Show: MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY
Date: November 30, 2014
Guest: Jasmine Rand, Phillip Atiba Goff, Michael Skolnik, Shayla Nunnally,
Mychal Denzel Smith, Dave Zirin, Mary Dore, Marcus Franklin
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning my question, will Ray
Rice play in the NFL again?
Plus, the new film "she`s beautiful when she`s angry."
And why FDR moved thanksgiving.
But first, why we can`t feel black men`s pain.
Good morning I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
Pain, agony, suffering hurt -- our nation is full of pain, pain that has
been giving voice most recently in Ferguson, Missouri. The specific pain
of parents who have lost a child, and now know that the police officer who
killed him will not face criminal charges, the pain of communities who feel
helpless in the face of a system that brings so little justice, a system
that seems to supply fresh trauma weekly adding names to the list of
unarmed boys and men whose death is justified by whom to have been afraid
of them, Oscar, Trayvon, John, Michael, Tamir -- the pain of black men
And this is where I want to pause for a minute, this issue of black men`s
pain because Americans long have had difficulty in understanding,
acknowledging and having empathy for the pain of black men. For much of
our history, black men have been represented as merciless brutes,
unpredictable super predators who can strike without warning at any moment.
At the turn of the 20th century, George T. Winston, the president of North
Carolina College of agriculture and mechanic arts what is now NC State
University, wrote for the leading academic journal annals of the American
academy of political and social since where he wraps nostalgic for the
simpler times of slavery and explained that since emancipation quote when a
knock is heard at a door a white woman shutters with nameless horror.
The black brute is lurking in the dark, monstrous beast crazed with lust.
(INAUDIBLE) demonical. A mad bull or tiger could scarcely be more brutal.
Since the abolition of slavery, and the growing up of a new generation of
Negros, crimes that are too hideous to describe has been committed every
month, every week, frequently every day, against the helpless women and
children of the white race, crimes that were unknown in slavery.
This myth of the black brute incapable of pain himself bent on inflecting
pain on others has been a reoccurring theme in much of American popular
culture and politics from DW groups since the 1915 birth of a nation which
was screened by president Woodrow Wilson in the White House to the
unstoppably violent clubber lane whose defeat by the everyman Rocky Balboa
in Rocky III read by some film critics as a less than subtle Reagan era
fantasy about the defeating, threatening black men.
In this nation, when we look at black men and boys, our vision is
structured by these powerful off reproduced myths about black men that are
deeply embedded in our collective history and psyche. Our history is
relevant to our lives and our politics in this moment. We were reminded of
this truth as recently as six years ago by none other than our current
president when he spoke out in Philadelphia about the issue of race in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Understanding this reality
requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Falkner
once wrote the past isn`t dead and buried, in fact, it isn`t even past. We
do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country.
But need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist
between the African-American community and the larger American community
today can be traced directly to inequalities passed on from an earlier
generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The past is not even past. Take the recent study in the
British journal of developmental psychology showing that starting at around
seven years of age; American children believe that black kids feel less
pain than their white counter parts.
In the past decade, multiple studies have convincingly showed that doctors
offer black patients less pain management care because they believe the
pain of black patients is simply less intense, less excruciating than the
pain of white patients.
During the trial of George Zimmerman for the shooting death of Trayvon
Martin, Jason Silverstein of slate.com cited some of these research when he
argued the racial empathy gap helps explain disparities in everything from
pain management to the criminal justice system. And the problem isn`t just
that people disregard the pain of black people, it somehow even worse. The
problem is that the pain isn`t even felt.
The pain isn`t even felt which brings us back to this week in Ferguson,
Missouri. And the question of black men, their bodies and their pain
because this week we learned that when he testified before the grand jury,
officer Darren Wilson said this about 18-year-old Michael Brown.
And then after he did that, he, Michael Brown, looked up at me and had the
most intense aggressive face. The only way I can describe it, it looks
like a demon, that`s how angry he looked.
And we learned when he described shooting the unarmed teenager, now former
Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson, he resigned on Saturday, told the
grand jury this.
At this point it looked like he was almost bulking up to run through the
shots, like it was making him mad that I`m shooting him.
And perhaps, because in his mind he was looking at an angry demon who could
run through bullets, perhaps that is why Wilson said this in an interview
to ABC News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: It sounds like you don`t think you
DARREN WILSON, FORMER OFFICER, FERGUSON POLICE: I did my job that day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: And the St. Louis grand jury agreed. By returning no
indictment, they asserted that no crime happen the day officer Wilson took
Michael Brown`s life. It`s a decision that unleashed more pain, more hurt
that is characterized as violent, destructive and requiring policing
because as Kalhil Mohamed (ph) wrote for "the nation" this week, even with
such evidence in hand that black men are 21 times as likely to be killed by
law enforcement as white men as analyzed in a recent report by pro-Publica
(ph), today`s movement like the one before it might fail to overcome deeply
entrenched fears of black criminality without a massive shift in white
public opinion and a new model for law enforcement.
Here to sort through this pain with me, Columbia University associate
professor of political science and an MSNBC contributor Dorian Warren,
civil rights attorney Jasmine Rand, associate professor at the University
of Connecticut and author of "trust in black America, race discrimination
and politics" and also editor in chief of globalgrind.com Michel Skolnik
and from Boston, UCLA professor of social psychology and president of the
center for policing equity, Phillip Atiba Goff.
Phillip, I want to start with you because you are the co-author on a recent
study, on recent research that found evidence that black boys are actually
are seen as older and less innocent. And that they prompt a less essential
conception of childhood than the white peers who are of the same age. And
that actually related to police violent towards black children. And I`m
wondering given that we know from rock.com. that 12-year-old Tamir Rice who
was shot in Cleveland was assumed to be 20 years old by the police officers
that shot him; I`m wondering if you think that is related to the research
that you have done there.
PHILLIP ATIBA GOFF, PROFESSOR, UCLA: Well, it`s entirely possible. You
know, this came out, the report you`re talking about in the context of two
other studies that also found that black children are seen as generally
less innocent, that the parole officers and the people who are taking care
of them see them as more adult-like at an earlier time.
And so, in this time when during that beautiful intro you talked about
black men`s pain, I wonder why we`re not also talking about protecting
black childhood per see because so many of these people who are getting
shot and killed are still babies themselves.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to read you one more thing that was said by Officer
Wilson in relationship to his experience. And in it, he basically said
that he felt like that -- when he had this interaction with Brown at the
car, that he felt like -- he said the only way I can describe it is I felt
like a five-year-old holding on to Hulk Hogan. And we know that he said
this despite the fact that Wilson and Brown are basically the same size.
So let me ask this. Do you think that this is actually sincere that in the
sense that his subjective experience of Brown was as this demonic capable
of running through bullets Hulk Hogan to his 5-year-old?
GOFF: I think we need to investigate and think about this moment as if
both his sincerity and lack of sincerity are possible. It`s entirely
possible that he felt very small. He felt, you know, less than and in
fact, many of the spaces where he speaks in the grand jury testimony; he
talks as if his very manhood is at stake, right? I don`t know what I can
say on air in terms of the grand jury testimony, but he claims that Mr.
Brown said you`re too much of a blank to shoot me, right?
GOFF: So I think that it`s entirely possible, and we would do ourselves a
disservice simply to assume that the entire problem rests within the
character of Officer Wilson. In fact as you put out again so beautifully
in the introduction, this is something that has been culturally, you know,
curetted for really quite some time. And lives inside the minds of
everybody who has been paying attention to American culture regardless of
our personal believes are. So his sincerity is not so much the question as
to how to get that out of our collective conscious and out of our history
towards out future.
HARRIS-PERRY: Hold for me. Don`t go away because Dorian, I want to come
to you on this because this -- since with it is in our collective psyche,
it`s really ours which is to say that in fact, African-Americans also often
reflect these biases about black bodies, about black pain and part of where
I get stuck is that yes, this has this disproportionate effect when
connected with explicit white racism, but not exclusively about white
racism. It`s about a framework of devaluation of blackness that even black
DORIAN WARREN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Devaluation of blackness, dehumanization
of blackness and that is why Darren Wilson can use the word it looked like
a demon, not he looked like a demon. Absolutely.
