Melissa Harris-Perry, Transcript 06/14/15
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning, my question, what makes
you black or white, man or woman?
Plus, McKenney, Texas and the fraught history of swimming pools and
The young fashion designer who broke the internet this week.
But first, Hillary Clinton tells supporters why she`s running.
Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. Hillary Clinton, the by far
front-runner Democratic nomination for president held her first big rally
yesterday on Roosevelt Island in Manhattan and sought to paint a picture
what an America under President Hillary Clinton would look like.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe that success isn`t
measured by how much the wealthiest Americans have, but by how many
children climb out of poverty. How many start-ups and small businesses
open and thrive. How many young people go to college without drowning in
debt? How many people find a good job? How many families get ahead and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Let`s be very clear. If the primaries were held today,
Clinton would have the Democratic nomination in the bag. She leaves her
closest competitor, self-proclaimed, Senator Bernie Sanders by more than 40
points. She also leads all of the potential Republican contenders, Jeb
Bush by 10 points, Scott Walker by 8, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul by four
But here`s the thing about presidential elections. For Democrats, it`s all
about turnout. It`s less about convincing people to vote for them over the
other guy, and it is more about getting people excited enough to cast a
vote over all.
President Obama won in 2008 and 2012 because the Democratic base,
especially young African-American, young Latino and young voters in general
came out in big numbers. And in 2012, for the first time ever, a higher
percentage of African-Americans turned out to vote than white Americans.
Seventy percent of black women voted that year.
And in 2008, young people voted at their highest rate since 1992 when they
helped put Bill Clinton in office. So did Latino voters. Candidate Obama
got people quite excited.
Now, if Clinton is to be president, she`s going to need those voters to get
excited about her candidacy. She needs the Obama coalition to become the
Yesterday she let them know it, hitting on issues she believes will get out
the base, things like immigration reform, higher wages and incarceration
reform, and framing all these disparate things as one issue, a family issue
starting with equal pay for equal work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: It`s a family issue, just like raising the minimum wage is a
family issue. Expanding child care is a family issue. Declining marriage
rates is a family issue. The unequal rates of incarceration is a family
We should offer hard-working, law-abiding immigrant families a path to
citizenship. And we should ban discrimination against LGBT Americans and
their families so they can live, learn, marry and work just like everybody
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Joining me now is one of my favorite panels ever, Cristina
Jimenez, co-founder and managing director of United We Dream. Katon
Dawson, national Republican consultant and South Carolina campaign director
for Governor Rick Perry, Rebecca Traister, senior editor of “The New
Republic” and Jamelle Bouie, staff writer for “Slate.”
Man, am I excited to have you all here. Rebecca, I want to start with you
because I feel like it`s 2008.
REBECCA TRAISTER, SENIOR EDITOR, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”: We`ve been having
this conversation for a long time.
HARRIS-PERRY: So what did you hear yesterday from Candidate Clinton?
TRAISTER: The very first thing I heard that`s crazy when you think about
it, is the front-running Democratic president trying to be the first woman
ever to be president running by comparing herself to Franklin Roosevelt
with no seriously threatening competition from the left?
She is in some ways counting on these issues and not herself. It`s funny,
I think there was a lot of talk about how maybe in 2008 she should have
used the symbolism of the first woman stuff more to build enthusiasm, and
maybe she learned that lesson and will do it here.
She`s obviously going to try. But she`s also using the issues to get
people out and she`s using this conversation about a change in national
mood, a receptiveness to this kind of progressive policy agenda that she`s
laying out in lengthy terms as she did yesterday.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, it`s good to know that this Rorschach test of Hillary
Clinton hasn`t shifted at all, because I still see and hear something so
different when I look and see what I saw yesterday.
On the one hand, I hear you on the FDR, I get that. But I also heard this.
I want to play this little spot that sounded very Bill Clinton to me about
a smaller and more efficient government. Let`s take a listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Government isn`t always going to have all the answers, but it has
to be smarter, simpler, more efficient, and a better partner. We need
expertise and innovation from the private sector to help cut waste and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So in that moment, what I heard was actually not sort of a
FDR, I heard something that was a little closer to your side of the camera,
KATON DAWSON, NATIONAL REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: I agree. You know, several
things stuck out to me about that announcement. That crowd behind her
looked more like a Coca-Cola NASCAR crowd than it did a Clinton crowd. I`m
an operative, and visuals matter in these things. The work wasn`t done
there. What I came off with yesterday was this is the one candidate we can
HARRIS-PERRY: You can`t go off path. You have to stick with me for just a
second. I want to take a look at the crowd. Your point about being an
operative here is a very important one. You and I were sitting on the set
yesterday when we were first looking at it.
And Cristina, I have to say that for me, the visual here, regardless of
what the reality was on the ground, the visual is very, very homogeneous
racially. Even if that isn`t completely true of what the crowd is. Your
advance team is supposed to put the Obama coalition behind you whether
they`re actually there or not.
CRISTINA JIMENEZ, UNITED WE DREAM: That`s right. And what we see also is,
one, she had a dreamer, an immigrant young person who was part of the event
and spoke. And I think that speaks to the power of the immigrant rights
movement and how we have been able to shift the conversation and push these
issues so much.
To see her and other candidates making that front and center of their
campaigns, but she was also on the wrong side of this issue before. And
now, you know, for example, she came out against driver`s licenses. She
promoted the deportation of children that were fleeing violence from
And now you see her saying, I`m in support of immigration reform. So you
know, it`s critical to make the point that Hillary and other candidates
now, they need to talk about immigration and they need to make their stands
on immigration clear in order for them to be able to mobilize Latinos and
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to listen to a moment that I thought was interesting.
When it goes to the kind of personal bio piece, but also this question of
building a coalition, and I think there is a particular vulnerability in
the Obama coalition for Latino voters in part because of the critiques that
you and others have levelled against the Obama administration for its
failure to live up to some of those particular demands.
Let`s take a listen to Hillary Clinton talking about babysitting for farm
workers as a kid.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: As a young girl, I signed up at my Methodist Church to baby sit
the children of Mexican farm workers while their parents worked in the
fields on the weekends. And later, as a law student, I advocated for
Congress to require better working and living conditions for farm workers
whose children deserved better opportunities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: As bad as the operatives may have been on putting the right
people behind her, those sets of sentences are almost perfect. Name
checking the church, saying that I worked for the farm workers rather than
them for me, and then as an adult, I also had this role. That right there
was almost perfect rhetoric. I`m wondering if it also feels like an
authentic question to these political questions.
JAMELLE BOUIE, SLATE: I`m not sure that it does in part because of Hillary
Clinton`s past positions on these issues. I think what`s happening with
Clinton is that she is trying to maneuver to this new center in the
Democratic Party, and what was striking about 2007 and 2008 is she took
those policy positions thinking that the Democratic center and the American
center was where it was in 1996.
In the past six and a half years, I think it`s been demonstrated it clearly
is not. And so I wouldn`t say she`s flat-footed because I do think there
are elements in her biography that allow her to build a personal connection
to this new center, but it`s still feels kind of awkward.
HARRIS-PERRY: And you think the new center is to the left?
BOUIE: I think the new center is to the left. I think public opinion
polling is pretty conclusive on this. It`s not left wing, but certainly
the public is much more receptive to immigration reform, much more
receptive to criminal justice reform, much more receptive to this host of
issues that conveniently are also relevant to the Obama coalition.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stick around, because when we come back, we`re going to add
another young voice. Katon also want to drill down on the little last
piece of what you said, which is if there is anybody we can beat, meaning
the Republicans can beat, it`s Hillary and I want to see whether or not
you`re just blustering here.
Still to come this morning, we`re going to dive even deeper into the
Richard Duval controversy, but after the break, we look at one of the ways
Clinton plans to clinch the millennial vote, and that`s next.
HARRIS-PERRY: Hillary Clinton made sure to mention, albeit briefly, the
things that have motivated young people especially young people of color to
raise their voices, organize their communities and demand accountability
from government, a criminal justice system that so often fails to be just.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: The unequal rates of incarceration is a family issue. Helping
more people with an addiction or a mental health problem get help is a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Joining me now is Jamari Burley, who is co-founder of
GenYNot, a youth civic engagement organization. I`m interested here in
whether or not what you heard here, there was no actual name check of black
lives matter, no actual name check in this context of other sort of social
activism by young people, but do you think you heard enough from Hillary
Clinton to provide a kind of excitement for young voters?
