Melissa Harris-Perry, Transcript 02/22/15
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning, my question: Are we at war
Plus, the millennials are coming, the millennials are coming!
And the big dreams of little ballers.
But, first, learning history as a way to advance our placement.
HARRIS-PERRY: Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry and there`s just one
week left in the month of February, which means you still have another
seven days to celebrate Black History Month, leaving plenty of time to get
to Googling and bone up on the accomplishments of notable African-
Like Garrett Morgan, the son of formerly enslaved parents, who was the
first person to apply for and receive a U.S. patent for a traffic signal.
Ida B. Wells, a journalist, advocate for women suffrage, and activist who
led a tireless crusade against lynching in the 1890s.
Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, the first physician to perform and successfully
complete open heart surgery on a patient in the United States.
Or Marian Anderson whose soaring voice earned her the distinction of being
both the first African-American to perform with the New York metropolitan
opera and the first to perform at the invitation of Franklin and Eleanor
Roosevelt at the White House.
And the list goes on. But, of course, African-American history, which is
to say American history, is much more than a listing of little known names
and facts. Any honest interrogation of that history means not just
gathering a collection of trivia about individual Americans but also
engaging with the historical moments in which these people lived – which
in the case of African-Americans could mean grappling with the fact that
many succeed in spite of, not because of the conditions of their lives in
Or in the case of, for example, one of our nation`s most beloved Founding
Fathers, learning that American history lessons are often complicated and
conflicting. We know that, yes, George Washington was the champion of
freedom and liberty who led our nation through the war for independence
against Great Britain.
But a closer examination of history also acquaints with the George
Washington whose story was told in “New York Times” op-ed this week. The
Washington who on the eve of the American Revolution owned a plantation and
150 human persons as slaves. Who, when one of those people escaped to
freedom, spent nearly the rest of his life using his considerable resources
to find and try to re-enslave her.
These are indisputable facts of American history. But what is in dispute
is how we deploy these facts in our telling of the American story. As we
saw this week in Oklahoma where American history became the target of
lawmakers who didn`t like the way that story is being told in classrooms
throughout the state.
On Monday, an Oklahoma House committee approved a bill to stop the state
from funding advanced placement history courses, which would have in effect
banned A.P. history from being taught in the state of Oklahoma. The A.P.
program, which is owned by the college board, offers high school students
an optional university level course of study and the opportunity to earn
college credit or advanced placement in college bypassing a final exam.
In 2012 the college board revived the curriculum framework for A.P. history
and the Oklahoma lawmaker who proposed the ban said the revision emphasizes
what is bad about America and omits the concept of American exceptionalism.
But the collection of historians and instructors who wrote the framework
say they were guided by input from teachers who felt that the old version
of the test prevented them and their students from exploring in any depth
the main events and documents of U.S. history. That it caused them to rush
their students in a quick march through a list of historical events, with
too few opportunities to understand the why of U.S. history. Or to make
its deeper meanings come alive to students.
In other words, they made the changes to avoid the kind of teach to the
test learning that can leave students knowing a lot about how to take an
American history exam, but very little about American history. On
Wednesday after two days of national attention and criticism from
educators, the lawmaker behind the bill said he would rewrite it to clear
it up, and said he was very supportive of the A.P. program.
But similar claims about the inefficient patriotism of A.P. history have
been made in Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas,
which means that for now at least the classroom will continue to remain the
site of political battles over the American story.
Joining me now from Los Angeles is Pedro Noguera, who is a professor of
sociology at New York University, an executive director of Metropolitan
Center for Urban Education.
And joining me via Skype is Moin Nadeem, who is a junior at Jenks High
School in Oklahoma whose petition is asking lawmakers not to ban A.P.
classes and it gathered more than 10,000 signatures in 24 hours.
Let me start with you, Professor Noguera.
This big question: why is teaching American history so fraught? What`s at
stake in this battle?
PEDRO NOGUERA, PROF. OF SOCIOLOGY, NYU: Well, good morning, Melissa.
Many things are at stake. American history has been contested for a long
time. Which version do we tell? Do we tell the parts that you just
started with about America`s experience with slavery, about our treatment
of Native Americans, do we focus only on the wars that we`ve won or on the
activities of great presidents.
The real challenge is how do you tell the complex story of America in all
its richness and provide students with a critical understanding of its
So, teaching history itself is a challenge. But this particular
legislation is about prescribing a version of history that is politicized
and, I think, dangerous to students. And we`ve seen this, as you pointed
out, happening in other places as well. In Texas where they try to ban the
teaching of revolution, in Jefferson, Colorado, Jefferson County where they
try to meddle with the curriculum.
So, the politicization of our curriculum, particularly of history, is
something we`ve seen in many places.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stick with me for a second.
Moin, I want to come to you on Skype. You know, I thought it was
fascinating that you took to political action here to change.org actually
address the question of what was being taught in A.P. history. Why take
that tact? Why did you make that decision?
MOIN NADEEM, JENKS HIGH SCHOOL: I mean, I originally had seen stuff and my
school tweeting about it. My original reaction was this can`t be allowed
to happen. This should be allowed to happen. And I didn`t think it would
happen, it thought something would, that it`d be blocked or something like
But then I realized that it was an 11-4 vote by the House education
committee and stuff was already in motion so I decided to do something
about it. The easiest way to do that was create a petition.
HARRIS-PERRY: Do you feel like you`ve had a bit of a victory with the
decision on the part of a main lawmaker to pull back?
NADEEM: I mean, I would call it a small victory. It is a victory, but
they are still considering rewriting the course and still performing action
against the course.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stick with us.
Professor Noguera, let me come back to you a second, because it does seem
that part of this is about history and the teaching of history. Part of it
also feels like a bigger question of pedagogy. Given that part of these
revisions initially were about wanting to push students to engage with
American history rather than to simply kind of learn the list, learn the
names and the dates, have we moved in this kind of test as the one marker
of whether or not you know something, have you moved to a place where we
actually don`t want students to learn ideas, we really just want them to
NOGUERA: Well, I think that is also a concern here that`s been raised.
That is, that you want to use history, the teaching of history to motivate
people to learn more about their country, and to engage the students
intellectually in the learning of history.
I would say too often we`ve done it as a collection of facts and students
are bored and disengaged and that`s one of the reasons why many Americans
know very little about history, they know very little about geography,
we`re engaged with the Islamic world. Most Americans know very little
about Islam or that part of the world.
So, there`s a real problem in the way we teach history and the way we have
approached this subject. At the same time, the danger we`re seeing here in
Oklahoma is the politicization and the attempt by politicians to describe
what our kids are learning in school.
I would hope all parents, educators would see the danger of this, because
when you start to see attempts from politicians to impose a particular
ideology on our children and our schools, this is really, I think, a very
ominous sign that we all should be wary of.
HARRIS-PERRY: Moin, would you agree that we don`t know enough about
history, that the way that it`s being taught might actually make it boring
NOGUERA: I think that very often that –
HARRIS-PERRY: Hold up, professor. Let me get Moin in real quick.
NOGUERA: I`m sorry.
NADEEM: Definitely. I feel like I`ve done both the old test and the new
test. The new test is just a conceptual based test where they`ll ask you
more about what happened, less about what happened but more about just line
analyzing parts of the stuff that happened.
And I think it`s making you think critically, which is a great skill to
have, and less of just regurgitating facts. Whenever I take the old test,
it`s easier because I can memorize facts right before the test and get an
“A”, but it`s not better for me and the new test is educating us more about
HARRIS-PERRY: Professor, let me back to you on one last thing here.
Obviously, a big issue this week was the comments of former Mayor Giuliani
about our president saying that he doesn`t love America, that he was taught
not to love it. And it seems to me to some of that is happening in this
pushback against the A.P. curriculum, this idea that somehow this A.P. test
will teach students to hate America rather than love it.
What do you make of that? Why are we afraid to critique our nation even as
we learn about it?
NOGUERA: Again, it comes from a very narrow sense of what patriotism is.
You know, Brian Stevenson (ph) just did a study on lynching across America
and showed over 4,000 cases of lynchings in the country. Should we omit
that from our history? I don`t think so.
I think we should teach our history in a way that allows us to look closely
at what`s been wrong, at the same time at what needs to be done to create a
more equal and just society. So I think that the challenge is going to be
to ensure that our kids get exposed to a range of ideas, that they learn
how to continue to study themselves, how to continue to search for answers
to some of the problems facing our country.