I think Phil is right, though, to bring in the masculinity angle here in
terms of the masculinity threat because I don`t think it matters if you`re
a white man or black man or brown man who is a police officer in that
context because black and brown cops beat up and kill young black kids,
WARREN: And we`re not talking about that at the same level. This is not
just about white police officers, but about something that happens in
police training beyond that thin blue line that we have to have a broader
discussion of. But yes, the recent examples of these cases Michael Brown,
Tamir Rice, et cetera, these happen to be white cops. So we`re focused on
that. But it doesn`t -- race in this sense, it matters in terms of --
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s the race of the victim of the --
WARREN: Yes. That`s right.
HARRIS-PERRY: So let me come to you in part on this because you and I just
had a conversation which you were telling that an African American studies
major and undergraduate, you`re an attorney now. And you know, part of
what we talked about yesterday was body cameras. And whether or not it
would make a difference if the grand jury had seen what happened between
Michael Brown and Officer Wilson.
And at first, I thought of course it would make a difference, but then I
wonder, if everyone is impacted by this belief, might they, too, have seen
this super predator or that Wilson can get away with this narrative because
there isn`t something else to see?
JASMINE RAND, CIVIL RIGHT ATTORNEY: I think when we`re discussing the
language and the linguistics were used since they are so important to me
and I am glad that you are discussing it on a show today. Because when I
hear words like him describing Michael Brown as the hulk, that`s a
superhuman description. When I hear words like demon, that is subhuman
description. But what key about both of those things is never once to be
see him as just a human being. And when we take this back to the law and
apply this to the law, is that a reasonable belief for an officer? Did the
officer behave reasonably?
When you use words like demon to me you are saying you view black skin as a
sin and that`s not a reasonable belief for any human to hold. So I think
that when we talk about the collective consciousness of our nation, Darren
Wilson is not alone in thinking those things. So I think that whether or
not we have body cameras, it`s a great step, but we have to change the
collective consciousness and the way we allow people to speak about black
and Brown men in our nation.
HARRIS-PERRY: And Michael, I mean, that feels to me like the harder task.
It is as much as I think officer Wilson should be held accountable, as much
as the grand jury has decided that he should not be, it is still easier to
simply say Michael Brown -- excuse me, officer Wilson is a bad guy, he you
know, and if we get all the officer Wilsons off the forces, everything will
be fine. But in fact, if we have a far more complicated embedded racial
angst then we need to have a different story about this.
MICHAEL SKOLNIK, EDITOR IN-CHIEF, GLOBALGRIND.COM: Well, speaking of
stories, I think you know, as we sat around our thanksgiving tables with
our families, we all have these conversations. And I think that white
people in general, they accept the storylines easier because authorities
are on our side and we trust them. So they accept the storyline of the
authority. And so, Darren Wilson storyline becomes -- (INAUDIBLE) in
storylines becomes truth and they no longer question.
And good meaning white people, not talking about, you know, racist, good
meaning people, people in my family, they believe it`s very difficult for
them to understand and the president spoke about it and you spoke about it
in your opening, the history of the racial disparities of wealth and health
and education and criminal justice.
It`s very difficult for us to understand those things and then to think
about the interaction to a police officer and a young black man begins with
get the "f" on the sidewalk. That`s not protecting and serving. That is
confrontational and that does not happen in white communities. So it`s
very difficult for us to understand that relationship between a police
officer and a young black man, which is happening all across this country,
not just within Ferguson.
HARRIS-PERRY: Ad in fact, Phillip, let me come back to you briefly here.
It is happening all across this country. Part of what you do is to try to
train officers. Where do you have success? What does help to work to
change this for officers?
GOFF: Well, it has to be in everything and approach. You can`t just go
with, you know, reducing implicit bias. There are ways to do that where
you show people a whole bunch of different things. You have to give them
history lessons and sociology lessons.
But most importantly, you have to make legible to them what I hope is
legible becoming legible to the rest of America which is that they are when
having contact with people in these communities not a black officer or
white officer, not officer Wilson, they are frequently the biggest
manifestation of the state.
And I want to circle back around to something Dorian said. When people
have these contestations, they are having these engagements, what it feels
like to these community is that my government, you have the state is not
able to see me as a human being. And when officers can understand that`s
the impact of just simple discourtesy sometimes, then they start to get
that they have a different power than just the badge and the gun. They
have a power to define in the streets in a different way than they ever
imagined when they signed up.
HARRIS-PERRY: Actually what the state is saying.
Thank you to Phillip Atiba Goff and in Boston, Massachusetts.
When we come back, I want the tell you what Darren Wilson said was the
hardest thing he ever had to do.
HARRIS-PERRY: On Monday night as he announced the decision of the St.
Louis grand jury to seek no indictment of the Darren Wilson in the slaying
of unarmed teen Michael Brown, prosecutor Bob McCulloch asked the American
people to have empathy for the sacrifices and the discomfort of those
whirly considered in this long process.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB MCCULLOCH, PROSECUTOR, ST. LOUIS COUNTY: You need to keep in mind
these grand jurors poured their hearts and souls into this process. You
know, their term was scheduled to end in early September, and they gave up
their lives, they put their lives on holdings, they put their families on
hold. They put everything on hold so that they could come in and do their
civic duty and it was a very emotional process for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: And as Officer Wilson resigned, as many expected from the
Ferguson police force, on sat night, he offered a statement that read in
part quote "I have been told that my continued employment may put the
residents and police officers in the city of Ferguson at risk, which is a
circumstance I cannot allow. It was my hope to continue in police work but
the safety of other police officers and the community are paramount
importance to me. It`s my hope my rest sis nation will allow the community
Wilson also told the St. Louis "Post Dispatch" that his resignation was
quote "the hardest thing I ever had to do, ever."
Shayla, so we have been asked by the prosecutor to have empathy for the
jurors, the grand jurors, which by the way did their civic duty over many
months. So I get that. But when he actually uses the word, they gave up
their life, I keep thinking do you not hear what you`re saying in the
context of an 18-year-old boy being dead?
SHAYLA NUNNALLY, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR: And just the absolute utter
disregard for his death, right? And what that meant for, as the claims
have been made, that black lives matter, that it`s not just a matter of
what the person decided that day but in the larger picture of things, this
moment and all that happens surrounding Ferguson, what does it mean for our
society? How do people in the community move forward and believe that the
police department outside of Wilson should have some respect for them,
trust in what they would do to protect them? I cannot imagine what that
must feel like.
But also, in thinking about that, how do we move beyond that to consider
what institutions may bear on how people think about government, how
government represents them, but also what that means for if we were to
overturn what has happened in Ferguson and thinking about well, what could
justice really mean in having a department that can be trusted? Do we now
need another police department because you have a community that then has
to entrust calling 911 to assist them when all this is happening, they see
there is a disparity.
NUNNALLY: How can we move beyond the local level? What is that mean for
the state? And importantly, we must ask the question as far as federal
government and what role it must play in addressing this situation.
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, it seems clear to me at this point the kind of last
space is the possibility of a DOJ civil rights charge, but and tell me if
I`m wrong, my impression is the DOJ, that if you get charged by the DOJ you
should be worried because they going to win. They don`t really lose cases,
But that part of what this grand jury process does is to demonstrate to the
department of justice just precisely how difficult it might be to be able
to get a conviction and thereby most likely make it much less likely that
they are going to bring civil rights charges which continues to ask me, you
know, leads me to question how ruptured will this relationship will remain.
RAND: Well, I think that in a context of civil right charges in this case,
I`m not particularly worried about the grand jury`s failure to indictment
because of the manner in which I believe the evidence was submitted by the
prosecutor, who I did not --
HARRIS-PERRY: Who acted like a defense attorney.
RAND: Yes, who acted like a defense attorney. You know, they were
misinformed about the status of the law. We have the clip where we had to
remove the description of an officer`s ability to use force and say there
is this little thing called the United States Supreme Court and says that
this isn`t the real description, just folded up and put it aside. And then
when the jurors asked for an explanation, they said don`t worry about it.
This isn`t law school.
So, I`m not concerned about the department of justice ability to take a
civil rights case and you`re absolutely right, if they take this case and
they will do it with the intention to win.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. They just rarely, there was a time 40 years ago when
you saw that kind of prosecution but you just, at this point, they don`t
bring on unless they think they can win.
SKOLNIK: Also another power. The department of justice gets $400 million
a year to police departments. That can come with conditions, right, body
cameras, de-escalation tactics, training on, as Bill said, implicit and
explicit biases, right? So they can then take a stance and say if we give
you this money, you must do x, y and z.