JAMIRA BURLEY, CO-FOUNDER, GENYNOT: Excitement is definitely not the word
I would use. I would say that I didn`t hear anything from Hillary that I
didn`t expect. It was nothing moving. It was very generic for me. And
also I feel like it was very watered down.
Yes, she has hundreds of speeches that she`s going to do over the next few
months, but when you`re thinking about coming out the gate and engaging
people right away, particularly young people who don`t trust government as
it is, and also are civically engaged but not politically engaged in many
ways, I don`t think she did a good enough job.
Also I think a lot of her rhetoric wasn`t conducive to the current
environment we`re still in. She didn`t mention black lives matter, and
that`s one slogan, but when you think about criminal critical justice as a
whole, you also need to think about how police officers who are treating
And also how does that play a role in a number of our systems that are
oppressing people of all walks of life, but particular people of color and
our most marginalize communities.
HARRIS-PERRY: So your point here about it, I have to say, this matters to
me. We talked yesterday about the fact that Rand Paul actually talked
specifically about the young man at Rikers, who was in incarcerated – Rand
Paul name-checked the person who was three years in Rikers, dies by his own
hands of suicide after all those years.
Not that criminal justice isn`t just, but really demonstrating an
engagement with it and it does feel to me Katon like at the moment not that
Republicans can pull voters of color or young voters over, but that they
might be able to produce just a sense of like Hillary is not quite exciting
enough or interesting enough or compelling enough to show up.
DAWSON: We got 15 or 16 people that we have a conversation and a couple of
them had Rand Paul, Rick Perry, a couple of them have had conversations
about criminal justice. In Texas, they shut down three prisons. They`re
no longer take in first offense drugs, they`re putting them in jail.
We`ll have that conversation in our primary, but as I talk earlier we are
going to have a conversation. We got any flavor Republican you want. The
Democrats are not going to have a very in-depth conversation. Hillary has
I mean, Hillary gets Bernie sanders, is that a real contest? You let Joe
Biden blink about running president then you got a contest and that`s what
people are looking for.
HARRIS-PERRY: I just heard from Katon Dawson that Republicans are the
Baskin Robbins this year, and we have one soft serve of Ikea at the end of
the day. Jamira, not that I think young people are going to head over to
the Republican Party –
BURLEY: That`s not happening.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, but I think about 2008 the conversations I was having
with young people in positions like yours, and what you say about Hillary
Clinton is not what they were saying about Obama. Right or wrong in that
assessment, it was just a very different feeling.
BURLEY: I agree, but there is no excitement for any candidate on either of
the sides right now, and I think it`s also because young people are no
longer delusional in thinking that somehow a politician is going to get
into office and fix everything magically overnight.
We understand that you do have to play the game. The problem is on both
sides, there is conversation and that`s cute, but the question is, where
are politics going to become something tangible for young people. We`re
tired of saying criminal justice reform needs to happen.
We also need to say that this is an American tragedy. The fact that we
have more prisoners than any other country in the world and we only account
for 5 percent of the population, that is a problem.
I think one of the big things that troubled me from Hillary`s speech
yesterday was when she mentioned this idea of a pathway to citizenship for
individuals who are law-abiding citizens.
If we know anything about our criminal justice system, we know it`s not
equal and it`s not just, and a lot of people who get incarcerated are
individuals who have been pushed through the pipeline of prison or the
pipeline of deportation. So we have to be very comprehensive when we talk
about these issues.
HARRIS-PERRY: So Cristina, I feel like you`re prepared to vote for Jamira
at this point.
JIMENEZ: Well, you know, I mean, it`s exactly what Jamira is saying, I
wonder when are we going to have a real conversation? You can say that you
are for immigration reform and a pathway citizenship, but what`s really
underneath this immigration debate that we`re having.
It`s the criminalization of people like me and people like my parents,
which is the same across the board when you see communities of color, low-
income communities of color. If we are really about to have a conversation
for immigration reform, pathway to citizenship is not enough.
We want to hear how you really tackle this over criminalization of our
communities which is happening, and deportation enforcement and racial
HARRIS-PERRY: Isn`t this, Rebecca, the conversation that a primary would
TRAISTER: I wanted her to be primaried strongly from the very beginning.
I wanted her to be primaried by Elizabeth Warren. I wanted to be her
primaried by Christian Hillenbrand, Joe Biden, sure, he can come too. I
think most Democrats I know wanted that. I am surprised.
One of my anxieties about not having a primary, looking ahead of it before
it started, was there was going to be nobody to push her to the left, she
was going to run to the center right from the start.
So that`s one of the reasons that I am surprised and gratified by the fact
that she`s selling herself as FDR. I didn`t expect that. I think it tells
us more, as Jamalle says, the way the center has moved left, because
Hillary is someone who, throughout her career, has moved with the moves for
a lot of very complicated and sometimes structural reasons.
But she is now moved and this unforced move is showing us a little bit
about, you know, the message is that she is getting about where the country
is. I agree. That primary in 2008 that every deplored, boy, she should
have quit, it went on too long.
It was the best thing that ever happened to this country and its politics.
It brought these conversations to every state. It brought the candidates
to every state. It brought grassroots organizing and voter infrastructure
in every state. That was what was wonderful about that. We don`t have it
HARRIS-PERRY: I am so with you and I see that as what happened in `08, but
here, I guess, is part of what`s shocking. If it had done it in a full,
structural, infrastructure way, wouldn`t we have candidates right now? I`m
honestly a little stunned at how sickly the Democratic Party appears to
Now, again, this is not I think that I have a preference for the Republican
Party in terms of policy, but at least Republicans want to be president.
It is a little stunning to me that no Democrat seems to seriously want to
be president, Jamalle.
BOUIE: It`s a little bit of a – not like chicken and the egg, but it`s a
little bit of a problem with Hillary Clinton being so dominant. I think if
Hillary Clinton were where she was in 2007, around the same level, of kind
of strengthening the party, a bunch of people who don`t look presidential,
would look presidential.
No one looks presidential until they do, and often they do when there is a
space open. Hillary Clinton has kind of dominated the space for a
Democratic nominee for so long, that I think a lot of candidates who do
have the qualifications and the resume of a presidential candidate have
said it`s not worth it. It`s not worth alienating anyone in the party.
It`s not worth it.
HARRIS-PERRY: So Jamira, it`s one thing to ask where the young voters are,
and let me just ask really quickly where are the young candidates right
BURLEY: That`s exactly what I was going to say. I think the problem is
with both parties that there is not enough sustainability happening,
meaning how are we training leaders to take over those roles 10 and 15
years down the line?
The problem is young people are so sick of politics that they don`t even
want to get involved with either party, but I think if we`re going to think
about how does policy, how does democracy continue, we really have to
develop and create avenues for young people to have a platform to get
engaged, but also to take leadership roles where they`re actually making
change in real ways.
HARRIS-PERRY: Jamira Burley is going to be back with us in our next hour.
I want to say thank you to Cristina Jimenez, who has to come back, because
man, we have a lot more to talk about. Katon Dawson who is going to keep
figuring out whether or not he can beat Hillary Clinton. Rebecca Traister
and Jamelle Bouie are also going to be back later in the program.
Up next, where Candidate Clinton is today.
Plus, details from the newly released sheriff`s department investigation
into the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.
HARRIS-PERRY: The moment Hillary Clinton wrapped up her big campaign rally
here in New York yesterday she set off on the road heading to a much more
important state when it comes to the primaries. That`s right. Iowa.
This morning the Democratic candidate is holding a launch party at the Iowa
state fairgrounds. Live in Des Moines is NBC News White House
correspondent, Kristin Welker. Kristin, what are you expecting from
Hillary Clinton today Iowa that we didn`t hear from her yesterday in New
KRISTIN WELKER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Melissa. Good
morning. Campaign officials tell me that Clinton is going to build on a
lot of the themes that we heard yesterday when she mapped out her case for
why she thinks she should be the next president.
But today, Melissa, is very much going to be a call to action. Clinton is
going to try to get Iowans on board with her grassroots effort to get
elected. She wants them to be working the phones, pounding the pavement.
