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Melissa Harris-Perry, Transcript 03/22/15

Guests: Wade Henderson, Joshua Steiner, Connie Razza, Leora Tanenbaum,Salamishah Tillet, Alicia Quarles, Roxanne Gay, Whitney Dow, Amer Ahmed,Tracy Clayton, Jessica Disu, David Maxwell, Chazz Johnson, Melvin McCray

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning my question, just who does Starbucks think they`re talking to? Plus the renewed power of the U.S. dollar. And the very real experience of virtual abuse of women. But first, it has been 134 days and we are still waiting. Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. There is a Washington, D.C., puzzle confounding me. Let`s start with the first piece of the puzzle. It`s from June, 2012. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. That decision to hold the AG in contempt makes it clear that Eric Holder and the U.S. Congress do not have a good working relationship. So that`s puzzle piece one. Puzzle piece two, In September 2014, Eric Holder announces his intention to resign as soon as his successor is in place. Congressional Republicans barely contain their thrill at the news. Congressman Darrell Issa tweets, "By needlessly injecting politics into law enforcement, Holder`s legacy has eroded more confidence in our legal system than any AG before him." Now he`s joined by Congressman Jeff Duncan who tweets, "Good riddance, Eric Holder. Your disregard for the Constitution of the United States will not be missed." The two were backed up by Senator David Vitter, who adds via Twitter, "Anyone sad to see Eric Holder stepping down as AG? Not me. I can`t think of any AG in history that has attacked Louisiana more than Holder." OK, are you all still with me? In 2012, Congress makes clear their disdain for Holder. In 2014, Holder says he`s resigning. Now on to puzzle piece three. In November, President Obama announces his choice for attorney general, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch. Experienced, respected and popular are the immediate characterizations offered of Lynch. Her 2010 Senate confirmation is defined as overwhelming. So that piece should have completed the puzzle, giving us a clear image of the next attorney general. But instead of a nice, neat resolution, we`ve got a scrambled mess in Washington, D.C. It has been 134 days since President Obama named Loretta Lynch, and in that time the Republican-controlled Senate has introduced new baffling puzzle pieces that don`t seem to fit at all. There is the Justice for Victims of Human Trafficking Act piece into which Republicans shoved anti-abortion language which angered Democrats and has the whole Senate stalled. A worthy debate perhaps but why is it part of the AG confirmation? And before there was the abortion and human trafficking piece, there was the immigration and executive action piece. During her confirmation hearings, Lynch affirmed that President Obama`s executive action, which offered temporary legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants was legal. That really irritated Republicans. But this is a confirmation for President Obama`s AG chances are any candidate is going to support this action. So again, why is this piece part of this puzzle? In the meantime, and this is the part that makes it so puzzling, guess who gets to remain attorney general, Eric Holder, Holder, who has spent the time releasing blistering reports about patterns and practices of racial bias in Ferguson, announcing major new initiatives on national police reform, vehemently defending marriage equality in national publications, and reiterating the commitment of the DOJ to protect the right to vote. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Let me be very clear. While the court`s decision to remove one of the Justice Department`s most effective tools, we remain undaunted and undeterred in our pursuit of a meaningful right to vote for every eligible American. Since the court`s ruling, we have used the remaining provisions of the Voting Rights Act to fight back against voting restrictions in states throughout the country and we`ve won. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: The vote. Now there`s an interesting piece of the puzzle. It is the historic turnout of young voters and voters of color that elected and re-elected President Obama. It is those votes that made the tenure of Eric Holder possible. It is those votes that came under attack by both the Supreme Court and the state legislators in recent years, and it is those votes that in a speech in Long Beach, New York, last year Lynch made clear that she has no patience for suppressing. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LORETTA LYNCH: But I`m proud to tell you that the Department of Justice has looked at these laws and looked at what`s happening in the deep south and in my home state of North Carolina has brought lawsuits against those voting rights changes that seek to limit our ability to stand up and exercise our rights as citizens. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Home state of North Carolina because you see both of North Carolina`s senators have said that when and if they are given a chance to vote on her, they will oppose Lynch`s confirmation. Senator Thom Tillis released a statement that read in part, "By all indications Ms. Lynch would continue to pursue the costly and frivolous lawsuit against the state of North Carolina to overturn a common sense and constitutionally sound voter I.D. law. I will not be voting to confirm Ms. Lynch." Well, now maybe we have a clue. This delay doesn`t make any sense if you think it`s about making the self-interested choice of replacing Eric Holder with Loretta Lynch. But it does make sense if this puzzle is actually about President Obama and process congressional scholars call the new nullification where Congress blocks nominations not because the nominees are unqualified, but because there is political opposition to the laws that their positions helped to enforce. In other words, if you can`t beat the president in an election, you can use the new nullification to block the people that would enact the policies that he was elected to implement. Joining me now is Wade Henderson, the president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Wade, what in the world is going on? WADE HENDERSON, PRESIDENT/CEO, LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE ON CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS: You know, Melissa, you have described the perfect Rubik`s cube of toxic partisanship in Washington. What is happening to Loretta Lynch has two dimensions I think that are worth noting. As you`ve said, she`s been held over 134 days. She`s been held seven times longer than the totality of the delay of her predecessors applying for attorney general position. There are two issues. One is that facts and circumstances have conspired to certainly suggest that there is a racial dimension as I think Senator Dick Durbin mentioned a while ago to this debate. But secondly and more importantly is about President Obama. This is about disrespecting the president and, thus, the presidency in part because the attorney general position has become a surrogate for the policies of the president. Never has a cabinet nominee been held hostage to an unrelated policy development over which they had nothing to do with. HARRIS-PERRY: I think your point is so important because when we talk about race being part of this, people say how can that be, it`s a black attorney general being replaced by a black attorney general, but it`s the way race is associated with all of these other policies -- because people aren`t just sitting back and taking this. We heard the current Attorney General Eric Holder standing in Selma and calling on people. But I want to hear some people doing this. This is some women from North Carolina who took themselves to exactly the middle of this Rubik`s cube to say, come on, let`s get Lynch confirmed. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. LAVONIA ALLISON: Senator Burr and Senator Tillis, it`s time for you to act like you have some sense. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Enough of playing politics with this nomination. O`LINDA GILLIS: An African proverb says when you strike a woman, you strike a rock. Senator Burr, Senator Tillis, when you strike our sister, Miss Loretta Lynch, you strike the women of North Carolina. And when you strike the women of North Carolina, you strike a rock. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: So did they just turn this into a social movement when it needed to just be a simple confirmation process? HENDERSON: I think they have. I think the women who came in from North Carolina thanks to Dr. William Barber and the NAACP, they really made an important point, which is to say, look, you can`t disrespect the first African-American nominee for the attorney general position, who has been outstanding in her presentation for the job. Twice confirmed unanimously for a U.S. attorney position and somehow you`re going to set that aside and use her nomination as a surrogate for other political objectives. I think Senators Tillis and Burr for the first time felt the wrath of the constituents of North Carolina, who were concerned about what they conveyed in their opposition to Loretta Lynch. HARRIS-PERRY: The other, again, this is the part that for me just keeps making it so baffling is this idea that by not confirming her, they retain Eric Holder, who they do not like. I wanted to play a little piece of the attorney general talking about how this is baffling to him as well. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HOLDER: It`s almost as if the Republicans in Congress have discovered a new fondness for me. I`m feeling love that I haven`t felt for some time and where was all this affection over the last six years, you know. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Do you want Eric Holder unplugged to be the current attorney general? Is that a good idea for them? HENDERSON: No, they don`t, but this is the paradox of their hatred of President Obama in this sense. They are prepared at this point to hold up his nominee to be the next attorney general even if it means that they`ll have to live under the attorney general that they don`t like. You know, it obviously is a bit ironic, but I think here is the more important part. Eric Holder has been outstanding in his focus on law enforcement and the need to ensure that every American is protected equally under the law. His focus on the police department in Ferguson, his willingness to confront issues of race that impede our ability as a nation to come together deserves to be lifted up. I think Loretta Lynch is certainly an attorney general in that same mode. I think her ability to really cross lines. You know, she has the endorsement of Rudy Giuliani. She has the endorsement of Louis Freeh, our former FBI director. If you`re being fair-minded, this is a woman that deserves to be confirmed and you really can`t deny that. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, I noticed that you and others have signed on again to this push to get Loretta Lynch confirmed. HENDERSON: Absolutely. HARRIS-PERRY: But my favorite signatory was the president of Delta Sigma Theta, which is a good sorority that both Loretta Lynch and I are part of. HENDERSON: They have done an incredible job in lifting up the importance of this nomination. We are so grateful to have -- HARRIS-PERRY: Later in the program, this morning you and I as well as the roundtable will be discussing Starbucks and the handy survey the company has provided on race. I`m looking forward to having Wade as part of that discussion. But up next, dollar, dollar bills y`all, so strong they might even make it back into a Jay-z video. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: I want to talk to you about a president who`s making a comeback, a president who went from being relatively insignificant in 2007 to a global superstar in 2008. A president who then endured six years of near apocalyptic predictions about his performance, but who now has proved all of those critics wrong and solidified his place as a leader on the world`s stage. It`s not our nation`s 44th president. It`s our nation`s first president, the man on the U.S. dollar. President Washington is making a comeback. The dollar is back. Sorry, you weren`t looking at Washington there. Now, you might not think to call it a comeback. After all the dollar has been here for years, but the dollar has not always been in vogue. Back in 2007, Jay-z displayed euros instead of dollars in a music video that was set here in New York, implying that true ballers don`t call shots in dollars, they trade more in the valuable currency of a global marketplace, the euro. That prompted headlines like this one, Jay-Z dissing the dollar. But then the dollar gained unexpected strains as both the global financial and European economic crisis drove international investors to seek refuge in the safety of the U.S. dollar in government debt. During the same time, some in the U.S. started to panic, warning of massive inflation that was just around the corner and a few even predicted a run on the U.S. dollar. But the dollar crisis never came. It stayed strong and grew stronger. Look at this graph of the dollar versus the euro, based on this trend the U.S. dollar could soon be on a one-to-one par with the euro and that makes a European vacation a heck of a lot more affordable. But then on Friday the dollar had its biggest decline in more than three years, plummeting as the euro rallied. Wall Street responded with markets closing up, way up, which leads to the question do we prefer our dollars weak or strong? Joining me now to help answer that are Josh Steiner, head of Industry Verticals of Bloomberg LP, and a former chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Treasury during the Clinton administration, and Connie Razza, who is the director of strategic research, the Center for Popular Democracy. So weak dollar, strong dollar, what is preferable, a two blunt way of putting it. JOSHUA STEINER, HEAD, INDUSTRY VERTICALS, BLOOMBERG LP: Well, the first thing I would say is if President Washington is grateful, he owes a lot to President Obama. The reason we`re seeing a stronger dollar has to do with the fundamentals of the U.S. economy. As you said, we`ve been living in an environment where our growth is a lot higher than Europe. Interest rates are still low. Unemployment is down. Not down as much as we would like certainly in certain population groups and inflation is still low. If you`re an investor on the global stage, where would you rather invest? For the last couple of years, it`s clearly been in the United States and that`s led to the strengthening of the dollar. HARRIS-PERRY: So why then was the weakening of the dollar relative on Friday a Wall Street boom? STEINER: You know, these things are very hard to read. I think that`s happening is Wall Street was trying to look at Janet Yellin`s comments very closely. They were following her comments on the dollar, but they were also trying to understand where the FOMC, where the Federal Reserve Board was going in terms of interest rates. And the FOMC is trying to balance a couple of things. They have two clear mandates. They need to keep inflation low, but they also want to keep unemployment low. They`re constantly trying to balance those two things. Wall Street is watching to see whether the Federal Reserve thinks that the economy is overheating and is going to need to raise interest rates dramatically quickly. It doesn`t appear to be the case and, therefore, you saw the markets rallying. HARRIS-PERRY: OK, so, Connie, I know for folks who are not CNBC watchers they might have said what just happened in nerdland. Why are we talking about this idea of the dollar and global marketplaces? I teased about a European vacation becoming more affordable, but in a real way for ordinary Americans earning wages, what does the strength of the dollar mean one way or the other? CONNIE RAZZA, CENTER FOR POPULAR DEMOCRACY: The strength of the dollar really is tied to the ability of people to manufacture in the United States, which means jobs in the United States. And so for working Americans and for the economy, the strong dollar really is a threat. It makes it harder to have a tight labor market, which means that it`s harder for workers to be able to bargain for better wages. And so while it may be that a strong dollar means that imports are cheaper, vacations are cheaper, that really is only for the people who still have jobs. They`re not making more money and so what we would rather see is a competitive dollar that allows for increased employment and for the economy to return to a full recovery for all of our communities. HARRIS-PERRY: So are the policies that would lead to that outcome from your perspective, are those policies that are in the purview of the fed, in the purview of -- is this in any way related to issues that can be addressed by voters on the ground or is it really about fed policy? RAZZA: In large view we`ve been looking at the fed because the Federal Reserve is able to, as you said, sort of look at the employment and at the inflation rates. One of the upsides of the strong dollar is that inflation is going to be relatively low. So the fed can really focus on reaching that full employment mandate and making sure that communities like African-Americans who are still in recession are able to enjoy the recovery. HARRIS-PERRY: The interest rate decisions that are constantly every single week we`re wondering are they going to bump up those interest rates and the impact that that then has for folks, who are holding debt of one kind as opposed to likely actually have money on the bank on which they`re earning interest rates. So that`s particularly communities of color, more marginal communities, do you have any reason to think Yellin will behave any differently than her predecessors in these decisions? STEINER: I think what she`s looking about is the concern about the long- term unemployed and the fact that the unemployment rate is higher in the African-American community should be of concern to everyone, not just the African-American community, but to all Americans. I`m sure she is focused on that. At the same time it`s important to keep in mind that the people who suffer the most from high inflation rates are those people on a fixed income. If you`re an elderly person on a pension, inflation is a killer. If you`re shopping at Walmart, inflation and a weak dollar is very damaging. You`re going in and buying things made in Vietnam and Cambodia, and Bangladesh, and a strong dollar is clearly helping you. By the way, the strong dollar is helping you at the pump. One of the reasons gasoline prices are so low today is not just because of falling oil prices. It`s also because the dollar is so strong. Oil is so globally on a dollar basis. The strong dollar is helping us keep prices low. HARRIS-PERRY: Joshua Steiner and Connie Razza, thank you so much for being here. Still to come this morning, Starbucks, SAE and Kendrick Lamar, it seems like everyone is talking about race. Plus Olivia Pope gets shamed, but before that I want to give a shoutout to some dollar raising that happened by the students of Wake Forest University. I`m a professor and I`m also the executive director of the Pro Humanitate Institute there at Wake Forest and those students have been organizing this year`s "Wake and Shake Dance Marathon." The students transformed Wake`s varsity gym into a festival setting where 1300 dancers spent 12 hours on their feet to raise funds for the Brian Piccolo Cancer Research Fund. At last year`s marathon, they`ve raised more than $180,000 and we`re looking to reach $200,000 this year. It`s a great reminder of all the fun we can have and all the good we can do when we work together. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: On this day in 1972, the United States Senate gave final approval for the Equal Rights Amendment and sent it to the states for ratification. Section 1 of the ERA reads simply the quality of rights under the law shall be not abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. The fight to add it to the U.S. Constitution began in 1923 when the founder of the National Women`s Party, Alice Paul, first introduced it to Congress. But it wasn`t until nearly 50 years later with the rise of second wave feminism and leaders like Congresswoman Bella Abzug that the push for the ERA gained momentum. It won the required two-thirds vote in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1971 and the Senate followed suit the next year, but not without strong resistance from some members of Congress, as explained in this NBC News report. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Opponents in the Senate called it the unisex amendment and said it would destroy traditional man-woman relationships, weaken family ties, increase homosexuality, violate biblical teachings and undermine thousands of state laws designed to protect women against life`s hazards. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Despite all that fear and trembling, 1972 was an election year and then, as now, more women than men vote and the ERA won Senate approval and was on its way to ratification. For a while it seemed to have momentum, 30 of the required 38 states had ratified the proposal by 1973. But then the tide turned as a highly organized and effective opposition to the ERA sprang up, led by anti-feminist conservative, Phyllis Shlafley, who warned it would deny women privileges like exemption from the military draft. By 1982, the deadline for ratification, only 35 states had voted in favor of the ERA, three shy of the necessary total. More than 40 years later, there are still efforts to revive the ERA, including a rally in Minnesota just this month. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s still relevant because we still do not have equal rights. And some folks say to me, well, what`s the rush? (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Today women make up only 19 percent of the U.S. Congress. Today there are only six women serving as governors of U.S. states. Today only 24 percent of state legislators are women. Today women on average earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns even though women make up half of the American workforce. They make up less than 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. It`s easy to wonder if any of that would be different if the country had followed through on the Equal Rights Amendment, passed by Congress on this day, March 22nd, 1972. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Regular viewers of this show know we are obsessed with Shaunda Rhymes` scandal. At its best, scandal draws us in with the drama then taps into psych guys to reveals keen insights on our cultural moments. Last week we talked with actor, Courtney Vance, about his star turn in the powerful episode "The Lawn Chair" confronting issues of race and police violence. This week the fictional Olivia Pope confronted an issue that has dominated real world headlines all week. Slut shaming, a young woman is threatening to expose all of the D.C. power players she`s bedded through a scandalous book. Olivia Pope reminds her what happens to women who publicly dish about their sex lives and asks do you know what they will call you? But rather than shrink under the weight of shame, the young would be author pushes back. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Instead of celebrating the fact that I fully own my body and use it however I want with whomever I want as many times and as many kinky ways I want, you`re shaking your finger at me? You`re telling me to be afraid of what name someone is going to call me because I had the audacity to have too much great sex? I`m not ashamed. This is my life, my body, my story to sell or tell. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: It is a biting incrimination of Olivia Pope who typically sees herself and we are presented with her as an advocate for women under attack. That actor is Liena Dunham, Golden Globe winning creator of HBO`s "Girls," who recently said she is cutting back on Twitter because she`s trying to create a safer space for herself emotionally. It could have been part of the talk that everyone is talking about given by Monica Lewinsky. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MONICA LEWINSKY, SOCIAL ACTIVIST: I admit I made mistakes, especially wearing that beret, but the attention and judgment that I received, not the story, but that I personally received was unprecedented. I was branded as a tramp, tart, slut, whore, bimbo, and of course, that woman. I was seen by many but actually known by few. And I get it. It was easy to forget that that woman was dimensional, had a soul. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: So just how powerful is this kind of shaming and how are women pushing back? Joining me now are Leora Tannabaum, author of "I Am Not A Slut," Salamishah Tillet, associate professor of English and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Alicia Quarles, correspondent for E! News, and Amir Ahmed, who is Intercultural Center director at Swarthmore College. It`s so nice to have you all here. I just want to start with the simple sort of question to hear Lewinsky say those words, how powerful is slut shaming for silencing and impacting young women in their lives. LEORA TANENBAUM, AUTHOR, "I AM NOT A SLUT": Slut is the absolute worst insult you can call a girl or woman. And, yes, it can ruin a person`s life, absolutely. She is correct. Her analysis is correct. She deserves all of our empathy and sympathy on this. The fact of the matter is no less a publication of the "Wall Street Journal" in 1998 called her in an editorial, and this is a direct quote, folks, "a little tart." What did we say about the president, that he is a womanizer, that he has a problem, these are not equivalencies. She`s ruined for life. HARRIS-PERRY: And it is presumed to be essential to her character, who she actually is as a person. In writing this, there`s a great piece in "The New York Times" talking about the actual process Monica Lewinsky went through around this talk. And I wanted to just play a little bit where she`s talking about this surprising thing that happens when she`s 41 and we can talk about the discussions that went around it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LEWINSKY: At the age of 41, I was hit on by a 27-year-old guy. I know, right? He was charming and I was flattered and I declined. You know what his unsuccessful pickup line was? He could make me feel 22 again. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: So there was debate about whether to include that, where to put it in the speech, because it might revive the idea that she is a little tart. SALAMISHAH TILLET, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: But you know when I listened to that, it reminded me of the fact that she was 22 at the time so retrospectively it creates a lot of empathy on the part of women who came of age. I`m two years younger than Monica Lewinsky with that scandal. One, that she`s 41 years old and it`s like the times or the discourse has caught up with her. Now we have a new generation of feminist activists who are taking on cyberbullying or online harassment as a feminist issue. So I don`t think Monica Lewinsky, even though there was a burgeoning feminist movement at the time, the particularities of the way in which like slut shaming occurs is of this moment and so she`s able to speak back to these problematics. HARRIS-PERRY: And these are the same tools that women are using to push back. I`m interested in how you read what Amber Rose is up to. If we were to talk about someone who has been both very direct herself about it and then also branded by others. But she is currently right now she says pushing back because her ex, Kanye West, had to take 30 showers after his relationship with him. I want to listen to what she said she`s planning to do. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I deal with it every day. I deal with it via social media, people out on the street. I`m sick of it. I`m here for my girls and we`re going to do the Amber Rose slut walk this summer and it`s going to be awesome. (END VIDEO CLIP) ALICIA QUARLES, CORRESPONDENT, E! NEWS: So Amber Rose, she was a stripper in the past. She did Kanye for a long time and got married to Wiz Khalifa. There`s also a morality issue that we`re talking about here. A lot of these women and men were cheating. People were married. So that`s where I think labels get called into account. It`s not just about slut shaming, it`s also about morality. These aren`t single people. Lena Dunham`s character wasn`t just sleeping with her co-workers who were single. HARRIS-PERRY: But she wasn`t married? QUARLES: Who? HARRIS-PERRY: Monica Lewinsky or the Lena Dunham character. QUARLES: They are not married, but they were sleeping with people who were married. I`m not downplaying women. Bill Clinton was 20 years older than Monica Lewinsky. There`s no way, shape or form -- HARRIS-PERRY: But it is the responsibility of the person not in the marriage to maintain the vows of the marriage even from -- I`m taking out the gender politics and talking about who -- she didn`t stand up and say I want to have sex with anybody else. QUARLES: There`s responsibility on both sides. If you suddenly sleep with a married person and get called a name, you might have had it coming. TILLET: I guess the easiest way to think of this as a feminist issue is there`s no equal term for men who are -- even if she were married, the man who was sexually active with her wouldn`t be called that so that`s part of the problem. HARRIS-PERRY: But I guess part of what I`m wondering is does the slut shaming, the walking out and saying, all right, you want to call me that, me and my girls are going to go, does that help to push back against it? AMER AHMED, INTERCULTURAL CENTER DIRECTOR, SWARTHMORE COLLEGE: I just feel in general men need to take more responsibility for themselves. I think we don`t have the conversation amongst ourselves about the implications of our actions and the effect that it has on women. And so I think we need to create space amongst ourselves about how we`re going to go about having these conversations or recognize that there`s a real impact on women`s lives. You know, if we as male identified individuals don`t really get deeper into what it means to be a man around our sexuality, around our masculinity, how are we going to be able to address these issues? We have to get honest about that. HARRIS-PERRY: Stay with us, because up next the bad feminist herself is back. Roxanne Gay is coming to nerdland. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: This week, we learned that the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity at Penn State University maintained a secret invite-only Facebook page called 2.0. According to police records, quote, "Some of the postings were of nude females that appeared to be passed out and nude or in other sexual or embarrassing positions. It appears that the individuals in the photos are not aware that the photo had been taken." Other posts revealed pictures of drug sales, fraternity hazing and unconscious women that were being taunted. An affidavit revealed that 144 members had access to the private invite-only site. The result could be criminal charges. Demonstrators protested on the Penn State campus asking the university to sever all ties with the fraternity and to put members of Kappa Delta Rho on interim suspension. The national fraternity of Kappa Delta Rho has already placed the Penn State chapter on a one-year suspension and said during that year the chapter will be reorganized. Joining me now from Naples, Florida, is Roxanne Gay, author of "Bad Feminist." I`m wondering what we`re seeing is a real life manifestation of the virtual violence that women experience online? ROXANNE GAY, AUTHOR, "BAD FEMINIST": Absolutely. We`re seeing that there really are no boundaries that won`t be crossed when it comes to women, their privacy and their bodies. It`s incredibly frustrating that yet another fraternity or yet another group of men has taken it upon themselves to do some sort of thing and then everyone acts surprised. There`s nothing to be surprised about here. It`s really just the same old, same old. HARRIS-PERRY: Amir, I want to come to you. One of the reasons I wanted Roxanne here and you here is because of the work that you both do on college campuses. We were talking about a place where we can investigate our masculinity and think about our notions of gender. Shouldn`t college campuses be the place where that is happening? AHMED: Exactly. And I think that`s woefully how that`s underrepresented in terms of how we do out of classroom work in higher education throughout the country. We`re learning how to better support women and victims, we`re getting compliant. But really we`re not having the conversation of what does it mean to be a man, how do we deal with our masculinity and being beneficiaries of patriarchy and the implications on others in terms of our lack of responsibility around that. We also don`t hold each other accountable. Some of these fraternity rows on these campuses, you have entire streets of fraternities. HARRIS-PERRY: I went to a school like that. AHMED: Where there isn`t a culture of challenging the notion of one- upsmanship around women. HARRIS-PERRY: A current member of that fraternity said this is indignant misplaced self-righteous behavior that looks to ruin people`s lives is the abuse and violation that should be at the center of the discussion not the humorous antics of college kids. It feels that these misguided antics have such an impact. I want to bring in Ashley Judd`s piece. She tweets about, you know, the other team can kiss her ass because, you know, something about free throws or some other such thing. And the responses aren`t just nasty and mean, they are violent threats against her. QUARLES: It`s a crazy internet culture that we live in. I`m a hard core USC Trojan so I can relate to all of this because I went to a school where sororities and fraternities are very prevalent. But when has the internet gone too far? When has it gone too far? I don`t blame her. HARRIS-PERRY: On the one hand it`s the internet but the on the other hand that it`s manifests in all these places is the internet is the tool that brings us. TANENBAUM: The internet is just one other avenue for delivering the message of the sexual double standard. You know what happened at the Penn State fraternity, what`s going on with Ashley Judd, these are logical conclusions in an environment where you have the sexual double standard and a culture of slut shaming. Particularly in the Ashley Judd example, we see that being labeled a slut, being sexually degraded and threatened with sexual violence in a horrific graphic way doesn`t have anything to do with sex at all. What did Ashley Judd do? All she did was assert an opinion about a sports event. Frankly, I think we can all agree a pretty mild opinion too. HARRIS-PERRY: Roxanne, I want to come to you on this because this was also -- I actually had difficulty reading the Ashley Judd piece. I want to offer a trigger warning to anybody that`s going to read it now. I purposely don`t -- I have been run out of my own at replies. I no longer see my own Twitter feed because as a survivor I can`t see people say those particular things to me. The impact that it has on me over the course of a day, a week, a month, like how tangible that reality is. GAY: Absolutely. I think it`s a constant for many women who dare to have opinions and then exist in the world. And on the internet, there`s just something that makes people feel incredibly free to say the most horrifying things. And to try and describe the most horrific kinds of violence a woman can face. It`s incredibly frustrating because all we`re doing is having opinions. But somehow we`re not allowed to do that and these men that perpetrate these crimes feel no compunction whatsoever about going to that place where they feel we`re the most vulnerable. And it`s constant. I think conversation is one part of it, but I think we need to have consequences and I think we need to start having more fraternities being banned and more people losing their jobs and losing internet accounts. Obviously they know better, they just choose not to do better. HARRIS-PERRY: When we come back, I want to talk more about this idea of what we`re teaching and when. I want to talk about how you raise sons and daughters who can push back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Young women are the leads in both films topping the Box Office this weekend. The new live action remake of "Cinderella" has grossed more than $100 million since it opened last Friday, but it is set to be eclipsed this weekend by "Insurgent" which is expected to rake in more than $350 million in its first two days. A tiny wasted princess with a glass slipper and a butt-kicking shero of a distopic future, if you`re a parent trying to raise a daughter to navigate the sexist mine field we`ve just been discussing, which movie ticket should you buy? Roxanne, I wanted to start with you because my favorite part of the beginning of your book is the fact that you read Sweet Valley High books. I too was a Sweet Valley High obsesses young person. GAY: Yes, represent Sweet Valley High. HARRIS-PERRY: What does it mean to encounter regressive images, but to still be able to develop a critical consciousness around them? GAY: Well, I think it`s really about parenting. I encountered regressive images, but every single day I was reminded by my parents that I can be anything and do anything and I have to work hard. So I think the world is always going to be full of regressive images and we have to counteract them at every single moment. My mom told me raising us that she was in constant combat against the images that white America would offer us of what it means to be black and to offer me positive images of what it means to be a woman and so, you know -- go ahead. HARRIS-PERRY: The gift that you gave to my daughter, my baby when she was born, was a stack of books, and all of them kind of little black girl books in which the little black girl at the center of it. You`re a mom yourself of a daughter. I wonder -- it seemed to me clearly you were signalling this is important. TILLET: Yes, I mean, part of it is because I`m an English professor, and so I understand what it means to have your imagination being formed in which you`re the center of the text, you`re the center of the narrative. So we`re talking about Cinderella and, you know, my daughter is 2 1/2 so she`s not going to see Cinderella, but I`m adamantly against Cinderella even with the brandy version because I don`t see what the point is. There`s an essay about Cinderella`s step-sisters and what does it mean to have these girls that are indoctrinated for hating another girl. I think that would be an interesting film. The current version isn`t so different from apparently even more regressive than the original version. QUARLES: The director claims that he made adjustments like having the Cinderella and prince meet at the same time so they`re on the same level. I`m not a parent, but I don`t think there`s anything wrong with having your child see Cinderella because it does start with parenting. This is something I`m always fighting is the stereotype because you`re a pretty woman or you cover entertainment, people try to belittle you. No, you have a brain, you`re smart, you can be well rounded and it`s important to know all of these things and watch all of these things because power is knowledge. So watching these things, having of the conversation, being informed about it is knowledge. HARRIS-PERRY: All information is spendable currency, depending on the market. I had Barbies and then I cut their hair off. Thank you to Roxanne Gay in Naples, Florida and here in New York, thank you to Leora Tanenbaum and to Alicia Quarles. Salamishah and Amer are going to be back in our next hour. Coming up next, Starbucks wants to do it, SAE wants to do it Kendrick Lamar wants to do it, honestly, we do it every week here. So here we go, race talk. There`s more nerdland at the top of the hour. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. If you join us regularly here in Nerdland, then you know we rarely shy away from directly engaging in race talk. You might even have talked those very words appearing on the screen behind me during our, you know, race talk segments as my guests and I try to unpack the complicated questions of race that so often appear in the news each week. So I wasn`t entirely unsympathetic to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz this week when he charged his legion of baristas for one week with getting customers thinking about more than whether they want whipped cream on their Macchiatos. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HOWARD SCHULTZ, STARBUCKS CEO: What if we were to write race together on every Starbucks cup. And that facilitated a conversation between you and our customer. And if a customer asks you what this is, try and engage in a discussion that we have problems in this country with regard to race and racial inequality and we believe we`re better than this. And we believe the country is better than this. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Now, between my hosting duties here on MHP and my other gig as a university professor, I know a little something about facilitating a conversation on race. And even with years of study and training in the academy and jobs where I research and think a great deal about racial inequality, getting people to talk honestly and meaningfully about race can be tricky business. So it seemed like Schultz was making a big ask for baristas to push a conversation on race when they already have plenty to do trying to manage the ridiculously complicated orders of venti non-fat half- cup extra hot lattes. But the campaign is called Race Together, which means Starbucks wasn`t leaving all the power to change hearts and minds solely with the people who make the coffee beverages. Starbucks had some race work for the people who drink it too. On Friday, these special race together newspaper supplements appeared on the newsstands in Starbucks stores and it included a fill in the blank test meant to get the race conversation started among family and friends. It`s been a while since I`ve given a pop quiz on the show, so why don`t we all just take the Starbucks racial reality check together. Nerdland, get your pencils ready. Number one, my parents had (blank) friends of a different race. Okay. Number two, I have (blank) friends of a different race. Number three, my children have (blank) friends of a different race. Number four, (blank) members of a different race live on my block or my apartment building. Okay. I most often talk to someone of another race at work, church, home, shopping, school. Only church, huh, not places of worship. Interesting. Okay. In my Facebook stream, (blank) percent are of a different race. Well, Facebook actually figured that number out. Okay. In the past year, I have been to the home of someone of a different race (blank) times. In the past year, someone of a different race has been in my home (blank) times. I always keep a little tick mark when people of a different race come over. At work we have managers, (blank) managers of different races. And number ten, in the past year I have eaten a meal with someone of a different race (blank) times. Okay, pencils down, how did you do? Maybe more importantly, how did it make you feel? Because this reality check is, well, how can I put this, a hot mess. I`m not really sure where to start. But here are just a few things that are maddening about it. It sets out to measure contact with people of different races without the slightest acknowledgement that race is socially constructed and not some simple, notable, immutable characteristic. It implies that race is just about people being different instead of coping with how those differences are impugned with meaning that has deep and overwhelming social, political, economic, legal, and personal consequences. It reduces the long, ugly, painful complicated joyous, absurd, fascinating issues of race in American to a Cosmo quiz about personal experiences instead of collective historical structural realities. And it indirectly absolves people who have enough friends of a different race from any responsibility for racial iniquity. Took my Starbucks quiz and I`m all good. #notracist. It seems to assume that the person taking the test can make the choice to live in a world where she could choose not to have encounters with different people unless she sought them out, which suggests that this is perhaps actually a test for white people and their experiences of interracial contact. Why, Starbucks? Why? I mean you took a simple cup of coffee. You turned it into multi layered mosaic of elaborate, joyous, milky sugar. So why would you simplify the demanding and difficult work of race talk into this? Joining me now is Whitney Dow, director and producer of the Whiteness Project. Salamishah Tillet, associate professor of English and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Wade Henderson, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. And Amer Ahmed who is dean of Sophomores and Intercultural Center director of Swarthmore College. Help me. Am I being too hard? Should we at least be happy that a corporate giant thinks race is important to talk about? WHITNEY DOW, WHITENESS PROJECT: First of all, it`s hard to follow you, Melissa, after hearing that opening. I`m really nervous about why I`m here because I`ve got to say I love it. HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, you love this? DOW: I love it. It`s problematic, it`s lazy, it`s privileged, it`s nuts. It`s all the things you said it is. But the idea that a $70 billion company would like -- that`s managed its brand so carefully for so long would take this, this idea and turn it over to their lowest paid employees, turn their brand over to discuss something that`s so inflammatory I think is really in some weird, crazy way radical. AHMED: I want to appreciate the fact that they did take this risk, but what I`m concerned about is the way that they waded into it is going to scare off every single other company or organization in the future because I don`t really think that they have done the organizational development work within their organization. From what I can tell, because if they did there would be more texture, there would be more nuance and they would understand that baristas are not the people to be facilitating -- HARRIS-PERRY: Look, actually baristas totally might be. I mean, I don`t even want to make a claim about whether or not the baristas are. I do know that when you begin with this presumption about like -- the first thing they think is important for you to know about race, the most people who identify themselves as African-American in the United States have some European ancestors. So now we`re going to redefine race and say it`s a genetic -- I`m not saying we have to have a whole social construction conversation. But it is important that Chipotle did this real differently. Instead of like charging in and talking about like how one-tenth we are of blackness or whiteness, you know, instead they go ahead and they put literary references and then you can read it and have thoughts about it. TILLET: Well, I was thinking about the risk factor and we just talked about this a little bit more. So, I actually do have a problem not with the baristas in the sense of their skill set -- HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, they might be great. TILLET: But in terms of the burden, the responsibility to push this conversation forward being on those who are not necessarily the most empowered in the organization, so that`s one thing. The other thing I think in terms of a risk, I do think, you know, they`re aware of their brand and they`re trying to push their conversation forward in a climate in which people are really actively and consciously trying to address issues of racial inequality. A bigger risk would be let`s take on things like the prison industrial complex, I mean, there`s risks and then there`s risks. So, I just want to say -- I just want to point that out. HARRIS-PERRY: Right. But even within that context, I still -- so here`s part of my concern about what happens with that privilege and the presumption that it`s so difficult and people don`t talk about race is, again, it`s always standing in a place of whiteness. When I go to get some coffee, please, God, don`t talk to me about race. I`m going to do that all day about work. I love this tweet from Rain of April who said, "not sure what Starbucks was thinking. I don`t have time to explain 400 years of oppression to you and still make my train." #RaceTogether. And like, I kind of felt like, you know, I`m going to go to Dunkin` Donuts where I don`t have to talk about race. HENDERSON: So, let`s stipulate as you characterized it, it`s a hot mess. Let`s say, the Cosmo quiz that they put is absolutely, you know, unconscionable. But having said that, I do agree that a corporation exposing itself both to this kind of criticism and ridicule, seriously, while trying to push a conversation that needs to be handled much more substantively and thought fully is still a good thing. I mean, it`s done two things. First of all, we are talking about it. (CROSSTALK) HARRIS-PERRY: We are certainly race talking. And drinking coffee. Yes. HENDERSON: Now, the issue is, is this a one off. Is this all they`re doing or is this part of a broader campaign to put the issue of race in the context of the business community, of the country in a larger way. Look, I do think it puts a burden on the baristas that they never asked for but they shouldn`t have to bear alone. I do think at the same time it puts and makes it awkward for customers but it`s also provoking a set of conversations that I hope lead to a higher level of analysis and some additional steps. So, if they would use their influence, and this is not just Starbucks, it`s USA Today, it`s Larry Kramer, the publisher they brought into this, so trying to expose this to a higher plane of conversation I think is a good thing. And so, let`s see whether it moves beyond. AHMED: I think they need to, not just talk about race but talk about racism. You know, I mean -- HARRIS-PERRY: Right. It`s not just about being different. Yes. AHMED: Exactly. And so, how do we go beyond -- because when we have conversations as facilitators of conversations on race, you know, we know that you mentioned it earlier, people of color are often burdened to go through every single frustrating experience we`ve had ever in order for white people to learn. And so taking that into unsafe situations, it`s so hard just to create that safe space just to talk about it. And not just talk about race, but talk about the power inequities as we walk through the world with our bodies and the implications that it has for us. HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, if only 10 percent of the people in your corporation for example are African-American and all the white folks have to have black friends, that means I got to be friends with like 400 individual white folks just to get them where they need to be on their quiz. We have a little bit more on this when we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LYNDON JOHNSON, UNITED STATES 36TH PRESIDENT: The real hero of this struggle is the American Negro. He has called upon us to make good the promise of America. And who among us can say that we would have made the same progress were it not for his persistent bravery and his faith in American democracy. (APPLAUSE) For at the real heart of battle for equality is a deep-seated belief in the democratic process. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: That was President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 giving an address to a joint session of Congress on voting rights. And what I love about that moment is that he tries to express that we still believe in deliberation as part of it, so like I am deeply irritated by this campaign, but I want to preserve a space to say that even when we`re trying to deal with structural inequality that we have this belief that deliberation is also part of what goes on with race talk or with racial healing. And I guess I just want to ask that. What do we think the value of talking about race is in the kind of work of eliminating racial inequality? HENDERSON: Well, if talk leads to action, then it`s productive. I think as I said before if this is really only a one-off, a one-time event that`s intended to provoke conversation, then I think it`s been a wasted investment. I think if this really leads to action and examination of structural inequality, then I think that`s a really important dimension. In your last segment, you talked about the health of the economy and how wonderful it is and that`s great. But the truth is we have a systemic gap and disparity in the unemployment of people of color and white Americans. And the African-American community is the only community that has yet to respond to the benefits of the recovery. So this conversation has to shift from the symbolic to the substantive and I think there has to be a set of recommendations and the involvement of business. That`s what Starbucks and USA Today can do. They can be -- for others in the corporate community to really engage in a serious effort to address stuff like this. HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Because I`m looking in this -- if you came up with zero members of a different race live on my block or in my apartment building, A, you might be racist or, B, you might just be living in the realities of a persistently structurally segregated America which leads us to not live next to each other and those can be solved. So even if tomorrow you could fix whatever internal anxiety you have, you still might have zero members of a different race living on your block or in your apartment building. You said something during the break that was interesting, it was the idea of what needs to be interrogated here is not so much race but maybe whiteness. I wanted to listen, God help us, to common talking to Starbucks about this. Let`s just listen for a moment. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MAN: For a long time I would get on elevators. And on the elevator ride if a white person would get on, I would feel like they didn`t like me. But after thinking about this for a while and thinking about how truly felt in my heart, I decided that I would speak and I would be more present. And now I must say these elevator rides are way, way better now. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Okay. So that`s nice, common, but it`s not really that like blacks folks don`t just really reach out to white people enough. Like I mean, I just feel like that`s what that equivalency of difference, difference, difference does instead the interrogation of for example white supremacy and its impact on American lives. DOW: You know, absolutely. And I think, you know, you just ask, you know, does talk make it better. Well, it really depends like who`s talking, who they`re talking to and what are they talking about. One of the things for me the work that I`ve been doing is we`ve been trying to get white people to talk about whiteness. But two things about the idea of how you start conversations. You know, not everybody at this table but there`s a lot of places in the country who are going to Starbucks and getting a cup that says Race Together could be a radical moment for them. There`s people in my family that that could be a radical moment, when they could think about something that they haven`t thought about before. HARRIS-PERRY: What if instead of it saying #Race Together it quoted that LBJ, right? And it said something like, you know, at the heart of the battle of equality is a deep-seated belief, like, what if instead it gave something substantive. DOW: Absolutely. I would rather have it say, you know, white supremacy has been the organizing principal of America since it was founded. HARRIS-PERRY: There you go, put that on the cup. DOW: Please discuss. Absolutely. But it`s so -- I mean that is the complicated part. But you have to give people access points and not everybody is starting from the same place. And it`s clear that Howard Schultz is not starting from a place. He`s just entering this thing. HARRIS-PERRY: So I get you, I get it. So, part of it is this is therefore a manifestation of Schultz`s power and privilege because here he is a neophyte to it and he can make it a global issue in a way that people experiencing it on the ground or who are experts in it can`t, right? And so checking that privilege does seem to be like an important starting point. TILLET: So, I mean, we talked about this during the break too, but I do think what would it mean for Starbucks to do like an internal review of the racial culture of the organization, publicly share that and then go from there. Right? So as an organization -- HARRIS-PERRY: Start with self-vulnerability. TILLET: Yes. Self-vulnerability. Introspection and then changing a culture. The only question on that list that maybe deals with structural inequality is about the managers, right? Like, you know, the racial breakdown of people who are in positions of power. So I just think that to me would be like a radical position. That could be like, if you`re going to be at the front line of the movement, you can then change corporate culture. And then, right now it`s almost as if they`re putting the spotlight on American society, on the individual consumer and then the baristas themselves as opposed to thinking about how Starbucks itself manifests, plays into and reproduces racial disadvantage. HARRIS-PERRY: We have so much more to get to on race talk this morning. We`re not going to give it a short time, we`re going to give it a long time. And in fact the next part of it, how the fraternity SAE says, it wants to engage. But I just want to show you one more thing before we go. Because I love this as a comeback. @ZackStafford tweeted barista, your total is $5.45 cents. Me, you can just put that on my reparations tab. Thanks. #Race Together. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: This week the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity is doing damage control after a video surface showing members of its University of Oklahoma Chapter participating in a racist chant. SAE announced an initiative that includes a pointing a diversity director assembling a committee on inclusion and requiring members to participate in a diversity education program. The fraternity`s executive director said the incident has caused the organization to recognize its need to engage in a public dialogue about race. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BLAINE AYERS, EVANSTON-BASED FRATERNITY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: We are committed to having the tough conversations in every chapter and with every member. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Joining the table now is Tracy Clayton, a staff writer at and author of the story "A Black Girl`s History With Southern Frat Racism." So this story got quite the buzz from BuzzFeed. Tell me just a little bit for folks who haven`t read it yet what it`s about. TRACY CLAYTON, STAFF WRITER, BUZZFEED: Well, the essay is about my time at Transylvania University which is then a real school that actually exist. (CROSSTALK) And I was there from 2000 to 2004. And it`s just about what it`s like to be a student of color on a campus where there are so many of the trappings of the confederacy which there were for a lot of different reasons. One was just like a school tradition, there`s a dormitory that`s still named after Jefferson Davis who was an alumni there and there was also a fraternity that had lots of confederate flags hanging out on campus. And it`s just about what it was like to try to go to school and focus on school but also feel really unsafe and unwelcome. And I`d like to say that my story is both common but also not so common because obviously not a lot of schools I would hope, I guess I can`t really provide proof of this, but I would hope that there aren`t a bunch of confederate flags on more campuses than not. HARRIS-PERRY: Oh! I have attended or taught at a lot of southern universities. It is not uncommon, again, having grown up in the south. Now, I`m older than you so I was coming through, you know, like just early enough that, you know, our Kappa Alpha order had confederate flags, had old south parties and that kind of thing in the early `90s when I was on campus. You know, part of what I thought was important here is that SAE, I do not want to be my Sherpa to race dialogue in the world, right? So I am distressed by it. On the other hand, as compared to the way the Transylvania University reacted to your BuzzFeed piece which was there is at least appears to have been an e-mail that went out to students that said I just want to make each of you aware of an article that just came out on BuzzFeed referencing your article. And the President, dean of students and this person are all aware that it`s out there. The President is determining how to address it. And at this time we are asking you not to comment about the article on any social media platforms. So I don`t really want SAE to talk, like as a leader of the conversation, but I so prefer that over how don`t you dare talk. CLAYTON: Right, exactly. And I feel that`s a very, very common reaction for any university to have because, you know, your reputation is a big money getter for you. Right? You know, you want people to think that you are a very, very great campus. And by the way, I do want to point out Transylvania is a very, very good school -- HARRIS-PERRY: Sure. CLAYTON: Education wise. I met some beautiful, beautiful people there. However, there were a lot of things that were not handled the right way as far as listening to students when they say, hey, I don`t feel safe. And this is a story that is not specific to me or Transylvania or Kentucky or the South as the SAE video showed us. But, you know, this is about people, students of color on white campuses all over the place. And my hope -- you know, it`s kind of annoying to me to sort of champion the starting of conversations. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. CLAYTON: Because you know, after that conversation starts, that`s real cool, but what do you do afterwards? But the biggest advantage that I feel that we can get from this story is finally being heard. Like my goal was not to make the school look bad, it was for me to be heard. HARRIS-PERRY: And that to me feels critical. And as a matter of fact it feels to me like you have to give the school an opportunity in that moment. CLAYTON: Yes. HARRIS-PERRY: So the idea that let`s not talk about it is the way to appear to be a great school again as a college campus, right? So it seems to be another way to respond to it is, we have been challenged on this point. Let`s talk about it and that is how we will indicate how open we are, how willing we are to engage in dialogue and discourse and how unafraid we are to be challenged. AHMED: Yes. When we think about institutions and organizations, I think we have to pay attention to being proactive than so reactive. Because if you`re being proactive about these issues, when things like this come up, you have a lot to say. You have a lot to talk about and say we`re doing this, we`re doing this, we`re doing this. And it didn`t work out here because these are challenging issues. But we have the things in place, we`ve been working on these things that position us to be able to have these conversations going forward. HARRIS-PERRY: That idea that maybe the race talk conversation starts not by asking how many friends you have but asking about the questions of power and influence I think is a critical one. Tracy Clayton, thank you so much for your piece. CLAYTON: Thank you for having me. HARRIS-PERRY: And up next, UVA. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: I go to UVA. Those were the words University of Virginia third year student Martese Johnson shouted as he was grabbed, thrown to the pavement and left with a bloody, swollen face during an arrest by the Alcohol and Beverage Control officers after midnight on Wednesday. The cell phone footage of the incident was captured after the ABC officers questioned, then detained Johnson when he was denied entry into a bar that is frequented by UVA students. Johnson was charged with public intoxication, and obstruction of justice and spent a night in jail. And his attorney has denied earlier reports that he attempted to present a fake I.D. On Thursday, Johnson, recovering from a head injury that requires 10 stitches, stood by silently as his lawyer read a statement on his behalf. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DANIEL WATKINS, MARTESE JOHNSON ATTORNEY: I trust that the scars on my face and head will one day heal, but the trauma from what the ABC officers did yesterday will stay with me forever. I believe we as a community are better than this. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: So it feels to me like Salamishah, this is the moment when we remind that the race conversation has consequences. It`s not just do you feel good about interracial contact. TILLET: Yes. I mean I guess this is where it also shows that the race conversation isn`t alone like you`re saying the solution to it. I mean, in this case, and also the owner of the bar has recently come out saying that he did not think he was intoxicated. So, this really gets back to the question of weaponized black bodies. I mean, it`s structural, it`s instinctive, it`s intimate in the ways in which these particular men responded to seeing this young African-American man and what spaces they thought he was violating and what spaces they thought he should not be entering. And just the brutality of their actions toward him are unconscionable. So, I mean, I look at this and I say these are my students, these are students I interact with every day. And to see that his claim of I`m a UVA student. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. TILLET: Right. It`s like, you know, I`m American. I mean, these are different versions of the same thing and yet that means nothing in this moment. HARRIS-PERRY: And that, for me, I think, these so are our students that the first time I heard about this story, I was in the middle of a lecture and I look over and one of my students is weeping. And I said what`s going on? It was Thursday morning. And she says I just -- I just got a message on my phone that my friend -- and so mark, he says her friend. TILLET: Yes. One of my grad students, this was her friend. HARRIS-PERRY: But literally these are our students. TILLET: Yes. HARRIS-PERRY: And I think we`ve had this sense that somehow there is some kind of protective thing that occurs as a result of some level of privilege. So when you`re saying I`m a UVA student, it`s like hands up, right? HENDERSON: Right. HARRIS-PERRY: Is blackness so powerful at this point that it overwhelms all other statuses that are meant to confer some sort of privilege? HENDERSON: Well, I`m afraid it is. And I think in this context it has been demonstrated clearly by the treatment of poor Martese Johnson by the ABC board, the Alcohol Board of the State. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. They just regulate the sale of alcohol. HENDERSON: This is not your traditional law enforcement entity. HARRIS-PERRY: No. HENDERSON: And yet they acted in a way that clearly demonstrated an excess with respect to law enforcement technique. I think the protection that one would have expected a student to have gotten from any state school or in any context like that would have been different from the experience of Martese Johnson. I think coming as it has in the aftermath of Ferguson and the aftermath of the Justice Department`s long overdue focus on police practices nationwide and the appointment of that task force on police practices, I think that this is a serious issue that will require all campuses to look at their practices and how they police their student body. And that`s something that I think is long overdue as well. HARRIS-PERRY: Amer, the last time as student suddenly began weeping on my campus was also earlier this semester. And it was because, you know, I`m at Wake Forest, it`s down the road from UNC and it was after the shooting death of Muslim students at the University of North Carolina. And again, a reminder that this is not just about difference, there are these life-and- death consequences associated with it. AHMED: Absolutely. These are not abstract ideas. And we have to recognize that it translates into violence. It`s not -- it`s not just whether we feel good about these issues or not. This translates into people`s level of safety. And when it happens to one, it happens to an entire community, you know. And so when we hear about anything related to murders, police brutality, any of these things, it has this major impact beyond just the individual as much as the trauma is so deep for that individual, it also exists for that entire community. HARRIS-PERRY: In fact black students at the University of Virginia wrote in The Cavalier Daily, "In many ways the physical pain Martese endured that night has left an open wound on the hearts of our people again. The physical bruises that mark his body, perhaps scars that will never fade, invoke the emotions of the black student body. Only time will heal the ugly scar that this incident has left on the community. The trauma will follow us into the classrooms. A distraction that does not burden the majority of our nonblack peers." And that -- that idea that now these babies carry this tax with them when they go to class, is to me that is the evidence of like this deep injustice associated. DOW: You know what really struck me about that clip, he used -- he said we`re better than this. Those are the exact same words that Howard Schultz had used in all his interview. My reaction is always but historically we`re not. But I think that this idea that somehow we`re looking at this default that we`re better as opposed to we can be better than this. And that`s really the conversation that I think should be happening. I mean, what`s really interesting also is its relationship to the Ferguson police report because the narrative has been set. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. DOW: And Police Departments know the narrative. And what`s really scary now is we know the narrative of police departments and that`s what`s so terrifying for this. This fits into now the narrative we understand of police departments. HARRIS-PERRY: And again for people who don`t live in the bible belt of the south, we have these, you know, we have this, I mean their job is to keep illegal alcohol sales -- the level of over -- I mean at the University of Virginia. Like, okay, I mean, they`re just -- UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Fake I.D.? HARRIS-PERRY: When we come back, also talking about race right now is hip- hop superstar Kendrick Lamar. It`s the ABC board. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Did you feel it? The gravitational pull on Sunday night? Because that was the day the album being hailed for its, quote, "Overwhelming blackness emerged into the universe." At least that seems to be the consensus around to pimp a butterfly, the third studio album just released from hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar. Now, the album which dropped Beyonce`s style in a surprise early release that no one saw coming has been called a masterpiece, and the great American hip-hop album. Critical think pieces have celebrated the unrelenting and unapologetic blackness of the album from its cover to its content to its sound. This week it seemed that when Kendrick Lamar talked about race, everybody stopped to listen. Joining me now from Chicago is Jessica Disu who is a humanitarian rap artist known as FM Supreme. Jessica, what do you think of the album? JESSICA DISU, FM SUPREME: How are you doing, Melissa? I think Kendrick Lamar`s album is amazing. It`s an excellent teaching tool for artists and young people across the country and across the world. Hip-hop has the power to transcend cultures and barriers and I believe that -- covertly teaching us with this project. I`m reminded of black face, maestro show Jim Crow, things like that and there are different things of white supremacy that`s hinted in his project. I think it`s an amazing piece of work. HARRIS-PERRY: It`s -- you know, I`m old and so I think it is amazing relative to the current landscape of hip-hop, but I`m going to just retain from those critiques for a moment. I want you to talk to me for a second about what it is -- you`ve said it before. I heard you say it just now which is this idea that hip-hop can make a difference in this. What is it that hip-hop particularly as a cultural form can do that can shove this race conversation into a different place? DISU: Absolutely. I think with Kendrick`s album to pimp a butterfly, I believe he`s telling his story and he`s battling his complexities of being a successful black man in America despite white supremacy and the conditions that hip-hop has been exploited by corporate rap as we discussed before. And I think that with this project he`s teaching us that it`s okay to tell your story. It`s important to tell your story and he`s not willing to -- Kendrick Lamar is not trying to be understood. He`s trying to understand. And that in itself is a great place to be when you`re trying to understand the world versus trying to be understood, which means that he`s not seeking acceptance, he`s just being true to who he is. I`m reminded of Bob Dylan in 1964 when he released "Times are a changing" when he`s, you know, critiquing society in about what was going on, so that`s how I look at "to pimp a butterfly" as a, you know, social critique of society. Kendrick Lamar`s parents are from Chicago. And here in Chicago, we`re you know, organizing, we`re having a youth peace movement conference June 4th through the 6th here in Chicago and I think it`s important that our young people listen to prophets and poets like Kendrick Lamar because he`s saying something. He has a message here. HARRIS-PERRY: Jessica, I love this. Stick with me. Amer, I