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Melissa Harris-Perry, Transcript 11/08/15

Guests: Amandla Stenberg; Micah Ali; Robert Ross; Pedro Noguera; KathrynEidmann; Antonio Villaraigosa; Leslie Sanchez, Ange-Marie Hancock, KenyaBarris, Ava DuVernay

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning, my question -- should we consider growing up in Compton a disability? Plus, the Marco Rubio moment. And (INAUDIBLE), all come to Nerdland. But first, how California has become the place for progressives. Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. And today Nerdland is coming to you from the west side. I`m here on the NBC bureau on the NBC universal lot in warm, sunny Los Angeles, California, so we are going to begin today with a closer look at how the Golden State`s push on progressive policy sets a shining example for the nation. Last weekend from Friday to Monday more than 6,000 inmates were released from federal prison. And now, the prisoners were mostly African-American and Latino men, all of them convicted on drug charges and more than half of them convicted in the south. Many had already begun transitioning back to their communities by living first at half-way houses or under home confinement. And the release comes a year after the U.S. sentencing commission reduced federal sentences for drug trafficking, then decided to apply the new guidelines retroactively for people already incarcerated. According to the "Washington Post," it is the first time a group of federal prisoners this large has been released all at once. But it is not the first time that broad prison reforms led to freedom for people with lengthy sentences because California had already been there and done that. California prisons have for years been so packed with people that in 2011 the Supreme Court ruled the state in violation of the constitution`s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. It ordered the reduction of its prison population. Further litigation in the federal courts gave the state a February 2016 deadline to get numbers down. And then last year California finally being making inroads towards unpacking its prisons thanks to an assist from voters. In 2014 California voters approved proposition 47, a measure that reclassified low-level drug and theft offenses as misdemeanors rather than felonies. And allowed low-level offenders to apply to be resentenced. The proposition has since been a driving force behind the reduction in California`s prison population to levels unseen since 1994. And what`s more, as people have continued to be released from California`s prisons and jails, according to the Brennan center, there`s been little significant change in the overall crime rate in the state. So sentencing reform isn`t the only issue on which California has taken lead on pushing progressive policy. During the Democratic debate, Secretary Hillary Clinton praised the state for making moves on another policy where the federal government is still dragging its feet. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Carly Fiorina, the first female CEO of a fortune 50 company argues if the government requires paid leave it will force small businesses to quote "hire fewer people and create fewer jobs." HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I`m surprised she says that because California`s had a paid leave program for a number of years and on a state level, a state as big and many countries in the world. And it has not had the ill effects from the Republicans are always saying it will have. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: In fact, over the summer, Clinton added to her presidential agenda a plan that would go where California has already gone when she called for federal legislation that would automatically register Americans to vote when they turn 18. And just a few weeks ago, California showed everyone how the automatic voter deed is done when Governor Jerry Brown signed a new law that will, unless you opt out, add your name to the voter rolls when you go to the DMV for a California license. And that was just one of the latest in a series of "Ws" that Brown put on the board progressives in the state. In the last month alone, California`s newest laws have included a measure the made it the first state in the country to provide sex reassignment survey portrayed gender prisoners. One of the nation`s toughest policies on addressing gender gap in salaries. A racial profiling law that will require police to collect public data on reason, results and race of people when they make stops, a highly controversial right to die law, and gradual attack of climate change that would require half the state`s electricity to come from renewable resources by year 2030. With a record like that you might be able to quibble with what some parts of California claim that the west side is the best side. There is no denying California`s leadership are leaning all the way to the left side. Joining me now is Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez. Also former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and Andre-Marie Hancock, associate professor of political science and gender studies at the University of Southern California. Thanks to all of you for being here for my L.A. debut of Nerdland. So talk to me a little bit, mayor, what is it about California that allows it to be kind of a laboratory for these kinds of policies, not always progressive but recently quite progressive? ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA (D), FORMER LOS ANGELES MAYOR: Well, first of all, it is not a new phenomenon. This has been happening for a long time. And particularly in the `90s when we had a Democratic majority and a Democratic governor. Toughest assault weapons ban, I was the author. You know, healthy families. Health care for children, 750,000 children had health care. We were focused on many issues -- poverty, women`s rights, civil rights. These are issues that California`s been grappling with and leading the way on for a very, very long time. Now clearly, with an even greater majority, you`re seeing that we`re starting to lead the nation again across the board as was mentioned just a few minutes ago. HARRIS-PERRY: So, like even as I was talking and doing my little progressive chant over here, I could kind of see Leslie out of the corner of my eye, and she was like writing notes down. And I thought, yes, that`s right. It sort of the way that, you know, the one will read where this state is when standing on the left may feel quite different. So I`m interested in sort of what you take away from that narrative I just told about California. LESLIE SANCHEZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You