So far the Clinton campaign has about nine organizing offices all
throughout the state and they have commitments for more than 4,000 Iowans
to volunteer, but Clinton wants to build on those numbers.
Again, she`s going to really resonate some of the themes that we heard
yesterday when she spoke in New York`s Roosevelt Island when she invoked
the legacy of FDR, the former president, to argue that she will also be a
champion of the poor and working class Americans.
Interestingly, Melissa, Clinton laid out an agenda that sounded a lot like
President Obama. She said she wants to close the income gap. She wants to
fight for universal pre-k, for LGBT rights. Now, if you look at the polls
here in Iowa, it shows that Clinton has a very healthy lead over her other
However, she`s been getting a pretty robust challenge from the left in
Bernie Sanders. He has been campaigning hard here in Iowa. He`s drawing
some pretty big crowds. Yesterday, he had an event that had more than 500
people and he`s going to hold two more events today.
Of course, there is Martin O`Malley who isn`t getting very high poll
numbers, but he is also been something quite a bit in Iowa, Melissa, and of
course, it`s still early. The completion is heating up and we`re expecting
this rally to get under way shortly.
We`re not sure how many people it will draw, could be about 200 to 300
people, maybe more, we`ll have to wait and see, but Clinton really ramping
it up here in Iowa – Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to NBC`s Kristin Welker, in Des Moines, Iowa. I
think it really has started now.
WELKER: Yes, indeed.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yesterday afternoon, nearly seven months after his death,
the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor`s Office released the investigative report
on the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. The report compiles the reports
of the Cuyahoga County Sheriff`s Department`s investigation, shedding some
new light on what happened last November when an officer shot the boy in a
The 222-page report includes accounts from more than two dozen people,
including the rookie officer who shot Tamir, witnesses and dispatchers.
Among the findings, the person who called 911 reported seeing a guy
pointing a gun.
The caller noted that the person might be a juvenile and that the gun might
be, quote, “a fake.” But the report shows the dispatcher did not pass
along those details to the two officers who responded to the call. That
dispatcher refused to answer investigators` questions, according to the
sheriff department`s documents.
The two officers involved also declined to be interviewed by investigators.
Police have said the officers ordered Rice to show your hands three times
before a shot was fired, but the report shows only one of the witnesses
heard officers issue a warning to Rice, but only after two shots had
already been fired.
The report also includes an interview with an FBI agent who heard about the
shooting on a radio and went to the scene. He says he was the first person
to perform any kind of first aid on Tamir, who did not die until the next
morning in the hospital.
The boy who says he gave Rice the pellet gun was also interviewed. He said
he had removed the orange tip to make a repair. The report does not render
any opinion on the legality of the officer`s actions. The county
prosecutor`s office plans to present the case to a grand jury this year.
I also want to update you on a story we first featured two weeks ago about
an unlikely pairing, a small town conservative mayor and a civil rights
activist joining together to fight the closures of rural hospitals in
America. Bob Zelner is a freedom writer who has been fighting the good
fight for decades and Adam O`Neil is the Republican mayor of Belhaven,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR ADAM O`NEAL (R), BELHAVEN, NORTH CAROLINA: We have a situation in
these hospitals. We have to do something about it. It`s a horrific
tragedy that`s not getting talked about in our country. It`s an American
issue. When a hospital closes, Republicans, Democrats, libertarians,
independents, blacks, Asians, Latinos, all of us die needlessly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The 283 rural hospitals are in danger of having their doors
close for good this year. So the mayor and Mr. Zelner are taking to the
open road, walking 283 miles, one for each hospital at risk, from Belhaven
to Washington, D.C.
The walk started on June 1st with the support of 11 states, and on Monday
the group is expected to arrive in Washington, D.C. by 11:00 a.m. Eastern
for a rally on Capitol Hill.
Reverend William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, will be
among those speaking on the importance of world health care and protecting
Up next, a new strategy in the battle over reproductive rights, why the
advocates may actually want the Supreme Court to get involved.
HARRIS-PERRY: Forty two years after Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court
decision that legalized abortion. Efforts to restrict access to that legal
right have reached new depths.
According to the Reproductive Rights Organization, the (inaudible)
Institute just since April five states have either instituted waiting
periods or increased the amount of time women are required to wait between
the initial consultation and receiving a termination.
It is part of the steady course of legislative action that in recent years
has made abortion in some states, though still legal, very difficult to
obtain. Last week, a federal appellate court upheld the strict Texas law
that requires all abortion clinics in the state to meet the same building
equipment and staffing standards that hospitals must meet.
Before the law was passed, there were 41 abortion clinics in Texas.
According to reproductive rights activists, full enforcement of the law
could reduce the number of clinics in the country`s second most populist
state to less than a dozen. That has prompted them to consider a
As the “New York Times” reports, abortion rights groups have been leery in
recent years to taking their battles to the increasingly conservative
Supreme Court, but this week, faced with the full effect of what they call
an onerous 2013 Texas law, they say they have little choice but to press
for strong action from the top.
Joining me here at the table, Caroline Fredrickson, the president of the
American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, and Rebecca Traister,
senior editor for “The New Republic,” and joining me from Richmond,
Virginia, Amy Hagstrom Miller, the chief executive of Whole Women`s Health,
which runs several facilities in Texas and was one of the providers that
sued the state.
Amy, let`s start with you. I`m somewhat stunned that anybody could look at
this new law and see it as not creating a burden. What`s your reaction?
AMY HAGSTROM MILLER, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, WHOLE WOMAN`S HEALTH: I couldn`t
agree with you more, Melissa. This is the most restrictive law around
physical plants in the state, in the country. They gave us no waivers,
they gave us no variances and they gave us no grandfathering allowing
existing clinics to stay open in the communities.
You`ve seen us go from 41 clinics down to eight ambulatory surgical
centers, really closing every clinic in the state and only allowing small
hospital facilities to be open and as you know, they are only located in
major metropolitan areas leaving almost a million women of reproductive age
more than 150 miles away from a safe facility.
HARRIS-PERRY: We were just talking a little bit about the closing of rural
hospitals, so I`m sitting here thinking if rural hospitals are closed, and
then if we have the closing of these facilities, the capacity of women to
get reproductive care and to seek terminations, particularly for those
living in rural areas and who do not have substantial economic means, it
really makes it basically impossible.
MILLER: Absolutely. It`s a sham law. It`s not based on safety and health
for women. What it`s done is leave a huge proportion of women in the state
of Texas behind, rural women, women without access to health care, women
who don`t have means.
We already have a broken infrastructure in Texas when it comes to family
planning, Medicaid coverage and access to health care in general. And here
it`s just layering on top of that, a disproportionate effect for almost a
million people, as I said, who are just left behind.
And they try to pretend it has something to do with health and safety when,
in fact, it`s actually designed to make abortion inaccessible by any means
HARRIS-PERRY: So Caroline, your work is obviously around the question of
law, and I look at the chart over and over again, and the idea that between
2001 and 2010, you have 189 restrictions passed in states, and then in the
two years, from 2011 to 2013, you get 205 – so more in those two years.
Typically we would think that`s a response to an emergent situation in the
world when you suddenly have more laws. Why is this happening?
CAROLINE FREDRICKSON, AMERICAN CONSTITUTION FOR LAW AND POLICY: I think at
this point the right has decided they`re going to test the limits as much
as they can of what is left of Roe versus Wade. In the Casey case, the
Supreme Court said that restrictions said they cannot be a burden on women.
Where does that line fall?
Right now with the Fifth Circuit, it falls pretty much on the side it
doesn`t matter if you have access to abortion, that`s not undue, they`re
trying to dismantle piece by piece to get to the point where there`s really
no options left for women, rural women, women with very little means.
If you`re a wealthy woman, I guess you can fly to New York or somewhere
else, but for other women, there`s really nothing left.
HARRIS-PERRY: Rebecca, part of what I`m wondering, is, when we look at
2011 to 2013, we know what happened. State-based restrictions, so despite
having a Democrat in the White House, despite having, at that point, a
democratic Senate, the states we know in 2010 went to Republicans and in
the back side of that, these huge restrictions.
How do we make sure in 2016 that this issue is on, that no matter what
happens at the presidential level, this issue is on the agenda?
