya, let me ask you the role model question and the
question of our adolescent girls. I just had you signed Parker`s book, and
Parker is my daughter. She`s 11 1/2.

And I think to myself, on the one hand, I`m always a little
uncomfortable when people say, you need a role model who looks like you. I
feel like if a human can do it, I can do it, whether she`s a black woman or
not. But on the other hand, I also feel like if my 11-year-old watching, I
would feel a bit of angst as to what it`s teaching her as to how to manage
the crisis in our lives.

TONYA LEWIS LEE, HEALTHYYOUNOW.COM: Well, I think the issue is, as
Joy-Ann has said, I don`t think we have enough representations of who we
are out there, especially for young people. So when you`re talking about,
you know, the real housewives being the example for your daughter, she
needs to see images of herself as the lead girl in "The Hunger Games," as
the lead girl in other kinds of television and media, so that it sort of
counterbalances it.

Look, we`re talking about reality TV.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right, it`s fun, it`s light.

LEE: Absolutely. And look, black women may denigrate themselves
sometimes in reality TV, but so do white women.

HARRIS-PERRY: But the stakes aren`t as high for them, right? It`s
part of my discomfort with saying, oh, you as a black woman must be more
upright, because the stakes are higher. But the stakes are higher.

LEE: Well, the stakes are higher, and also, they have more
representation. And there, to me, is where the issue is. If we have more
diverse representation, then it doesn`t become that the "Real Housewives"
represents all black women.

MOORE: And Latina women are having this issue as well. There are
some people that spoke out against the new show, featured -- yes, Latina
cast that are beautiful, talented women, that are being portrayed as --
well, it`s not necessarily negative, but some people see it as such,
because they don`t have a vast majority of shows that shows them being
glamorous and beautiful and successful and lawyers and doctors and such.

So I do agree with what you`re saying. We feed a full representation
of who we are, and not just in one particular area.

HARRIS-PERRY: When we come back, I want to talk to you, because I am
neither glamorous nor do I fight with bottles. I am an awkward black girl,
right? I`m a nerd, I embrace, people see me on television with make-up so
they think I`m not but I`m simply socially inept.

So when we come back, I want to talk about that also as a way of
presenting who African-American women are.

Stay right there. When we come back, more from the "Essence"
festival in New Orleans.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me introduce myself. My name is Jay (ph)
and I`m awkward and black. Someone once told me those were the two worst
things anyone could be. That someone was right.


HARRIS-PERRY: That was a sustain from the award-winning and hit web
series, "The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl," which its creators, Issa
Rae`s third web series.

Issa, talk to me about this awkward black girl, what is the market
there that is so different than the market, for example, for reality TV?

haven`t seen anyone many mainstream media, and black women especially, that
are flawed that`s not depicted in a way that`s glamorous or cool. And
that`s me. I`m a consumer of all content. I watch everything.

I was kind of frustrating that I would watch certain shows like
"Seinfeld" (INAUDIBLE), "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and relate to this sort of
humor and not see any shows of color, not see any people of color in these

HARRIS-PERRY: It`s interesting the length that`s used, flawed in a
way that is not (INAUDIBLE) glamour. Just flawed. Like, I`m just behind
on my credit card bill. It`s not cute, there`s no reason, I`m not
oppressed, I just didn`t pay it on time.

RAE: Right.

HARRIS-PERRY: Or I mess up my guest names all the time, because I
just do, right?

So, I guess what I`m wondering is, if we could see that kind of flaws
in ourselves and in others who look like us, and yet love and appreciate
and enjoy them, does that generate sort of a different psychological space
for us to be in?

RAE: Absolutely. And to create someone who was universally
specific. So she`s awkward, which is something we can all relate to.
We`ve all been awkward, we`ve all been uncomfortable in social situations,
but at the same time, you know, she is black. I`m black. And there are
certain things unique to being a black woman.

So by creating apace where it`s OK to be black, you know, you`re
forced to -- you`re forced to reality to this girl who happens to be black
and goes through these things that we all go through. I`ve noticed that my
audience has grown, because people are like, oh, my God, I`m not black, but
I`m definitely awkward. So I guess I`m an awkward girl.

HARRIS-PERRY: I`m an awkward brown girl.