And when you look at someone like Rudy Giuliani`s comments, you really get
a sense that there`s another group out there that wants to try to drive a
very narrow agenda. They had similar reaction to when President Obama
spoke at the prayer breakfast about the – about the importance of
acknowledging Christianity`s role in perpetrating terror both in the
Americas and abroad. So, we have to not be afraid of looking at our
history and asking what can we learn from this, and what can we do
differently in the future to ensure these kinds of atrocities don`t occur
HARRIS-PERRY: Indeed. To not know your history is to be doomed to repeat
Thank you to Dr. Pedro Noguera in Los Angeles, California.
Also, thank you to Moin Nadeem in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Thanks for Skyping with
us early this morning.
And stay right there, everybody. The mayor changing what we expect to
become straight out of Compton.
But, first next, my letter of the week.
HARRIS-PERRY: As potential 2016 presidential candidates gear up for what
may very well be a campaign against a former U.S. secretary of state, many
GOP hopefuls are looking to burnish their foreign policy credentials. For
many would-be candidates, that means taking a trip to London and inevitably
making some embarrassing misstep on vaccines or evolution or imaginary no-
But for one, foreign policy is more than just a weakness to shore up, it`s
a veritable minefield to be navigated – which is why my letter of the week
is to former Florida governor, Jeb Bush.
Dear Governor Bush, it`s me, Melissa.
This week you, brother of George and son of other George, finally told us
where you stand on the one political issue most identified with the Bush
legacy – war. In the lead-up to your big foreign policy speech to the
Chicago Council on Global Affairs, you distanced yourself from the policies
of your brother by saying, quote, “I am my own man.”
In that speech you even went so far as to acknowledge that when it came to
the Iraq war in particular, there were mistakes made. I did note the use
of passive voice there.
But still, admitting that there were mistakes in your brother`s foreign
policy and promising a new direction is a hopeful sign for those who were
worried you might just retread your brother`s disastrous wars.
But then we learned just who is helping you form your new, fresh,
independent views. And as “The Washington Post” illustrates in this handy
Venn diagram, a lot of people from early administrations. One name at the
nexus of this graph sticks out like a sore thumb, Paul Wolfowitz.
Now, Governor “I`m my own man” Bush, I can see how you might think an
adviser from the administrations of Ronald Reagan, your father and brother
may have the type of history that would make them a strong foreign policy
adviser for you.
But if you want to talk about how mistakes were made during the Iraq war,
then look no further than Paul Wolfowitz.
Here are just a few of the pieces of advice from Deputy Secretary of
Defense Paul Wolfowitz during your brother`s presidency. Now, he advised
on how U.S. troops would be received in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL WOLFOWITZ, FORMER DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: These are Arabs, 23
million of the most educated people in the Arab world who are going to
welcome us as liberators.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Then he advised on what the war would cost.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLFOWITZ: We`re not dealing with Afghanistan, that`s a permanent war of
an international community. We`re dealing with a country that can really
finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Hmm. He then advised on necessary troop levels.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLFOWITZ: Some of the higher-end predictions that we have been hearing
recently, such as the notion that it will take several hundred thousand
U.S. troops to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq are wildly off the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Talk about wildly off the mark, he also advised on what we`d
see in a post-war Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLFOWITZ: There`s been none of the record in Iraq of ethnic militias
fighting one another. We have no idea what kind of ethnic strife might
appear in the future, although it has not been the history of Iraq`s recent
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. That, Governor Bush, is the man you have picked to be
your consigliore – wrong on Iraqi reaction to U.S. presence, wrong on the
cost of war, wrong on the needs on the ground, wrong on the ethnic
relations in post-war Iraq, but apparently just the ride choice to be back
in your inner circle.
Governor, if you want to convince us that you are your own man, you might
want to start by getting your own advisers. Sincerely, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: More than 25 years ago, hip-hop legends NWA bursts onto the
scene with their debut album, “Straight Outta Compton.” This summer, the
hotly anticipated film about the group will premiere.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me tell you what I see here – a lot of raw talent,
swagger, bravado. People are scared of you guys. They think you`re
dangerous. But you have a unique voice. The world needs to hear it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: NWA made Compton, California, iconic in the American
imagination and over the decades, Compton has remained a signature space.
But the indelible images of inequality, poverty and violence have tended to
obscure the rich tapestry of community, families and political organizing
in Compton. Now, one woman is the face of a changing image of Compton.
Aja Brown was elected mayor in a landslide victory in 2013 and she is the
youngest mayor in Compton`s history.
With degrees in public policy and urban planning, Mayor Brown has launched
ambitious initiatives, what she calls her 12-point plan involving new
construction, budget reforms, music and education programs. She even sat
down with rival gang members to call for an end to violence.
Compton Mayor Aja Brown joins me now from Los Angeles, California.
So nice to have you, Mayor.
MAYOR AJA BROWN, COMPTON, CA: So great to be here. Thank you for having
HARRIS-PERRY: So, talk to me a little bit. What do you see are the
strengths that are already in Compton on which you hope to build?
BROWN: I think our largest strengths are the people. We have such a rich
history in the city of Compton and our people have rich talent, amazing
history and dynamic sense of community, in addition to Compton`s location.
We`re directly in the center of Los Angeles County where eight miles south
of Los Angeles, east miles east of LAX, the international airport, we`re
also located directly north of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
And so, we have four freeways that surround us, we have light rail, heavy
rail. And so, Compton truly is in the center of where trade and logistics
has really been quietly a big central focus for the entire region. What
we`re doing now is capitalizing on that location advantage and attracting
new companies to invest and also bringing a large number of jobs to the
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I`ve tried to spend a lot of time trying to get young
people in my classes, especially young women. I think about running for
What made you decide to jump into a race to be mayor? There was already an
incumbent in the position, right?
BROWN: Absolutely. I was discontent with the leadership in my community
and I was raised by a single mother that never complained about anything.
Her biggest message to me was if you don`t like something, you can change
And so, I decided to step into the mayoral race and I really came with
something very simple and basic, which is a plan for growth and a plan for
recovery. I met people where they were, listened to their issues and
created a platform that was built on tangible plans to transform our
HARRIS-PERRY: So, talk to me about what some of those tangible plans are.
Tell me a little bit about this 12-point plan that you are working with.
BROWN: It`s really a well-rounded perspective of what the needs are in any
community and really focuses on financial and fiscal health. So, we`ve
been able to, as a collective body, reform our political and budgetary
We`ve also been able to attract economic development into the community.
We have large companies that have invested in the city of Compton that are
going to provide major jobs in the city of Compton as well as policy
changes. One of the biggest things that I was able to implement was a 35
percent local hiring policy but it also has a provision for job training so
that when we have the 35 percent set aside, peach el also have the ability
and we make the provisions to get people trained so that they can be hired
in these opportunities that we know u coming down the pipeline.
We also address things that will change our infrastructure for years to
come. We didn`t have a capital improvement plan, all the things that you
need to be able to maintain your infrastructure and also plan for future
things and growth that you need in your community. And so, it was really
about identifying the challenges and making provisions to never be in the
same position that we were in.
When we think about what makes communities unsafe or feel unsafe, it`s
usually the conditions that surround it. And so, we`ve been cleaning up
our streets, mitigating graffiti and also putting responsibility on private
property owners and also, the people in the community. So, it`s really a
No one person can change any community so I really focused on mobilizing
the various stakeholders in our city, and picking issues we all can work on
together. And I think –
HARRIS-PERRY: All of us Gen X-ers who are looking forward to this film
from the east coast or the southeast who were first introduced to Compton
through the music of NWA, who first saw those images during the L.A. riots,
you know, sort of the post-Rodney King of Compton burning. How do you
intervene in that very sticky picture of what Compton is, to give us the
picture of the Compton that you have in your mind?
BROWN: Well, Compton has made significant changes, even in the last five
to seven years. We have new retail options, we have a beautiful shopping
center, we have a beautiful state-of-the-art community center, we have new
transportation centers. We have new facilities and a new investment in
really the way that our city has continued to develop.
And so, when people come into the city of Compton, the biggest thing that
they always communicate to me is that they are surprised. The image that
they had in Compton was really etched in stone, but that was a quarter of a
BROWN: And so, any place would have some type of change within that time
frame and so they`re really surprised that Compton is not the place that
they thought that it was.
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, hey, Ice Cube is making family music and Dre is
selling Beats. So –
BROWN: Absolutely. And I always tell them people, especially young
people, they don`t necessarily identify Dr. Dre as being a rapper, they
know him as a music mogul or producer, and now, a significant business
person. So, things have changed, and nothing ever stays the same.
As you said, Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, they are family men, they`ve been
married for many, many years, and they are very, very successful.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Compton mayor, Aja Brown, in Los Angeles.
We`re going to be keeping our eyes on Compton.
BROWN: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Still to come this morning, I have been reading Urban
Dictionary all week in preparation of our round table of millennials. But
first, how we talk when we speak of Islam.