HARRIS-PERRY: Which is potentially much more powerful than any given
HARRIS-PERRY: And it`s actually been what the federal government has been
unwilling to do really since the 1970s in terms of putting basically ever
since the transportation money and, you know, the drinking age raising to
21, they have been pretty unwilling to put those kind of conditions.
SKOLNIK: Yes, which is the difficult part of the protesters in Ferguson is
because they don`t have the support network that they think they should
have in terms of the federal government, in terms of the Supreme Court.
And the folks -- in terms of a democratic governor or democratic prosecutor
or democratic county executive, their support is not there. So the outside
voices have to come in and shine the light on these groups of Hand Up
United and Lost Voice and organizations with black struggle who are doing
the work who are saying these are the solutions, this is how we get to a
solution and they are there and have to highlight them.
WARREN: I am worried and I have a big worry about the civil rights case by
the justice department and here is why. It`s actually based on Shayla`s
research. Because we know that black Americans trust the national
government much more than local government and the federal government has
to come in to win some kind of justice for black people.
HARRIS-PERRY: Civil war, yes.
WARREN: I`m worried our expectations are very high that the justice
department will take the case and win. And I want to dampen those
expectations because the other thing is what Michel said, they could also
do a review of that whole department. They could also have some mandates
attached to funding that could change the policing practices even if we
don`t get justice for Mike Brown from the department of justice. There are
other things that are systemic and there are some reforms that could be put
in place by the justice department. So I want our hopes to be put in that
and in addition to possibly them taking the case. But I just worry that
we`re now going to --
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s got to be this one thing.
WARREN: Yes. It has to be this one thing and I don`t know if that is
going to happen.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stick with us, my letter of the week is next.
HARRIS-PERRY: We all waited for more than 100 days to learn that the St.
Louis grand jury would indict Officer Darren Wilson for killing Michael
Brown. We waited because for many this case became a test whether in fact
this country at this moment black lives matter.
But while we waited for this temperature reading on the state of American
racial justice, one woman waited for far more personal reason. Michael
Brown was her son. And she wanted to know if the man who killed him would
be held accountable. She first stood defiant and then as she learned there
would be no indictment. She cried out with anguish that rendered her mute,
paralyzed, torn with loss and disbelief. That`s why my letter this week
goes to Michael Brown`s mother, Lesley McSpadden.
Dear Mrs. McSpadden, it`s me, Melissa. And like you I`m the mother of
black children. Like so many other black moms, I wanted to say something
to comfort you this week but here I standstill unsure of what to say. For
months we watched you navigate the treacherous agonizing and now all too
familiar role of a grieving black mother seeking justice for your slain
child, along with stoic and extraordinary Sybrina Fulton, we endure the not
guilty verdict for George Zimmerman who killed her son Trayvon. Along with
the undaunted Lucia McBath, we felt some sense of fairness for the retrial
conviction of Michael Dunn who killed her son, Jordan. Along with the
determined (INAUDIBLE) Pendleton, we were stunned by the senseless
motivations of gang rivalry of spouse by the alleged killers of her
And this week along with you we were broken as we learned that a grand jury
found no crime in the killing of your son, Michael. I cannot speak for all
black mothers, but I want you to know that many of us felt your anguish
through the screen, felt it penetrate our core and break our hearts as we
bore witness to your shock and torment. I want you to know your son`s life
did matter and no decision by any jury anywhere can ever change that truth.
I know what officer Wilson said about Michael, what he looked like, what he
did, how he had no choice but to shoot and kill Michael. But I beg you to
hold onto the things you know about Michael that none of us can ever know,
the precious weight of his baby self-when he snuggle into your arms as an
infant. The thrill and pride he had when he learned to ride a bike, the
adolescent rebellion and experimentation he asserted as he tried out being
his own man, the struggle to endure to finish high school, the dreams he
nurtured of making music and a bigger life.
Officer Wilson was there in the final moments of Michael`s life and far too
many saw Michael`s body for hours after his death, a death and aftermath
that have been tragically and painfully public. But to be a black mother
in America has never been an entirely private matter. Going all the way
back to slavery when enslaved black women were expected to understand they
weren`t giving birth to children but instead producing units for sale.
Black mothers were forced to pass along their enslaved status to their
infants ensuring intergenerational shuttled bandage with the first
inheritance black mothers gave black children in America.
But even then, black mothers found a way to love and nurture and cherish
their children the private place and their souls that no injustice could
erase. And no matter how public his death, it is you, Mama, who ushered
Michael into this world, who heard his first cries, whisper the first
prayer of gratitude for his life and dreamed the first great dream for him.
And you have a right to love him and honor and remember and to grieve and
to seek justice. And no matter what happens next, we know it`s you, not us
who has endured the greatest loss.
We are truly, truly sorry for all that you have lost. Sincerely, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: President Obama rarely spoke publicly about the shooting
death of Michael Brown during the August days when Ferguson was first
convulsed with grief and protest. It was attorney general Holder, not the
president, who made the trip from Martha`s Vineyard to Ferguson, Missouri
all those months ago.
But on Monday, following the announcement that a grand jury decided not to
indict Officer Darren Wilson, the president took to the national enter
waves almost immediately and this is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The fact is in too many parts of this country, a deep distrust
exists between law enforcement and communities of color. Some of this is
the result of legacy of racial discrimination in this country and this is
tragic because nobody needs good policing more than poor communities with
higher crime rates.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: As protests continue throughout the country and many call
for action by the department of justice, what now can heal this deep divide
between police and black communities.
Dorian, was it odd to hear the president say nobody needs policing more
than poor communities? It was -- I understood what he was saying but also
felt strangely discoed on that night?
WARREN: This isn`t quite makes sense to me. I felt it was a little tone
deaf because everybody deserves protection and safety. That`s a public
good. And we pay into that right as citizens to be protected and have
public safety. But Wall Street has committed more crimes on a daily basis
than quote-unquote "poor communities." So, let`s see some policing
downtown as opposed to focused on low levels crimes, do you have marijuana
in your pockets, right? I mean, that is --
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s what we think of what counts as a crime.
WARREN: What counts as a crime and how do we redefine that and again a
broader sense of policing for real crimes that affect people`s lives.
HARRIS-PERRY: So Shayla, I mean, your research is around trust and the
ways which, you know, communities of color often distrust those closest to
them, their front line interactions with the government, but will have a
stronger sense of justice coming from the federal government. But I guess
I just wonder, do you have insights on what -- I wonder if we`re asking the
wrong question about building trust. It keeps of being you guys need to
trust us as opposed to we need to be trustworthy.
NUNNALLY: And so, one thing I have been thinking about is if we were to
entertain perhaps a commission that would speak with the community and
actually hear what the community concerns are and then make recommendations
based on what the community said, I mean, we have activists who clearly
want to be heard. Well, let`s actually make an attempt to hear them and
know what they would like differently in their communities.
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, right now, we have the NAACP leading a multi-day
march to the governor`s home and it is -- you know, you said earlier, here
is a democratic governor and I mean whatever level of tone deafness the
president may have demonstrated, nothing compared to the level we`ve seen
from Governor Nixon over and over again. And it does feels like have you
thought about sitting down, listening, responding?
SKOLNIK: I think this issue -- I`m so glad you wrote the letter to Lesley
because I think we always have to focus this is about a family.
SKOLNIK: And a mother and father and stepfather and stepmother that lost
and brothers and sisters that lost a loved one. And let us not use their
loss for a greater conversation about what is next because there will never
be a, what is next for them.
If we can`t take a step back and I think as Phil pointed out in his initial
comments, there are structural systems in place that we know about that got
us to this place. And if you want to talk about a trust, you know,
conversation that police and the community, let us break down the war on
drugs. Let`s end the obsession with mass incarceration. There is reason
we have militarization of the police, not because of the war on drugs.
Because the reason why it is so flash grenades, (INAUDIBLE) is killed in
Detroit of a young boy is hit in the head and losing, almost loses his eye
in Wisconsin because the war on drugs. If we have a conversation on trust,
let us stop a war against black and brown America then let us have a
Let us not have a conversation in the middle of a war and say everyone calm
down, we`re still going to shoot. Fourteen teenagers have been shot and
killed by police officers since Mike Brown who were unarmed.
SKOLNIK: So let us not call a peace treaty when we`re still killing
HARRIS-PERRY: The "Salt Lake City Tribune" pointed out that in fact, there
have been more, nearly 300 homicides, this media report stat crime
statistics and medical examiner records and they actually show that use of
force by the police is the second most common circumstance under which Utah
people kill each other to pass only by intimate partner violence. So the
most dangerous person is intimate partner violence, the next is the police.