RAE: An awkward brown girl or an awkward Asian girl. And I love
that. It prospers (ph) the community in the way. It doesn`t separate us.

MOORE: Universal characters speak to everyone. So that`s where you
did good. You know, that`s the proper base is for developing any
character, is that you make it universal. So is it necessarily a black or
white thing, we`re all women, we can identify with your character. So it`s

HARRIS-PERRY: To the extent that reality TV is on the one hand real,
but also, have aspects of it that are scripted, do you feel like you`re
actively generating a character, in part to keep the human you a little bit
back from it, or is that really all you, that we are seeing at all points?

MOORE: Well, it`s testing, because I think, from a producer`s
aspect, because I do produce -- well, film, in reality TV, I think the
producer`s look to cut you a certain way, to fit into a character. So if
you`re the villain, they`re going to find any little moment that you sort
of portray yourself as a villain. If you`re an airhead, they`re going to
find any footage that is going to make you look that way. So you are
giving them the authenticity of who you are, but it`s up to the editing bay
to say or the producers to say, OK, we`re going to use this aspect of this,
you know --

HARRIS-PERRY: So you`re not self-consciously doing villain?

MOORE: Oh, absolutely not. Not that I am a villain.

HARRIS-PERRY: No, I just wonder, look, even, Joy, even when we`re
hosting a cable news show, right, because this is not -- this is not
straight journalism in the same way, we`re not going out, we`re not
pretending not to have a point of view, there`s nonetheless a Joy who is
the television version, and a Joy -- even though you`re a deeply authentic
human. And the same thing for the Melissa who shows up here, a slightly
more relaxed Melissa, I wonder, though, if we do it, in part with the sense
that the little black girls are watching. And that somehow that thing that
we`re creating is not only for ourselves and for our producers and for our
ratings, but for them.

REID: And you know what, the first time I really sort of got that in
a big way was the first time -- well, during the Democratic national
convention. And we go down, right, we were together down there in North
Carolina, and you realize, when a young black girl came up to me. And
she`s like, I`m a teenager, I just think what you`re doing is so important,
to see myself, somebody who looks like me. And it just kind of hit me.

And she was sort of getting teary. And I`m like, but I`m just on TV
reading some news. Why is this so important to you?

You realize that you do have a responsibility, because there are
young women out there who are seeing you, who are seeing me.

You know, you have your hair in braids, that`s how my daughter wore
her braids. She never saw someone on TV. You don`t really see that that
much on TV. I think we all are like, we`re responsible in a certain way
because of the young women who are looking at us and finally sort of
looking in a mirror and seeing themselves. And you do feel a tremendous --


HARRIS-PERRY: I want to say this as well, you know, what I want in
the world for my daughter to look at is some day, very soon, let`s hope, a
Joy Reid show.

All right. I have seen it out loud. Thank you to Joy-Ann Reid, to
Kenya Moore, and to Issa Rae.

Tonya is staying around for more.

We`re going to take a short break. And later in this program, civil
rights icon, Myrlie Evers-Williams is going to join me.

But up next, for all you "Doc McStuffins" fans out there, the doc is


HARRIS-PERRY: We are here in New Orleans at the Essence Music

For more than 20 years, "Essence", the prime magazine for black
women`s lifestyle has come here to New Orleans to celebrate music and
culture. And as part of our presence here in New Orleans, MSNBC sponsored
a free clinic in this convention center on Wednesday, attracting more than
700 people, and my mom, as a volunteer, people who could not otherwise
afford basic medical care.

The need for increased access to medical care is acute here in New
Orleans, where the gap in care between black and white, rich and poor, is
well-documented. African-American residents here are three times more
likely to die of diabetes than white residents. And in the city`s poorest
zip code, which is mostly black, life expectancy is 25 1/2 years lower. 25
1/2 years lower than in the zip code with the highest life expectancy, an
area that is more than 90 percent white.

The Affordable Care Act would help close this health gap by expanding
Medicaid to millions of uninsured adults, but in Louisiana, 445,000
uninsured people would get Medicaid coverage next year, 60 percent of the
people, if the state hadn`t refused to expand Medicaid.

As we say in Nerdland, FBJ, forget Bobby Jindal.