HARRIS-PERRY: Know your enemy. It`s the first tenet of “The Art of War.”
The United States is at war and has been for some time, but do we know our
According to the president`s request for authorization from
Congress, authorization for a war that`s already been going on for seven
months, the enemy is, quote, “The terrorist organization that has referred
to itself as the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant.”
Now, the president`s request also endeavors to explain why ISIS is
the enemy. The group is responsible, he says, for, quote, “despicable acts
of violence including mass executions, rape, forced marriage, religious
persecution and the murder of civilians.”
Yet some claim that President Obama does not know his enemy, that he
is literally turning a blind eye to them because, they say, the president
has not emphasized enough that the enemy calls itself Islamic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: What undermines the global effort is for the
president of the United States to be an apologist for radical Islamic
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The administration is misidentifying the enemy and their
motivation. That`s why it`s so important that we recognize that these
people are being motivated from different parts of the world by a spiritual
or theological motivation, which is this radical, Islamic ideology.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PETER KING (R), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: These aren`t animal
lovers, these aren`t environmental advocates, you`re talking about people
who are motivated by an Islamist ideology and we have to zero in on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: President Obama addressed the criticism head on at a White
House Summit on violent extremism this week. The president acknowledged
the debate over the words he is using and argued that calling the enemy
radical Islam is playing into the enemy`s hands.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Al-Qaeda and ISIL
and groups like it are desperate for legitimacy. They try to portray
themselves as religious leaders, holy warriors in defense of Islam.
They`re not religious leaders, they`re terrorists and we are not at war
with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Joining me now are Imam Khalid Latif, who is the executive
director and chaplain for the Islamic Center at NYU, the reverend Dr.
Jackie Lewis, senior minister at Middle Collegiate Church, David Tafuri,
who is a former State Department official and a former Obama campaign and
foreign policy adviser, and Amaney Jamal, associate professor of politics
at Princeton University and author of “Of Empires and Citizens, Pro-
American Democracy Or No Democracy At All.”
David, are we at war with Islam?
DAVID TAFURI, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, the president is
right to choose his words carefully. He`s been trying since his speech in
Cairo in 2009 to reach out to the Muslim community and to Islamic
He rightly perceived that the gap between the Islamic countries and
the U.S. grew under the Bush administration and he needs to bridge that
gap. When we talk about terrorism, we need to be careful about not
conflicting Islam with terrorism.
Many terrorists, for instance, the ISIS terrorists and ISIS has
become an umbrella organization from everywhere, the terrorists are
committing acts many times for other reasons and using Islam as an excuse
to commit those acts. So he is to be correct to be careful in his wording,
but we do need to know our enemy.
HARRIS-PERRY: So this feels to me like there are all of these sorts of
aspects of what`s at stake here, and part of it to me seems like a part of
our foreign policy but also our domestic policy. So what happens if in
fact the president were to follow the kind of urgings of some on the right
to declare war not on ISIS or not even on radical extremists but instead on
AMANEY JAMAL, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: That`s a huge
problem, right, because to declare war on an entire religion that
encompasses or includes over 1.7 billion people is a very difficult thing.
It`s just outrageous.
I mean, we in the Muslim community are also urging the government
and President Obama to do something about the war on terror but not against
Muslims. We see ourselves very much involved in the war against terrorism.
This is a – this is a problem that affects the entire global
community and so it`s a war against terror and we`re on the side of the war
HARRIS-PERRY: So when you say – it`s interesting when you say, okay, for
many Muslims, we see ourselves as engaged in this on the side, for example
so listening to the president who makes a very similar argument, but still
leaves me with some discomfort in this. Let`s just listen to a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Just as leaders like myself reject the notion that
terrorists like ISIL genuinely represent Islam, Muslim leaders need to do
more to discredit the notion that our nations are determined to suppress
Islam that there`s an inherent clash in civilizations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So it leaves me feeling like, OK, on the one hand, yes,
right, I get that he`s saying the identity itself is not the dividing line.
On the other hand, it does feel like this is not about Islam and yet you
Muslim leaders have a specific responsibility.
JAMAL: It`s like basically we have to apologize for this group of
terrorists in the Levant, who have seized on an opportunity to conquer some
land and institute this very regressive, barbarian theocracy in the name of
I don`t understand why we specifically have to apologize for it. We
recognize it`s a problem. It`s a huge problem. It`s one that we`d like to
be involved and figure out what the solution is, but we can`t expect every
member of the Muslim community, leader, child, woman, to keep apologizing
for something that we have no control over.
HARRIS-PERRY: Imam, I think part of what gets lost here is that the human
beings whose bodies are most bearing the brunt of the terrorism of ISIS are
in fact Muslim bodies.
IMAM KHALID LATIF, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE ISLAMIC CENTER, NYU: Yes. I
think what people fail to understand the consequences of the actions of
people like ISIS and terrorists like ISIS are victimizing more Muslims than
Not just in terms of muted voices that around the world have been
condemning the actions of ISIS, but literally brutal, atrocious killings
every single day that are taking the lives of many innocent individuals.
HARRIS-PERRY: I wanted to point out – I want to listen for just a moment
to a former president, to George W. Bush right after 9/11 talking about
with whom we are at war. Let`s take a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: The terrorists are traitors to their own
faith, trying in effect to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is
not our many Muslim friends. It is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy
is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s – I mean I`m not normally a big let`s play some
George W. Bush sound, but he sounds actually more like President Obama than
the words that others are pushing President Obama to be saying right now.
REV. DOCTOR JACQUI LEWIS, SENIOR MINISTER, MIDDLE COLLEGIATE CHURCH: I
think that`s right. I think it was prophetic and right on, Melissa. Every
religion has a pocket of terrorists. Tonight, we`re going to look at
“Selma” being up for Oscars and next month I`m going to be on that bridge
for the 50th anniversary.
Look, right then and there is a duality in Christianity. On the
bridge are Christians moved by love to get liberated and to work for
justice. At the bottom are Christians imprisoned by hatred and fear and
they had a clash and that clash is violent.
I think whenever love meets fear, there`s a clash of violence. I
think that`s what`s happening right now. I don`t want to hear Christianity
in the same sentence as the Ku Klux Klan any more than I think the
president wants to put Muslim Islam in the same sentence as ISIS.
HARRIS-PERRY: Up next, the way that we talk about violence about Muslims.
First, here is the president on the real culprits in the fight against
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: The terrorists do not speak for over a billion Muslims,
who reject their hateful ideology. They no more represent Islam than any
mad man who kills innocents in the name of god represents Christianity or
Judaism or Buddhism or Hinduism. No religion is responsible for terrorism.
People are responsible for violence and terrorism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Last Tuesday, three young people in Chapel Hill, North
Carolina, were killed, shot to death in their own home, their promising
lives cut short. The victims, newlyweds and the wife`s sister were all
The women both wore head coverings as a sign of their faith. Local
police first said the murders were the result of a dispute over parking
spaces in the condo complex where the victims and the suspects were
The victims` families rejected that description. A sister of one of
the victims appeared last week on this program and explained why it is so
important to her that the murder be considered a hate crime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it`s important, regardless of the outcome, to
call it that because it changes so many things, because this wasn`t an
isolated incident that just happened to my family. We live in a time where
today it`s socially acceptable, it`s politically advantageous to demonize
Muslims. It`s not OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Now the FBI and the Department of Justice Civil Rights
Division are investigating whether the triple murder was a hate crime,
motivated by hatred for the victims` religion.
Joining us now from Los Angeles is Sherman Jackson. Professor
Jackson is the director of the Center for Islamic Thought, Culture and
Practice at the University Of Southern California.
Professor Jackson, I wanted to have you here in part because I
wanted to talk to you about this idea of that intersection between hate
crimes, between identity-based violence and really to have you help us
remember who are American-Muslims? When we say Muslims in America, who are
we talking about?
SHERMAN JACKSON, CENTER FOR ISLAMIC THOUGHT, CULTURE AND PRACTICE, USC:
Well, thank you, Melissa. Yes, thank you, Melissa. We`re talking about an
amalgamation of people. There are two mainstreams of Muslims in America.
You have Muslims who are African-American descent and that history
starts from the very beginning of America. In fact even before America was
America there were Muslims among the slave population before America was
Then we have, of course, Muslims who immigrated to this country from
the Muslim world. That`s more of a 20th century phenomenon but the Muslim
community in America is a very diverse community.
HARRIS-PERRY: Hold with me just one moment, Dr. Jackson. I want to come
out to you because the other big story this morning, David, is actually out
of Minneapolis and is about this idea of the mall of America, which is a
real sort of like American iconic version of capitalism and who we are and
we go and shop being targeted.