WARREN: And last year was the lowest level of police officers killed in
the line of duty in about 15 years. It`s not even one of the top ten most
dangerous occupations in America. So when people say, but what about the
police and how hard it is? Yes, it is a tough job. But it is not nearly
as dangerous as so many other occupations. It`s the lowest level of police
depths last year.
HARRIS-PERRY: Dorian and Jasmine are going be back later in the program.
I want to say thank you to Shayla Nunnally and to Michel Skolnik.
Still to come this morning, Ray Rice`s story has a major development and
Janay Rice speaks out to tell hers.
But first, what FDR did to mess with thanksgiving and how it made everybody
HARRIS-PERRY: For three years in American history, thanksgiving
traditionally held on the last Thursday of November was celebrated one week
earlier thanks to President Franklin Roosevelt. You see, he bumped up the
holiday spot on the counter by executive proclamation in 1939. The
president`s intention was to increase the holiday shopping window. Before
the move thanksgiving would have fallen on November 30th leaving poultry 24
shopping days between thanksgiving and Christmas. President Roosevelt
hoped that extra seven days would provide a real boost to the economy. But
that turkey day slide did not go over well.
Andrew (INAUDIBLE) with vox.com had put it this way. What may have seemed
like a wonkish (ph), technocrat and good government policy clashed with
what turned out to be deeply engrained feelings among many Americans about
when thanksgiving should be celebrated. The controversy lasted another two
years before President Roosevelt decided to change it back. In 1941 a new
law made thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November.
Coming up, holiday shopping and the mixed messages from the current state
of the economy.
HARRIS-PERRY: To read some business headlines, the U.S. economy is defying
expectations. Earlier this week there was news of impressive GDP growth in
the third quarter. A 3.9 percent increase in real GDP slower than last
quarter but still an upward revision of the original third quarter report
and wildly viewed as a sign of good economic health and recovery.
Government and personal (ph) spending are up as are exports, gas prices,
free falling. And plenty of people packed shopping malls this weekend to
spend their earnings on black Friday deals. Things appear to be an
Well, here is another business headline this week. Consumer confidence
took a tumble falling unexpectedly to 88.7 after October`s seven-year high
of 94.5. It is the lowest reading since June. Experts attribute the
decline to people feeling less optimistic about the economic future in the
short term. The seemingly contradictory, economic indicator comes as we
head into the hectic holiday shopping season when retailers expect to
escape the red. What should we make of it?
Still with me is Dorian Warren and joining me now from Washington D.C. is
Jared Bernstein, MSNBC and CNBC contributor and senior fellow at the Center
on budget and policy priorities. He was the chief economist -- economic
advisor to vice president Joe Biden, 2009-2011.
So Jared, help me out. Why do you think there is a bit of a mismatch
between these economic indicators and consumer confidence?
JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I actually don`t think it`s that
much of a head scratcher when you start to think about this issue of income
or wage inequality that`s has been so prominent for decades and very much
rearing its head over the current economic recovery. And by the way, when
you say economic recovery to a lot of people, they kind of wonder what the
heck you`re talking about.
BERNSTEIN: And that`s because while we`ve seen GDP growth much like you
described, paychecks have been pretty stagnant. The rate of average growth
of the typical workers paycheck has been around two percent and that`s
nominal. Now, up until recently, inflation was running about at two
percent as well. So that means flat buying power in terms of hourly wages.
There has been some positive developments, the decline in gas prices mean
that a given wage will go further. And of course, there have been more
jobs, more hours worked. But if the only way you can get ahead is by less
inflation or more work, that just doesn`t feel that great to a lot of
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So help me then to understand this because, you
know, part of what we have been told really since the 1980s is that when
profits grow when the kind of job creators have more money, they will
reinvest in labor cause by either raising salaries or hiring more workers.
But that does not seem to be what happened in this economic recovery where
we end up with this enormous corporate profits but very little difference
BERNSTEIN: Right, I mean, we may have been told that but I for one, have
been telling a very different story for actually since around the 1980s
where we began to see a split very much in the space you just described,
Melissa. We had productivity growing a pace, even accelerating for periods
over the decades you just mentioned. But median or typical family income,
median earnings have been largely flat so you`ve had this real split
between productivity growth and kind of the macro going one way and micro
going the other. It has a lot to do with numerous developments over these
years, the absence of full employment in the job market, declining unions,
more globalization. Many of these factors have really helped contribute to
this wedge between overall economic growth and broadly shared prosperity.
HARRIS-PERRY: So hold on for a second, Jared. I want to come out to
Dorian here. And it does, you know, we saw the November of midterm
elections where people went to the polls where there were minimum wage
ballot initiatives. They voted for the minimum wage, you know, with their
left hand and right hand voted for Republicans who are going to be the
folks lest likely to institute such a minimum wage increase. I guess I`m a
little surprised at the inability still of American voters to connect those
WARREN: American voters and Americans know the economic pain they are
feeling. One out of three Americans is in poverty or near poverty. Wages
have been flat as Jared said. But even now, we are seeing something going
on. Even many business owners are saying we won`t oppose an increase in a
minimum wage because they understand that if workers had more money in
their pockets, there is more demand for service and products. And so,
their sales won`t be flat as think have been for many retailers in the
But here is another -- it has been a heavy hour. The other good news is
black Friday we saw protesters around black lives matter as well as
protesters and strikers at Walmart converging in the same places at the
same store. So workers are actually taking action and saying no, we
deserve and demand more as corporate America is doing the best it`s done in
HARRIS-PERRY: So Jared, let me come back to you on this, because this was,
you know, is an interesting sort of outgrowth of the timing of the grand
jury decision of non-indictment. Was it lead to this opportunity for kind
of consumer-based protest action.
But I guess, it also leads me to a broader question of how sustainable is
our economy in the long term when it relies on individuals doing what is
bad for them, spending as much as they can, in order to do something that
deserve for the collective, which is grow the economy. Like, is there some
other model for the mass economy here?
BERNSTEIN: Yes. It`s a great question and it ties into part of the answer
to the riddle that you and Dorian were just talking about. I actually
think that the question you just asked gets to the heart of this conundrum
we`ve been talking about.
There are many institutions failing average Americans these days, and
you`ve been talking about one of them for the bulk of the show so far. But
there is also economic institutions that are failing people. And one of
the reasons they are not going to the polling is because other than the
minimum wage which is a great idea and a great solution but to a small part
of the problem, I don`t think our officials are actually giving people much
of an option in terms of what will reconnect their economic lives to the
I think if you actually talked about things like more direct job creation,
if the economy isn`t going to create enough jobs, then we have to do so
through the public sector. If we talked about really taking a run at this
full employment problem, particularly for minorities in different
communities, if we talked about helping more disadvantaged people get
access to higher education, we have to reduce our trade deficit to give our
manufacturers a better edge.
These ideas, they really don`t seem to get into the heat or because they
challenge too much of the dominant economics. And that`s one the reasons
why I think we`ve had this persistent disconnect and no, I don`t think it`s
particularly sustainable. And I think we`re talking about some of the un-
sustainability on the show today.
Thank you to Jared Bernstein in Washington D.C. I wonder if you will make
that pitch of the maybe political narrative to that vice president who I
presume might be thinking about running for president.
BERNSTEIN: Well, I`m writing a book called "the reconnection agenda" which
is all about that.
HARRIS-PERRY: You will never know. Dorian is sticking around.
Still to come this morning, Ray Rice could return to the NFL and Janay Rice
tells her story.
There is more Nerdland at the top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. Friday, former NFL
running back Ray Rice won his appeal of an indefinite suspension levied
against him by the NFL following the release of a surveillance tape in
which Rice was recorded punching his then fiancee Janay. Rice had been
pursuing an appeal of the NFL`s decision since the Baltimore Ravens first
terminated his contract. The same day the tape was released on September
8th. And with Friday`s reinstatement, he`s now eligible to be sign by and
immediately begin playing for any team in the NFL. The indefinite
suspension was the second penalty issued against Rice by NFL Commissioner
Roger Goodell who before the release of the elevator video had originally
given Rice a two-game suspension, and a fine of one week`s salary.
In her decision on the reinstatement, former U.S. district Judge Barbara S.