know, I`m going to have a different perspective only because a recent transplant to this part. And I`ve had the opportunity to see -- one, you cannot deny the culture, the climate, the innovation here in California, especially southern California is just remarkable. The diversity is extremely rich. These are all the very robust positives. The problem is if you want to have a business in California, you are in for a lot of headaches. It is still very antibusiness because of high regulation, high taxes, bloated public sector that makes it really difficult to spur this entrepreneurship that so much wants to grow in this state. I think there is some policies, though, when you are talking about the jail release program, innovative, by bipartisan support. You have a lot of Republicans, you have faith-based leaders who are very much getting involved in that. So there is a lot of area for compromise. The bottom line comes to what is it going to cost. And you can say these idea. And I do think some of these other policies are actually very interesting and other states can look at them, but what are the long-term ramifications, the devil in the details. And even when you look at things like education reform in this state that`s still ranking very much in the bottom of 42 - number 42 out of all 50 states, there needs to be a better record on those kinds of reforms. HARRIS-PERRY: So it is interesting, when you start talking about like bipartisanship, for example, in the prisoner release discussion because now it seems that`s part what`s going on nationally, and yet to me, what`s interesting is that it is not bipartisanship in the way that we typically would think of it where people who are elected to office who represent those parties are therefore hashing out in terms of legislation, you all vote on everything. Like there is a sort of proposition culture. So that when I`m saying, you know, this made this happen and this made this happen, it was actually a ballot measure. And I wonder how that then influences the way politics is done here. ANDRE-MARIE HANCOCK, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: I think it is a really interesting kind of thing to think of the way that California actually operates. We do have a very robust kind of direct democracy thing, our proposition system. Now, as the mayor mentioned, our proposition system doesn`t always work in the progressive direction. Sometimes we need to, you know, make sure we -- (CROSSTALK) HANCOCK: But we do have as the result of that direct democracy setup is a set of organizations around the state of California who really engage voters. And one of the areas of can innovation that we have had great success with here in California is called integrated voter engagement where we talk about engaging with voters, not just in the six months before every single election, but really working on the ground, both to kind of talk about the issues they care about, which is why something like prison reform, why reforming school discipline so that, you know, out of school suspensions for young black and Latino males have dropped by 50, 60 percent in some of the largest districts here in California. Why that`s happened is because that integrated voter engagement really is a different strategy. HARRIS-PERRY: So I love that because - I mean, I love the idea that that`s how you engage voters in this kind of deeper way. I love the idea of the automatic voter registration. But the reality is when you look at your voter turnout, it was appallingly low in -- I mean it was a low across the country, but surprisingly low given this. And I`m wondering, so given how directly people can influence like if there is one place you feel like your vote would make a difference seems like it would be in California. And yet folks not turning out in recent mid-term elections. VILLARAIGOSA: Well, disproportionately those folks are Latino. I mean -- well, first of all, we`re 36th in the OECD rankings in terms of participation in voting as a country. So all of us aren`t voting in the numbers we should. But disproportionately, young people don`t vote. Poor people don`t vote and undereducated people don`t vote. So what you have seen is Latinos are voting, you know, sometimes 30 and 40 percent less than whites and African-Americans. And so, we are going to have to focus on the kind of voter engagement and voter education. And not just for elections but in between as well because I have often said that this issue of education which you spoke to and the issue of education equity is critical because people not voting is connected to people being -- not being educated. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. When we come back we are going to talk a little bit more about some of what you are suggesting to us about some of what the make-up of California is, the one thing that California has right now that the rest of the country can know for sure it`s getting soon. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: California is not only an example of what a future of national progressive politics can be, but is also a state where the future of national demographics has already arrived. Take a look at this graph from the "Los Angeles Times." It is based on data released this summer from the census bureau confirming demographic predictions that the number of Latinos would surpass the number of white people as the largest group in the state of California. And as of July 1, 2014, it is a difference of about 70,000 were Latino in Californians and is the same demographic shift the census bureau has said we can expect to see nationwide by the year 2016 when according to the predictions, the Latino will be about double what it is today. So this for me is one of the critical aspects of what California might be able to teach particularly around the question of coalition politics. When there`s no longer one majority racial or ethnic -- you have to form a coalition. Leslie, that`s that look like here? SANCHEZ: You know, I think it is really interesting, people say what is the United States going to look at in ten or 15 years. I`m like you have to look at California, you have to look at southern California and, really, the challenges it`s faced. There are a lot of opportunities, but there is a lot of opportunities than you are seeing a lot cross pollination especially when it comes to identity. It is no longer Latino (INAUDIBLE). It really is just kind of a blending of what the new America looks like. I told this to reporters all the time. We are missing the boat if you are not looking at the way coalitions are forming, it is different of the way that they are thinking of themselves as independents. They don`t like party