TRAISTER: Well, it does matter what happens at the presidential election,
because our shared turnout relies on the states, right? There is not a
huge amount of optimism. There is a very good chance that unless there is
a massive Democratic turnout, you`ll see more Republican state legislature
FREDRICKSON: I would say there is another element though which is at stake
in the next election, which is the court. There is more for the elderly
side and it will really be one of the issues of contention.
TRAISTER: Hillary made sure to mention that in that speech.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let`s me come back for a moment here, Amy, and that is to
say, for the most part, advocates of reproductive rights had not wanted to
take this to this court. Is this now the time that it has to go to court?
MILLER: I think so, Melissa. We haven`t gotten any release from the Fifth
Circuit. This is the fourth time they`ve denied us in the Fifth Circuit
and we`ve gotten some relief from the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has
ruled in our favor saying it was emergent enough to put a block in place in
order to protect the women and families in the state of Texas and maintain
So we are fairly optimistic that the Supreme Court is definitely going to
look at this and is going to look at it carefully and hopefully provide
relief to the communities that need us in the state.
HARRIS-PERRY: Of course, this is a court that also thinks it`s perfectly
fine to whisper in people`s ears as they walk up and try to access. This
court is top. Thank you to Amy Hagstorm Miller in Richmond, Virginia.
Also thank you to Rebecca Traister. Caroline is sticking around.
Up next, when you`re seeking that work/life balance and instead you get
thrown under the bus.
HARRIS-PERRY: Lean in, opt out, there are plenty of choices for women in
the workplace. But for most women, it`s not exactly a matter of choice.
It`s about struggling just to get by in a system that`s often stacked
A new book with details how throughout our country`s history, labor reforms
have consistently excluded industries dominated by women workers. In the
1930s, southern Democrats fought to maintain their Jim Crowe economy by
demanding that domestic workers be excluded from the landmark National
Labor Relations Act.
As of 2010, there were 2.5 million women in the domestic work industry in
the United States. And currently California is the only state that
safeguards domestic workers` right to unionize. When Congress raised the
minimum wage in 1996, a key group was left out, tipped workers, 73 percent
of whom are women.
Armed with millions in political contributions, a restaurant lobbied waged
a campaign to keep tipped workers` pay as low as possible. The tipped
worker base wage today stands at $2.13 an hour, making it impossible for
mothers to work for a living and remains low on lawmakers agendas.
Almost one-fifth of young mothers are eligible for unpaid family leave, and
paid family leave, that`s a luxury that only 11 percent of workers can
enjoy. Throw in the cost of child care and it`s still a fight for
Still with me Caroline Fredrickson, the author of “Under The Bus, How
Working Women Are Being Run Over.”. Talk to me a little bit about this
patchwork of laws and the way it leaves women out. Not that it necessarily
matters, but is it purposeful or is it that it accidentally happened this
FREDRICKSON: It`s both, actually. You talked about the purposeful part,
which is our laws – the set of workplace laws was really created in the
`30s. There was a negotiation as there often is in a legislative process,
and guess who usually loses?
It`s the vulnerable, the weak, the people without a place, and this was
African-American workers in the south that were working in an agricultural
economy that was still kind of the plantation of the 19th Century.
HARRIS-PERRY: Agricultural workers for the men, domestic workers for
women, and those were left out of FDR –
FREDRICKSON: There were a lot of women doing agricultural work as well,
women of the south were doing one or the other. If you look at the
congressional record, they pretty much tell you directly that they want
those men and women, people of color, who they don`t want included in
raising the minimum wage.
So we created a template for our laws that is carried forward and we keep
amending those laws. The equal pay act is based on the standard pay act.
And now we have a growing population of home care workers because we have a
growing population of elderly people who rely on them for care.
Those home care workers are not require eligible for minimum wage until
President Obama fixes that problem. These women can work 80 hours a week
without getting overtime and they might not even be making minimum wage.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let`s talk about how this feels on multiple levels. I
taught a class that on the one hand, domestic workers are not protected by
many of these particular wage acts.
On the other hand, so many working moms relying on home health care
workers, child care workers and cleaning services to take up the slack that
they have because – yet they`re paying another kind of wage. It sounds
like a challenge not only for women of poverty, but also those in middle
class that only the uber wealthy is left out of this problem.
FREDRICKSON: And you framed it as leaning in or opting out, I don`t
discount the value of women being more self-confident. For many women,
though, the opt out piece is completely irrelevant. You have to work and
you have to take care of your kids. That`s non-negotiable.
How do we as a society deal with that? Even middle class families, child
care costs as much as in-state college tuition so to be able to afford that
is an incredible burden. I think we need, as a society, to recognize that,
guess what, women work.
And once that we recognize that, we have to put in some systems that are
going to allow them to do that. That`s what I was looking into in “Under
The Bus,” how do we build some systems that work for all women?
HARRIS-PERRY: Let me read this little part that I thought was such a
useful indication of what this feels like. This is a home health care aide
saying, I average 120 to 160 hours every two weeks, my husband loads trucks
40 hours a week. It takes me twice as long to earn what he does. That`s
because we home health care aides don`t get paid time and a half in
Florida. There you go.
FREDRICKSON: What an incentive to work somebody a lot of hours. We hear
about how Americans work so much, we work more than any other nation in the
world. The fact is, though, these people, women particularly. They`re not
working one job.
They`re working two and three because they`re put in part-time jobs to
prevent them from getting benefits and in order to make sure they never
attain this sort of middle class lifestyle and then they have to make it up
through another job.
HARRIS-PERRY: Then they go home and work some more. Thank you, Caroline
Fredrickson, it`s really worth reading this text, “Under The Bus, How
Working Women Are Being Run Over.”
Still to come this morning, you got into the discussion about the head of
the Spokane NAACP. We`ll take it up again.
But first, gay pride in the Middle East?
HARRIS-PERRY: June is pride month, a time when gay, lesbian, transgender,
throughout the nation publicly and joyously assert their inherent value,
pressed for accurate recognition and for greater legislative equality. Why
Because it commemorates the June 1969 rebellion at the Stonewall Inn, when
patrons and supporters refused to submit to the routine violence and
degradation of the so-called public morals raid by New York City police.
In New York City, June culminates with Pride Week, which includes a family
night on the 24rd, a rally on the 26th, a rally on the 28th and lots of
parties in between. It`s not just New York. This year there are June gay
pride events in Anchorage and in Augusta, Georgia, Indianapolis and even
Salt Lake City.
This is not just an American celebration. Yesterday`s pink dot rally in
Singapore drew record crowds. And Friday, in Israel, Tel Aviv`s annual gay
pride parade was focused on the transgender community and attracted tens of
thousands of participants.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just two weeks ago, there has been a survey published
by the Mines University in Germany who checked 128 states by the question
of where would it be best to be LGBT? And Israel got number 7, which is a
very good place to be at.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: But amid the revelry, the struggle continues. While we
eagerly await the Supreme Court decision that could make marriage equality
the law of the land, this week in North Carolina, the state house voted to
override a veto of Governor Pat McCory and give court officials in the
state the right to refuse to perform same-sex marriages.
Less than a year after marriage equality came to the tar heel state, I
state, elected officials who fought for the state law are against same-sex
While same-sex couples in North Carolina could still marry, they would be
forced to wait and they would be told their decision to wed is an affront
to the local official. But gay pride month is a reminder that shame is
Suicide, violence and inequity are all the things that shove them into
closets and deny their shames to full publication in the public sphere.
Not in June, not ever. Pride month affirms the right to be seen, to be
heard and to be proud, not ashamed.
When we come back, we`re going back to the story of the NAACP Spokane
president and some comments I made on yesterday`s show.
Plus, swimming pools and racial history in McKenney, Texas. There is more
at the top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
Yesterday during our race talk segment, I tackled the story of Rachel
Dolezal, the president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, who was out
this from misrepresenting her race. Now, I was fascinated by her personal
story, but honestly I`m more interested in the reaction to Dolezal that
seem to deeply invest us in policing and protecting racial boundaries.
So, I invited Allison Hobbs, author of “A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial
Passing in American Life” to join me in puzzling through the question of
what is at stake when we defend racial identity as contested territory.
