Melissa Harris-Perry, Transcript 05/31/15

Guests: Gordon Chang, Mira Rapp Hooper, Jennifer Pozner, Jamie Kilstein,Cristina Beltran, Danielle Moodie-Mills, Jamil Smith, Jemele Hill, CornellWilliam Brooks, A.J. Jacobs, Paul Washington, Regina Wilson, Ginger AdamsOtis, Terence Blanchard

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning my question, can Lebron save Cleveland? Plus, Roxanne Gaye and Taylor Swift, the new "Maxim" magazine it girls, and the missing 86 minutes of video surveillance connected to a Chicago police shooting. But first, China is building something in the sea. It is not a new vacation destination. Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. This morning the country is waking up to saddening and stunning news. It first broke late last night. Beau Biden, the former attorney general for the state of Delaware and son of Vice President Joe Biden is dead at the age of 46. A statement from the vice president reads in part, "It is with broken heart that Hallie, Hunter, Ashley, Jill and I announce the passing of our husband, brother and son, Beau, after he battled brain cancer with the same integrity, courage and strength he demonstrated every day of his life. The entire Biden family is saddened beyond words. We know that Beau`s spirit will live on this all of us especially through his brave wife, Hallie and two remarkable children, Natalie and Hunter." Barry Erent (ph) of NBC News has more. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BARRY ERENT, NBC NEWS (voice-over): Beau Biden, former Delaware attorney general and eldest son of Vice President Joe Biden died Saturday from brain cancer. The 46-year-old Bronze Star recipient who served in Iraq was first diagnosed in August 2013. Following treatment, he was given a clean bill of health and returned to his work as Delaware attorney general just months later. He announced last year he would not seek a third term as attorney general instead planning a run for governor in 2016. BEAU BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN`S SON: Please join me in welcoming my friend, my father, my hero, the next vice president of the United States, Joe Biden. ERENT: Biden gave an emotional speech are introducing his father at the 2008 Democratic National Convention and was considered a rising star in the Democratic Party. Just this spring, Biden suffered a recurrence of the cancer and sought treatment. But despite a valiant fight, Beau Biden died surrounded by his family. He is survived by his wife, Hallie, and their two children, Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden and his brother and sister. Barry Erent, NBC News. (END VIDEOTAPE) HARRIS-PERRY: Joining me now is NBC news White House correspondent, Kristen Welker. Kristen, this is certainly a sad day there at the White House. KRISTEN WELKER, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is. Everyone here is in mourning, Melissa. Condolences have been pouring in from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle overnight the nation`s capital, and so many people across the country devastated to learn this news. President Obama released a statement late last night. I will read you part of what that statement says, Melissa. It says, quote, "Beau took after Joe. He studied the law like his dad, even choosing the same law school. He chased a life of public service like his dad, serving in Iraq and as Delaware`s attorney general. Like his dad, Beau was a good, big hearted, devotedly Catholic and deeply faithful man who made a difference in the lives of all he touched. He lives on in their hearts." Now a lot of people have been noting the special bond between Vice President Joe Biden and his son. Not only did they share the big broad smile, but they also a love of public service, dedication to family and what`s so hard, Melissa, is that this is not the first time tragedy had struck the Bidens. In 1972, Beau was just a little boy when he was injured in a car accident that killed his sister and his mother. His father had been elected to the U.S. Senate. He was famously sworn in at beau`s bedside. You remember the picture. Beau talked about his recollections of that tragic moment at the 2008 Democratic National Convention while he was introducing his father. This was a man whose political future seemed just as bright as his father`s. I will give Joe Biden the last word. He said this speaking on behalf of his entire family, quote, "Beau Biden was quite simply the finest man any of us have ever known" -- Melissa. HARRIS-PERRY: Truly, truly sad news. Thank you to NBC`s Kristen Welker at the White House. We have other breaking news to tell you about this morning. Secretary of State John Kerry was hospitalized this morning after breaking his right femur in a cycling accident in France. Because the injury is near the site of a previous hip surgery, Kerry is cutting short his trip to Europe and returning to Boston today to be treated by the doctor who performed the hip operation. A spokesman says the 71-year-old secretary of state is in good spirits and expected to make a full recovery. Stay with MSNBC throughout the day for the latest on this developing story. Now, we are going to turn to a story about islands. This in particular artificial man made islands. Some of which you have heard of. The Netherlands, for example, boasts one of the largest man-made islands formed by reclaimed land. Then there is Qatar, a rivier, a style man-made island, the so-called virtual Veniz in the Middle East and Dubai, home to several man-made islands including the Palm Islands. You can see in this mega feat, shaped like a palm tree, set to rival the island party capital. Then we have this stretch of man-made islands in the South China Sea. There is no tourist attraction, nor luxury resort. What you are seeing is a hot spot of another kind, the site of escalating geopolitical tension. Here`s why. This smattering of artificial land is called the Spratly Islands. These are contested waters. And what is increasingly alarming the international community is how China is rapidly building new artificial islands to expand its territory claim there. According to U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, China constructed more than 2,000 acres of new territory in the resource rich, Spratly Islands in the past 18 months. This has built-out has angered neighboring countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines, who also claims sovereignty over all or part of these scattered islands and reefs. That`s not all. U.S. officials have announced that artillery was spotted by satellite and surveillance aircraft about a month ago on one of the new China-built islands. U.S. Navy surveillance aircraft captured an image of, what is purportedly, Chinese dredging vessels, even more troubling is that the mobile artillery has since disappeared, which has many speculating the Chinese government has removed or hidden it. Tension also escalated last Wednesday when a U.S. spy plane flew over part of the South China Sea near where China is building. The Chinese Navy issued eight warnings to the aircraft to move away from the contested territory. Two days later, China said it was strongly dissatisfied with the action and called on the U.S. to stop. The U.S. has become increasingly vocal about opposing any further militarization of islands in the South China Sea. The speech yesterday at an annual security policy forum in Singapore that included defense officials from over 30 other countries including China, Secretary Carter called for an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation by all countries. It is unclear how much farther China will go, he said. Joining me now is Gordon Chang, a columnist for forbes.com and author of the "Coming Collapse of China" and Mira Rapp Hooper, who is a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Asia Program. OK, Gordon, this story is one that we reported on a long time ago as a sort of, this is happening. But suddenly, you have called this a classic zero sum confrontation. What exactly is at stake here? GORDON CHANG, COLUMNIST, FORBES.COM: Well, really it`s freedom of navigation from the U.S. point of view. Because if there`s been a consistent American foreign policy over two centuries, it has been defending the global commons. China, by building these islands is infringing on that by declaring a military alert zone over them and protesting U.S. planes in international air space. The Chinese have territorial claims. We don`t, but what we want is everyone to have access to sea and air space. HARRIS-PERRY: Which is precisely what -- when she was secretary of state, Secretary of State Clinton said so I think it is important we are not claiming that we own any portion of this land. But she did say in July of 2010 that the United States have are a national interest in freedom of navigation, open access to Asia`s maritime commons and respect for international law in the South China Sea. So for those of us who are not specialists in this area, help us to understand the difference between air and sea versus land. MIRA RAPP HOOPER, FELLOW, CSIS ASIA PROGRAM: Under international law, all rights to maritime delimitations as well as air space must come from land. Part of what we believe China is doing is building islands where none existed before so it can claim rights to sea as well as the air above it. It is why as Gordon mentioned we are concerned that China`s island-building may interfere with freedom of navigation and freedom over flight in the South China Sea. HARRIS-PERRY: OK, so what is at stake? Again, we know most Americans aren`t good with geography. These islands are man-made. If we go back to the Cuban missile crisis and the question of proximity of Cuba to the U.S., but what`s at stake for the U.S. in the South China Sea for goodness sake? CHANG: Well, there is $5.3 trillion of annual commerce that goes over the South China Sea and in many ways it is more important than the Suez and Panama Canals combined. But really -- HARRIS-PERRY: OK, I need you to pause there, more -- there is more going on there as a matter of commerce than the Suez and Panama Canals? CHANG: Yes. And so essentially what we have here is a problem of open seas. Now it`s not just the South China Sea because essentially there are a lot of other countries that would like to close off international