I just want to play – we had my colleague, Steve Kornacki, had
someone on and I want to connect these things for you. Hold on for me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is something that we have seen before sadly in
Minnesota where we have seen Al-Shabaab target usually young men in our
community. This is what this group does. That`s why we have been focusing
not just on going after the evil of ISIS overseas but also the home grown
terrorism, the fact that they are targeting young men in our own
communities, not just in Minnesota, all over the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So here`s what`s hard for me. On the one hand, OK, our
young people are being targeted by these outside terrorists. On the other
hand, the story out of North Carolina is young Muslims being targeted by
someone for a hate crime. I guess, I don`t know how to reconcile these so
that we`re making good policy, both foreign policy and domestic policy.
TAFURI: Well, the possibility and likelihood that young people in the U.S.
are being targeted and recruited by ISIS and other fanatical groups is of
great concern and we need to do a lot to protect our young people against
We`re far away from the centers and headquarters of the terrorist
organizations, but they can still reach us and they`re very, very good at
social media, at getting their message out and at recruiting people through
the internet, and using their catastrophic events in order to recruit
So we need to be very, very careful. At the same time, with respect
to the UNC Chapel Hill event, we need to take a deep breath, investigate
exactly what happened.
The media reports so far are not clear as to whether the gentleman
who committed these atrocious crimes, the murder, was motivated by hatred
for Muslims or by other things, parking disputes and that type of thing.
And certainly we need to make sure that we have the facts. The
truth is very important in this case.
HARRIS-PERRY: Sure, it is. I mean, it`s part of why it`s powerful. The
Department of Justice went immediately there. You invoked “Selma” earlier
and this idea that the federal government ought to intervene, but even that
language of a parking dispute, as we heard from the victims` family, is a
painful way of thinking. Why would you call it that when this seems to be
what`s happening here?
JAMAL: Well, Melissa, these – what`s going on here, whether the youth of
the Muslim community are being targeted or the hate crimes against this
couple and the sister-in-law in North Carolina, this is all part of the
same phenomenon, which is this.
You have rising levels of Islamphobia in the United States. You
have since 9/11 hate crimes against the Muslim community have increased
over five times. You had in the same week after North Carolina. You had a
mosque burnt down in Texas.
You walk in New York you see billboards that basically dehumanize
Islam. We know that terrorists succeed in recruiting when they can locate
this affected youth populations.
That`s why they`re recruiting so well in Europe where the Muslim
population is ghettoized and where you have a racial divide overlapped with
That community is heavily Somali-American, black American, and they
are aggrieved. They have been marginalized with a double whammy, both
black and Muslim.
HARRIS-PERRY: Dr. Jackson, I want to bring you back in on being slammed
with that multiple identity when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: This week three teenage girls disappeared from their homes
in London and are suspected to be on their way to join ISIS in Syria.
We`ve seen their pictures for days. Three young women, two of them wearing
head scarves, markers of the Muslim faith.
Dr. Jackson, I want to come to you on this because Amaney gave us
this whole point about where there`s a racialized identity and religious
identity, both of which ending up being markers for being targeted.
JACKSON: Yes, but I think that – look, Muslims are very good at dealing
with multiple identities like anybody else. There are white Muslims.
There are black Muslims. There are Arab Muslims. There are Asian Muslims.
But I think the real issue here is the importance of getting the
language right. If we start talking about Islamic terrorism, then we send
the message there`s something normative in Islam about terrorism.
That Islam as a religion dictates to all Muslims that they should be
terrorists. This reinforces stereotypes about Muslims and I think it leads
to the kinds of hate crimes, assuming that it was a hate crime that we saw
in North Carolina.
That`s on the one hand. On the other hand, I think it`s really
important to be careful. If America is at war with Islam, then it is
rational for people to assume that Islam is at war with America and that
too feeds into all of these stereotypes.
So I think if we want to talk about an isolated minority of Muslims
and what they`re doing, that`s one thing. But I think it`s very dangerous
to attribute this stuff to Islam as a religion.
HARRIS-PERRY: Imam, would you like to jump in on this?
LATIF: I would agree with Dr. Jackson. Not only would I think it`s
dangerous, it is dangerous. Aside from the three young people who were
executed in North Carolina, we have had a school in Houston that was burned
down. There was a young man in Canada, who was shot through his apartment
Two people who were asked if they were Muslim in Michigan and when
responding in the affirmative, they were stabbed repeatedly, and this is
all just in the last week and a half, two weeks, we`re not talking about
the last five or six months or even years.
And I think one of the things that becomes challenging is we look at
extremist voices elsewhere and are only focused on what`s coming out of
ISIS and the rhetoric there. We`re not dealing with extremist voices at
We`re not putting in check individuals who very at times
irresponsibly just get onto national television. They have running
political campaigns, claiming that this is a Judaeo-Christian country.
Islam has no place here.
We should fear Islam. We should fear Muslims and we wonder why it
is that people feel no qualms about mistreating Muslims how they do.
LEWIS: We need to acknowledge that any religion that puts hate speech in
the mouth of god is no religion at all. We need to build relationships,
partnerships, relationships across faith into religious correlations.
My colleague standing on a pulpit praying about how black lives
matters in our clerical garbs to me gives me hope that we can through our
relationships change the story. I want America to be at war with hate.
HARRIS-PERRY: To be at war with hate rather than to be at war with Islam.
LEWIS: Think about that 17-year-old Muslim boy who organized a circle of
people to stand around a synagogue in Oslo that to me what my Muslim
colleagues are all about. That`s where we see the love. That`s where we
see the power of justice at work.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Sherman Jackson in Los Angeles, California,
this morning. Thank you also to Imam Khalid Latif and also to the Reverend
Dr. Jackie Lewis. Also thank you to David Tafuri and to Dr. Amaney Jamal.
Coming up, we`ll ask a table full of millennials what`s their plan
for their future and for ours.
And Beyonce and the pictures they don`t want you to see. There`s
more nerdland at the top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. And this hour
we`re starting with Barbie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Hats and gloves and all the gadgets gals adore.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Barbie dressed for swim and fun is only $3. Her lovely
fashions ranked from one to five dollars. Look for Barbie, wherever dolls
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was Barbie`s TV debut. It aired in 1959 during the
Mickey Mouse Club. And while the ad looks mostly unbearably old-fashioned
now, Barbie was actually kind of revolutionary. At a time when other dolls
on the market looked like babies that little girls were expected to grow up
and take care of, well Barbie was a teenage fashion model who quickly
slipped into other careers. A flight attending and a business executive,
and even an astronaut for years before Neil Armstrong landed on the moon I
might add. She was a huge hit among a new generation of girls. A
generation born into a world of post-war affluence. A generation that
would go on to consume with zeal and influence the economy for years to
come, thanks to its sheer size.
I am, of course, talking about the baby boomers. Born between 1946 and
1964, they numbered 78.8 million at their peak. This demographic shift was
accompanied by a shift in the aspirational American lifestyle. Enter the
suburbs, the interstate, prepackaged baby food and children`s menus at
restaurants. Along every step of their life cycle, marketers and retailers
were quick to cater to the material demands of the boomers. When the
boomers became teen, they drove the cranes for blue jeans. Later, the
generation desire for dressier pants that fit like jeans. Lead to the
creation of Dockers. That`s right, we all have boomers to thank for the
introduction of workplace casual. Boomers entered their prime earning
years in the 1980s, a time when income rates plummeted.
And excuse me, income tax rates plummeted. And for most of that decade,
the stock market soared. Credit cards took up residence in everyone`s
wallets and boomers regularly called the wealthiest generation continued to
spend. According to Neilson, when it comes to buying stuff, just good old
consumer packaged goods, baby boomers buy 49 percent of all of it. And yet
this consumer generation is far from ready for their golden years. They
carry more credit card debt than other generations. On average, well over
$5,000. The majority of them are not financially prepared for retirement.
More than a third of boomers still are working and have saved less than
$50,000. This may be one reason a growing number of boomers say they`ll
continue working well past the age of 65. Cue the intergenerational
bickering. Resentments against boomers has been bubbling for years. But
perhaps reached a vocal pick during the recession. When there was a
perceived battle for jobs between younger and older workers.
Add to that mix that this aging group is primed to put a real strain on
Social Security and Medicare, and you get headlines for claiming that
boomers have destroyed the economy and left behind a disasters` economic
legacy. And they`re not going anywhere soon. They still number almost 75
million, making them a force to be reckoned with on Madison Avenue and
Washington, D.C. for years to come. But they`re getting a little
competition. According to the census bureau, the millennials, people born
roughly between 1981 and 1997, my God! Will soon eclipse the boomers,
thanks to a boost from immigration, the millennials will reach 75.3 million
this year. So what`s that generation like? What do they want? What do
they care about? What are they saying on twitter? That`s what we`re going
to find out this morning.
