"I'm getting ready to insult somebody" is not what one might expect to hear from a spiritual life coach. However, Iyanla Vanzant said it twice during her appearance on Sunday's Melissa Harris-Perry, apologizing in advance for doing so. What followed were some scalding comments about the state and direction of American politics.
"Politics doesn't take people into consideration," said the author and inspirational speaker to host Melissa Harris-Perry. "They take policies, positions, jobs, alliances--people are the last consideration of politics. Because you can't tell me that we have this many Congressmen, senators, and nobody understands that in poor neighborhoods, there are no books!"
Joining the host during a live broadcast at the Essence Festival in New Orleans, the author and inspirational speaker added what she said is the cause of political apathy: privilege. "People are hurting. If you're not a star, if you're not a celebrity, if you're not known in the world, you don't matter in this society, you don't matter in this society," Vanzant said. "You matter when someone's running for office, and they need free help and they need a free vote."
Harris-Perry noted that too often people's real stories are turned into caricatures by politicians. Vanzant then issued her second insult warning. "Forgive me, because I'm getting ready to insult somebody. We live in a society in which black and brown people only matter at election time," she said. "And even when they do matter, black men--who aren't in the home, who are filling the prisons--are statistics. They're not people. We don't think they hurt, we don't think they cry. Why does a man leave his children? Because his heart is broken."
Vanzant addressed parental abandonment with Harris-Perry earlier in the discussion, as she is featured on a new episode of the OWN television series Oprah's Lifeclass that aired Sunday night. The episode dealt with sons growing up without fathers in their lives; a future episode will address daughters in the same situation. See video here.