And I`ve been thinking through all of this this week. And I wanted to be
deliberate in considering the possibility that the answer to this simple
question posed to Dolezal, are you black, may be more complicated than just
yes or no. So, on yesterday show, after stipulating that, if in fact races
a social construct without biological basis, I said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Is it possible that she might actually be black? And the
best way that I know how to describe this, and I want to be very careful
here, because I don`t want to say that it is equivalent to the transgender
experience, but there is a useful language in trans and cis, which is just
to say some of us are born cisgendered, some of us are born transgendered,
but I wonder can it be that one of these cis black and trans black, that
there is actually a different category of blackness that is about the
achievement of blackness despite one`s parentage. Is that possible?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, while Allison and I were exploring the question here on
the show, those of you out in their land had already come up with your own
answer. And responses on Twitter came fast and furious with a nearly
unanimous opinion that not only was the question inherently problematic but
that the answer was a resounding, oh, hell, no. Now, I want to pause here
to say that I used the word trans-insist not to make a direct comparison to
transgender identity but it`s a way to try to find language to express the
idea of a conflict racial race identity. But I also want to recognize that
being trans is not an idea. It is a lived and historical experience of a
group of people who are, right now, vulnerable to violence and to
discrimination and inequity.
But Nerdland, I heard you loud and clear. And today we`re going to go even
deeper. So, if as Mahatma Gandhi once said, honest disagreement is often a
good sign of progress, today I want to advance this conversation even
further by bringing back a guest from last week who has been outspoken in
her disagreement with me.
Cherno Biko was among the many trans-activists who came for me in social
media during my early days of figuring out how to be a better trans ally,
and on last week`s show, she got my whole table together over what we were
missing about trans-identity and inter-sexuality. So here with me again
today is Cherno Biko, creative director of #MrsBikoWorldTour and We Happy
Trans and CFO of The Sylvia Rivera Law Project. Also, Purvi Shah, the
Bertha Justice Institute director at the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Also, Hannah Simpson, a trans activist and medical student. And Jamelle
Bouie who`s a staff writer for Slate.
Thank you all for being here. Give me together, Cherno.
CHERNO BIKO, CREATIVE DIRECTOR, #MRSBIKOWORLDTOUR: Thank you so much for
having me back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Of course.
BIKO: Only a white person could get this much attention for being black.
HARRIS-PERRY: For being black.
BIKO: The difference, really, between what we see with Rachel and what we
see with trans folks is that Rachel had to start pretending and trans folks
have to stop pretending, right? We see so often that trans folks come into
themselves, and I`m going to also talk about passing as what, passing as
myself. I`m not pretending to be anything. And so, I came with three tips
for allies because I wanted to frame this in a way that was not focusing so
much on Rachel because we see so often, even with the martyrs in Ferguson
and folks getting involved in the Black Lives Matter movement and white
folks needing to take a step back. So number one allies, please listen up.
The tip is to listen.
What we saw last week when I was going with you and we talked about me
getting it together, you said, great, that`s good, that`s what we need more
of. When people are telling Rachel Dolezal, the issues that they`re having
with her, she`s saying, “You just don`t understand, that`s not listening.”
Tip number two, “Speak up, not over.” Right? There`s so many people who
could do the job that the Rachel is doing at the NAACP and she`s not
allowing folks to do – I`m sorry. She`s not empowering people to speak up
for themselves in terms of black folks. And number three is, don`t give
up. This is tricky and we all make mistakes, but the goal that we need to
reach together is more important than just this moment in time.
HARRIS-PERRY: So all of those to me are profoundly useful. And it is
important to me to be able to pause in a moment where I feel like what was
happening in part was that I was in a lot of head space. But I also don`t
want to lose the thing that I really am committed to trying to think about
whether or not race needs to be quite as fixed as I feel like is getting
policed in this moment. And so, what became clear to me is that using the
language of trans and cis, as though it was just language and not connected
to human experiences, is itself a kind of violence to do.
On the other hand, I want some kind of language to talk about what if she`s
not pretending? And not Rachel in particular. I want to be careful that
it`s not about this woman in particular, but what if, in fact, because I do
think there is a similar language that has been used against transgender
people that they are pretending to be their authentic self-expression. And
so, I`m just trying to figure out, is it possible to be born into a body
that is not an authentic expression of your racial identity, and what words
that might look like.
Hannah, Jamelle, Purvi? Because I just know, I`m the only person on this
BOUIE: That was my head shake of not entirely sure how to approach the
issue of language, because I just think there is so much happening in this
particular story. I`m actually very open to the idea that people who are
not – who don`t have African ancestry or black parentage or grand
parentage can feel a deep cultural finite with black culture. I don`t
think that`s a crazy thing and I think that there are examples in American
history of exactly this. People are sort of integrating themselves into
the black community and effectively becoming black. Where I sort of begin
to pause, though, is in I think the actual fact of living in a racial
hierarchy is that your racial identity, and not like your, you know, black
cultural identity, but your racial identity is imposed. So, I could not
walk into a room and say, I am actually a white man.
HARRIS-PERRY: Okay. But – and so Hannah, this is part of what – and
yet, aren`t our gender identities imposed in a similar way? Like, isn`t
there also a thing that has to happen not in one`s lived experience
internally, but how the world sees like – so that idea of I can`t walk
into a room and say, I`m a white man, it`s also true that until there are
some physical manifestations of identity, for example, for Caitlyn Jenner,
that Bruce Jenner could not walk into a room and say these things without
also being ridiculed and, you know, have that sense of expression.
HANNAH SIMPSON, TRANS ACTIVIST: But Melissa, I think it`s okay to borrow
some of the languages as long as we`re not confounding the experiences.
And there is a lot of parallels you can make with anything. For example,
there`s a certain dialogue in the idea of taking hormones, that I take
estrogen to help feminize myself, and a cis gender male athlete could take
testosterone and use that for athletic performance enhancement. Now, we
couldn`t call that being trans human, we call that doping.
SIMPSON: So, yes, there`s a parallel but you can borrow language, it
doesn`t mean it`s the same thing. I think what really scares me about this
is this #wrongskin, that people are trying to imply there is a wrong way to
be in this society or any society, and I`m not downplaying the idea that
different people have different experiences and that they are both imposed
upon in upbringing. I think there is two analogies. One going off from
Caitlyn Jenner is the idea that she didn`t have to add testosterone. She
had a beautiful story that was compelling on her own as an Olympian. It
didn`t need anything else. And I think Rachel Dolezal`s story is
compelling on its own. And it`s interesting, it didn`t need falsification.
But furthermore, this hashtag of wrong skin, it`s the people who keep
saying that enough making jokes about it, as a transgender person, I can
take a few, but as a Jewish woman, I also look at this and I say to myself,
well, if you keep saying wrong skin, Caitlyn Jenner is not the right
Olympian, it`s just the Owens to look at. What would he think about wrong
skin when he went to the Berlin games in 1936 and won four gold medals
against the Third Reich? That`s my question, if you keep saying wrong
skin, what`s next? #Naster Race (ph)?
BIKO: Well, I do think that Rachel does have the wrong skin and that black
face is never good, right? It seems like we go through this every year.
But around Halloween time, we have to keep reminding folks that we`re a
culture and not a costume and that they can`t continue to keep donning on.
Black face is rooted in histories of not only deception and oppression, but
also propaganda. It seems like everybody wants to be black until the
police show up.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Shah, I want you to stay exactly there because we`re
going to have to take a break, but that is exactly the thing that I want us
to dig into next.
Hannah Simpson, thank you for being here. The rest of the panel is
sticking around. And after the break, the cost of moving with racial
identity and exactly this point about when you can take it off and put it
back on. When we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: This week as Rachel Dolezal has prompted many of us to
consider the boundaries of racial authenticity. Privilege has often been
invoked to draw the line separating those who get to be in from those who
must be kept out. Not only the privilege that Dolezal is showing by
putting on black identity, but also potentially her ability to simply take
it off without any consequences and the circumstance were being white would
convey her in disadvantage. Maybe. But history suggests that showing
blackness maybe not be so simple, even for white people.
We know that white allies who publicly align themselves with the fight for
race equality have paid tremendous costs. Individuals like Viola Louisa
(ph) and James Reid, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, all were
targeted and killed precisely because of their identity as white people, in
alliance with African-Americans and the struggle for justice. And as
yesterday`s MHP show gets Allyson Hobbs demonstrates in her book, “A Chosen
Exile,” passing into whiteness and leaving blackness actually exactly the
cost. Without a doubt, benefit accrued to this new white identities.