Jones says that the NFL had based the increase penalty on what it called a
quote, "starkly different sequence of events" between what happened on the
videotape and what they say Rice told them at a meeting in June. And that
Commissioner Goodell claimed he was misled when he first disciplined Rice
but Judge Jones was not having it and found that there were no new facts on
which the commissioner would base his increased suspicion. After
considering all the evidence, she reached this conclusion. I`m not
persuaded that Rice lied to or misled the NFL and his June interview. I
find the indefinite suspension was an abuse of discretion and must be
vacated. A separate proceeding in a grievance filed against the Ravens by
the NFL`s Player`s Association will determine whether or not Rice will be
entitled to back pay for game checks he missed during his suspension and
for his future compensation and career in the league, it`s a waiting game
to see which team might take a chance on the NFL`s most infamous free
Joining me now, Dorian Warren, MSNBC contributor, Columbia University
associate professor of Political Science and International and Public
Affairs and fellow of the Roosevelt Institute. Jasmine Rand, a civil
rights attorney. Mychal Denzel Smith, contributing writer for
TheNation.com and a fellow at The Nation Institute.
And joining us from Washington is Dave Zirin, sports editor for The Nation
Magazine and author of "Brazil`s Dance With The Devil: The World Cup, The
Olympics And The Fight For Democracy."
All right. So, Dave, you wrote this week that the role of Roger Goodell as
abuser can now be seen with utter clarity. Explain that to us.
DAVE ZIRIN, SPORTS EDITOR, THE NATION MAGAZINE: Absolutely. I mean, with
this decision, Roger Goodell has revealed himself to be basically the
sports version of Ferguson cop Prosecutor Bob McCulloch, a cover up artist
who cares only about defending the shield, in this case not the shield of
the police but the shield of the NFL without caring a bit about any concept
of justice or fairness. This is a devastating ruling by Judge Jones. I
only wish there was someone to put Bob McCulloch under oath so he could
speak about the decisions that he made in going forward to how we
prosecuted or didn`t prosecute Darren Wilson but the fact that Roger
Goodell had to go under oath shows now that he is been revealed there is no
other way to put this, as a liar and I really hope that there is a zealous
states prosecutor or U.S. attorney out there who brings perjury charges
against Roger Goodell going forward because he chose to double down on the
story of what he knew and when he knew it, the same story that had the
entire sports media including a lot of NFL sycophants scoffing and he
doubled down on that under oath and I really do hope he has to pay some
sort of legal penalty for doing that.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Dave, this is tough for people undoubtedly because I
think that there is, you know, in the case that you`re trying to make a
comparison here with Ferguson, I think a lot of people who are at least are
on the side of Mr. Brown and Brown`s family feel like there is a good guy
and bad guy.
HARRIS-PERRY: And this is a lot less clear in the sense that it is tough
to be the folks who are like yes, we`re down for Ray Rice getting to come
back to play. So pull that apart a little bit because you also wrote --
HARRIS-PERRY: That means that Goodell has created a new re-victimizing
system that takes power away from survivors about how to seize control of
their own lives and map out plans to be safe and end cycles of abuse
instead the power rests with Goodell to end the couriers, the economic
opportunities, the public lies of those suspected of abuse. So, I just
want to be clear that you are not like, you know, rooting for intimate
partner violence here.
ZIRIN: No, quite the opposite. Part of it looking at how do we actually
confront and stop intimate partner violence. And when you speak to people
who actually do the work who are in the trenches fighting around domestic
and intimate partner violence, what they will tell you is that the role of
abuser and the role of quote-unquote savior are two sides of the same coin.
And what you seen the NFL do is now try to play both those roles at the
same time. They flipped basically from being an organization that enables
and ignores issues of intimate partner violence to now being an
organization that says, we will swoop down and with the almighty hammer
smash any player, any career, anybody who dares bring bad public relations
on the NFL by being part of a situation of domestic violence without
realizing that those both flow from the same well of toxic masculinity that
takes all agency and all power away from the most important person in this
scenario and that is the survivor.
And the fact that the -- I have to tell you this quick story. I was
speaking to somebody at the NFL`s office who was mad at the article I wrote
and they said, don`t you realize we`ve assembled an army of people who are
ready to fight domestic violence. That`s exactly the problem. This isn`t
about armies and wars and saviors swooping in. This is not white man
burden time to stop domestic violence. You actually have to have agency of
the survivor themselves or you`re going to trap people in cycles of
HARRIS-PERRY: Stick with us, Dave, don`t go away. Michael, I want to ask
you, at least from ESPN today, at least four teams have looked into signing
Ray Rice, one of them my team, the New Orleans Saints.
MYCHAL DENZEL SMITH, FELLOW, THE NATION INSTITUTE: Uh-huh.
HARRIS-PERRY: So what happens if you`re the team that signs Ray Rice?
Does it all just kind of go away and ultimately the question is how he
performs on the field? What difference does it make?
SMITH: Well, I`m glad no one is pretending to care about black women in
this situation that Roger Goodell got caught pretending to care about a
black woman. As Dave was pointing out, you know, he was worried about the
public aspect of it, he`s worried about the bottom-line. He did not care
about Janay Rice at all and he`s continued to not care about Janay Rice at
all, not sat down with Janay Rice and wondered what it is that you need in
HARRIS-PERRY: He sat down with her but she was sitting next to Ray Rice.
SMITH: Right. Exactly. He`s not concerned what she needs and putting the
focus on her and her own mental health and physical safety. So, yes, but
we`ve talked a lot about black men`s pain in the early part of the show but
I think about Janay Rice and then I think about Marissa Alexander and I
think about these two very different stories of domestic violence. But two
black women trying to assert their shelves and their safety and protect
their lives and then I think about the source of that. And it is, they
have been hit, they have been abused by black men and it`s frustrating to
then watch and go to Ferguson and see all of these black women on the front
lines fighting for the liberation and safety and lives of black men and
note that, you know, there are black men out there saying what is wrong
with Ray? What was the problem? I don`t -- she hit him. What is -- it`s
just very frustrating and I`m to the point where I`m like black men owe a
debt to black women. And black men owe black women reparations at this
point. Like we are in this untenable situation where black women are
constantly showing up for us and we`re not doing the same.
RAND: I think it`s dangerous to put it solely in that context because I
think domestic violence isn`t a black, white, brown issue and I understand
your comments but we have to understand that there are a lot of white men
out there that abuse people, as well. And when we talk about domestic
violence, I`m kind of disgusted with the way that the NFL has dealt with
this. Domestic violence is not a football, no pun-intended. It`s not
something that we completely ignore and it`s not something that we use for
ratings when we find it advantageous to us. And I think to me, there is no
excuse in the book for what Ray Rice did to Janay but at the same time, I
want to ensure that if this is where we`re going as a nation and we want to
hold men accountable for committing acts of domestic violence, then that
needs to be applied equally and across all boundaries to all men at all
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, so we end up with this problem, Dave, where on the
one hand I think we have this very clear articulation from Michael there
about the gender question here, about particularly the intro-racial gender
question, all with the difficulty that we`re facing impart because Janay
Rice and other women who are victimized by black men who are themselves
black recognize that that notion of the demon super predator that exists
for black men, sort of talking about our own pain can contribute to that
making the very men that we love more vulnerable in that space.
ZIRIN: Yes, I mean, we need to be very explicit. I know everybody in nerd
land knows this but it always needs to be said is that domestic violence,
an intimate partner violence is something that knows no color, it affects
all communities, and at the same time it needs to be said that the rates of
intimate partner domestic violence in the NFL are not appreciably any
greater than the society as a whole. The NFL has a cover-up problem much
more than it has an intimate partner violence problem. And the fact that
they cover-up these incidents is something that of course makes these
problems worse and worse and worse and then of course the racial
representation when you have someone like Ray Rice who the media puts
forward as the face of an abusive partner instead of saying NASCAR driver
Kurt Busch who is a domestic abuser and intimate partner abuser who is a
white NASCAR driver, nobody is going around and asking white athletes, hey,
is it the music he listens to? Are his jeans too tight? Why is he doing
these things? You know --
HARRIS-PERRY: Stick with us, Dave, because what we`re going to do in the
next block is the very thing you`ve asked us to do, which is to put Janay
Rice at the center of the story with her telling her own story. When we
come back, everybody stay with us.
HARRIS-PERRY: The same day Ray Rice was reinstated the NFL, his wife whose
silent image on a surveillance tape cast her into the national spotlight as
the face of domestic violence finally told her story in her own words.