Joining me now, Jamira Burley who is co-founder of GenYNot. Kelvin, is it
really Betonce like Beyonce?
KELVIN BETANCES, SENIOR, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: It`s Betances.
HARRIS-PERRY: Betances. Okay. Who`s a senior in Computer Science of NYU.
Poy Winichakul who is co-founder and co-director of Launch Progress,
political action committee. And Gabriel Marshall, who is a stand-up
comedian and Army Reserve Captain. And Lili Gil Valletta who is co-founder
and president of XL Alliance.
So, Lili, I`m actually going to start with you. Who are these boomers and
how did they suddenly become such a dominant proportion of the population?
LILI GIL VALLETTA, CO-FOUNDER, XL ALLIANCE: Well, the boomers, as you were
describing so well, set the stage now for the next generation of leaders,
which is millennials and anyone who wants to win in today`s America must
become relevant with this generation that is close to 80 million strong,
$200 billion in buying power and represent the future of our country.
Where we have a generational disconnect is between the boomers today that
are the decision-makers of America, whether they`re in politics or in
business, in trying to understand what is it that it takes to get to the
heart of millennials, which is the future of an America that gets me really
excited, highly diverse, very energetic, very committed to social issues
and I just praise you for having this conversation today because it`s about
HARRIS-PERRY: And they are really diverse, right? Forty percent people of
color, 14 percent first gen immigrants, but the other thing is you guys
seem not to consume quite the way that the boomers do. Right? So, we were
looking at your student loan debt. You`ve got a $17,000 median student
loan debt with only a $10,000 median net worth. What are you guys going to
buy to keep the, you know, the whole thing moving here?
GABRIEL MARSHALL, STAND-UP COMEDIAN: Well, I think that our generation is
caught up in tech a lot, so we`re interested in phones. We spending a lot
of money on phones. I think the iPhone is the highest grossing device in
our country right now. So we`re really focused toward tech but like you
HARRIS-PERRY: What about houses, cars, also the kinds of things that have
driven that American economy?
MARSHALL: Well, I`m probably a different case because I came into the
military right at the time of the housing collapse so I actually had
finances to buy a home. So I bought a home which now has doubled in value
since the housing crash but I think that I`m atypical compared to most
JAMIRA BURLEY, CO-FOUNDER, GENYNOT: So, one thing I would say is that I
agree with you is that millennials are investing in ways in which they can
continue to stay connected. So, whether that`s computers, whether that`s
other forms of technology. But the reason why we`re not investing in
houses and cars is because, one, we like the idea of mobility. The idea to
move throughout society freely and be able to interconnect. And we feel
boggled down by those materialistic things. But also I would say,
automobiles, we`re connected by a number forms of public transportation
that wasn`t accessible to our older, seasonal generation. Oh, my God, did
you just –
No disrespect, but it wasn`t accessible to the older generation and so we
are more connected than ever before.
HARRIS-PERRY: But you talked about being more connected and also wants to
be more mobile, you are also much less likely to marry, in that age group
of 20 to 34. In 1960, 77 percent of those folks were married. 2013, only
30 percent married. Is that about the mobility? But are you missing
connection? Like you end up connecting in ways that are digital as opposed
BURLEY: I would say it`s both. I would say, I mean, our parents and
grandparents married for very different reasons why young people are
marrying today. We don`t feel the financial constraints of our parents.
What we do feel is that we also have time to make decisions that are going
to impact us much longer.
POY WINICHAKUL, CO-FOUNDER, LAUNCH PROGRESS: I also think it`s about women
entering the workforce. Right? So, there are a lot more women – my mom
worked and I think a lot of families right now need those two incomes. And
we`re seeing a lot more women in the workforce and so I think that has to
do – that also plays into the fact that, you know, folks are marrying a
little bit later and we want to – like Jamira said, we like this mobility.
We want to be able to explore. I think the technology pieces really played
into opening our world views and being interested in learning about more
different types of people and different types of opportunities rather than
HARRIS-PERRY: So Lily, I heard you obviously defined this generation as
diverse. We`ve heard here also this idea of mobility of a different way of
engaging with one another. Does that – does that resonate with the
research that you`ve done on this generation?
VALLETTA: Exactly. And I just wanting to weigh in on that because I don`t
want people to get concern about the fact that millennials are not going to
drive the economy. What happens is that the drivers for them to spend and
get engaged are completely different than their previous generations, which
is going to up the game and the requirements for corporations, marketers,
politicians to become relevant with them. You need to be socially
responsible, you need to be transparent. You need to have a two-way
dialogue and not just sell to them. And in all the research that I`ve done
with many fortune 500 companies that I work with that try to dissect the
mindset of them, you know, it`s very simple. You`ve got to get first to
the heart, then to the mind, then to the wallet, of the millennials.
So I think that the space is wide open for us to have a thriving economy.
It`s just that the models of common business have to change. We`re
starting it to see with companies like Tom Shoes, with charity water and
the dynamics of how that raises money for a great cause. That`s a perfect
millennial case study of what the future entails. Like I said earlier, it
will take those boomer decision-makers today to bring the millennials to
positions of power and understand that what worked last year or ten years
before is not going to work for the next ten years to come.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, it`s interesting because you`re a computer science
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So when I hear that, that first started
happening in my generation, we`ll go train people in computer science. But
I think that the way that training has happened had shifted dramatically
because exactly of some of the things that Lily is talking about. So it
was once you would go learn a particular language or particular platform.
You`d go learn how to write linux code or something. But I presume as
you`re thinking about being a computer scientist now, it`s with a very
different notion of how computing will operate.
BETANCES: Yes, definitely. Now that we are talking, you know, about how
millennials will drive the economy, I would say a lot of millennials, and
mostly like for example me and my peers, we`re actually more focused in
trying to be entrepreneurs. I think millennials are the generation that`s
the most entrepreneur driven. You can kind of see the entrepreneur craze
of shows like “shark tank” and the entrepreneur scene in NYU is exploding
right now. Like we have a brand new entrepreneur center. We have a pitch
fest where we pitch our ideas which are going to – and I personally, like
my life goals after college is not to quickly settle down, but to be a
little bit more mobile, maybe check out different small companies, learn as
much from them as I possibly can so I can then later start my own thing.
HARRIS-PERRY: So it`s not about getting a job, it`s about creating a
business and that may take some kind of mobility across space, not just
sort of one good job, one space, one house.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stick with us, everybody. So much more from our millennial
panel. Thank you to Lili Valetta this morning. I appreciate your energy
and your research around this generation.
And up next, millennials don`t have cable. So, I`m going to ask these
young people why they are trying to put me out of a job. Next.
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, oh, oh, hey. Typically when guests come on their show
we ask them to put their phones away but today I actually asked my
millennial guests to feel free to tweet or take a selfie or do whatever
else your tech driven heart desires. As we can see, some of them have been
doing it all morning and, after all, they`re millennials. Research surveys
tell us that you guys sleep with your phones by the bed and even post
status updates from the bathroom. And there is no question that technology
use is a defining characteristic of the millennial generation so let`s just
embrace it. But selfishly, I do have to admit that I have one really
important concern about this attachment to smartphones and the online
world. Millennials watch less TV than baby boomers. Hundred and seven
hours a month, 174. So my young demographically desirable friends, is
there anything I can do to convince you to get a basic cable description to
include MSNBC? Because you guys are changing how information is consumed
MARSHALL: I think we want it on demand. We want it at our fingertips. I
don`t think that you`re going to get our generation to subscribe to one way
of getting our information. We want our media at our fingertips when we
want it and right then, immediacy.
BURLEY: And we also not only just want it on demand, we want it so it`s
not watered down and sugar coated. Right? We want the facts and we want
it immediate. And that`s the good thing about twitter and Facebook. But
you only have a limited amount of characters and so people get right to the
point, get the information that you need and you`re able to make a decision
based on that information really fast.
HARRIS-PERRY: Okay. So, I just want to push on that just a little bit.
Because I think part of what happens when folks hear that, is they hear,
oh, this generation is selfish. Selfish and demanding in this kind of
immediacy and they also hear, oh, they have short attention spans. And I`m
thinking, so here you are, someone who has served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
You are many things but selfish is not one of them and yet you`re like,
look, I want my information when I want it. And I hear you saying, no,
it`s not about a short attention span, it`s just about distilling it down.