Joining me now: Dr. Denese Shervington, a psychiatrist the president
and CEO of the Institute of Women and Ethnic`s Study; Dr. Aletha Maybank, a
physician and cofounder of Artemis Medical Society; Tanya Lewis Lee,
founder and editor of, and spokesman to raise awareness
for infant mortality; and Julianne Malveaux, economist and president
emeritus of Bennett College.

So nice to have y`all here.

So, Doctor, let me start with you. Just give me a lay of the land,
when I say racial health disparities, what does that look like in real

look at the statistics, and from the public health end of it, you look at
the different diseases and look at HIV/AIDS, and we`re here at "Essence" to
talk a little bit about women --


MAYBANK: -- where 80 percent of the new cases.

When you look at other sexually transmitted infections, Chlamydia, we
have seven times the rates of whites. When we look at cancers, breast
cancers, even though we have lower incidents we have higher deaths.

There are so many things we are higher at that we really shouldn`t be
or we don`t have to be, if there are certain things in place. So when you
look at all the various reasons, you can look at the health care system,
you can look at the prevention piece of it, and is the information out
there? Are our environments set up for us to be healthy? Or can is it
hard for us to be healthy around where we live?


MAYBANK: You know, what happens along the line of diagnosis. Are we
following up with our diagnosis? You know, a lot of sometimes we know
there`s a research out there that we as African-American women aren`t
really following up for many different reasons.

And on the treatment side, are we getting the proper treatment? Are
we getting offered the treatment that we should get offered, because there
are disparities that we know providers are not offering African-Americans
the same type of treatment. That`s on the health care side.

Then, you want to also look at what socially determines our health.
I`m very big in public health. And I feel like those factors actually
determine our health way more than what happens within the health care
system itself.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So, before we even show up at the doctor`s

MAYBANK: Exactly. And so, look, where we live, work, play, and
pray, the zip code that we live and that you mentioned earlier really has a
strong determination of how our health is going to be. So a lot of our
factors and how we address health equities really has to be focusing on
those social determinants of health.

HARRIS-PERRY: So when you talk about the kind of complexity,
everything from our behaviors to our interactions with our doctors, to our
social and, literally, our environment, with the air that we breathe, the
water we drink.

And I think, Tonya, for me, the most appalling of the health
disparities is the infant mortality one. But even for middle class
African-American women, with health insurance, the likelihood of our
children dying before the age of 1 is 1.5 to 2 times that of white infants.

Why in the world such a disparity on infant mortality?

LEE: Well, it`s so interesting. You know, we just talked about all
of those social determinants of health. But I think when you`re talking
about black women of a certain socioeconomic standard, that`s the black
woman who is working at a job as an executive, going into the office every
day. Sometimes, they`re afraid to take time off, to take care of her
health, because, you know, she`s in a stressful situation, and the level of

Stress, I have found in my travels is becoming one of those things
that doctors are really looking at and are focusing in on as a factor that
really is having a serious impact on our health overall.

HARRIS-PERRY: And racism and sexism, we know, have a cortisol-
generating --

LEE: It has a physiological affect on our bodies that is affecting
our unborn children, for sure.

HARRIS-PERRY: That is just stunning.

And, Julian, part of the reason I bring up the infant mortality one,
because it confounds the idea that this is all about class, right?
Sometimes when we talk about the racial health disparities, people will
say, it`s just about poverty, if you had health insurance and you weren`t
poor, but, in fact, race manages to obtain even when we`ve addressed class.

How do we disentangle the economic and racial factors as we look at

JULIANNE MALVEAUX, BENNETT COLLEGE: The thing that I used as a model
are three prongs to health disparities. It`s assets, access, and

Assets, how much money you have. You know what we get disparities,
because we have less income. The average African-American, $31,000 family
income, average white American, $50,000, family income.

So our assets are different. Our access is different. In some of
our neighborhoods, they`re closing clinics. So you have people who cannot
get -- if you live -- if you`re a middle class black woman, but you live in
let`s say southeast Washington, where there is a middle class component,
but it`s mostly poor, you`ve got to go across town to get to health.

And we go across town again with that assets issue, and have a co-
pay, so many low-income folks say, I`m not going to do the co-pay. So they
just basically let it ride. Then the other piece is the attitudes. Which
is both the attitudes that the doctors have toward you, and the attitudes
you have toward the doctor, many doctors just write us off.