seas. This is really a contest for whose vision of the world is going to prevail. It`s going to be the U.S. which is open and available to everybody. This open architecture, or it is going to really be China, which will close off the sea and other countries will do the same thing. Essentially this is a zero sum contest. There is little way to compromise this. HARRIS-PERRY: The other important piece of this is this white paper out of China saying we will not attack unless we are attacked. But we will surely counterattack if attacked. This is obviously a translation. Are we about to go to war with China? HOOPER: I don`t think we are there yet, Melissa. I think certainly tensions have been heightening in the last several weeks. The real danger here is those accidental or inadvertent escalation between the claimants. What I mean by that is if China begins to flow vessels, forces, aircraft into these artificial islands, those islands are in very close proximity to islands that are held by other claimants in the South China Sea such as Vietnam and the Philippines. The real danger is that there could be some sort of accident where aircraft clash or ships have some kind of accident and conflict escalates from there. HARRIS-PERRY: As a matter of an accidental interaction as opposed to an active declaration. HOOPER: Exactly. I think at this point certainly both the United States and China and the other claimants involved in the South China Sea understand a decision to go to war would be absolutely catastrophic on all sides. HARRIS-PERRY: Gordon, when we come back, I want to ask you that same question about whether or not we are about to go to war with China. I want to do it in a way of thinking about our conflict with China. Stay with us. We`ll have more on this topic in a moment. Also reminder that we are following breaking news about Secretary of State John Kerry, who broke his leg in a cycling accident in France today. A lot to cover this morning. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: I want to take a moment to play Senator John McCain speaking on the issue of China`s island-building in the Pacific Friday while he was traveling in Ho Chi Minh City. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We just have received information about mobile artillery now being placed in the islands that the -- excuse me -- in the years that have been filled in and reclaimed by the Chinese government, and it is a disturbing development, an escalatory development. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Disturbing, escalatory, is this a drum beat of war we are hearing? CHANG: Well, I don`t about war. But one of the things that we will have to do probably in conjunction with friends and allies is drive our ships close to the islands because we want to make sure that the waters are still considered to be part of the global commons. We probably will fly our planes into what China considers to be its air space, but everybody else considers international, that is a problem, and also if the Chinese declare an air defense identification zone over the South China Sea. It means that commercial traffic will be put at risk because probably they`ll be conflicting instructions to planes and clearly China will try to reinforce it perhaps with its own air force, which they`ve done in the past. So this is a problem and as Mira said, it`s accidental escalation that`s the real risk. HARRIS-PERRY: So the last time you were here, Gordon, we were talking about the Transpacific Partnership. We were talking about the economic peace. I was looking back and noticing that as far back as 2007, one of then Senator Obama`s first initiatives was a ban on -- wanting to make a ban on toys from China as a result of a led paint concern. And then just in his most recent "state of the union" in 2015 saying China wants to write the rules for the world`s fastest growing region. That will put our workers and our businesses at a disadvantage. Why would we let that happen? We should write the rules." Is this military piece actually about an economic conflict? CHANG: Well, I think the economic issues are really more important because those really I think will determine most everything else and the Transpacific Partnership, I believe is the most important part of what people call the pivot. This is important for the United States because it`s not just the TPP and also TPA which is the Trade Promotion Authority. What`s important is that there are a lot of big trade deals in the hopper as well. And so this is a vision of the United States trading with countries in a peaceful and democratic world. That`s really what`s at stake in connection with the TPP, the Transpacific Partnership. HARRIS-PERRY: Mary, want to weigh in on this? HOOPER: Well, when it comes to writing the rules in the region, I think economic peace is crucial. Part of what China`s island building is doing is calling into question some of the rules the United States has stood by in the region. And the include freedom of navigation and also international law and the peaceful resolution of disputes. Part of why you are seeing policy makers take a strong stand on the issue is because of the concern that the rules that the United States has always stood by are jeopardized by island- building. HARRIS-PERRY: Why should we be writing rules? As I try to dig in, I keep looking for the other side of the story. Is there some other world view to be seeing this? Part of it is so why should it be us writing the rules? CHANG: It`s not our rules really. It`s the rules of the international community. As Secretary Carter said a couple of days ago, this is not just American warships in the South China Sea, these are our fishermen, all sorts of people who use the global commons. And basically other countries want the same thing we do. It`s not just the United States. The United States is an important part of it, but these aren`t our rules. HARRIS-PERRY: Got it. Thank you, Gordon Chang and Mira Rapo Hooper. Up next, what happened to the missing 86 minutes of surveillance video connected to a Chicago police shooting? Thank you both for being here. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: As the grand jury this in the Michael Brown shooting was announcing its decision in November, the fatal shooting of another young black man went largely unnoticed by national media. The 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was suspected of breaking into cars when a Chicago police officer shot him 16 times last October. Circumstances of the shooting were not completely clear. And then when the city settled with McDonald`s family for $5 million, before a lawsuit had even been filed, it raised more questions. Surveillance video from a camera are near the shooting might have answered questions to precisely what happened to McDonald that night. But we will likely never know because we`ve learned that 86 minutes of that video are missing. Carol Marin, a political editor at NBC Chicago affiliate, WMAQ, has been covering the story and filed this report. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CAROL MARIN, POLITICAL EDITOR, CHICAGO NBC NEWS (voice-over): The Burger King sits at 40th and Polaski and has a series of outside security cameras. On the night of October 20th, Laquan McDonald was trailed by Chicago police officers through the Burger King parking lot after a call about a man with a knife. Just south of the restaurant, McDonald was shot 16 times after police on the scene said he posed a very serious threat, a claim denied by attorneys for Laquan McDonald`s family and by some eyewitnesses that night. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This witness told us this was an execution. That`s his word. MARIN: After the shooting, according to the district manager for Burger King, four to five police officers wearing blue and white shirts entered the restaurant and asked to view the video and were given the password to the equipment. Three hours later they left, he said. The next day when an investigator for the Independent Police Review Authority asked to review the security footage they discovered that video was missing. In a statement IPRA said, "We have no credible evidence at this time that would cause us to believe CPD purged or erased any surveillance video." (on camera): According to the district manager for Burger King, all of the cameras and the recorder were on and working properly the night of the shooting. So what happened? He believes that one of the officers deleted files. (voice-over): We had no idea they are going to sit there and delete the files, Jay Darshane said by telephone on Friday. I mean, we were just trying to help the police officers. (on camera): The irony of the missing video, all sides agree, is it would not have shown the shooting. But according to lawyers for the McDonald family, it could have shown events leading up to it. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our first time down at the Burger King restaurant when we realized video was deleted or is missing, we knew something was up. MARIN (voice-over): While the video from the Burger King is missing the shooting of McDonald was captured on a police dash board camera. That video has not been made public. The FBI, the U.S. attorney and the Cook County State`s Attorney Office are investigating the McDonald shooting as is the Independent Police Review Authority. (END VIDEOTAPE) HARRIS-PERRY: Carol Marin joins me now from Chicago. Carole, you have continued to report on this story. Have there been any new developments, new information about what happened specifically to that 86 minutes of video footage? MARIN: There have not. We were told, Melissa, that the federal grand jury meeting in Chicago continues to take testimony. This is really a two- pronged process. One is what happened with Lequan McDonald. Something so serious the city would settle $5 million on it very fast and pretty quietly. But the other is what are the civil rights implications and is there or was there or has there been some attempt at a police cover-up. HARRIS-PERRY: This $5 million from the city -- and we know cities sometimes settle these cases, but there wasn`t yet a lawsuit. It`s got to raise questions, eyebrows all over the city. MARIN: It does. This really flew under the radar. It happened quite recently last October. There were a couple of independent journalists, Jamie Calvin, Craig Fuderman of the University of Chicago and a colleague of mine at the "Sun Times," Mary Mitchell, who all wrote about it. It never really got picked up. Not until after the election of a mayor in Chicago in April does the city`s lawyer go before city council to say, we have a case. It involves one officer, but there were many on the scene. Only one officer fired. We need to settle because there is another video, Melissa, it was on the dashboard of one of the police cars. It is the video that captures the shooting, even though, I might point out there were cameras on all of the dashboards, but only two of them were working. This one delivered the video. We haven`t seen it. Aldermen in Chicago have called for it to be seen. Editorial bodies have said, we need to see the video. Thus far it hasn`t been released. The argument being the FBI and the U.S. attorney`s office are still probing this matter. HARRIS-PERRY: There does seem to be -- I presume from the medical examiner`s report that this distressing piece of information that nine out of 16 wounds were entrance wounds to McDonald`s back, the back of his forearm or back of his hands. We saw in the report there is at least one witness who described this as an execution. MARIN: Exactly. We should point out there were witnesses, many of them on the scene because this was a busy intersection. We are told by the lawyers that many of the witnesses were told to get out of here or we`ll arrest you. We don`t have their names or numbers. But the lawyers do have some who have come forward. The fact of the matter is that this case was described on the scene by a police union representative as one in which Laquan McDonald lunged at the officer and the officer in fear of his life shot. What we are told by those who have seen the video is there isn`t evidence of him lunging and all the other officers apparently exercised a high level of restraint. So what was this and why was the officer threatened? McDonald had a knife, not a gun. Something about the video is apparently powerful enough for the city to quickly take care of the case. HARRIS-PERRY: Carol Marin in Chicago, Illinois. Thank you for joining us, but for raising if questions, and doing the investigation. I`m sure that all of us will be keeping an eye on what happens next. Thank you. MARIN: Thank you, Melissa. HARRIS-PERRY: What are you reading this summer, my letter of the week is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: We celebrate Memorial Day and we listen politely to commencement speakers, we suffered through unforgiving three-way mirrors while trying to find a swim suit. It`s summer and along with summer`s promise of a little vacation time and the good weather to enjoy it, comes the beloved annual nerd ritual, the summer reading list. This week, Janet Maslin, the "New York Times" literary critic shared her suggestions titled "Cool books for hot summer days." On the list 17 books by 17 white writers. I know what you`re thinking. This is the part where MHP sends a letter care to Ms. Maslin care of the "New York Times" and goes in about whitewashing summer reading. You might expect me to point out that Jabaria Asim`s debut novel "Only The Strong," which is set in St. Louis during 1970s social unrest is an important book to read this the context of Ferguson, Baltimore and the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement. Maybe you expect to hear best-selling author, Juan Gabriel Vasquez`s book "Lovers On All Saints Day" is available in English for the first time this summer or that everyone who`s ever loved and lost needs to read the gut wrenching and lyrical memoir of inaugural poet, Elizabeth Alexander, "The Light Of The World" that we profiled right here on MHP. Or maybe point out that Toni Morisson, America`s only living Nobel laureate in literate has a new book this year, "God Help The Child." Maybe that could warrant a summer read. But here`s the thing, I don`t need to write that letter because from the moment her suggestions appeared in the paper that still purports to bring all the news that`s fit to print, many other outlets offered meaningful and richly diverse alternatives. Check out the MHP show Twitter feed and Facebook page for some of them. When we asked them, the "New York Times" executive director of communications shared this statement with us. "The summer reading list is not meant to sum up the best or most noteworthy books of the summer, but to alert readers to some options for slightly over the top escapist fun. The criteria for selection include recently and soon to be published books from among specific genre categories, few of them substantive or weighty. While our selection reflects summer releases offered by book publishers, we will be more alert to diversity among authors in the future." So with so many others weighing in already and the "New York Times" promising to be more alert in the future, I really didn`t have a letter to send to Ms. Maslin. Why my letter of the week the going to you. Dear readers, it`s me, Melissa and this summer I`m asking you to read three books. First, to back and read a book that you read before you were 18 years old. I don`t care if it`s "Sweet Valley High" or "Little Women," "Souls Of Black Folk" or "Sounder." See if it feels different. See if you missed something before. See if you still love it or if you have learned to hate it. Revisit it and see how you have changed. Second, read a book with a kid this summer. Whether you have children in your life already or you have to volunteer at a local shelter, school or library to find a young reading partner I`m asking you to read one book with a much younger reader. It can be as simple as "Green Eggs & Ham" with a pre-schooler at Head Start or as involved as working through a trilogy with your twin niece, the experience will remind you of the extraordinary ability of books to transform how we see the world. Third, I`m asking you to read one book by an author who doesn`t share your race, gender or sexual orientation. African-American sisters, try to pick up a Hono Diaz novel and white brothers, may be time to read Janet Mac. Black queer men, have you ever read Joyce Carol Oates. Dig in to far more three books this summer and I hope you will take this humble suggestion because reading is not about so called political correctness or enforced diversity. Reading especially with our toes in the sand and the sun on our faces is at its best about finding something new in ourselves and expanding and sharing this extraordinary world of ideas with one another. Happy reading. Sincerely, Melissa. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Each year, "Maxim" magazine unveils its ranking of women. It has pronounced it the Hot 100. Other than the revelation of who makes the magazine`s number one spot, it`s easy to guess what will be on the cover from year to year. A woman, always young, always thin, often white, displaying her body in just enough clothing to keep things from full on "Playboy" territory. When we can see her face she`s staring out from the cover with a come hit her stare. Inside the issue, there is pretty much more of the same which is why the image on this year`s cover was surprising. It still features the woman who occupies the number one spot on the list, and that woman, pop star, Taylor Swift, is yes, young and white and thin. But the focus is not on her body, but her face with fresh barely there makeup and she is giving a look that doesn`t exactly say go away, but isn`t quite the full come hit her we have gotten used to, but that`s just the cover. Open up the issue and that`s where things get really interesting. The author of the introductory essay to the Hot 100 list is none other than one of our favorite feminist writers, bad feminist author, Roxanne Gay, who writes of the images of the pages that follow. These lists tend to reflect social norms, which means a rather narrow beauty standard. Gay goes on to complicate this even more with a reminder that if a woman has an unruly body or if her features deviate from the typical European beauty ideal she`s often rendered invisible. Studies have shown that beautiful people, men and women, will earn more in their careers over a lifetime, a nice $230,000 beauty bonus on average. Before sending us off, she gives us something to think about while we are looking. Consider the people behind those beautiful faces. When you close the pages of the magazine, allow yourself to appreciate a broader range of beautiful skin, fuller bodies and complicated surfaces. Now that`s hot. Joining me now is Christina Beltran, associate professor on social and cultural analyst at NYU, Danielle Moody Mills, adviser for the Center for American Progress and co-host of "Politini," Jamie Kilsten, co-host of Citizen Radio and Jennifer Pozner, executive director of Women in Media and News -- Jen. JENNIFER POZNER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WOMEN IN MEDIA AND NEWS: Melissa, I - - HARRIS-PERRY: I haven`t even asked a question! POZNER: The first thing I want to say is I`m glad "Maxim" has a woman editor trying to rebrand away from ten years ago when Eva Longoria`s cover could be seen from space. They blew it up the in Vegas in the desert. HARRIS-PERRY: She`s tiny in real life to be able to be seen from space. POZNER: Right. We have such an incredibly low bar. There were headlines about the "Maxim" list that this is the new feminist bible. Even "Miss" magazine saying this is the new feminist thing. I have to say feminism needs to more about the absence of misogyny. HARRIS-PERRY: Or the absence of the very worst kind of it. POZNER: I love that they wanted to get Roxanne to write an essay, but I think it`s very telling. They don`t have a photo of her on her by line and all of the women -- so much has been of the fact that this is about women`s accomplishments this year. Well, if it really was about women`s accomplishments, wouldn`t you have a different kind of body shape and all of that rather than Roxanne saying, you can still remember there are other women you should feel are beautiful not in the magazine. JAMIE KILSTEIN, CITIZEN RADIO: I want to see the cover with Ruth Bader Ginsburg on it. We are talking about the issue. But the dudes who read "Maxim" don`t necessarily know how to read. When I see the guys reading "Maxim," they