Friday ESPN published Janay Rice`s account of what happen that night in the
elevator and everything that transpired since, as told to ESPN host and
reporter Jamil Hill. Now Janay says, she has watched the first video of
Ray pulling her out of the elevator while she was unconscious, but she says
she has not, will not watch the second tape. This is what she remembers of
the incident. "We got into the elevator and what happened inside is still
foggy to me. The only thing I know and I can`t even say I remember because
I only know from what Ray has told me is that I slapped him again and then
he hit me. I remember nothing else from inside the elevator." In another
interview with the NBC`s "Today Show" which will air tomorrow and Tuesday
in two parts on "Today," Janay explains her reaction immediately after
police question the couple that night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANAY RICE, WIFE OF RAY RICE: I was furious. We came home and we didn`t
talk the entire ride. Well, I didn`t speak to him the entire ride home.
He tried to talk to me. I didn`t want to hear anything. I just knew he
hit me, and I was completely over it. I was done, didn`t want to hear
anything. I just didn`t even want to entertain it, entertain him, anything
that he had to say, any explanation. Of course, in the back of my mind and
my heart I knew that our relationship wouldn`t be over because I know that
this isn`t us and it`s not him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Janay told ESPN that shortly after their arrest, she watched
the first video showing the aftermath of her husband`s assault and
confronted him about what she says she saw. She says, "I asked him why he
left me on the floor like that. I asked him how he felt when he saw that I
was unconscious. He told me he was in shock. I asked him what happened
when we got out of the elevator. He told me he was terrified because
security was there. I asked him how he felt seeing me like that. He said
he was thinking, what did I just did?"
After telling the story of a relationship that began when she was 14 and
Ray Rice was 15 and the experience of living through the release of the
second type and the penalty that followed, Rice says of her public
perception, "I still find it hard to accept being called a victim. I know
there are so many different opinions out there about me that I`m weak, that
I`m making excuses and covering up abuse." And she concludes with what she
wishes the public would understand about her marriage today. I hope when
people read this they realize that we`re real. I want people to know how
much we love each other and how far we`ve come.
So, Dorian, it`s hard to read the interview, it`s hard to hear her speak
because she doesn`t fit in some neat little box that we want to so
frequently put domestic violence survivors in.
WARREN: I`m so happy that she finally has some agency here. That these
are her words, their heart felt. They are her truth. We should, I think,
believe them and I think they point to the complexity of this. I mean,
Michael was talking earlier about black men. I think this is an issue for
all men. It is in many ways a crisis of masculinity in the sense of, look,
all couples have complex. What tools are we teaching young men in
particular for how to deal with those conflicts and how do we teach men of
all races violence is always unacceptable? But here are other tools for
you when you have conflict with your partner, an inevitable conflict with
your partner. So, I think there is a broader story. I mean, Dave can talk
about the football NFL stuff but I think this is a broader cultural
conversation we have to have about masculinity in America.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Dave, I want to ask you a question, and it`s going to be
pure speculation in this certain way. But I`m trying to take Janay Rice
very seriously when she says this never happened before, this isn`t like
him and they`ve known each other since they were 14 and 15 years old. Now,
we know that there is an Ohio State football player missing right now. We
know that part of the language, the letter that he left has to do with
concussions. I`m in no way, let me be very clear, I am in no way making
excuses but I am seeking to understand and wondering if we take Janay Rice
seriously, that this is a change in behavior and maybe it`s not but if it
is, could it in any way be connected to his actual role as a football
player? Maybe it`s the masculinity being taught to hit as a solution,
maybe there is also something actually physiological happening here.
ZIRIN: Yes, I mean, right up here, this is the frontal lobe of the brain,
the more abuse that frontal lobe takes, the more we know it`s connected to
chronic traumatic encephalopathy which can lead to things like feeling
profound sense of temper and impatience and anger. Now, of course, as we
know across the board, there are mild mannered psychiatrists who are
domestic abusers. You don`t need abuse to the frontal lobes of his brain
to become a domestic abuser, but I spoke to a neurologist about this very
issue for an article I`m writing, and the way he said, it was perfect, he
said look, you take a lot of abuse to that front of the head, it`s not the
sort of thing that it`s like a light switch that turns you into someone who
takes part in an intimate partner violence but guess what, it doesn`t help.
And I`ve interviewed a lot of women who are the wives and in some cases
widows of NFL players who are connected with abuse and they tell very
similar stories about things like frustration, migraine headaches, the
inability to remember things. I mean, things we associate with post-
concussion syndromes and once again, that does not make you an abuser but
it doesn`t help. But if I could just say one thing, I just want to give
thanks to Jamil Hill for how she did this interview. Because compare it
contrast it to Roger Goodell, Roger Goodell interviews Janay Rice with Ray
Rice by her side. That alone should have been a fireable offense for Roger
Goodell. The idea that you put an abuser and the survivor in the same room
to beg for his job in front of his desk. That is an obscenity and he
should have been fired as soon as that went public. When Jamil`s
interview, Ray Rice was nowhere to be found, and Jamil to her credit gave
Janay final edit on the story itself so it could be her story.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Three hours` worth of interview, follow-ups and
interestingly, what you`re saying there Dave, and I want to bring this to
you Jasmine. So, she actually says, "We knew we had to meet with
Commissioner Roger Goodell on June 16th. We were both nervous and scared
because we felt like we were going to the principal`s office." Right.
That is indicative of her, I mean, if you feel like you`re going to the
principal`s office, you`re not in that moment asking for everything you
need. There is one other piece I want to ask you to respond to. She says
that she doesn`t want to watch the second video when it`s released and she
says, "I was over this. I didn`t need the visual. How was seeing it going
to help me? I knew that it would only bring me back there. After Ray
watched it, I asked him not to look at it again. Because I knew it was
only the devil trying to come in and ruin how far we`ve come." I refuse to
go backwards." And this was the moment when I felt to run. Because I
thought, okay, I`m prepared to believe you but I also need you to be able
to confront it, to see it, and then still make the choice.
RAND: And the first thing I want to say is to Janay Rice. You are not
RAND: And hearing her describe herself as weak or fearing that she`ll be
perceived as weak is troublesome to me because she`s strong, and she`s
exhibiting strength that so many women --
HARRIS-PERRY: Whether she leaves or stay.
RAND: Exactly. Whether she leaves or stays. And seeing the video,
knowing that he spit on her as a person who grew up in a household of
domestic violence, this is not the first time to me that Janay has been
hit. And I think that that`s a significant issue. Her fear of watching
the video, it`s her fear of seeing someone that she loves so deeply
disrespecting her in such a major way. She`s right. Why did he leave her
on the floor? Why was his first concern about himself? And for all the
people listening out there, when we hear Janay describe our love is real,
this is not what real love looks like. Real love looks self-less and it
doesn`t find people behaving in ways that are violent. So, there is no
justification for what he did but we cannot continue to re-victimize Janay
Rice because this is not solely her problem to deal with. This is our
problem to deal with as a nation treatment of women here.
HARRIS-PERRY: And I wanted to underline again that when he says he had the
fear of the security again and her having the fear of going in front of
Goodell, so domestic violence is not race. And yet, there does seem to be
this racial element in that moment, that fear of like, okay, in this moment
what I could be subjected to as a black man in this moment and so you do,
you feel that sense of her covering for him of her protecting him, of her
being the front line for him.
SMITH: She assumes the role of protector for Ray Rice and black men
everywhere essentially in saying, you know, I`m not going to ruin this life
of this rich young black man.
SMITH: And I just -- I`m glad Janay is telling her story but what you hear
in there so much is to someone who has experienced, someone who has
experienced domestic violence and then you ask like, how do we support
Janay, how do we get to a point where no one has to tell that story.
SMITH: I think it gets back to -- about how to teach the masculinity.
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, I just, you know, I want black women to put
themselves at the center of their own stories. Thank you to Dave Zirin as
always in Washington, D.C. for joining us on a holiday weekend. And still
to come this morning, the image of black fathers. It`s getting a bit of a
makeover but first, Nerdland goes to the movies.