You have to be very aggressive. I don`t care what class you`re in,
if you go to the doctor. You have to ask questions, because some doctors
will just assume.

And then the other piece of it, of course, is some of our attitudes
towards medicine. I mean, we`re talking about -- you almost have to drag
brothers to the doctor.

HARRIS-PERRY: Sure, sure.

MALVEAUX: Because some of them, in this day and age, will tell you,
I don`t go to the doctor because of the Tuskegee experiment. I`m like,
dude, that was really a long time ago. Basically, black men don`t want to
go to the doctor.

And, Melissa, just one other thing. When we talk about differences
in weight and obesity, we also have to talk about the issue of food
deserts. There are places in our communities where people have to go, you
know, measure a mile. The definition of f deserts is if you don`t have
supermarkets, not a mom and pop, more than a mile.

Some of our sisters are using their supplemental SNAP dollars to go
to the corner store, because they don`t have --

HARRIS-PERRY: They just don`t even have access.

Dr. Shervington, can this issue of access and also these issues of
stress, this is exactly what y`all do at IWEF, trying to get women here in
this city to live healthy lifestyles, despite all of these structural

How do you start to penetrate such big problems?

very, very difficult. The studies have shown and we have looked at this
issue, that after a certain time, the African-American woman`s body, in
particular, begins to break down and deteriorate from the generations of
stress. And that even connected to some of your work about being so

So it`s a very, very, very difficult place to penetrate, to say to
us, have (INAUDIBLE) in your life to demand health care. And I`ll tell you
a personal story. I had to interact with the medical system here a couple
of weeks ago, and after being ignored for five hours, the doctor, when he
found out I was a doctor, said, why didn`t you tell me you were a doctor?

HARRIS-PERRY: Because you would have gotten different care, because
it indicated you had status.

SHERVINGTON: And I said, because in this hospital, I`m a patient,
and I`m very, very upset that you had a stereotypical attitude about me as
a black woman and treated me this way. So we cannot disentangle race and
economics. Absolutely.

HARRIS-PERRY: And here, New Orleans is just such a key example of

Thank you, Dr. Shervington for your work here in the city.

Everybody is staying around. Up next, we`re going to talk about
Trayvon Martin`s mother -- her courage, her heartache and her connection to
African-American moms everywhere.


HARRIS-PERRY: There is never any shortage of hand-wringing headlines
about the plight of single mothers. But even while we talk about single
mothers, we rarely hear from the women themselves, which is why it`s
remarkable that one of the most publicly visible people with whom we`ve all
become intimately familiar over the last two weeks is an African-American
single mom.

Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, has shown up alongside
Trayvon`s father, Tracy Martin, every day, front and center, to witness the
trial of the man accused of murdering her son. Continuing her choice since
the day she first received the news that no mother should have to hear, to
share her grief and her resilience.

And this week, her testimony had a national audience. Yesterday, on
the morning before she first took the stand to testify in trial, this tweet
saying, "I pray that God gives me strength to properly represent my angel,
Trayvon. He may not be perfect, but he`s mine. I plead the blood of Jesus
for healing."

Rejoining our panel is University of Pennsylvania professor, Anthea

So, I want to -- I want to take this issue of single moms and of
Trayvon Martin, and lay it on top of the conversation we`ve been having,
both about health and reality TV.

And, Tonya, you had such an interesting response in the commercial,
as we were talking about Dr. Shervington`s experience of saying, you should
have told me you were a doctor, because all I saw you as was a black woman,
and that`s why you haven`t gotten care.

LEE: Right. And what I was saying is that`s why our representation
in the media is so important because when doctors or health care providers
or banks see us on the real housewives or whatever reality show smacking us
each other around, they think that`s who we are and they treat us in a
certain way.

So it`s really critical that the media portray us as who we really
are, because it has a real, real serious impact on our health and well-

HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, it may have a real serious impact on the
George Zimmerman trial, right? Both mothers testified, both Trayvon
Martin`s mother and George Zimmerman`s mother, both of them testified that
it was their child that they heard screaming on that tape. And part of
this is going to turn on whether or not you believe the single black mama
or not.

in which her representation of self has been so strong and so constant that
I`ve just been really impressed by her, because the hardest thing for a
mother is to have to talk about her dead child. And to listen to day after
day, and sit not that far away from the man who inflicted that injury upon
your child, that took him away from you, that takes at of courage.