are not going to read the article. It will be John. It is sort of a low were bar. HARRIS-PERRY: So it`s interesting when you say like I`m not even sure what they are using it for like, I guess, part of what`s interesting is the fact that if you want porn, it`s easy to get it. This is basically the most -- actually these women are quite fully dressed in comparison. CRISTINA BELTRAN, "NEW YORK UNIVERSITY": It`s not just boobs. It`s something else. The top 100 watches, things you should worry about with the Patriot Actor top 100 reasons you can`t use your phone. Can feminism be more about pretty rich people making choices? Why are there pictures all of the women who are manicurist in New York City, who are being exploited. HARRIS-PERRY: I think there is an answer to the question. Maxim`s number one job is to make money as it is for lots of businesses and we consume. And when I say we, I mean, there is no like group of little feminists on the corner who are exclusively reading about the Patriot Act who are not also like consuming all kinds of questions around women`s self- presentation. DANIELLE MOODIE-MILLS, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I like the idea that "Maxim" has decided to take an intersectional approach. The politics and pop culture, the kind of let`s have a conversation about feminism. Let`s, you know, not have a scantily clad woman on the cover. She`s still white, thin, really pretty. She still fits the ideal. So I do, I think that there are so much more that we can do about feminism in a conversation that we can that isn`t just like, look, she is smart too. HARRIS-PERRY: But is feminism always meant to have been with scantily clad? My version of feminism is not respectability. I like that we need to be able to reclaim all of those. POZNER: Show me interesting black trans women. HARRIS-PERRY: There are a lot of hot trans women out there. POZNER: If we want this to be the feminist bible wouldn`t it have been interesting to have Laverne Cox in a sexed up photo on the cover? That would have been interesting. This is so new. Ten years ago girls in government did a project responding to the cover called the real Hot 100. Today took nominations, got 400 nominations, chose a hundred women. I was one of them. A media activist got an award. Let me see, Melanie Cervantes. It was hundred women, the tag line was see how hot smart can be and it was activists and ministers and people from all over the country. HARRIS-PERRY: I also think the pressure to be hot and smart seems like a lot sometimes having to be all of those things. We`ll talk about that and ask Jamie about the new hotness for men -- the dad bod. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: In our introductory essay for "Maxim`s" hot 100 list, writer, Roxanne Gay invites readers to consume the images of beautiful women with their eyes and their minds open. She wants them to think a little bit about the beauty standards and make a point of noting that it`s not only women who face pressures to adhere to them. Gay rights men aren`t immune from these machinations either and as they strive to maintain a lush full head of air and a six pack. Only if one of the internet`s latest obsession is to be believed, they are not be striving quite as much as they used to be. Behold the dad bod. A term which is now a thing since it emerged online in the March article for the "Odyssey" in which writer, McKenzie Pearson described it as physique that says, I go to the gym occasionally, drink heavily on the weekends and eat eight slices of pizza at a time. And according to Pearson girls are all about that dad bod. Jamie, I would how much I liked your hair this morning. KILSTEIN: Thank you. HARRIS-PERRY: In listening to your program, I learned you have narrow hips but a large bottom. That makes it difficult for you to buy jeans. KILSTEIN: I wasn`t -- here`s the thing. HARRIS-PERRY: I didn`t know you had a luscious booty. KILSTEIN: Yes. It`s fantastic. We`ll throw that out there. When the producer brought it up backstage I was like, we weren`t having a feminist conversation or talking about dad bod. I was like, I can`t find shorts. Also that`s the one. That`s a problem I have to deal with. I don`t walk down the street and people are like, small hips, big butt. Nobody`s like, bring that dad bod. POZNER: Nobody is heckling you is this. KILSTEIN: Nobody heckles me about it. I can go on my show and it`s a punch line. HARRIS-PERRY: But this point matters. I think it`s part of what I wanted to drive home. It`s not that there aren`t standards for men`s beauty and attractiveness. It`s that the stakes are different. KILSTEIN: The only stake we had just got sort of written about as a good thing. It`s like eating eight pieces of pizza and drinking beer is not something to strive for. It`s like, dude, are you are ok? Do you want to talk about it? That`s not good. It doesn`t matter how we look and now you see it`s clearer where it`s like -- MOODIE-MILLS: Now you have the comparable to that is the momshell, the mom and the bombshell together. HARRIS-PERRY: The pressure! MOODIE-MILLS: Then they show a list of women. Look at Heidi Klum, she had a baby six weeks ago. Look. She had a baby two hours ago. Do you see her face? They did it with the duchess. She walked out. She`s still wearing a maternity dress. How brave. She had a baby nine hours ago. That`s not brave. That`s like your human body. HARRIS-PERRY: With my youngest daughter I didn`t even have her. Many people know we worked and I put on 20 pounds during my six-week maternity leave anyway because it`s hard to care for a new born. Mom bod isn`t sexy in this. BELTRAN: Mom bod, book bod after finishing your book -- (CROSSTALK) BELTRAN: It`s like old bro again, I`m -- this is driving me crazy. There are other ways to think about soft bodies like gay men bears. There are other spaces where there is lots -- people are out there thinking like sexy disabled bodies. There are so many kinds of ways to talk a hot bod, different bods versus six-pack guys. HARRIS-PERRY: I never will forget when you said there will be Spanx for men and we had a thing about it. I was like, whatever. I was in a department store and I tweeted you a picture like, you were right! Here are the man Spanx. POZNER: I pitched a story around. No one picked it up. In 99 or 2000 about how -- I didn`t have the word metrosexual. I was ahead of that. Nobody wanted the piece. I was like, look, we have reached peak commercialization of women`s security and beauty issues. They started to do plastic surgery on women`s feet to look better in sandals like on "Sex And The City." But men were an untapped market for insecurity. You saw men`s health magazine change from health to a "Maxim" clone around that period of time. So it`s all about what we can sell to men. It used to be there was a product like a dull box of cover your gray and then -- HARRIS-PERRY: Now the men are dyeing their hair gray now to look like George Clooney. POZNER: The silver fox. It is the silver fox. HARRIS-PERRY: Age and wealth, if you are talking about a marriage and mating market, there are still standards, but the standards aren`t necessarily -- they are about this notion of what you put. Beautiful young women and wealthy older men are the two things that go together. KILSTEIN: I want to backtrack a little bit. This panel has been so fun we were getting side eyed in the hall way. I don`t want to shame anybody. This is important. I had to quit drinking. I struggled with eating issues. I definitely have body issues. I do jujitsu every day. If I don`t I`m like I`m garbage. Men go through this. What`s important about intersectional solidarity is you have to say, yes, it`s hard for me, hard for everybody. It`s not as hard as women. HARRIS-PERRY: I don`t want to do that. I want to do the idea that there is no human condition that doesn`t include having problems. Every human condition has problems. But some bodies are identified actually as a problem. Your body is inherently a problem. Thank you to Danielle Moodie Mills and Jen Pozner. All the rest will be back in my next hour. I want to point out for nerdland Chicago, Jamie Kilstein will be there at the Playground theatre on Saturday, June 6. You can check out his luscious booty for yourself. Coming up next, the king of Cleveland, what Lebron`s trip means for his city and legacy and a special performance by a Grammy award winning jazz musician. More at the top of the hour. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. An outpouring of sympathy for the Vice President`s family is emerging this morning following the news that Beau Biden has died. Joseph Beau Biden III, former Delaware attorney general and son of the Vice President Joe Biden died last night after a battle with brain cancer. Biden was hospitalized earlier this month at Walter Reed National Military Center. And he died last night surrounded by his family. He was only 46 year-old. The Vice President`s office released a statement last fight that reads in part, quote, the entire Biden family is saddened beyond words. We know Beau`s spirit will live on in all of us especially through his brave wife Hallie and his two remarkable children Natalie and Hunter. Joining me now from Washington, NBC White House correspondent Kristen Welker. Kristen, the Vice President`s son was a successful politician in his own right. WELKER: He absolutely was, Melissa. And as condolences have poured in overnight from lawmakers and politicians on both sides of the aisle, so many of them have noted the strong relationship and also the similarities between Beau Biden and his father. As you say, Biden was a rising political star. He was an Iraq war veteran who had earned a bronze star. Biden served as Delaware`s 44th attorney general from 2007 to 2015. And he was widely expected to run for governor of Delaware in 2016. A lot of people thought he would have been the front runner. But those who knew Beau Biden say, he valued family above all else. And his wife Hallie and children Natalie and Hunter. President Obama is one of those people grieving today. He released a statement late last night that read in part, quote, "Beau took after Joe. He studied the law like his dad, even choosing the same law school. He chased a life of public servant. Like his dad, serving in Iraq and as Delaware`s attorney general. Like his dad, Beau was a good, big hearted devoutly Catholic and deeply faithful man who made a difference in the lives of all he touched. And he lives on in their hearts." Now, this is not the first time that tragedy has struck the Biden family. In 1972, Beau was just a little boy when he was injured in a car accident that killed his sister and his mother. His father had just been elected to the U.S. Senate you recall Melissa and he was famously sworn in at Beau`s bedside. Beau in fact talked about his recollections of that really difficult moment for the family at the 2008 Democratic National Convention when he introduced his father. Speaking for the entire family, Joe Biden said, quote, "Beau Biden was quite simply the finest man any of us have ever known -- Melissa. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. It`s a huge loss for the Democratic Party. But far, far greater, more important for the Biden family. WELKER: Indeed. HARRIS-PERRY: What an enormous question and loss. Thank you to NBC`s Kristen Welker at the White House. WELKER: Thanks. HARRIS-PERRY: We are also following breaking news this morning that Secretary of State John Kerry is returning to Boston for medical care after a bicycle crash in France. Secretary Kerry broke his legs, specifically his right femur when his bike hit a curb. The 71-year-old was rushed to a hospital in Geneva and never lost consciousness according to the State Department. Mr. Kerry had left this morning`s schedule open in case his Saturday talks with the Iranians were extended. So, when the talks ended yesterday afternoon he decided to cycle a route that was part of the Tour de France. The State Department said, his trip to Spain that was scheduled for later today has been cancelled. Secretary Kerry will travel back to Boston to be examined by the doctor who performed a prior surgery on his hips which is, you know, the site of his new injury. We are turning now to sports news. The NBA finals begin this week. It`s one underdog city versus another. And it`s anybody`s game. On one side, Oakland`s Golden State Warriors who haven`t been to the finals in 40 years back when they won the championship in 1975, will be playing the Cleveland Cavaliers who have never once won the championship title. The last time the Cavs won the finals was 2007 with LeBron James on the team. Now, LeBron James, the king, the number one draft pick right out of high school in 2003 and four time NBA MVP left his hometown and went to the Miami Heat in 2010. The ESPN special announcing his decision, James said he wanted some championship rings on his fingers. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LEBRON JAMES, FOUR TIME NBA MVP: I feel like it`s going to give me the best opportunity to win for multiple years. And not only just to win in a regular season or just to win five games in a row or three games in a row, I want to be able to win championships. And I feel like I could be down there. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Man, some pain never ends. There is pain in my table at having to watch that. Listen, the reality is he got two, and back-to-back championship wins with the Heat. And last year he announced his return in an essay in Sports Illustrated explaining his decision he wrote, "I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead this more ways than one. I take it seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I`m from -- in Northeast, Ohio, nothing is given, everything is earned. He said he wanted to win a trophy for Cleveland. But admitted it might be a long haul. Quote, "I`m not promising a championship. I know how hard that is to deliver. We are not ready right now. No way, of course. I want to win next year but I`m realistic. It will be a long process." But in his first year back in C-town, the king has brought his team to the finals once again. And that trophy is in sight. There has been a lot of debate over whether James is the best player the game has ever seen -- better than Jordan. He brings the Cavs the championship trophy this year, that to me might just get hotter. Joining me now, Cristina Beltran, associate professor at New York University. Jamil Smith, Cleveland native and senior editor at "The New Republic" who`s latest piece for the magazine is entitled "Cleveland on the Brink." You may also remember that Jamil is a Nerdland, he was one of the ONs, an original nerds, one of the former producers on this program. And he has now come home just like LeBron. (LAUGHTER) Also with us this morning, Jamie Kilstein, co-author of the book "NewsFail" and co-host of the podcast, Citizen Radio, and Jemele Hill, ESPN.com columnist and co-host of ESPN2 "His and Hers." Jamil. (LAUGHTER) JAMIL SMITH, SENIOR EDITOR, "THE NEW REPUBLIC": It`s an interesting time in Cleveland at least. I mean, I think that, you know, when you take an account -- it`s been 51 years since Cleveland want any kind of sports, the pro-sports championship. HARRIS-PERRY: Fifty one. Anytime? SMITH: Fifty one years. HARRIS-PERRY: Anytime of sports? SMITH: My father and my uncle were at the 1964 Browns NFL championship game the last time they won. And my father just turned 18-years-old. So, that gives you some kind of perspective is to how long we`ve been suffering. But the thing is that I mean, Cleveland, as I wrote this week is really big on loyalty, but short on hope. We are really, really fast. You know, we hold tight to our teams. And we just, we keep believing, we keep going through this process no matter what. But you know, it`s about time we get some kind of a reward. (LAUGHTER) HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Yes. You know, and yet because of that, there is a part of me that thinks, you know, I was surprised. Watching with my young nephew. He`s 14-years-old. He`s like, I just hate this LeBron James. He`s just, you know, he`s so dramatic. And I was like, oh, I`m kind of shocked actually that that was the response. I`m wondering why still so much anti-LeBron emotion out there. JEMELE HILL, ESPN: You see now the conversation has turned. You mentioned Michael Jordan. And we have seen this evolved, we`ve seen this happened so many times before it happened with Kobe Bryant. Whenever there`s a player who threatens the alter of Michael Jordan then it comes -- HARRIS-PERRY: My nephew is from Chicago. HILL: It becomes about finding ways to nitpick against their legacy. And I have said this for a long time. People, you all need to let Michael Jordan go, okay, let him go, let him have his dad jeans and his hoop earring and let him go. KILSTEIN: Let him have the dad bod. HILL: Right. He`s turned into Paul Bunyan. He`s like, we act like he never missed a shot. And I realize he went undefeated in the finals. And I get it. And while I wouldn`t say that if LeBron wins, if he wins a championship that he`s going to automatically be a greater player than Michael Jordan. I will say he deserves to be in the conversation. I will say he could maybe potentially beat Michael Jordan. But people don`t want to do that. KILSTEIN: He put Cleveland just on his little back like, here we go. HARRIS-PERRY: And I mean, I just have like, I have great respect. I mean, the idea that he would say it will take us a while and then, nope, here we go. Let`s do it. KILSTEIN: Here we go. I don`t think I was going to have anything to say. (LAUGHTER) About sports. I would say this is my favorite Taylor Swift song, "Wildest Dreams," under rated. HARRIS-PERRY: And in response to this. Right. Haters going to hate, hate, hate. KILSTEIN: You get me. But we talked about on Citizen Radio the other way, there was this common section that like exploded about with the bunch of like old white dudes who were complaining about the slam dunk. Like these types of players. And we`re like, black players? We used to throw a hackie sack into a bucket and nobody would watch. And they were -- and think that with any athlete of color with tattoos is confident in what they do, there are a lot of people that go, I don`t like, you see it in musicians, right? You see it with Nicki Minaj, you see it with Beyonce, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. HARRIS-PERRY: It`s interesting because that, I mean, certainly the LeBron James self-presentation must be part -- the other fascinating thing going on here is that there is another under dog team in the sense of being an underdog city. Right? I mean, Oakland is itself also a city that again, had a long time. And Riley Curry. I mean, just everything, that little girl. Right? So, his daughter is there and we`re getting to see like daddy being daddy and there was criticism even of this young man being this extraordinary father in this moment. KILSTEIN: It`s absolutely ridiculous. HILL: Can I be the ogre though? Can I be ogre? Look. I have been a reporter in those situations where you have 20 minutes to file a story, okay? And you have to get this file. You have an editor on your back. You are there. It is a working, professional environment. I wouldn`t go as far to say kids should be banned from the press conference. But I will say this, when you are in that moment and you need to file a story, I`m not caring how cute Riley Curry is. She`s adorable. She`s wonderful. And I have nothing against her at all. HARRIS-PERRY: I`m just going to ask you not to go on Twitter for the next 48 hours. HILL: I have already said it. HARRIS-PERRY: I`m just saying, that baby is -- HILL: She`s adorable. KILSTEIN: What if there is a cute bar. Like, however cute the kid is, you get like an extra five minutes. (LAUGHTER) HIL: Oh, no, no. no. (CROSSTALK) We`re on the age now with the media where your access is very limited. Okay. KILSTEIN: Sure. HILL: And this is your only access to talk to you about the game. I could understand why reporters in that situation could be a little irritated. HARRIS-PERRY: Okay. I get it but I also do think there`s a, so I get what you`re saying like I do get the life work piece. But I also get that part of what LeBron says when he goes home is, you know, I`m doing something more here. And I also think part of what Curry is doing in a moment of dadding at the same time that he is working is also presenting a different image of black manhood that we typically have an opportunity to do. SMITH: And I think that makes a lot of people uncomfortable frankly. I mean, I think that you see, you know, and also we act like Stephen Curry is the first player to do this this even during the playoffs. And Derrick Rose has brought his son on to the podium. And nobody said one thing. He was making strange faces and causing what you might think would be a distraction. I think that, you know, also I think a lot of this has to do with like people not understanding, like any kind of children that don`t look like theirs. You know what I mean? And so, you see this young black girl, you know, just doing her thing, and just being carefree. HARRIS-PERRY: And being free. Hmm. I love me a little free black woman in my house. (LAUGHTER) SMITH: And people are just not ready for that. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. The world is not ready for free black women. And that is true. Everyone stay with me. I want to bring in actually the President and CEO of the NAACP. Why? Because Cleveland is in a complicated moment. But as we go to break, just a little reminder of former Nerdland Producer Jamele Smith`s reaction to the news that LeBron James was going home. And honestly the party hasn`t really stopped for Jamil. We can`t get him to stop really all because LeBron James is going back to Cleveland. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: LeBron James returned to Cleveland was always about more than basketball. The same would be true if the Cavaliers win their first every NBA championship this month. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LEBRON JAMES, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: Something is going through a city that`s very dramatic and traumatizing to me in that case. Sports is one of the biggest healers in helping the city out. You know, sports just does something to people. Either if you are a player or a fan. If you just have something, as anything to do with the city you feel a certain way about rooting for a team that you love. It could get your mind off some of the hardships that may be going on throughout your life or in that particular time and period, it just does that. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: But although we have seen LeBron literally rebuilding northeast Ohio seen here working on a home for HGTV`s "Rehab Addict" is part of his charity work in his hometown of Akron. We must reckon with the fact that no one person not even the king can fix the structural problems of the area faces. At least of which is Cleveland`s policing practices which the Justice Department has found unconstitutional. Joining us now from Washington, D.C. is Cornell William Brooks, whose president and CEO of the NAACP. Nice to have you this morning. CORNELL WILLIAMS BROOKS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NAACP: Good to be here, Melissa. HARRIS-PERRY: Cornell, as dominating as sports news has been out of Cleveland this week, the other big news story is obviously the DOJ consent decree which is stunningly specific. BROOKS: Yes. HARRIS-PERRY: And Vanita Gupta says should be a model. Tell me your thoughts about that. BROOKS: Well, first of all, I just want the say how extraordinarily pleased I am that we have this consent decree. I had a chance to speak to the assistant attorney general earlier this week. And it is a sweeping document. It speaks to all of the kinds of reforms that the NAACP has long advocated for. In this 100-plus-page document we see elements like inspector general. A civil rights commission. Reform in training. It is extraordinarily comprehensive and I believe what the city of Cleveland needs. I will also note that LeBron James speaking to the issue, extraordinarily encouraging and really represents I think a standard not only of athleticism but advocacy as well. HARRIS-PERRY: And so, that is maybe the good news, of course the bad news or at least still waiting news that there are still no charges in the Tamir Rice shooting. BROOKS: Yes. HARRIS-PERRY: What do you or the NAACP in general know about that current situation? BROOKS: We just know that it is ongoing. The assistant Attorney General is somewhat limited in terms of what she can say. In terms of these investigations. But I think the point for us to be clear about here is we`ve got to continue to shine an unrelenting spotlight on the tragedy of Tamir Rice, the tragedy of the Brelo verdict. Are these tragedies playing out all across the country and be clear that Congress has to act in terms of passing the End Racial Profiling Act. We can have a Congress that watches with the citizenry of the country as these tragedies unfold as though they are not capable of doing something and doing something with a sense of urgency. HARRIS-PERRY: Yep. Cornell, stick with us. Don`t go away. But Jamil, I want to turn to you on this. Because this is precisely the kind of push me, pull me that you wrote about. You wrote in part a Cleveland team advancing this far, typically gives the entire front page of the plain dealer. But on Wednesday the Cavs had to share with the mayor, a U.S. attorney and the headline "Deal seeks sweeping reforms." SMITH: Indeed. I mean, typically as you see right here, I mean, you know, you`ve got onto the finals and deal seeks its legal reforms. HARRIS-PERRY: Yep. SMITH: I mean, this is, you know, something in Cleveland like that`s this woman as far as the Cavaliers advancing. Normally, it`s just the obsession of the entire city. But frankly, I mean, I`m glad for this kind of distraction. HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Because the headline of the other is still there above the fold. SMITH: Indeed. Indeed. And I`m glad honestly to see taking this kind of prominence in my hometown. But the thing is, well, I`m encouraged that there is a consent decree. We should remember that this is the second time. That this Police Department has been under the observation of the Justice Department for more than a decade. HARRIS-PERRY: Yep. SMITH: So, we need to understand that like while words are great and while ideas and proposals are wonderful, action needs to be taken immediately. And with consent decrees, the average time of implementation is five years. So, we are not promising to see any kind of immediate changes. And frankly, there are still a lot of things that are left out. HARRIS-PERRY: And in fact Jamil, when you look about, you know, we need to let Michael Jordan just go ahead and go retired, be himself. So, this is for me I think why I have a preference for LeBron James over Jordan. It`s not so much a basketball, certainly it`s part of it. But in this moment in his city, I mean, he`s on the front lines of the Black Lives Matter movement but he is willing to speak in this moment in a way that we never saw it. HILL: Oh, and this was not the first moment he`s spoken. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, exactly. HILL: And remember it was him in the Miami Heat when Trayvon Martin, when that happened. They were the ones that Don Hoodies became an issue that bled into sports. So, I think this is part of his powerful impact that he said. We know Michael Jordan, for the most part has been about one thing, selling shoes. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. HILL: Okay? And LeBron James, even when he wrote what I essentially call a love letter to Cleveland and coming back, this is what he talked about. Is that he realized that has a responsibility does far bigger than him just bringing home championship trophies and -- BELTRAN: Often what we have is that celebrity and citizenship are often not treated like they can live together. Celebrity and citizenship and he`s living like a citizen and that`s one way your celebrity culture can actually do something productive in our -- HARRIS-PERRY: Cornell, let me come back to you on this question of celebrity and citizenship and just ask, you know, in a moment like this, do you go ahead and just root for the team and enjoy the celebration or how does that live intention with the continuing injustices? BROOKS: Well, I think that advocacy and athleticism can be linked together. So, when we think about Jackie Robinson who for years raised money for the NAACP to wage an assault on separate but equal. We think about LeBron James, really standing in the lineage of Paul Robertson, and so many artists and athletes who really want to bring about social justice and yet speak to the social life, the artistic life, the cultural life of their communities. So, the fact that he is waging war if you will on the basketball court and moving forward. I mean, I live in a household with two son sons for whom LeBron is a secular saint. They like the fact that he is a great athlete but also an advocate, who with the brevity of imagines and words speaks volumes in terms of symbolism. So, it`s important to do both. And in fact he is doing it in Cleveland is extraordinary particularly at this moment. HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Cornell William Brooks in Washington, D.C. for giving us athleticism and advocacy and with the citizenship and celebrity. These things can live together. And right here in New York, thank you to Jamele Hill who really should not go on Twitter because -- HILL: I love Riley! HARRIS-PERRY: People live Riley. The rest of the panel is sticking around. And up next, the man who says both President George H.W. Bush and Jeffrey Dahmer are his cousins. And next week, he`s holding a giant family reunion. Want to go? Sure. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Try to contain your jealousy. Because author and humorist A.J. Jacobs has a long list of notable names among the members of his very large and very diverse family. You may have heard of a few of his relatives. First cousin George who has the distinction of being the 41st president of the United States. And then there`s his cousin Chris, the actor. Maybe you know him better by his rap name Ludacris. And can`t forget A.J.