BURLEY: Exactly. And that`s one of the things I hate when people say
about millennials that we`re selfish. I know young people who have
dedicated their lives to the social movement to people that they will never
meet. And so, to say that we are generation that don`t care about other
people I think is very – it`s false. It`s very false information. And so
we want our information in a way that we can then go back and give it to
another young person where they can take it and run with it. We don`t want
it watered down. We don`t want two hours of content where we feel like
really only 15 minutes that actually applies to us.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. But you do want two hours of content, right?
BURLEY: We just wanting it broken down in a way that`s digestible for us.
MARSHALL: Well, I think it`s really easy for every generation to malign
the next. Even if we learn that – they were at Woodstock partying it up,
you know, does that make them lazy or crazy? No. We are a busy
generation. I think we`re a very driven generation and that`s why we
expect information to be at our fingertips because we`re doing a million
different things and we don`t always have time to block out, you know, 10
to noon to watch something so we`ll go online when we have time and get our
information that way.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, are there principles to engaging your generation?
Because undoubtedly there are executives sitting in every television, you
know, news administrative suite right now asking, okay, how do we get these
young people who are guests actually to watch our shows?
BETANCES: Yes. I think definitely something intrinsic about the
millennial generation is like older generations who only had one identity
which – in person identity, millennials have two.
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, you`re online.
BETANCES: Yes. We have an online identity, cyber-identity and we have an
in-person identity as well. And a cyber-identity, you know, it`s not only
your Facebook status or your Instagram account, it`s how you portray
yourself online, which is in and of itself a whole different thing.
HARRIS-PERRY: So is it your online selves or your real selves that we can
actually get to engage, particularly with the political and social world?
WINICHAKUL: I think it`s definitely a mix of the two. The big thing about
millennials is we don`t – or at least for me, I don`t like being
categorized as just a woman, as an Asian-American, as someone who went to a
liberal arts college or whatever it is. It`s a blend of all these
identities. And I think because we live in such a digital age, my in-
person is very connected to how I portray myself online how I write and how
I speak both in characters and also in person. And I think you have to
look at someone now as a whole person and that`s what we – you know, in
leadership positions too I think you have to look at – you need people who
understand how to look at people in holistic positions.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, when we come back, I want to ask exactly about that,
whether or not millennials will lead differently both in the political
world and the business world. How when you all are the boss? It`s going
to look different. So, after the break, millennials in the movement and
just where they stand on a variety of issues today.
HARRIS-PERRY: Everyone knows millennials like a good listical. Thanks
Basty. So now I`m proud to bring you our very own Nerdland listical. The
three things you need to know about millennial political activism. Number
one, half of millennials call themselves independents, though they
overwhelmingly vote for democrats. That said there`s now a group called
millennials for Jeb. Not sure what to make of that but, you know, just
thought you should know. Number two, when it comes to some of the day`s
big issues, millennials are liberal, except of course when they`re not.
Sixty eight percent support same-sex marriage. Sixty nine percent think
marijuana should be legal but only 56 percent believe that abortion should
be legal compared to the 59 percent of the old, that`s Generation X.
Number three, millennials do care about people other than themselves.
Three-quarters of them report, giving at least a small gift to nonprofits
and 57 percent of them do some sort of volunteer work. More than any other
generation. Sorry to anyone who was hoping for an item about cats. The
nerd behind the scenes here just couldn`t find research on that one. So,
let`s start with this idea of political leadership. What is millennial
political leadership like? What doesn`t mean how you all engaged in the
WINICHAKUL: Sure. So, for me I really got involved with politics and I
think that young people have a really huge voice in politics. Right now
there are not a lot of people who look like us in elected positions. But
we have so much potential from our world view or engagement empowerment
with technology and the past events that we`ve had to grow up in, wars,
9/11, the great recession, we have a whole different world view that`s not
being shared and that perspective is not being heard in leadership
positions, political leadership positions. And for me I think we can take
that leadership role. We have a place to lead the country and share our
perspective, to create policy. Jamir was talking earlier about how we are
the leaders of our movement and we are the voices and we should be heard
that way. And I definitely agree.
HARRIS-PERRY: And Jamir, this seems like an important point to me. That
you grow up in a post-9/11 world. You grow up in a world that is marked by
war and you also grow up in a world marked by economic downturn and now a
world marked by a set of social movements that have an online component.
Is hashtag activism real activism? I know you are actually doing work that
connects what`s happening online with things that are happening out in the
BURLEY: Yes. I mean, whether you tweet once or whether you tweet 200
times about a specific issue, we want you at the table because you have to
understand every person has a viewpoint, has an experience that needs to be
shared with a larger movement. And so I think for people to say that
#activism doesn`t exist, no. Because a person`s timeline is based on the
people who like their content. And so, when you`re able to reach a new
audience, it`s able to influence a new population of people that you would
have never normally been able to reach. Recognizing that a young people
want their information in a way that`s very different than our parents`
generation and so you give it in a way that`s 140 characters or you can
give it on your phone or your laptop.
HARRIS-PERRY: You want to jump in here.
MARSHALL: Well, I was just going to say the idea that we`re not active I`m
not sure where that`s coming from. The 2008 election was a perfect
example. The generation really pushed President Obama over the edge in
that election. I myself worked for his campaign while I was in college and
we were very active. And he was the first person to kind to do that
grassroots social media campaigning, which I mean we saw the effects of
that. And every campaign since has had to model after President Obama`s
BURLEY: It`s interesting that he mentioned that because 2012 actually
marked the third – the third election in a row where millennials came out
in more than 50 percent. So people always say that we don`t vote, but we
do. Numbers show it.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. And in fact, this is the first generation where young
people are voting at rates that are consistent with older generations,
right? So that very first group who actually got the right to vote post-
Vietnam in fact didn`t use that right to vote at the same level as young
people but this generation is. And yet, I wonder, does voting feel like
enough? Is this the generation who on the one hand elects President Obama
twice, but then, maybe do you end up feeling like you know what? The vote
is insufficient. We still feel like there`s enough injustice in the world,
even when we do get the candidate that we want.
BURLEY: Yes. There was recently a poll done by the U.N. and a number of
large organization called, the my world survey and it not only surveyed
young people here in the U.S. but also abroad. And we have such a huge
distrust of government. And so, not only are we electing people but we`re
now putting precautions in place to hold them accountable. And that means
starting that on grassroots organizations or calling them out on twitter.
HARRIS-PERRY: So that idea of being able to elect someone and yet hold
them accountable, feels to me like that could be the great contribution
that millennials could make that potentially is quite different than what
we`ve had before. That said, could you all please get cable. Please, so
us olds can continue to work. Thank you to Jamira Burley and to Kelvin
Betances. Also to Poy Winichakul and to Gabriel Marshall who I want to
point out, used to be a page here at NBC.
Still to come this morning, Beyonce flawless as ever and the modern
standard of beauty. But first, little ballers with big dreams.
HARRIS-PERRY: For some sports are more than a game. They represent an
opportunity for a better life. Still, we know the chances of becoming a
professional athlete are slim. The odds of a high school basketball player
making it to the NBA, three in 10,000. With such unlikely outcomes, some
argue that young men, especially young black men should consider other role
models. Take this. Immediately after the election of President Obama, one
commentator wrote I hope that all children, but especially black kids, will
consider Obama a worthy role model. Too many black kids see sports as the
only way out of the inner city.
Now, there is no doubt that President Obama is a very worthy role model,
but it might be worth remembering that the President himself adores
basketball and credits the sport with giving him direction, discipline and
the experience of being on a team. Also worth noting that making it to the
NBA may be a long shot, but it is still way more likely than being elected
president. Just saying. So instead of setting up a dichotomy between life
goals and sports aspirations, how about seeing the connections between
them. The new documentary “Little Ballers” follows four 11-year-old New
York City kids as they and their coach set out to win the amateur athletic
union national championship. The NBA finals of youth basketball.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: AAU stands for Amateur Athletic Union and it`s basically
like the NBA for kids.
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: What I love most about basketball is being with my
teammates. My teammates are like brothers to me because when we win or
lose, we`re still happy because we played together.
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: I want to be friends with them even when we`re not
playing basketball for my whole life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, while it remains to be seen if the films “Little
Ballers” will one day become NBA legends or president, the film makes clear
that for these boys basketball means hope. Not for stardom or money
necessarily, but for better relationships, better education and a better
future. With us now is the film`s Director Crystal McCrary. So, Crystal,
is this a movie about basketball?
CRYSTAL MCCRARY, DIRECTOR, “LITTLE BALLERS”: It`s a movie about
basketball. It`s a movie about how sports can transform a young person`s
life. It is about offering hope. I mean, I`m glad you brought that up.