But I think she`s a representation of a lot of black mothers who are
out there, who are going through this every day, who have lost more than
just one son, they`ve lost multiple children. And this is where we have to
begin to talk about, what is the image of black motherhood? It`s black
motherhood is something more than just, oh, we`re trying to keep them from
being welfare queens and everything else.

But is black motherhood an image of strength, of security, of facing
these un-doubtable odds with your children out here in the streets, because
they don`t have to even be doing anything. They can just be minding their
own business like Trayvon was, and the next thing, they end up dead.

HARRIS-PERRY: And the odds are serious. One thing I want to talk
about here, Doctor, as we`ve talked about this race and economic piece,
when we look at single women`s assets, this is 2007 data.

But when we look at single women`s assets by race, African-American
women and Latinas have extremely low assets in comparison, right, in
comparison to their white counterparts. Even the value of their homes, the
fact that they don`t really own stocks in the same way. And if you compare
it to married white, it`s extraordinary different.

So the assets with which they`re working to raise their children may
not provide them the opportunity to provide healthy environments.

MAYBANK: It makes it very difficult, not only for healthy
environments for their children, but for them to be healthy as well. When
you go on the plane, they always say, the oxygen mask goes down, right, and
whose are you supposed to put on first? Your own.

I think it`s very difficult as a single black mother to do that, when
there`s so many different competing priorities. And those are the
conversations that we have to have and the context of, how do we improve
health in our community? It can`t be simply going to the doctor and taking
your medicine. It`s how do we change these environments, so it makes it
easier for a mom who has to work to go get her health care.

How can we coordinate health care services, so it`s almost a one-stop
shop deal, so she doesn`t have to go to so many different places? That not
only her she can go to, but also her family can go to.

HARRIS-PERRY: And when you said that, about the oxygen mask. I fly
with my daughter every week, because we commute here in New Orleans to New
York. And almost every time when we hear them say that, and I realize this
is crazy, but I always look at her and say, don`t worry, I`ll put yours on


HARRIS-PERRY: Or I think, don`t worry, I can do them both at the
same time. But the idea of caring for myself first, it feels like a
rejection of the thing we`re supposed to do as black mamas.

MALVEAUX: You know, Melissa, a broken vessel can`t carry any water.
You cannot be an effective mother if you don`t care of yourself. There`s
so many mental health and other health issues in our community, as our
doctor friend said here, that we`ve got to deal with some of that.

I want to take a minute to take us back to 1926, where a Harlem
renaissance writer wrote a poem called no images. It goes, "She does not
know her beauty, she thinks her brown body has no glory, but if she could
dance naked under palm trees and see herself in the river, she would know,
there are no palm trees on the street and dishwater gives back to images."

In some way, I would almost rather be not in 1926, but no images or
horrible images. We were invisible, and now some people treat us
(INAUDIBLE) invisible, inferior, or exceptional. And those are the three
ways that we end up being --

HARRIS-PERRY: Not just ordinary humans, good, bad and all.

MALVEAUX: So the sister on the cover of a magazine is going to be a
highly accomplished woman or a welfare queen. So, you know -- if you read
a newspaper and they talk about home ownership, for example, you see a cute
little couple, ordinary, it`s not a black couple. When they talk about day
care, it`s little white children, not black children.

So we have to be either exceptional or pretty much inferior. And
when you talk about the wealth data, let`s just deal with that wealth data.

HARRIS-PERRY: As soon as we come back, I promise. They`re screaming
at me to take a break.

But I`ll let you do that when we come back, because I want to talk
about this idea of exceptional versus the rest of us, in part because I
want to figure out how can we not denigrate the role of fathers at the same
time we say, all right, single mamas can do it too.

More on Nerdland, live from New Orleans and the Essence Festival when
we get back.


HARRIS-PERRY: On Thursday, President Obama and First Lady Michelle
Obama were the picture of a quintessential American family, celebrating the
Fourth of July, and daughter Malia`s 15th birthday with a barbecue and
fireworks on the White House south lawn. And yet even as the Obamas have
been hailed as an aspirational model for African-American families, we have
to resist the urge to denigrate those who don`t fit the same mold.

