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The Syllabus: What you need to know for the May 19 'MHP'

Actress and activist Angelina Jolie is back in the headlines this week, and not in the gossip column.
AP Photo/Alastair Grant
AP Photo/Alastair Grant

Actress and activist Angelina Jolie is back in the headlines this week, and not in the gossip column. More like the New York Times opinion page and the front cover of TIME. The star announced that she underwent a double mastectomy in February after finding out that she is a carrier of the BRCA-1 gene, which can dramatically increase a woman’s chance of getting breast cancer.

While Jolie’s decision to undergo such an intense surgery and to share her story in an effort to educate other women has been lauded nearly universally as brave, her circumstances are far from ordinary. The test and procedure Jolie underwent are not necessarily accessible to all women. On Sunday’s Melissa Harris-Perry, the host will discuss the politics of breast cancer--specifically focusing on Myriad Genetics, the company facing a Supreme Court lawsuit after patenting the BRCA gene and the realistic availability of this kind of medical care to all women.

Melissa will also address the historic fast food worker strikes taking place across the country this year, most recently in Milwaukee. On Wednesday, hundreds of McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Taco Bell and other fast food workers walked out demanding higher wages in a momentous demonstration of frustration with a status quo that makes the poor poorer and the rich richer. Check out our guest Dorian Warren's new column about the strikes and the new film version of The Great Gatsby.

Also, #nerdland congratulates the Class of 2013! Thousands of college seniors will accept or have already donned a cap and gown this graduation season. But while that season is traditionally a celebration of young adults ready to forge their path in society, between debt, meager job prospects, and an uncertain safety net for the future, the class of ’13 is facing a stark reality. Host Melissa Harris-Perry will take a look at what it means to own a diploma in today’s turbulent economy, the shrinking accessibility to higher education and the future for our incredibly optimistic millennials.

Be sure to read what we’ve linked above, and watch Melissa Harris-Perry Sunday at 10 a.m. EST on msnbc! Also, don’t forget to join us on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #nerdland.