wanted to let you in on this. AHMED: Yes. Well, you know, there`s a lot of people that have been doing hip-hop activism for a long time. And so, yes, Kendrick is great relative to the time and I know you love a certain era that I love as well. But, you know, in many ways, I think he`s reflecting the fact that there`s a movement going on in the country and that in many ways a lot of hip-hop artists have no choice, but they have to say something because people are looking at them like, what are you going to say? You know, and but meanwhile there`s folks on the ground doing the work. You know, people like Jasiri X, people like Rosa Clemente. DISU: Absolutely. AHMED: People like Becari Sixuana (ph). People like Mimona Youssef (ph). DISU: Absolutely. AHMED: And we have to lift up those artists and we have to recognize that we`ve got to put our dollars and our investment into the people who are doing the real work, you know? DISU: Absolutely. HARRIS-PERRY: But I will say I love Salamishah and I love the cover art. Maybe we could see it again. And it`s -- you know, it`s obviously right there on the White House lawn. They have the foot on the neck of a judge. There`s all kinds of things going on there. But as much as I love it, I love it because this challenge of all sorts of things about respectability but I also wonder about this description of it as overwhelming blackness and sort of what is at stake with that idea, Salamishah? TILLET: So there`s two things, I think. I like the album. I`m from a similar generation that you are so I appreciate that this generation is deeming him a prophet. But I do think, you know, when we`re thinking about hip-hop, when we`re thinking about kind of radical blackness, questions of gender always come up. So in the album there is kind of a conflation of, you know, black women`s voices and corporate greed. So that`s just a quick of his critique. Fine. The cover of the album I think like you say is really beautiful and strong, but in the moment of black lives matter where we`re actually like, having this really exciting moment of like deep intersectionality, like black lives matter coming from a group of like queer black that I mean as activist, what does it mean to only think about racial oppression through the bodies of black men. You have to keep those things in mind as we celebrate this album and celebrate it`s like radical blackness. And I think she`s much better. He`s not like misogynist in any real clear way, I think, you know, it`s a subtle sexism that then becomes the way in which we understand black oppression. HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So black oppression becomes just -- TILLET: Yes. So let`s just keep that in mind as we`re continuing to praise the album. HARRIS-PERRY: Thirty seconds there. DISU: Okay. I just want to interject and say that I think Kendrick Lamar is the closest thing that we have to Tupac Shakur. And to artist like myself, Jasiri X, Seth Paul (ph), Tidab O (ph) from St. Louis and so we come and set the game. We were able just at south by southwest and we performed at a freedom house showcase and there with Rebel DS (ph), again Seth Paul (ph), Tidab O (ph) from St. Louis, Ferguson. You have artists on the ground who are in the movement. Kendrick Lamar is not a part of the movement yet. However, he`s speaking from a perspective of people who can appreciate where he`s coming from. We have, you know, a plethora of artists who speak from their ulterior motives to make money, they`re not speaking from their soul. What I`m hearing is I`m listening to you or he`s even the -- where he`s having a conversation with Tupac Shakur, you hear someone who is completely embattling his place in society and his place to hip-hop because he`s messaging is being true to himself. And I don`t see that very often. So I salute artists like you know, Kendrick Lamar and Jay Cole (ph), Jasiri X and Seth Paul (ph), Tidab O (ph) and myself and Rebel DS (ph) where, you know, for being real to who we are. I think that with corporate rap, that money making is the goal. I don`t think Kendrick`s goal is to make money, I think his goal to change the world. HARRIS-PERRY: FM Supreme in Chicago, Illinois. My producer Victoria says thank you. She and I have been fighting about the album for three days and I defer to you, Jessica. Thank you to Whitney Dow and to Salamishah Tillet, also to Wade Henderson and to Amer Ahmed. Up next, the White House just held its second annual student film festival. Of more than 1700 entries, 15 were selected and the students behind one of those films joins me next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: On Friday, the White House hosted its second annual Student Film Festival. Students from all over the country submitted short films that focused on the themes of service and giving back. Out of more than 1700 entries, 15 were chosen. Selected entries range from the Archer Hadley story, a film about a high school senior with cerebral palsy, fundraising to install handicap access stories in his high school. To 6- year-old Noah Gue`s Project for protection of Montana`s wildlife and environment in Noah`s project, through my eyes. One group of young filmmakers, many of whom are residents of the Ulysses Grant Housing Project in New York, focused on mentoring programs in their Harlem neighborhood. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We live in Harlem, USA. It`s often called the Mecca of Black America. UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Like all great communities, there`s a tradition of providing guidance and training to the next generation. We took a look at several programs in our neighborhood. UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: First, we need a great definition of a mentor. UNIDENTIFIED MAN: A mentor brings you insight. A mentor shares experiences from his or her life in order that when you come up against hard knocks, he made it, I think I can too. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Student filmmakers David Maxwell and Chazz Johnson and their mentor and director of the Digital Media Training Program in Harlem, Melvin McCray, joins me now. All right, guys. So you got to go to the White House. Was that your first time in that experience? DAVID MAXWELL, STUDENT FILMMAKER: Yes, ma`am. It was. And it was a very exciting experience. HARRIS-PERRY: What was the best parts of it? MAXWELL: Meeting the president. And just going to the White House in general. HARRIS-PERRY: How did it feel to have a film that you`d worked on screened there in the White House? CHAZZ JOHNSON, STUDENT FILMMAKER: I felt very honored and grateful that I got to make it there. I mean, how many kids my age or of my color actually get to go to the White House. HARRIS-PERRY: I want to dig into the actual film a little bit itself. It`s on mentoring. After working on this project, what did you learn about mentoring? What do you now know you didn`t know before? MAXWELL: Well, I know that mentoring is a fatherhood, motherhood, and brotherhood. It could be very informational. HARRIS-PERRY: So there`s tons that you can learn from. Are there mentors that you would identify people who in your life or in this project who will say, these are clear mentors? JOHNSON: Yes, my mentor is Reverend James Singletary. You know, throughout my life, he`s been there. For instance, you know, he introduced me to this program called Friday Night Live that I attend now which is in cooperation with digital media training program. And you know, we entered this film into the White House. And we got there. And you know -- HARRIS-PERRY: That`s kind of amazing. Let`s listen to the Reverend Singletary for a moment and then I`m going to ask you a question, Mel. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REVEREND JAMES SINGLETARY, THE RIVERSIDE CHURCH: I had no experience working with kids, but the one thing that I did have was an ability to love people unconditionally. All the kids want to know is that you love them. And when they get a sense that you love them and that you care about them, you can lead them from here to Kalamazoo. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: So speaking of leading kids from here to Kalamazoo, Mel, tell me about the program and sort of what you want young people to learn and what you`ve seen them learn in the process of becoming young filmmakers. MELVIN MCCRAY, DIRECTOR, DIGITAL MEDIA TRAINING PROGRAM IN HARLEM: Well, you know, I realize that people, black and Latino kids, in my community were consuming media. They weren`t producing media. And I wanted to do something about it. So, I wanted to teach them skills. Photography, video, journalism so they could tell their own stories and be empowered by that. And we got an opportunity to do so with this program. We partnered with Riverside Church, my image studios in Harlem, as well as the Columbia University. And we got funding from the West Harlem Development Corporation and we started teaching these skills. And we`ve noticed that it really made a difference to be able to tell your own stories. And the paradigm shifts. You begin to be a player. You begin to reach out and express your view of the world to others. HARRIS-PERRY: Given that we`re in the middle of a social movement about Black Lives Matter, do either of you see yourselves going on to make films, to tell the stories of some of those black lives? JOHNSON: Me personally, I don`t because my dream is to become an airplane pilot, and I want to go into the military to get my degree. But as to black lives matter, in my community, I think they do matter because you have children with broken homes and no mentors. You know, they don`t know which path to take so they choose the path that they see everybody else going. And that leads them into some drugs, getting arrested. HARRIS-PERRY: And so part of the story you told is about mentors helping young people to find a different path. Thank you to David Maxwell and to Chazz Johnson and to Melvin McCray. 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. Right now, it`s time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT." Hi, Alex. ALEX WITT, MSNBC HOST, "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT": Hello to you, Melissa. Thanks so much. Will everyone surviving a terrorist attack? A member of Congress says it`s time to pack a new go bag. Why some are calling this idea irresponsible. The mania over college admissions. One guest will tell me why having that Ivy League degree may not be the ultimate key to success. Farewell to a king. Thousands turn out as Britain gets ready to rebury a king 530 years after his death. Don`t go anywhere. I`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END