Don`t let anybody tell you that if you want to be Michelle, you first
have to find the Barack.

So, Dr. Malveaux, I cut you off before the break, as you were trying
to talk about the issues of wealth and economics in the single mama story.

MALVEAUX: The average black single mom has wealth of $5, the average
black single mom. That`s not wealth, that`s a Coca-Cola. You know, the
average white single mom, same position, $41,000.

So you`re talking about a whole different lifestyle when you look at
that difference. And I think the story, Melissa, ought to be, those single
moms who made it, despite those wealth differences, almost are how I got
over, my mom raised five kids by herself, my parents were divorced when I
was 6.

She`s a social worker, and I can tell you, our little selves were on
the bus, she didn`t drive, going to the (INAUDIBLE) museum, going to the
Museum of Art, she did everything. But it was very, very difficult, she
didn`t have a life.

Those are the stories we`ve got to tell, not the story of the sister
who`s got a bunch of children and is on public assistance.

MAYBANK: And the reality is, 72 percent of black children are born
into single-parent households. That is our family structure. And I think
sometimes, we are trying to push it into the -- and we would love to have
that family structure of the Barack and the Michelle Obama, but the reality
is that 72 percent of the time, it`s not happening.

HARRIS-PERRY: And I don`t want to say it doesn`t matter if you don`t
h a daddy, like, not at all. In fact, we`re going to talk more about that
on tomorrow`s show.

But the other hand, if we`re talking about public policy, I can`t
give you a man, but I can make sure that there`s fair lending policies for
your house. I can make sure you`re being paid a fair and equitable wage.
I can make sure that your child has the Medicaid that they need.

So, from a public policy perspective, I feel like I want to tamp down
that single mama an anxiety a little bit.

MAYBANK: Absolutely. And I think in order to do that, one of the
things -- somebody who does public policy, pretty much, is that we have to
engage single mothers in that conversation on a whole lot more.

You know, when look around the table and see who`s present, it`s not
us, typically. In order of conversations and policies and programs that
are relevant to us, we need to be there saying this is what is good for us
at the same time.

MALVEAUX: And we have to remove the shame. So many people believe
that it`s shameful to be a single mom. So even if these sisters are
sitting around the policy table, they`re unwilling to reveal some of the
things -- I tell the story, when I do, some folks cringe, why did you tell
that? Because it`s the truth. And I think my mom is a hero.

HARRIS-PERRY: And, Anthea, we`ve talked before about, you know, I
was an unmarried mom for quite some time. But I didn`t think of myself as
single, because I had my mother. We had created like another family
structure that created two parents.

Is there a way to talk about other kind of communal structures we
have for raising our kids.

BUTLER: Absolutely, and one thing I was going to say to Tonya to the
shame issue is that the church needs to quit making it a shameful thing to
be a single mother, OK? Because that`s where part of the shame comes and
it`s a religious layer over of the shame. And look at the Bible, there`s
tons of different kinds of family relationships, right?

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, surrogate moms, adoption.

BUTLER: You need to understand that the model is, we take care of
all the children. You know what the right wing accused you of when we say,
we need to take care of all of our kids, right?

We`re not coming for them. We want to put them in the community. We
want to make sure that we have different kind of family structures because
that`s what America is. It`s not just for African-Americans. It`s for
everybody, who have to figure out how to work this out.

HARRIS-PERRY: Absolutely.

BUTLER: It`s just not going to be the same anymore.

HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you so much to Anthea, to Althea, to Tonya and
to Julianne.

We are not done, because Myrlie Evers-Williams joins us next.

You`re watching MHP on MSNBC, live from the Essence Festival from the
New Orleans Convention Center.


HARRIS-PERRY: There were few more dismayed about the Supreme Court`s
decision to gut the 1965 Voting Rights Act last week than those whose
efforts helped to bring it into being. Among them is the widow of murdered
civil rights leader, Medgar Evers.

Myrlie Evers-Williams, an activist in her own right, who worked
alongside her husband to campaign for voting rights and bring an end to
racial discrimination. Today, she is a distinguished scholar and residence
at Alcorn State University, the chairman emeritus of the NAACP, and the
chairman and board of the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute.

And she is here with me joining us in Nerdland.

Thank you for being here today.