But a more complete understanding of this practice requires a reckoning
with the loss, alienation and isolation that a company and often outweighed
its rewards. This week as Rachel was publicly stripped of her children
racial identity, I think it`s hard to maintain that it`s occurred without
Joining the panel now, Marc Steiner, host of “The Mark Steiner Show” and
co-founder of the Central for Emerging Media. So, Mark, I`m still looking
for words –
MARC STEINER, HOST, “THE MARC STEINER SHOW”: Yes.
HARRIS-PERRY: – for being wrongly race identified, and I just, I`m not
quite sure where to go with it.
STEINER: It`s really it`s hard. I`ve been looking for the same word, I
didn`t find the word. But what I do know is that there are a number of
white people in this world who identify so deeply with the black struggle
against racism or who grew up in a black world even though they`re of
European heritage that they feel differently than they think other white
people feel. And I think that – that at some levels, that`s what happened
to her. I mean, think she took it way beyond where other folks would take
it, but I think that`s real. I think we don`t realize that we are, for
want of a better term, we are an afro-European society. We want to deal
with that, and that`s who we are as a country. We don`t do to with the
European aspect, we don`t want to deal with the rest of it. And that
creates these complications. And maybe that`s bearing some of that out,
which is not a bad thing.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So, for me, this is – like I don`t know Rachel, so
I can`t get into her brain. Like I don`t know where her space is. What`s
interesting to me is what her space for her story might open up for us
thinking about these questions.
PURVI SHAH, CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: Well, I mean, I think trying
to focus on what Rachel feels I think might be missing the point a little
bit. I mean, I think the reality is that systemic racism in our country
means that there is a particularly different lived experience for black
folks and brown folks in this country. What are the facts? What do we
know? We know that, you know, hundreds of people are being stopped and
frisked, black and brown, young people are being stopped in frisked in New
York City on a daily basis. What else do we know? We know that, you know,
every 28 hours, a young, an unarmed black person is killed by the police.
I think whether or not race is a social construct or whether or not Rachel
can sort of easily shed identities and just as easily put them back on, I
think is not so easy for people that are locked up, for people that are
facing deportation. I mean, not everyone has the stability, and I think
sort of focusing again on systemic racism I think is how we`ll get back to
the core of this issue.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, let me push on that a little bit because I am the
systems gal. I always want to talk about systemic racism. But part of
what happened in the particular conversation we`re having about systemic
racism here, even this idea of everybody wants to be black until the police
officers show up is a presumption about the physical identification of
blackness that can occur in a casual interaction. And that does feel
different to me, because the reality is that there are many people who
self-identify as black, who have close racial heritage who, when the police
show up, they don`t know that they`re black. They just don`t because race
is a weird, funky thing.
So, you know, homer plussy has to go on the train and say, excuse me, I`m
breaking the color line here. So, are what we`re talking about here, is
the anger here about skin color and complexion and hair in a way that is
about the vulnerability of brown people who are racially identifiable by
systems of power and injustice in a way that is different than people who
are lighter skinned full stop? Because that`s not race, that`s skin color,
and that`s different.
SHAH: I think the other issue here is also about deception. I think she`s
being deceptive and she`s lied and I think –
HARRIS-PERRY: All people who pass are deceptive, all people in closets are
deceptive. Because that`s what passing is, though.
BIKO: Well, this is really Melissa taking gentrification to a whole other
level. When we really get down to it, donning blackface is not the best
way to familiarize yourself with the black experience.
BOUIE: I don`t think it`s blackface in this case, though, and I don`t
think it`s blackface specifically because, you know, with blackface you`re
putting on airs, you`re trying to sort of like – the caricature.
BIKO: That`s what the pictures look like.
BOUIE: But I don`t think she was trying to caricature, I think the sort of
the most interesting thing about her story is her construction of a past
of, like, oppression. I think she sort of knew that she seems – that
being white and loving black people to her wasn`t enough. She had to
somehow have this tangible connection. And I`m not sure that tangible
connection is necessary to be black, but I think that she herself felt that
it was. And so that`s how we get into this really weird place where – I
both think she`s sincere and think she`s not sincere, and I have no firm
thoughts about this one way or the other.
BIKO: But we really don`t know about –
HARRIS-PERRY: Okay. I promise. More, more, more. Because – what you
are saying now is all the feelings, all the feelings. So, we`re going to
talk more about how this story just gives us all the feelings, especially
when it comes to hair. When we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Our condemnation or empathy for Rachel Dolezal may be
grounded and wherever we stand intellectually on the question of racial
identity, but for many of us. The response to what is frankly a pretty
unusual case of a white person passing as black is grounded purely on how
we feel. That was the case for one of my producers this week who initially
stretched her understanding of black racial identity enough to at least
tried to attempt to see what Dolezal was doing, but then she saw this
video, Dolezal giving a lecture about black hair and she had all the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL DOLEZAL, SPOKANE CHAPTER OF THE NAACP: Type one is straight to
minimal wave, and type one was the hierarchy was at the pinnacle of good
hair. And that was based on white supremacy based on (INAUDIBLE). Type
two was often wave, type three was wavy, type four was curly like this.
Also on this chart of what we would call nappiness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That all happened. Yes – the reaction shot between the two
of you –
BIKO: That was bad.
HARRIS-PERRY: That was bad. Because that is pretending. That feels like
lying and pretending. That is pretending, right?
BIKO: And the implications is that if silence and erases black women,
right? Said it best, won`t you celebrate with me what I have shaped into a
kind of life. I had no model. Born in Babylon. Both non-white and woman.
What did I seek to be except myself? I made it up, here on this bridge,
between star shine and clay, my one hand holding tight and my other hand,
come, celebrate with me that every day something has tried to kill me and
has failed. Rachel is not celebrating that. She`s actually doing the
HARRIS-PERRY: So that moment is, I think, for me also where – and again,
I want to always leave space for the experience could be authentic even if
it`s not Rachel`s experience being authentic. But that moment for me is
precisely the thing that, you know, when I read Janet Mocks book for the
first time, I was like, oh, Janet Mocks was all black girl like me, like we
just read the same books and felt the same thing and had the same moments
coming through. But she also with an every point, profoundly authentic
about her journey, right?
I think for me this video was a bit of a bridge too far, because it does
feel like a putting on. And yet I still want to leave room for the
possibility, maybe not for this particular individual person, but for the
possibility of racial miss-assignment at birth in a way that eventually has
to manifest in some broader set of definitions about what whiteness and
blackness is. Because what I don`t want to do is in our feelings about
this woman get to a place where we are policing biological, essentialized
notions of race in ways that have only ever been bad, ultimately, I think,
for communities of color.
STEINER: I don`t know if it`s a question of birth, but it is a question of
circumstance. It`s how certain people grow up. It`s what you perceive,
it`s what you`ve experienced. If you grew up as a little boy like I did
and you grew up in a world that was mostly black from the time you were 11
years old on, and you watched and so what was going on and you felt it when
you got back to school, and your schoolmates were white instead of black,
and you saw these things going on, you go, something is amiss here. And
people begin to identify it in different ways because of their own cultural
experiences. That`s what happens. Her thing as we said during the break,
was she lives in Spokane. If she didn`t live in Spokane, she might, A, not
have that reaction or she would have that reaction. If she lived in
Baltimore, if she lived in D.C., I think she could be a different person.
HARRIS-PERRY: I think – I also just don`t want to miss the same story.
The story just holding up being white, living in black world, it`s a story
that gets holds often by black folks of economic which may live in white
world who also are doing things around their identity where they`re wanting
to say, don`t define blackness in narrow ways. My blackness is more
catholic with a little c than that.
STEINER: But if I get stuff for the police, I`m somebody`s uncle and leave
me alone. That`s the difference.
SHAH: And I think in terms of why are people having so many feelings about
this moment, I mean, I think this moment over the last eight months, we`ve
seen an incredible dialogue happening, you know, around Black Lives Matter.
Particularly it`s been a dialogue in which, it`s been about the leadership
of black people.