HARRIS-PERRY: Okay, Nerdland, I have a question, how many times have you
watched the teaser for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"? How many time haves
you tweeted about it, posted about it or already talked about it with your
Jedi pals? It`s been a pretty big response for just a sliver of a peak of
a movie that doesn`t even open until December of next year. But what if I
told you that there is a new movie opening this December that feature as
small band of rebels taking on an overwhelming empire-like oppressor and
using something not unlike the force, the film is called "She`s Beautiful
When She`s Angry." And it takes viewers through some of the incredible but
often forgotten moments of the women`s movement in the 1960s and 70s. Here
is a teaser.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(Women singing): It`s the women -- it`s the women`s power. It`s the
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The status quo is being challenged by the women`s
liberation movement. Today, it`s still a man`s world.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I started getting word from people I knew in the
movement by then and as I heard about these things, I was able to go out
and shoot them.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: They startled Wall Street one day by an exhibition in
which roles were reversed.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: You`re so beautiful, all of them. These men, those
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It was reported in the newspaper that there was a
woman who worked in the Wall Street area. She was very well endowed and
men would wait for her outside the Wall Street train station and they would
pinch her, make sucking noises at her and I thought this is pretty
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Oh, wow. Look at the legs on that one.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: So I organized what I rather grandly recalled the
first national oglemen (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Those pants, they just bring out your best.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: How do you like that hat over there?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: All the very clever events helped the women`s movement
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Keep your best leg forward, sweetie.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Now it doesn`t my taste to do the kind of
demonstrations and things that some of them did, but I was always sort of
gleeful about it underneath and I thought, you know, go for it.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Look at that long hair.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Oh, it`s a hippy on Wall Street. We`re trying to
point out what it feels like to being whistled at, put down constantly
sexually every time we look down the street.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Is love out? Is sex out? Unless man changes, it`s
going to be very soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Up next, the director of "She`s Beautiful When She`s Angry."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We were angry. Maybe the anger is what carried us
through and made us fearless.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I`m seriously disheartened by the current situation
but at the same time I`m angry and one of the things I learned decades ago
when we`re that angry about something that bad, we take action against it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was political activist Alice Wolfson and author Judith
Arkano (ph) who both have been vital voices in the Women`s Liberation
Movement. Both are featured in the new documentary. "She`s Beautiful When
She`s Angry." The film takes viewers through the evolution of the struggle
for gender equality, reproductive rights, equal pay for women, freedom from
sexual violence and other vital civil and human rights. "She`s Beautiful
When She`s Angry" provides a visual tour of the evolution of the women`s
movement from the 1966 founding of the National Organization for Women and
the 1968 development, the stick black women`s liberation committee through
the 1969 emergence of the group called the women`s international terrorist
conspiracy from hell, a more radical group that once encourages members to
dress as witches and put what they called a hex on the New York Stock
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: And so, part of the hex went knowledge is power
through which you control our mind, our spirit, our bodies, our soul. Hex.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: All of these stories for historical content for today`s push
for gender equality while reminding viewers of an important lesson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The bitter lesson is that no victories are permanent.
All our rights are like that. They are only as good as we maintain them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Joining the table now, the director and co-producer of
"She`s Beautiful When She`s Angry," Mary Dore. I loved it. I watched it
with my daughter. You know, why this film now? I mean, we get the sense
of it there because no win, no rights are permanent but is there something
specific about this moment that is valuable for us to revisit this moment?
MARY DORE, DIRECTOR, "SHE`S BEAUTIFUL WHEN SHE`S ANGRY": I think it`s
particularly valuable right now because of the huge push back on
reproductive rights and since that that was a primary goal of the women`s
movement from a very early stage because they knew that women had to have
control over their own bodies and you`ll see it come up in the film
repeatedly. But I cannot claim any great brilliance for having the film
come out now because it was worked on for many, many years. It was a
really hard film to fund and to make. So, our timing is just very
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. I have to admit during the first half hour or so of
the film, I watched it with the great skepticism. It was very much the
Betty Frudan part of the women`s movement, I`m like, uh-mm, that is always
how they told the story. And then all of a sudden, here come in all the
complicating intersectional factors. So, let me just play a little piece
here about African-American women and the complexity of the movement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It was very difficult for middle class white women to
have any conception about what was going on in communities of color and
those differences could have been in conversation with each other but if
there isn`t even an acknowledgement, that there`s differences and
experience in perspective, and the voice of one is used as the voice of all
you, then you have a problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So, the choice not to shy away from the fact that there was
internal contestation in this movement.
DORE: Absolutely. And there was. You know, it was a very complicated
movement, and one of the things that we got great advice from an academic,
about how to handle those issues is she said, you have to think of them as
sort of parallel strands because when you think of the women`s movement,
you have to remember that it grew up essentially at the same time as the
black power movement and that many of the women who are in this film, I
mean, probably more than half of the women were active in the civil rights
movement. And so, it`s not that they were ignorant race, it was more than
it was a complicated time and one of the mistakes I think they all
acknowledge at this point was, there was this, out of this glee and this
thrill that we`ve all getting together, we`ve all going to change the
world, at the same time they kind of romanticized that we were all the same
which clearly, we were not.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Right. Right. And so, even using language that was,
you know, marriage is slavery, right? That has a different residence,
right, for people who are in fact descended from America. One more piece I
want to play here because when I saw it, my jaw dropped and it was a
reminder to me of the value of film because we hear about kind of anti-
LGBT, but this was a reminder. Let`s take a look here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Maybe some here today that will be homosexual in the
future. There are a lot of kids there and maybe some girls that will turn
lesbian. We don`t know. They can be anywhere. They can be judges,
lawyers, we ought to know, we`ve arrested all of them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, I know, Dorian. You`re watching it like, oh, wait a
minute, for me, the value of that was a reminder this was not that long
HARRIS-PERRY: There is an adult standing there saying, oh, yes, we arrest
people for being gay and as a reminder, no wonder there is such a backlash.
Like this is living history.
WARREN: That was the norm and people didn`t know anything and couldn`t
envision anything outside of that and then when folks got angry, I love
this point about anger, and use that anger to mobilize to change, not just
attitudes but policies, institutions, culture. That`s how change happens.
And that`s what great thing about this film. As you see the complexity of
that, the problems of that but it also reminds you this is living history.
That wasn`t that long ago, statements like that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. I`m also, you know, the other breakthrough of course
is the kind of the person is political and I feel like that connects even
back to what we were just talking about with Janay and Ray Rice. She`s an
individual person making a decision within her life but it is not just a
personal decision. It is ultimately a political and social one.
RAND: When I saw -- I actually watched the film last night too. And when
I saw it, I just -- I was astounded by my own level of ignorance because as
a woman and as a civil rights attorney I was so ignorant to my own history.
And, you know, I`m 30 years old now and I just have grown up with such a
relative level of freedom as a woman, and never felt that I had been
oppressed in ways as a woman whether or not I was, I`ve never internalized
that. So, to watch this living history, something that happened such a
short time ago that laid this foundation for me to do the work that I do
today, you know, it really humbled me and I was just so grateful for all of
those women that came before and laid that foundation.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Mary, let me ask you, why, I mean, this is my mother`s
generation. You know, I felt like I was seeing her in some of this. Why
have we lost so much of the memory of it for generation of women who`ve
benefitted so much from it?
DORE: Well, I think we are a country that doesn`t do too great with
history, period, as we know.
DORE: But I think that the particular problem is it`s a history about
women and I think the women`s side of this, I mean, I`m not saying,
everyone is a misogynist, but I do believe that this history has been
DORE: And I don`t think it would have been as difficult for us to make
this film or to fund this film if people held it in the regard it deserves,
with its flaws like every movement has flaws but they still achieve so much
and they are not given, you know, there is a kind of essentially amnesia
around it. So, when you see a guy walking down the street with a baby, you
know, locked to his chest, please remember that`s because of the women`s
movement. When you see the Supreme Court justices and you see women, it
didn`t happen by magic. All these women basically speaking up and saying
these things are unequal and unfair.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, thank you so much for the film because it manages to do
all the history but somehow all be like fun. There is a certain fun behind
DORE: They were having fun.
I really do appreciate it. Thank you to Dorian Warren and to Jasmine Rand.
Also, thank you Mychal Denzel Smith who has advocated for reparation for
Black Women and --
And I`m hoping keep that little check next week. And also to Mary Dore,
the film opens in New York December 5th and in Los Angeles December 12th.
Up next, the woman seeking to secede Chuck Hagel.
HARRIS-PERRY: It was big news on Monday at the Pentagon when Defense
Secretary Chuck Hagel resigned from office after being encouraged by
President Obama to leave the post. Almost immediately after the news
broke, Michele Flournoy who is the former undersecretary of defense and now
head of the Center for a New American Security topped the speculation list
of contenders, the office. Her appointment would have broken the glass
ceiling for women at the Pentagon making her the nation`s first woman to
serve as secretary of defense. Flournoy has since taken her name out of
the running for the job. But there is one young woman quite interested.