HARRIS-PERRY: So, the Voting Rights Act decision by the Supreme
Court last week is painful. It is distressing. How should we be thinking
about it? How should we be trying to respond in this moment?

EVERS-WILLIAMS: Number one, I hope that enough people, particularly
our young people, will have a sense of the history of what took place in
the `50s and the `60s, to actually have the Voting Rights Act. With that
knowledge, they can assess what we stand to lose with this new Supreme
Court decision.

I think of those who fought and died and worked so hard to see that
we had a clear right, constitutional right, to vote. After going through
all of the deaths and all of the other challenges that we had to reach this
point in American society, what we think we have it, and to have it
stripped from us by the Supreme Court decision is really more than, I
think, Americans should bear. It`s one of those things of finding every
little thing that you possibly can, the states, to prevent us from voting

We don`t have to count how many beans are in a jar, how many bubbles
that are in a bar of soap. Now, we are told that we need to have all kinds
of identification. And that identification is determined by the states.
There certainly are states in America who do not want their people of color
to be able to vote.

So, we are not back at the very beginning, but we are certainly being
told, you don`t have it. You thought you did. Here`s the challenge. And
my challenge to everyone is to know what we are deprived of. Know what the
states are saying we must have, and once, again, once again, challenge all
of this by law.

HARRIS-PERRY: Is there a way to keep hope in the context of this
struggle? I mean, I guess your point that I thought we`d have arrived at
something, maybe not arrived, but arrived at something, and to see it go
back. And yet, when I look at you and the way that you have, throughout
the course of your life and activism, met much worse, both personal and
political challenges, with such determination to overcome them.

EVERS-WILLIAMS: Well, you know, there was something Medgar used to
say often. Freedom is not free. You have to work for it. You have to
stay in touch, you have to be aware.

And I think in some way, we kind of slept through this, thinking that
we had arrived, and here we are, with a (INAUDIBLE) sign that says, "No,
you haven`t, not yet." So the battle starts all over again. But the
progress that we have made, we need to be able to pull the people, those
laws, and everything with the signal, a loud signal that says it`s not over

Take all of the technology, bring our young people in, so that they
will know that history, and can find ways to help move us forward again.

HARRIS-PERRY: Is that the one thick y`all are doing at the Medgar
and Myrlie Evers institute? What is that work?

EVERS-WILLIAMS: That is a part of it. We just celebrated, and I
will say celebrated Medgar`s life, and not his assassination, but his
assassination took place 50 years ago.

So we started the Medgar and Myrlie-Evers Institute as an outreach to
young people, to encourage them to be involved in civic engagement, to
provide scholarships, we hope, for students, particularly with black
colleges, to work with young people, we have a budding program, working
with young men, in elementary, junior high school, called the A-Team.

HARRIS-PERRY: I love that.

EVERS-WILLIAMS: And it`s to help them be aware of their
neighborhoods, the projects that they can be involved in, and be a fine
example that other students will participate and we`ll be able to get rid
of the crime, we`ll be able to get more parents involved in building

And, of course, since we are just starting, there will be other
issues that I`m sure we will tackle. But I`m just so pleased that we have
this opportunity to at least get started with the Medgar and Myrlie Evers
Institute, because it`s all about the future.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. And moving that struggle and connecting
it back. When you look out over Essence Festival, all of these amazing men
and women who are here, the diversity of black life that we see here, is
there -- oh, go ahead, Mississippi!

Is there a message that you would want to convey, as we move forward,
that is connected back to the work of you and of Medgar Evers?

EVERS-WILLIAMS: I would have to use the word "fight." and I don`t
mean physically, but with the mind and with the dollar and to build up our
communities and to go past my generation and a younger generation, which we
seem to think there is a divide, but pull us together on the real purpose
on why we are here.

HARRIS-PERRY: And to keep fighting to do that.

EVERS-WILLIAMS: That`s right.

HARRIS-PERRY: That is our show for today. Thank you to Myrlie

Thank you to you at home for watching. I`m going to see you tomorrow
morning, 10:00 a.m. Eastern, 9:00 here in New Orleans, once again from the
Essence Festival here in New Orleans.

Tomorrow, the fight from education to voting rights. Plus,
inspirational speaker and author Iyanla Vanzant joins me live.

Coming up now, "THE ED SHOW."


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