It`s about offering hope in many ways. It`s about building a family where
oftentimes there is none or building an extended family and offering
structure to our young youth. And that is something that I thought was so
important to try to capture in this film. I wanted to show how basketball
could offer hope for the kid Tyreke and get him off the streets of
Brownsville where gang violence is prevalent in his life.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let`s listen to Tyreke because he has a very compelling
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: I want basketball to take me to the NBA so I can have a
lot of money and get the things that I want. So when I tell my mom that
we`re going to get out of here, when I tell her that, I mean that. We`re
going to get out of this neighborhood because it`s very bad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCCRARY: Yes. I mean Tyreke is certainly one of the more compelling
stories, and they all are. All of these boys that I chose to profile in
the film, one of them being my son, who his bond with basketball is one
that he has to control his emotions, it`s something that he works through,
through sports and to adversity. And then the young boy Kevin, for him
it`s about getting an education. For Judah it`s really hope for his entire
family, it really saves his family`s life in terms of offering hope after
his father has lost his job and it brings them altogether in something
positive and constructive that they can do. But I think that with all of
the issues that we are having in urban communities with the, you know,
failing public school system in urban communities, high poverty, over
policing of communities, I by no means am saying that basketball is the
only way out. Let`s get that straight.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, right.
MCCRARY: It could be a chess club, it could be a debate club, it could be
any number of activities for kids to help keep them off the streets.
HARRIS-PERRY: But there is something about, I will say, so it could be a
chess club and for some kids it will be the chess club, right? But, you
know, as I was watching, I was watching how many of the little sisters were
cheering along. And so for me, AAU basketball is all about the girls`
side. My niece, Chris like, was a serious AAU baller all from Chicago in
middle school. And I look at it and I think there is something about the
physicality of it. There`s something about the, like, actually moving your
body, getting that aggression, that energy, that emotion for your son out.
So it could be the chess club, but there is something about the game of
MCCRARY: Oh, yes. And there`s something very, you know, connected within
basketball in our community. It`s an inexpensive sport. It`s not a
country club sport. Anybody can pick up a ball. And you can, I mean, my
son, there have been times in the park he hasn`t had a ball. He`s taken
his shoe off to try to put it in the hoop because it`s something that`s so
deeply connected for him. And I`m glad you brought up the issue with the
girls. I mean, I`m doing a girls documentary now where I profile girls
playing basketball with Skylar Diggins, who`s in the WNBA.
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, good!
MCCRARY: And it`s incredibly important for us to understand that with
youth sports, it`s more than the winning and the losing. It`s really about
how they can transform their lives, how they can take this and build it to
something else. We know they`re not going to probably make it to the NBA,
but it offers so many other opportunities. And I hope what people see in
watching “Little Ballers” is they understand it`s a film they can watch
with their families, it`s a film that they can take away something that,
you know, offers them hope. Something that brings them an enlightenment
and also as a filmmaker and mother of three children, I wanted to make
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I want to see one more piece from the film and then ask
you a quick question about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: There`s nothing wrong with a dream. It`s the
exploitation of the dream. Somebody has got to be that one in 10,000 that
makes the – that reaches the NBA or the NFL. I mean, somebody has got to
be that. Now with AAUs and that kind of thing, there now is a track,
there`s a track to get from the right grammar school program, the right
junior high program, the right high school program, the right college
program and then the NBA. It may not happen, but there is a track.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So that notion of the AAU as a track could be seen as a
positive. Obviously you put that voice in there for us and could also
potentially be described as a negative. There are these moments that I
love that are the big tournaments. And I mean, again, my niece was in AAU
so I can smell the gym even while I`m watching it. And, you know, I think
there`s something about it that`s wonderful and also something about it
that`s, whoa, this is youth basketball people and look how many people are
so invested in it.
MCCRARY: Well, I feel that was important, I love that quote from Bill
Rhode (ph). And I felt it was important to show the different perspectives
that even though you might be playing basketball at what we think at 11 and
12 years old for these boys that are deeply passionate about it and these
girls that you are playing at the highest level, invariably the 11-year-
old, 12-year-old prodigy is not going to be the best in high school.
They`re certainly not going to be the best in college. And if they make it
to the NBA, then they have hit the lottery. But I felt it was important to
show Bill Rhode`s voice or Travis King, the agent for Amar`e Stoudemire who
is the executive producer of the film that gives us the great statistic
about 10, 11 million kids play high school basketball. There are 2,000
division, one scholarships, 60 guest drafted in the NBA and 30 will
actually make the team. So, I think if we look at that lens, that it gives
the kids in the film a perspective that even though they all think they`re
making it to the NBA, let`s be realistic about what the chances are, but
still these boys are at the last age of innocence. Also let them enjoy
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. I have to say, my favorite part, as we go, was the
video and the pictures of them on the road together and what it means to be
a bunch of 11-year-olds staying in hotels, eating together in restaurants.
You just get a sense of how big that experience is.
Crystal, stay with me, hang out for a little while longer. I want everyone
to know that you can catch “Little Ballers” on nickelodeon on Wednesday,
February 25th, at 9:30 p.m. And you really do want to watch this with your
Up next, did you see the pictures of Beyonce that went viral this week?
We`re not going to be showing (INAUDIBLE) after me but we are talking about
HARRIS-PERRY: Tonight is the night of the 87th annual academy awards.
Celebrities from around the world gather on the red carpet for Hollywood`s
biggest night. There will be plenty of familiar faces sporting glamorous
ensembles from – dresses to custom made style Chanel gowns. Yes, there
will be many examples of beautiful actors wearing beautiful things from a
range of designers. But in the days of who wore it best fervor, beauty
seems insufficient. They have got to be perfect. Extensions on eyelashes,
and for the hair, aroma therapy facial and detoxifying diets, extra hours
in the gym. I mean whatever the individual celebs, secrets red carpet,
preparing maybe, the point is, as Julia Roberts once explained, it takes a
village, it really does. A series of photos taken off the red carpet have
reminded us of why apparent perfection is paramount for many women in the
It started with an unretouched photo of supermodel Cindy Crawford that
popped up on twitter last weekend. Now, Marie Claire says, the images are
pre-edited version for a December 2013 cover story picture. Former Marie
Claire Mexico in Latin America. It seems to have been a leak. But the
picture shows a chic fur coat on a body of a 48-year-old woman. A woman
with wrinkles and sun spots and cellulite that, well, human beings have.
While Marie Claire along with many other publications has celebrated the
unretouched Crawford photo for being real and gorgeous. And while twitter
users may have praised Crawford for the inadvertent honesty of the leaked
photo, social media was not so kind about the picture of another celeb,
Iggy Azalea. After paparazzi photos of the artist wearing a bikini while
on vacation in Hawaii were leaked. Twitter only so much body criticism
that the 24-year-old, 24-year-old emcee who has withstood her fair share of
twitter feuds announced that she had enough.
She told her twitter fans, quote, “I`m taking some time away from social
media. I need to be happy and it`s too negative and draining.” Directly
addressing her critics, Azalea also wrote apparently it`s shocking and
unheard of to be a woman and have cellulite. Now, while the pressure of an
anti-cellulite fat for your perfectionist culture, push some to shun social
media and avoid the internet, there are also some women who try to use the
web to promote healthier body images, women like photographer Jade Beall
who launch as I called a beautiful body project. Five weeks after her son
was born. The site shows unretouched pictures of Beall and many other
women standing proudly with their post-pregnancy bodies exposed and their
children by their sides. Beall`s goal was to inspire feeling irreplaceably
beautiful as a counter balance to the airbrush, photo-shopped imagery that
dominates mainstream media. This week even Beyonce got caught up in the
good, the bad and the ugly that emanates from the airbrush Photoshoppped
culture that Beall described. More on that when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: This week Beyonce fans were abuzz over a few photos that
were supposedly unretouched version of Queen B`s 2013 L`Oreal ad campaign.
They showed the singer with bright red lipstick, laugh lines and get this,
identifiable pores. You know, we`re not going to show you the pictures on
this program because, after all the Beygency seriously rang the alarm over
one fun site, audacity to leak the less than flawless images of Beyonce.
Fans hassled the owner of the site so much the publishers quickly released
this statement. Due to the distain of the beyhive we removed the photos.
We were just posting the photos to share the fact that our queen is
naturally beautiful, at the same time she is just a regular woman. Now, of
course, there`s also the fact that L`Oreal has not yet commented on the
pictures authenticity, but the beyhive`s actions were powerful. If twitter
is any indication, I`m sure many fans understand and appreciate Beyonce`s
more human side, flaws and all.