She might not be old enough for Secretary Hagel`s job just yet but she is
determined to have it one day.
MSNBC`s Anna Brand went to Tennessee to interview 16-year-old Harvard
graduate and PHD candidate Eugene de Silva who hopes one day to led the
Pentagon. Here is her story in this MSNBC original report.
EUGENE DE SILVA, YOUNGEST PHD STUDENT: My dad says that before I could
walk he was tying his shoe laces and I noticed that he was doing it, so I
took his shoe laces and I sat there for hours trying to figure it out and
then I finally figured out how to do it. And then before I could write I
could type on the computer and at the age of nine I began high school.
I`ve been doing those types of things from a very young age.
I think a lot of people misinterpret what it means to be a child protege,
just because we have the knowledge and the intelligence to do something at
a faster pace doesn`t mean that it`s not difficult.
ANNA BRAND, MSNBC.COM HOMEPAGE EDITOR (voice-over): At age 16, Eugene de
Silva has one goal to be the U.S. Secretary of Defense. She is already
broken three world records and she was the youngest person to graduate from
Harvard University. Today she`s finishing a PH.D, writing and editing
books and about to begin teaching a college course in terrorism. All of
this comes natural to Eugene but it`s been far from easy.
DE SILVA: I face racism, sex discrimination and age discrimination. So as
a female entering a field that`s largely dominated by males, I have had to
overcome adversity but then as a young person also trying to enter the
field is caused much more problems.
BRAND: Eugene was featured in the media at 14 after becoming the youngest
person to receive a bachelor`s degree in intelligence. It should have been
an exciting time but then came the internet backlash.
DE SILVA: My dad actually tells me not to read comments online. You know,
if I`m featured in the media but I do happen to look at some of the
comments and it is hurtful because it is so derogatory and, you know, it is
BRAND: After her parents separated when she was five, it felt to Eugene`s
dad to warn his daughter that her Sri Lankan background would make her a
DE SILVA: One individual said about that I would, you know, be married off
and live with an ethnic husband, too bad she was chosen to be a lawyer and
not a brain surgeon. Another comment, I hope she won`t commit suicide from
all this pressure.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: As a dad, it makes me feel sad. If this is something to
the parent it`s okay the parent can take it but when they tell about the
daughter when you read that then you feel upset about it.
BRAND (on camera): Do you ever feel like talking back to these people
saying, you know, you don`t know me, you don`t know what it`s really like?
DE SILVA: No, I mean, in my mind I think, okay, you know, I could say
this, or you know, I could reply in this way but I would rather focus on my
studies and work to contribute than just make these comments and waste time
BRAND (voice-over): It`s not just internet trolls she has to deal with.
Eugene faces discrimination from her peers.
DE SILVA: I was completing my graduate studies and happen to be in a
classroom where I was the only woman. More and more men started attacking
me, even when they were putting forth those same ideas and if I would put
fourth any idea, they would come and belittle my comments.
BRAND: Eugene tries to ignore the haters and live a normal life. She`s
hanging with friends, working out, dying her hair wild colors, she`s on
Instagram, she knows boys exist.
DE SILVA: Maybe, I didn`t go to prom but I think that I had a very
meaningful childhood. In fact, I got to travel the world, I spent times
with my friends. Sometimes, we will just go to random places, we`ll go to
Walmart, we have nothing to do -- walk around. So, you know, we do the
normal things that teenagers do.
BRAND: People may not understand or support Eugene, but that won`t shake
(on camera): How do you know at 16 what your end goal is? Don`t you feel
like that might change?
DE SILVA: I know within me I have such a passion for intelligence and
politics, I know that I really want to help this country. So, I know that
this is where I`m meant to be.
HARRIS-PERRY: You can see more of Eugene`s story at MSNBC.com. Don`t
leave nasty comments.
Up next, we`re making images of black fatherhood.
HARRIS-PERRY: In the weeks of waiting for an indictment decision by the
St. Louis grand jury, one man was a constant presence. Michael Brown, Sr.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL BROWN, SR., FATHER OF MICHAEL BROWN, JR.: No matter what the grand
jury decides, I do not want my son`s death to be in vain. I want it to
lead to incredible change, positive change. Change that makes the St.
Louis region better for everyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: And just ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, there he was
present in the community where his son was shot and killed handing out
turkeys. And since the grand jury`s decision, Michael Brown Sr. has been
present at events like Friday night`s vigil and remembrance of his son in
South Florida`s Miami garden standing together with the parents of Trayvon
Martin. Yes, Michael Brown Sr. has been present countering the false
narrative, one that`s often repeated a stereotype of the absent black
father. It`s a stereotype that a photo project we first learned about
Colorlines.com stick to put to rest.
You`ll find it at the FatherhoodProject.tumblr.com. There you will see the
work of Marcus Franklin, and the images he has captured of black fathers
doing what black fathers do. They push strollers. They help with
homework. They tickle babies` bellies. And as the photo project of Marcus
Franklin makes clear, they`re present in their children`s lives.
I`m so pleased to welcome now to Nerdland, writer and photographer Marcus
Franklin, creator of the Fatherhood Project. So, what were your goals?
The images are just gorgeous.
MARCUS FRANKLIN, WRITER, PHOTOGRAPHER: Thank you. Thank you. And thank
you for having me. One of the goals is to put more accurate images of
every day black fatherhood in the media. A lot of people have told me in
reaction to the photos that they don`t see a lot of these kinds of images
and mainstream media. And that, you know, they want to see more of them.
So to put these kind of images out there in the media and to dispel some of
those myths about black fatherhood.
HARRIS-PERRY: And sometimes the seeing is even more powerful than the
telling. I think that`s part of, I mean, you can tell a story, you can
write it in a narrative. My dad did this. But suddenly when you see that
picture, it is, there`s -- it touches you in a particular place.
FRANKLIN: Well, I think images are powerful. The written word is
powerful, too. But images. When you see, when you can see yourself
reflected in a particular image, I think it has resonance with people.
And, again, going back to people who have responded and in regards to the
project, I think what resonates with them is that they see themselves.
They see their sons. They see their brothers. They see their husbands.
In these photographs.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. I was thinking about that. I have two daughters, one
who is nearly 13 and one who is nine months. And there`s a picture of my
father. Her grandfather with the baby when they first met. Oh, that`s my
-- there`s my dad with the baby. And, you know, I`ve seen my father with
babies before. But like being able to capture just that expression. And I
thought, oh, yes, there`s something so valuable about seeing that. And
just this morning, my mother-in-law sent a picture of the baby kissing my
husband to wake him up, right? And I thought, yes, you know, we now can --
we now have this to show to our girls.
HARRIS-PERRY: This is what fatherhood was.
HARRIS-PERRY: This is how your dad was loving you.
FRANKLIN: Right. Well, I think all of us have. And when I say all of us,
many African-Americans. We have these kind of photos in our photo albums.
But the issue is, we have them in our photo albums. But, again, you don`t
see them. You don`t see black men, black fathers and ordinary every day
mundane situations with their kids in mainstream media. And, again, I
think that`s why the photos resonate so much with a lot of people is
because they don`t see these images very often in media.
HARRIS-PERRY: I love the language of mundane. Because that parenting is a
lot of just regular.
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, your photo album might be filled with the holidays
and birthdays. But it is, you know, it`s changing diapers and pushing the
stroller. I love the pictures, they gave us a way to close the show today
that felt affirming and a time that is been really tough. And so, thank
you for the work on that tumbler.
FRANKLIN: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you. Marcus Franklin, and that`s our show for today.
Thanks to all of you at home for watching. I will be back next Saturday at
10:00 a.m. Eastern. I hope you`ll be back with us.
Now right now, it`s time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT." Hi,
ALEX WITT, MSNBC HOST, "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT": We will be with you of
course. Thank you so much, Melissa.
Well, Officer Darren Wilson resigns, everyone. The officer who shot
Michael Brown explains in a letter why he`s calling it quits. So, what
does this mean for the protests?
GOP apology, a staffer for a republican congressman apologizes after
lecturing the Obama daughters about what not to wear.
Plus, "Fear Factor," we`re going to have a preview of the mother of all
roller coasters and it is coming to the U.S. Looks pretty fun. Don`t go
anywhere. I`ll be right back.
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