`s Cousin Jeffrey. Okay. Maybe it`s better to forget cousin Jeffrey, let`s see. There`s also his cousin Al. A.J. is pretty proud to be related to Cousin Al. It`s kind of a genius. Yes, believe it or not this guy really is related to all of these guys. And there`s no need to envy his statement`s relations. Because Jacobs says that you probably have them, too. He`s part of a project that is making connections using data from several online genealogy sites to piece together a sprawling family trees. And among the trees interlocking branches, Jacob says, he`s discovered that not only are all of us or a lot of us related to celebrities, we are also related to one another. So, next Saturday Jacob is looking to break a world record by inviting the whole big dysfunctional family to a gigantic global family reunion in New York right here in New York. Cousin A.J. is joining the table now. A.J. JACOBS, CREATOR, GLOBAL FAMILY REUNION: Hello, Cousin Melissa. HARRIS-PERRY: Hey, thank you! So, on my mother`s side, we are Latter Day Saints. So, we know who all are people are because we`re very good at genealogy and have been tracing it back forever and ever. But why host a 77-person family reunion? I mean, 77 million, I mean. JACOBS: There you go. Exactly. Well, started two years ago I got an e- mail from a man and he said, you don`t know me but I`m your 12th cousin. So, I figured he`s going to ask me, he`s going to say, here`s my Nigerian bank account. But it turns out he`s part of this movement that`s building a family tree of the entire human race which is just mind blowing. That for the first time ever, we could see how everyone on earth is related. And I love this idea so much. I thought, why not throw a festival and have everyone show up. And we`ll have more than 50 speakers, 400 activities and we`ll all have a great time and we`ll solve all problems and end all wars forever. HARRIS-PERRY: Okay. And so that`s where, all right, okay, so I know you are being funny there. But I do wonder about the presumption that if we know we are family, we will necessarily be kinder, nicer, gentler towards one another. Because if you ever been to like a holiday dinner, right? You recognizes sometimes family can be the nastiest, meanest, most cruel to one another. JACOBS: I have three sons. And I see how they wrestle, so I know. But I also have seen this has had a remarkable effect not just on me, but on thousands of people who have been working on this family trees. And we do have a bias as humans to treat family a little better than strangers. And so, if we can re-conceptualize that we are all family, then it will nudge us in the right direction. Like when someone cuts me off in traffic, you know, I now think, you know, what? Maybe he`s my cousin and he`s going to pick up his kid at physical therapy. I`m going to cut him slack. HARRIS-PERRY: So, let me also push, because you know, I want to kind of draw you a little bit on this idea of what family is. JACOBS: Right. HARRIS-PERRY: Because this is a fight that James and I have been having -- intellectual fight, not a fistfight. JACOBS: He`s a speaker by the way. HARRIS-PERRY: Well, undoubtedly. Because he really likes to swab the inside of your mouth as well as like historical tonight. And I keep thinking, if everybody is my cousin, then nobody is my cousin. And I want to make a claim towards the specific, ongoing engaged relationships that are family versus just our genetic ties to each other. BELTRAN: Right. Because I think the idea of family can be a problematic. Because then disagreement isn`t simply just disagreement among strangers, it`s betrayal. Right? So something you can think about identity movements where the fact that we thought we were so close that we actually recognized that in democratic politics I would argue we are strangers to each other. And what`s exciting about democratic politics is the possibility that strangers can become connected. That we can forge agreement that it`s not blood or tribal. And so, I think, you know, I think this is kind of great if it can be pivoted in a way where it`s like, not just like my uncle is royalty, but I like I owned slaves. HARRIS-PERRY: Uh-mm. BELTRAN: You know, like if we can sit with like, you know, my cousin was Hitler. Like, if we can sit with our collective responsibility then I`m interested. JACOBS: That`s the idea. To make it instead of exclusive, inclusive and instead of tribalism there is one tribe. KILSTEIN: Yes. And I think it`s a beautiful concept. That I`m had at myself for being distracted. Of course Bush is related to Jeffrey Dahmer. But I knew it. But I also think there`s something to like, and this is to push me, because what they are doing is like -- (LAUGHTER) I`m like, what you`re doing is great. I think it`s beautiful. But I also think that there needs to be a space for like self-made families where there are lots of people that come from very dysfunction families, very abusive families. HARRIS-PERRY: And so, we make one. We choose one. KILSTEIN: You see that in New York City. Right? JACOBS: That`s actually the one of the big points of that, and I will say, you can now choose your family. Because everyone is family. KILSTEIN: And I love that. I think it`s so important. JACOBS: The idea of family has become so much more expensive. KILSTEIN: Yes. JACOBS: With gay marriage and sperm donors and the UK just passed along that said, you can have three parent embryos. HARRIS-PERRY: But let me just say in everybody`s my cousin it does make dating and sexual -- (LAUGHTER) Thank you to Cristina Beltran and to Jamele Smith, to Jamie Kilstein, to A.J.J. Still to come, a true firefight. The inside story of integrating the New York City Fire Department. Thank you guys for being here. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: We have an update now on two major news stories we have been following this morning. Political leaders around the country are offering their condolences after the death of the son of Vice President Joe Biden. Forty-six-year-old Beau Biden, the former Attorney General of Delaware passed away last night after a battle with brain cancer. He was considered a rising political star in his own right and had planned to run for governor next year. Both Biden leaves behind a wife and two children. In a moving statement, the Vice President said, Beau embodied my father`s saying that a parent knows success when his child turns out better than he did. In the words of the Biden family, Beau Biden was quite simply, the finest man any of us has ever known. President Obama express his condolences in a statement saying, "Like his dad, Beau was a good, big hearted devoutly Catholic and deeply faithful man who made a difference in the lives of all he touched. And he lives on in their hearts." In other breaking news, Secretary of State John Kerry is returning to the United States for medical treatment after being injured in a bicycle accident in France. The secretary was hospitalized after breaking his leg, specifically his right femur when his bike hit a curb. The injury is near the site of a previous hip operation. So, Mr. Kerry is returning to Boston to be treated by the same doctor who performed the hip surgery. A spokesman says the 71-year-old secretary is in good spirits and expected to make a full recovery. Kerry was in Switzerland for talks on Iran`s nuclear program and was expected to travel to Paris Tuesday to meet with foreign ministers about ISIS. He`s now expected to participate in that meeting via video conference. Up next, the long road to integration. In the New York City Fire Department. And still to come this morning, a special performance by the award winning musician Terence Blanchard. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Protests over policing tactics in cities like Cleveland and Ferguson, Missouri, have in part put the spotlight and diversity on law enforcement and the disparity between the racial make of a Police Departments and the communities they serve. In Ferguson where the population is 67 percent African-American as of August the police force was only about six percent black. And in Cleveland, black residents comprise the majority of the population but as of last year only a quarter of the police force. Compare it to Ferguson and Cleveland, New York City looks like a success story. More than a quarter of its population is black and as of 2009 black officers made up 18 percent of the NYPD. But these numbers do not extend to all public service sectors in New York. According to a new book for more than a century the New York City fire department or FDNY discriminated against applicants of color with biased written exams and shadowy character evaluations. Meanwhile nepotism and loop holes allowed well connected less qualified applicants to join the ranks. As of 2007, black firefighters made up less than three percent of the force. So, some of New York`s bravest decided to take a stand. The Vulcan Society and Association of Black FDNY firefighters fought City Hall and won. They sued the city alleging discriminatory hiring practices and in 2010, a federal court agreed, the court hold for sweeping changes including a new nondiscrimination exam and the second chance for hundreds of applicants of color. The results were staggering. Since 2013, 20 percent of new FDNY hires have been black. And just last year, the city settled the case by paying $98 million in benefits and back pay to minority applicants who faced discrimination. Joining me now, two of the leaders of this charge, Captain Paul Washington and current president of the FDNY Vulcan Society Regina Wilson. Also, Ginger Adams Otis, the author who tells their story in the new book, "Firefight: The Century-Long Battle to Integrate New York`s Bravest." So, Ginger, I`m actually going to start with you. Because I read the book last night. GINGER ADAMS OTIS, AUTHOR, "FIREFIGHT": Yes. HARRIS-PERRY: What is it that -- I was listening on the break. I`m just shocked impart because I don`t think we talk about Fire Departments in a way we do police departments. OTIS: Sure. I think a lot of people don`t realize that New York City was the biggest example of this disparity but certainly not the only example. Boston had some of the problems, Chicago had some of the problems, Baltimore, Los Angeles. And, you know, we are not talking just in the past but ongoing recent day struggles. So, it`s something that a lot of people don`t really think about. And we think about civil service generally as being friendly to the people of color, particularly blacks. But when you get to the uniformed jobs and particularly here in New York City with the Fire Department, the uniform positions generally tend to be better paid, they have better pensions. They have much more stable jobs although obviously they carry big risks. HARRIS-PERRY: Sure. OTIS: But the reward is also in the paycheck and the benefits and the