But it also makes sense that her people want to protect her image. I mean
this is Beyonce. I mean, we know she uses wind machines and the makeup
team, strategic lighting, backup dancers, all to create the image that is
Beyonce the performer. It makes sense the beyhive want to preserve the
illusion. For example, I know that my people here at Nerdland would never
let the whole audience see me before I`m – wait a minute. Oh, come on,
guys. Thank you. That`s right. Protect the image. That`s right. Much
Joining the table to talk about Beyonce and the pressure to be flawless in
the age of Photoshop are Thuy Linh Tu who was associate professor of social
and cultural at NYU. Vanessa Deluca, you might have remember her, it`s
Vanessa Bush in previous opportunities here in the show, who`s editor in
chief of “Essence Magazine.” And Crystal McCrary from “Little Ballers” is
also still with us. So nice to have you all here. Vanessa, exactly what
is the big deal? I mean, we are all imperfect. Is this shocking to find
VANESSA DELUCA, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, ESSENCE MAGAZINE: This is not shocking at
all. I mean, anybody who takes a selfie on a cell phone these days knows
that, you know, uses a filter is basically doing the same thing that
happens when celebrities are retouched. I mean it doesn`t really –
everybody knows what it is, what this is, right? Like it`s not shocking to
find out that a picture, an image has been enhanced in some way.
HARRIS-PERRY: Although it`s an interesting point. That even when we take
our selfies, we use filters on them. And I wonder, are we out of touch
with what an actual human body looks like? What a woman`s face at 41
actually looks like?
THUY LINH TU, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, NYU: I think in some ways yes. I think
we live in an edit culture now, right? It`s like, nobody wants Google
glasses, they want the whole google screen, right?
TU: And you know, I think, the more we sort of tear down our celebrities,
right, the better we feel about our own flaws. But actually what happens
is the exact opposite. Is the more that those flaws are reviewed, the more
we have to work to actually become better than those flaws, right?
Overcome those flaws.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, it`s interesting even to think of them as flaws. One of
the favorite things for me happening in the world right now is “how to get
away with murder,” and the way that the kind of vulnerability of the naked
face and the natural hair is being used in part as a plot element. And
when I look at her, at Annalise Keating in this moment, I don`t feel flaws,
I fell like man, this is doing a new thing for me.
MCCRARY: I love that Viola Davis is all herself in the film. And you see
the natural hair. You see it with that make-up. First of all, she`s
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Right.
MCCRARY: She`s a gorgeous woman! But you`re right, I mean, particularly
with social media, we are living in this environment where you can`t even
take a photo – I`m new to social media in terms of Instagram, but I have
one girlfriend, and whenever I take a photo of myself and put it up on
Instagram, she will text me the edited version of that photo.
HARRIS-PERRY: Here you are, looking better!
MCCRARY: I`m like, I`m 45, I`m proud, I have three kids, I just had one
two years ago, I`m okay with those flaws. I mean, yes, is it natural to
all of us to want to look better?
MCCRARY: But I think that it`s gone a little bit too far.
DELUCA: Well, I mean, what really is upsetting to me is how, I mean, I
call them digital drive-bys. I mean, people like get to the point where
they feel that they can comment on any and anything about you, without
really knowing you. And it`s just our humanity is somehow getting lost. I
mean, I wrote a whole editor`s letter about this in January, where we are
so cruel to each other in this space, especially in social media, that
we`ve forgotten how to appreciate just our humanness.
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, it`s interesting that you say that. I mean, the
point I was making earlier about Iggy Azalea is being just 24. And I mean,
again, she has been in some beef on twitter about her race, about her
music, but something about being called fat or being called ugly, boy, it
just goes to like a core place in who you are as a woman. And I guess I
wonder, why is that still so powerful for us? That the ugly or the fat is
still somehow more powerful than the “dumb” or the “bad artist” or
TU: Well, you know, I think women are judged on their physical looks. You
know, we`re interested in men`s moral failings, but we`re very interested
in women`s physical failings. Right? And this has a really long
historical trajectory. You know, we talk about twitter, but hello, what
about the mirror? Right. When the mirror came into our homes in the
1950s, you know, we had a disease called acne. We never had that disease
HARRIS-PERRY: Wait a minute, back up for me a second. We didn`t have
mirrors in our homes as a standard –
TU: As a standard part of our bathrooms, right? And we never thought of
bumps on our skin as a disease. Right? As something that needed to be
fixed. Right? So, you know, these things are all historically produced,
right? But there is a long history for a lot of women to build on.
HARRIS-PERRY: So then I guess, so then I guess I wonder, so there will be
no critique of Beyonce brooked at this table. We are clear about that.
But let me ask this question. There is something about sort of Beyonce`s
public fabulousness. And it`s something that we love and celebrate here on
this show in part, but then I wonder, okay, is that very fabulousness in
the context of having had a baby and having had a husband and, you know,
us first meeting her whenever she was, what, 16 years old and now she`s a
more grown woman, is her ability to be so fabulous through all of that,
when the rest of us are still, you know, aging like regular people, is
actually problematic or is it meant to be celebrated?
MCCRARY: Well, I think on one hand, yes. When you look at the leaks, it`s
L`Oreal that were leaked, among other photos that were leaked as well.
When you look at the cosmetics industry, which is a 50 billion plus
industry that sells a fantasy. That sells this vicarious living. So you
have that at play here, combined with the very devoted beyhive fans of
Beyonce. And of course the Beygency is always at play here. But when I
look at things through the lens of now having a 12-year-old daughter, I
look through at the lens of I want my daughter to accept her flaws. She
doesn`t have to look perfect all the time, she doesn`t have to have her
clothes, you know, up to here. I want her to be able to be a little girl
and to celebrate that. And there`s something about seeing these photos of
Beyonce, which by the way she still looks incredibly gorgeous! That`s the
things, I was like, these are retouched? What`s the problem? Even the
bumps, which are minuscule, it really doesn`t matter if they`re big or not,
she still looked stunning inside and out. So I want my daughter, I want
all of our daughters to see that and appreciate it.
DELUCA: I mean, I think what we respond to with Beyonce, is not just, you
know, she`s obviously naturally beautiful, but she has such confidence.
That confidence really, I mean, it like pours out of her. And when you see
that, you want to – you want to get on board. And then the songs are
about girl power and about, you know, we run the world. I mean, this is,
you know, you want to have that for yourself, right?
HARRIS-PERRY: And for – you know, I have to say, I have been following
obsessively the “Essence” Instagram feed. Because you guys have been, you
know, the black women in Hollywood.
DELUCA: We all wish we were there.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, I know, I`m like, just straight hating, all week,
because I wish I was there. Right? But as I was looking at the women on
that feed, I thought, they look different to me than what we`re going to
see at the 87th Academy Awards, not just because they`re women of color,
but because there are skinny ones and tall ones and short ones, and more
full figured. And I wonder, is there something about women of color that
allows maybe more – different kinds of ways of thinking about what is
beautiful and sexy and desirable?
DELUCA: Well, when you look at various studies, I mean, when you`re now
looking at different groups, predominantly, black women will always say, we
feel good in our skins, we`re comfortable in our space, we`re fine with
how, I mean, no matter how we look. No matter what our shape or size.
That is not true of the mainstream. For the most part, mainstream groups.
HARRIS-PERRY: So this is a gift that we give to all women. You are
flawless, just however it is that you woke up. Thank you to Crystal
McCrary and to Thuy Linh Tu and also to Vanessa K. Deluca. That is our
show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. And a quick reminder,
there`s something you absolutely will not want to miss this week. This
Wednesday night, 8:00 p.m., MSNBC and Telemundo will present an exclusive
town hall with President Obama on the issue of immigration, hosted by
MSNBC`s own Jose Diaz-Balart. I will see you next Saturday, 10:00 a.m.
Eastern. But right now, it`s time for a preview of “WEEKENDS WITH ALEX
WITT.” Hey, Alex!
ALEX WITT, MSNBC HOST, “WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT”: Do you miss me, because
I`m so far away here in LA –
HARRIS-PERRY: I do! I miss you and I`m too I`m jealous and totally
hating! Because you are out there and we are here in the snow.
WITT: I know, I know. However, it is rainy and drizzly, and I`m like,
it`s all good! Compared to what we`ve got going there on there.
Anyway, thanks so much, everyone. Let`s get to this, because one of
America`s biggest malls named as a possible target in an alleged terror
video. We`ll going to show you how security is being tightened today.
Also a question of faith. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker under fire for
what he said about the President`s religion. Is this a case of here we go
And an extensive look at the many controversies surrounding the best
picture nominees at tonight`s academy awards, from accusations of bending
the truth for a better script to the complaints about “Selma`s” lack of
nominations. And “Birdman” versus “Boyhood,” we`ll going to have it all
coming up for you in just a few minutes. So, don`t go anywhere. I`ll be
right back from L.A.!
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