SHAH: So I think it`s particularly offensive, particularly hurtful in this
moment that someone is asserting an identity, you know, that may not be
theirs. And at the same time, I also think, you know, this is a different
question than is there a role for allies? Is there a role for white
people? Is there a role for non-black people in this movement? I think
historically we`ve always seen that cross-racial alliances have been a part
of social movement. But I think that`s a very different question, and a
different – I think the emotional response we`re seeing is because people
feel duped. They feel like they`ve been lied to.
HARRIS-PERRY: And I want to, we`re going to actually write to this Black
Lives Matter story as we move forward and go do the McKinney story. But I
also just want to point out that this point about feeling duped and lied to
push back on with the NAACP paid membership of Spokane is in fact, right
now, we see from them exactly these feelings saying we think we`ve been
duped and lied to, and that is important, and those folks speaking in their
space matters I think essentially in all of this Spokane and the NAACP
membership signing a petition against her.
Thank you for Cherno Biko for coming, and not only just for being fabulous
but for bringing us both literary and personal in this place. The rest of
my panel is sticking around, they`re yelling at me, “get out.” Because up
next, race, housing, poor, the town named the number one best place to live
in America. Black Lives Matter when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Each year, money magazine publishes a list it calls best
places to live. It lists the population, median family income, median home
price for each city. And that magazine also provides other details for
anyone looking to move, to quote, the best place to live might consider
before buying or renting. The quality of the school system, they look at
the houses, the town`s general aesthetic of a growing job market whether
entertainment facilities like pools. In 2014, the money section of Time
Magazine rank McKinney, Texas the number one best place to live. But the
altercations between police and teens at McKinney`s Craig Ranch pool last
Friday lead me to ask if McKinney is the best place to live in the country.
Who is exactly is the best for it? At about 7:15 p.m. Central, officers
were called to respond to a disturbance at a pool`s graduation poor party
in the Craig Ranch community that had been promoted on Twitter.
Cellphone video shows several officers were dispatched, but it focuses on
Officer Casebolt who dove into the scene head first and proceeded to yell
profanities at the teens, forcing many to sit or lie on the ground.
Casebolt then proceeds to shove a young black girl onto the ground by her
neck before kneeling on her back to keep her from moving. Officer Casebolt
also brandished his gun at a few teens who appeared to try to help the
girl. The McKinney Police Chief called Casebolt`s actions inexcusable.
The Department is investigating the incident and charges have not been
ruled out. Casebolt later resigned. His attorney said, Casebolt had been
dispatch to two suicide calls before arriving at the pool.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANE BISHKIN, ERIC CASEBOLT`S ATTORNEY: Now, the next day he allowed his
emotions to get the better of him. Eric regrets that his conduct portrayed
him in his department in a negative light. He never intended to mistreat
anyone but was only reacting to a situation and the challenges that it
presented. He apologizes to all who were offended.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Witnesses have given different accounts of what led up to
the video, but 19-year-old party goer Tatiana Rhodes, who is black, claims
a white woman yelled racial slurs at her and told her to return to her
section eight home before another white woman, quote, “smacked her in her
face.” Rhode says, that was the fight officers were called in for. The
term Section 8 housing refers to the town`s affordable housing, but housing
is not just about where you live, it also affects where you go to school,
where you socialize, and yes, where you swim.
In 2008, the inclusive communities project sued McKinney for allegedly
blocking the creation in Section 8 housing in the mostly white west side of
town, locating it in the mostly black east side of town. But the city
settled in 2009, insuring that the west side would be open to affordable
housing. Currently in McKinney, all three of the city`s public pools are
on the east side of the city, which is 49 percent white. The pools on the
west side of the city are private pools, like the Craig Ranch north
community pool. On the west side, the residents are 86 percent white.
That divide reflects the racial history of swimming pools in America.
Before 1950, for example, pools, a public amenity, were frequented as often
as Americans went to the movies.
But Black Americans were barred from public pools in many states. And as
of 1964, civil rights act required that all citizens be granted equal,
access to public goods, investment in public pools, while the creation of
private pools and mostly white communities took off. The actions of
Officer Casebolt along with the Section 8 housing comment make the Craig
Ranch poor the intersection of questions about policing, housing and racial
Back with me now, Jamira Burley, co-founder of GenYNot, a youth engagement
organization. And joining me from Dallas, Texas is Pastor Rick Carpenter
of the Living Hope Church.
PASTOR ROCK CARPENTER, LIVING HOPE CHURCH: It`s Rock.
HARRIS-PERRY: Talk to me about – oh, sorry. I apologize. Could you
please talk to me a little bit about this housing question?
CARPENTER: Well, I mean, McKinney has growing pains in regards to low-
income housing just like this nation. We`re not exempt of that challenge
of making sure that we have adequate low-income housing for everyone. So
we share in this burden on a nationwide level.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stick with me one second, Pastor. I want to come out to you
for a minute, Jamira because, you know, part of what we see in this moment,
this kind of conflagration between privacy, whiteness in the concept – and
this idea of go back here Section 8 housing, this idea of poverty,
segregation and race all connecting in this moment.
BURLEY: Exactly. I think the larger question is, as you mentioned, is how
resources have been divided and how it continues to be taken out of
communities of color who, in many cases, need it the most. And so when you
have young people who are trying to get access to resources, you continue
to have this battle with white residents who say that you don`t belong
here, you don`t deserve this. Or you are somehow only using Section 8
because you can only afford it and not talking about the fact that there is
actually a lot of white people who use social services. And I think the
larger question, too, is, specifically not just in McKinney, but also
across the country, is how services are being divided, making sure that
they get to the most marginalized communities, and making sure that they`re
equal regardless of where a person lives or where they grow up.
BOUIE: What`s interesting about the go back to this section in housing
comment, is that I think it reflects something that still very present in
sort of how Americans think of housing and particularly middle class White
Americans. I really do think that maybe they can`t articulate this
exactly, but see middle classness as sort of a privilege of getting to be
around blacks, right? And so, if you`ve earned the middle classness –
HARRIS-PERRY: You can buy your way into segregated space.
BOUIE: Right. And so, when African-Americans, really any people of color
in and that space, they are viewed with suspicion as not just sort of like,
you know, why are you here, but its actual threats to sort of like their
middle class status. In the past, there are vivid examples of this in sort
of, you know, riots against new black homeowners in terms of segregated
Chicago. Right? Like these black homeowners may have had the same incomes
or whatever as white homeowners but they were, it`s a physical threat to
their middle class status.
HARRIS-PERRY: Pastor Carpenter, I want to come to you on that, because,
you know, of course, we also know that this idea of 11:00 on Sunday morning
being the most segregated hour in America is also part of this story of our
inability to know one another across these boundaries.
CARPENTER: Well, first of all, let me kind of make this suggestion, that
we need to talk about two separate entities in regard to the swimming pool
incident as well as a different entity of low-income housing. My thing is
that just because this person made the statement of, well, you know, go
back to your Section 8 or whatever, that`s out of her stupidity and
ignorance. But my point is is that we kind of need to separate those two
entities of having two different types of conversations in regards to
Section 8 housing versus this swimming pool incident.
HARRIS-PERRY: So talk to me about the swimming pool incident for a moment.
HARRIS-PERRY: So in this moment, do you see what happens with this officer
as being primarily about the choices of this individual officer? Or part
of what I`m trying to understand is the same thing Purvi was suggesting to
us earlier, making sure we understand it with a structure within a history.
CARPENTER: Yes. Well, of course there`s been a history with the
difference between or the relationship with African-Americans, with the
Police Department. However, you know, what I want to suggest and want to
make clear that this particular situation and a lot of the other instances
is that 98 percent of the McKinney Police Department are professional
people, they`re fair people and they work well within the community. We
have this small percentage of a person who made some drastic mistakes in
his profession. And so my thing is that, you know, their justification
about his emotions and his actions is regards to he had taken two suicide
incidents before he came is not a justified reason.
Because when you put that blue or dark uniform on, that means you`re
supposed to be professional in every standard. The other thing is, is that
he had opportunity not to take the call. If he felt that he was that
unemotional or not, you know, in the right mind, he could have let dispatch
know that, you know, I`m not able to take this call, send somebody out. So
there is no justification about him being with or having been involved in
two other incidents and suicide. That is not going to work.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Pastor Rock Carpenter in Dallas, Texas. When
we come back, the impact of video and the trauma that remains.