pensions. The competition is fierce. HARRIS-PERRY: So, obviously, that`s part of what`s at stake here is literally jobs and we know jobs are having impact on our entire communities, on families, on long term careers. But I wonder what else is at stake in the idea, I think people really understand in a police department why it matters to have racial diversity that reflects community. Because we think of those interactions as impacting and influencing the likelihood of public safety. Is public safety at stake in the diversity of the Fire Department? CAPTAIN PAUL WASHINGTON, FORMER VULCAN SOCIETY PRESIDENT: Well, our opponents would like to pretend that it is. They went on and on about we`re going to lower standards and all New Yorkers are going to be at risk. And that`s been shown to be completely untrue. Because as you pointed out many more blacks and people of color and women are coming on now. And there has been no adverse impact. But to be clear, the biggest factor is what you mentioned, economics. This is entry into the middle class, someone you have this job, are you a basically set for life. And black New Yorkers need to participate in that as much as white New Yorkers. HARRIS-PERRY: This idea of merit becomes so central and you are currently in FDNY. REGINA WILSON, ACTIVE DUTY FIREFIGHTER: Yes. HARRIS-PERRY: And leading the Vulcan Society. Yes. And so, I guess that idea that merit is somehow counter to diversity. Rather than the idea that merit is invested in diversity, that those to go hand in hand instead of opposite with each other. WILSON: Right. Well, sometimes merit is used very loosely. HARRIS-PERRY: Uh-mm. WILSON: And merit sometimes only apply when they wanted to for certain people. They expect merits, a matter only when it`s something that has to do with someone thinking about their own point of view as being white males. So, when they feel like something is being difficult or wrong for African-Americans or females, all of the sudden your character and your merit comes to play. Just like the terms lowering of standards is only applicable to women and to African-Americans. But we, by the test of time, have shown that we can do this job. We have been on the Fire Department for many, many years. Just like women, for instance. There is not even a percentage. There`s only 11 African-American females out of almost 10, 000 firefighters. So African-Americans right now were only making up five percent. So, the numbers have always been horrific. But merit only comes into play and it`s selective. HARRIS-PERRY: So, help me to understand and help folks who haven`t read the book yet to understand what it is about the test that we are troubling and problematic? WILSON: That`s actually a source of a lot of misinformation. So, the Vulcan Society actually never said that the tests themselves were biased. Or that the questions were biased in some way. What their argument was that minorities and we know this happens across the nation. That this is something that psychometricians, those who make test know what`s going to happen. They generally are going to score in bands that a little bit lower than white people on this type of the test. It doesn`t mean the test is biased. What you have to prove as a city using taxpayer money is you`re giving this kind of test that the measurable difference in scores is going to correlate to job performance. So, if you get a 98 and you actually do better than me as a firefighter and I get a 95, the city has some level of protection. But it comes down to how good is the test, how much investment has been made in it to make it actually an open and fair process. HARRIS-PERRY: And connect it back to the actual jobs. First, I want to play a sound for you. This is Cassano welcoming a diverse new class. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SALVATORE CASSANO, FORMER FDNY COMMISSIONER: -- and better represents the city we serve with more women and people of color in every -- firefighter class as diversity which makes us stronger. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Have you feel hearing Cassano saying, this is diversity that makes us stronger? WASHINGTON: This is history being rewritten as it`s occurring. For him to say that and for Mayor Bloomberg to also take credit as a joke. They did everything that they could to fight against this. The reason that it was diverse, is that we have some diversity now is solely because of the Vulcan Society and our efforts. And also, too, it was not only the mayor, and the fire commissioner and the brass of the Fire Department but also to Rank and File, white firefighters in the fire houses. They were against these two. They were against any change that was going to bring about an increase in blacks in the job. HARRIS-PERRY: It`s an extraordinary book. I loved learning about Vulcan. I love that you are there still leading the work that has been done really since the Jim Crow era in this context. Thank you to Ginger Adams Otis, to Captain Paul Washington and to Regina Wilson. The book once again is "Firefight: The Century-Long Battle to Integrate New York`s Bravest." And it`s worth reading. Up next, if you have seen a Spike Lee movie then you already knew his music Grammy winning trumpeter, Terence Blanchard joins us with a special performance, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: The sounds of jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard have provided the sonic backdrop to nearly 30 years of American cinema. Since first landing his horn to the early work of Spike Lee went to his composed music for all the iconic directors` film since 1991. And branch out to become the most in demand jazz musician in the film-scoring world with more than 50 soundtracks to his credit. But the five-time Grammy award winner is also a politically engaged solo artist who hasn`t shied away from making political statements through his music. Whether on screen on screen or on stage. And his work with Lee is just one example of what he considers his place in a jazz tradition. Pushing for social change through art. His latest solo album, "Breathless," is a direct reference to the "I can`t breathe" rallying cry that followed the death of Eric Garner and other men of color at the hands of police. I`m so pleased to welcome to the Nerdland composer, musician, and dramatist, one and only, Terrence Blanchard. We were talking earlier about the athlete and activist. What is the role of artist as the activist? TERENCE BLANCHARD, GRAMMY AWARD WINNER: Well, I think our roles will be the social conscience. You know, to constantly engage and challenge people`s thinking, you know, through music. You know, one of the things that has always happened to me throughout music is music is that one thing that can touch you deep in your soul. Where that vulnerable spot, where everybody tries to keep safe. And with what we do, you know, we try to open up people`s hearts and minds. To make some changes and to change our community. HARRIS-PERRY: Dr. King, Jr. used to talk about being creatively mall adjusted to a role of racism and sexism and inequality. And I worry that without music in our public school, without music education that teaches us that, but kids can`t be creatively maladjusted. They won`t know how to create something out of nothing. BLANCHARD: Well, here`s something that I think really important in music is in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, as you know, there were a lot of kids who probably didn`t have the ability to verbalize what they were going through. So, for me, you know, as we brought the monk institute to New Orleans. Because I thought it very was important for us to engage with those students and give them something that would allow them to express themselves in any way possible, feasible. And we saw some great results with some young kids. I remember we had a thing with some young students performing and talking about improvisation, and the 13-year-old girl just raised her hand and she said, I think I can do that. And for me, that`s huge. Because for her to get up in a public forum like that and feel the need to express herself but also find a vehicle to do it was major. HARRIS-PERRY: The monk institute referring of course to Thelonious Monk. BLANCHARD: Thelonious Monk. I`m sorry. Yes. HARRIS-PERRY: Where are you in that tradition of people like monk in cool train in terms of using your art to do this kind of work? BLANCHARD: Well, you know, I`ve always felt like being an artist you have to be socially conscious. You know, when I look at John Coltrane and what he did with Alabama, you know, and all of the things that Mark Davis (ph) talked about, Max Roach. You know, it`s kind of hard for me to turn a blindside to some of these issues. So throughout my career, I`ve always felt like an artist, part of our job is to document our environment, our community, as we`re experiencing it. You know, so and hopefully shine a different type of light on it, you know? And that`s what I`ve been trying to do with all of my career. And that`s what we`re doing with the c.d., as well. HARRIS-PERRY: Well, I want to invite you at this point to perform. So Terence is now going to perform his song, "See me as I am." This is from his latest blue note records release, "Breathless." (TERENCE BLANCHARD PERFORMING) HARRIS-PERRY: Terrence, you make me miss home and hearing the live music of New Orleans. Terence Blanchard, his latest album, "Breathless," it`s available through Blue Note Records. And that`s our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. I`ll see you next Saturday at 10:00 a.m. Right now it`s time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT." Alex. ALEX WITT, MSNBC HOST, "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT": Right. I was going to thank you, except, how do I follow that? Come on, really? But that was very inspirational. Thank you so much Terrence for that. The Senate showdown over the Patriot Act is just a few hours away. What happens if it expires tonight? And is there a backup plan? The cleanup along the California coast gets more complicated. Also, new information on the effort to save the animals caught in that mess. Young, educated, and jobless. New numbers show the uphill battle against millennials and its effect that it`s having on university enrollment. So, 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