HARRIS-PERRY: Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, John Crawford III, Walter Scott.
You know their names, you know their stories, you have seen their
experiences with police officers. And what many view as excessive force
because in each case there was a published video. And each case resulted
in the end of a black man`s life. The video released last Friday also
showed an officer policing black young people in force and threat. But in
this video, the officer is focusing on a young black girl. And in this
video, there is a sigh of relief that at least no one dies. But the
emotions of the video still leap off the screen, there is still trauma.
Yes, no one died, but members of the community and journalists and
activists and many others around the country still experienced shock and
disbelief. After seeing these videos, what is it that we`ve come to expect
at the end of the tape?
Joining the panel, clinical psychologist Isaiah Pickens. And I wanted you
here impart to speak to this idea that well, at least no one died which
I`ve heard over and over again. And it makes me feel like we are in a
serious PTSD moment if emotionally what we expect in a moment like this is
in the end for a young person of color to be dead.
ISAIAH PICKENS, NYC LICENSED CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: This is a tremendously
important issue from a lot of levels. First, when you watch that video,
your stomach automatically turns seeing a man physically handle a teenage
girl in this way. But the other thing that we understand about this is
that trauma is about not just feeling your life is threatened but seeing
someone that you love is life threatened. And so the kids who are around
the young lady who was on the ground as well potentially being traumatized
by that experience. The other piece of this I think we sometimes don`t
look at is, there were other officers, other officers there who were
potentially using the situation to actually deal with the situation in a
And when we look at the situation of how the young lady was treated during
that time, what we hope for eventually is for the officers to use measured
responses. And so, people spoke about Mr. Casebolt using the situation
before as an excuse around having to take care of suicide-based events.
Now, what we understand about when someone is exposed to trauma and when
they experience it that their bodies reacts in a way to automatically
respond to the situation. And in that way they rely on whatever automatic
beliefs that they have, and sometimes people`s beliefs can be skewed in
certain way. And we call these implicit biases. And these implicit biases
are outside of our awareness. So, just in that situation with Officer
Casebolt being very energized, his previous experience and automatically
having to respond, we potentially have seen implicit bias at play, and at
the same time we see other officers who are not having this reaction.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And so, this is interesting, and Purvi I want to
come to you on this. Because I love this idea of what you`ve done here, as
you`ve given us a kind of clinical psychological moment that happens in
this individual officer, potentially literally hyped up, having this
experience, and then all of those implicit biases become activated in a way
that might not be under other circumstances. But yes, the other officers
may be measured, but poorly they also don`t intervene meaningfully. We
were saying in the break, it sounds like, if I saw someone, you know at my
workplace who was plagiarizing, I tell somebody. I`d stopped them.
Because that`s against our rules of action and behavior. And this one
feels like, oh, no, it was fine.
SHAH: I mean, I think what`s traumatizing about these situations isn`t
just that people feel targeted, is that they are being targeted. And I
think in addition, you know, when we look at this video which is, is a
traumatic experience I think for anybody to watch. But I think when we
look at this video, I couldn`t help but think, you know, what about these
other officers? We sort of focused on the individual actions of an officer
like Officer Casebolt. But the reality is, this is a systemic problem.
When you have, you know, 11 other officers on the scene, none of whom
SHAH: None of whom stopped. You know, an officer from assaulting a 14-
year-old girl. You know, that is the problem, that is what I think creates
the sense of hopelessness, the sense of trauma in a generation of young
HARRIS-PERRY: Marc, should we be watching the video? There is always a
part of me that feels like, are we watching it for the good or are we re-
traumatizing this young woman over and over again?
STEINER: Personally I watched it the first time, I have not watch it
second time, I can`t, I can`t, I can`t look at it.
STEINER: And I think that the issue is very critical. But the role of
systemic racism and what the role plays here. That that`s part of the
culture police, they don`t intervene on their own. It`s okay to take a
black or brown person and put them on the ground and handcuff them and do
whatever you want. That is acceptable behavior. And I think that is what
we have to challenge. All those officers have to be challenged. The fact
that it`s not just that McKinney is an almost all white police force.
That`s part of it. If it were 25 percent police versus black, it would
STEINER: And that can`t be allowed to continue. That we have to have
entire change in our police, in our criminal justice. And remember one
other thing, is McKinney is (INAUDIBLE) is one of the most hyper segregated
cities or like – Texas, I mean, they consciously, consciously will not
brought FOX News move across town. I mean –
HARRIS-PERRY: And yet still manage to get called the best place to live.
HARRIS-PERRY: I think like at a minimum, that should not be true. Thank
you to Isaiah Pickens. I really, I appreciate this connection between the
implicit and the trauma.
Thank you to Jamira Burley. And thank you to Purvi Shah. Thank you to
Marc Steiner and Jamelle Bouie.
Up next, palette cleanser. The prom queen who broke the internet. She is
here in Nerdland.
HARRIS-PERRY: She is known as the dress layer. Kyemah McEntyre of East
Orange New Jersey, an 18-year-old artist whose prom dress went viral after
she posted it on Instagram earlier this month. As you can see, it is
stunning. It is also a dress that is deeply personal. Because woven into
the thread of the story about identity. It is one of Kyemah`s Instagram
posts. This one shown, he or she wrote in a caption, “You have to
understand who you are. Because if you leave that space open, you leave
your identity in the hands of society.”
Kyemah wasn`t leaving her identity, or even her style to anyone but
herself. And so, she sketched and designed her own prom dress, which was
then sewn by a local seamstress. On Twitter she posted a photo of herself
in the dress that the message, “This is for always being labeled as ugly or
angry.” Thank God stereotypes are just opinions. Kyemah wore her dress on
prom night. And she was, of course, crowned queen.
Joining me now, Kyemah McEntyre. I am so thrilled to have you here.
KYEMAH MCENTYRE, DESIGNER: Yey!
HARRIS-PERRY: So tell me about what inspired this particular design?
MCENTYRE: Okay. My inspiration definitely comes from the women before me.
And myself as well. I wanted to tap into my own heritage. And as you said
before, my identity. And I wanted the dress to spell my aura, I wanted it
to, you know, from first glance to understand I`m proud about who I am.
That`s where it came from.
HARRIS-PERRY: I love that. From first glance to understand that you`re
proud about who you are. This language of, as you said, for always being
called ugly. When you write that in the Instagram post, one of my
producers said, whoever called this young woman ugly? But there is a thing
here about, ugly and angry, that is the language used against black women.
MCENTYRE: Yes, exactly. I know. There`s a lot of blogs that said I was
bullied. Things like that. But really, what I was talking about is black
women. We can use that as black women being bullied, you know?
MCENTYRE: But it was definitely about being categorized as ugly, or, you
know, angry, so.
HARRIS-PERRY: I also wanted to draw out your idea about fashion and social
justice. You know, I was looking back at some of the women who came
before, as you say. Elizabeth Eckford was a teenager going to Little Rock
High School in a skirt that she herself had designed and sewn. Vivian
Malone, a woman of extraordinary style. But also, integrating the
University of Alabama. And I`m wondering if there`s something there about
the ways in which black women embodies style even while being civil rights
MCENTYRE: Yes. There`s definitely like the biggest part of me, I wanted
that to come across. Like I said before, from first glance, you know.
HARRIS-PERRY: Does your dress say in just being – black lives matter?
MCENTYRE: Absolutely. Yes.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. So, it is in that way. Let me ask you this, where can
we see more of your work?
MCENTYRE: My website, you can go to etsy.com, and you can type in
kyesmind. I have a lot of my artwork, I`ll be posting new art. And my
Instagram as well. I give updates a lot on Instagram.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, you`ve got to prom. You graduated. What`s next?
MCENTYRE: Parsons in New York.
HARRIS-PERRY: You`re going to Parsons. So, hopefully we will eventually
be able to buy your designs for ourselves.
MCENTYRE: I hope so. I`m working really hard.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s an extraordinary dress, it`s a great story and we`re
very honored to have you here today.
MCENTYRE: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you for joining us in Nerdland. Thank you to Kyemah
McEntyre. That`s our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching.
I`m going to see you next Saturday 10:00 a.m. Eastern.
Coming up next, “WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT.” But that`s not Alex, I think
that`s Richard Lui over there.
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