labels. Millennials have a big part of that. You add the convergence of technology, but you really get the forefront of it here. And it is a different conversation that I think many of us on the East Coast having been there forever, we miss that conversation and we will miss that wave. This even presidential election has a lot to do with what`s happening in the mountainous west and in the west and it is important to note. HARRIS-PERRY: It is interesting because, you know, so I hear you. Right? And that feels like sort of the ideal even of what we would want to imagine to happen that kind of racial lines fall away. And yet, Andre, I`m thinking about your research that suggests that the other possibility is that they actually become more salient, the people become more desirous of protecting their authentic identities, protecting their spaces and protecting their kind of political power spaces. HANCOCK: Well, I think what we have in California and what many states are now facing is what we call the kind of the cultural generation gap. But we have the voters who actually turn out who are older and whiter. And then we have the younger demographics who are those millennials, or even some gen-xers and I count as in that category. (CROSSTALK) HANCOCK: Seriously, you know, in talking about that you really have this kind of anxiety about some of these racial demographic changes. And what Los Angeles and San Francisco and other places have really been able to do and even places in the central coast in central part of California like Fresno is to build these cross-racial coalitions of young people who are coming together to talk about the issues that matter most to them and then getting the training and the leadership development, that`s the other part of that five strategy that then allow them to talk to Sacramento, that allows them to talk to their mayors and even their federal government. HARRIS-PERRY: So, you want to talk about anxiety producing, that stack that I read at the beginning literally freaks some people out. And when you look out - yes, I just want to look because this is meant has California has led on immigration, right. So in-state tuition, driver`s licenses, new rules that limit deportations. A gesture of symbolism by removing that kind of alien language in order to talk about people who are undocumented. I mean California is way ahead of most of the country. But right now the national discourse is about a lot of anxiety about those demographic shifts. VILLARAIGOSA: It is about walls and -- HARRIS-PERRY: Yes! VILLARAIGOSA: And the deportation of 11 million people and -- HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. VILLARAIGOSA: The birthers -- HARRIS-PERRY: Anchor babies. 14th amendments. SANCHEZ: It is about all of that. But I want to get back to that graphic you had. What does it mean if Latinos today, 39 percent of the population, about 80 percent of them graduating from high school. About 12 percent going on to four-year colleges. 2025 we`re going to be down a million college graduates and another million people with specialized skills. So what it should mean to all of us is that we have got to make investments in their education. We`ve got to make investments in training them. You know, you talked about the innovation economy in silicon beach which I helped to bring to Los Angeles. Let`s be clear, there won`t be an innovation economy if people can`t read and write, an economy that`s predicated on knowledge. HARRIS-PERRY: This feels so important, this idea that the racial inequality gaps, the ethnic inequality gaps are inequality gaps around those who are in the country without documentation. Once those populations become who we are, then our underinvestment also becomes who we are. I want to thank my panel that`s going to actually be back in the next hour. And still to come this morning, suing the school system as a way to try to make it better. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: We are thrilled to be able to bring you this show live from Los Angeles, California this morning. And special thanks to the folks right here at NBC`s L.A. bureau for helping to make that happen. Now it is going to be 74 degrees and sunny here today making clear there`s just something about L.A. in November. But my excitement this morning isn`t just about the weather. Coming up I will be joined live by three of the biggest names in film and television, true artists who are pushing boundaries and rewriting the rules for African-American entertainers. Actor Amanda Stenberg has starred in blockbuster films like "the Hunger Games" and is already one of Hollywood`s hottest young stars. But her passions extend far beyond film and TV. She will be here to talk with us about her social media activism, her new comic book series, "Niobe, she is life." Catch up with television mega producer Kenya Barriss about the second season of his Emmy-nominated NBC sitcom, "Blackish." And returning to Nerdland, the director of the Oscar nominated "Selma" and one of the most revolutionary independent filmmakers today, (INAUDIBLE). All that and more when we return. Because "nerd land" has come to Hollywood. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Just about ten miles from where we are right now in Los Angeles in the city of Compton, a provocative lawsuit is playing out over just what constitutes a disability and who is responsible for treating it. Its outcome could have implications nationwide. Some of the strongest legislation born out of the civil rights movement expanded employment, housing and transportation protections for people with quote "mental and physical disabilities." In 1973, section 504 of the rehabilitation act prohibited federally funded services from discriminating against people with disabilities. And in 1990 the Americans with disability act went even further mandating that people with disabilities have access to all public services. Together these laws provide the foundation for equal access to education, for children with disabilities, requiring schools to remove any barriers to learning. Now, a new lawsuit could expand these protections even further fundamentally changing the way the system deals with common behavior and academic issues. In Compton, California five students and three teachers filed a class action suit against the city`s school district insisting that complex trauma be recognized under federal law as a disability that the district provide the necessary accommodations for. Complex trauma for the lawsuit is the repeated or prolonged exposure to violence, abuse or neglect and research shows that it does not only have the capacity to affect a child`s emotional wellbeing, but also their ability to learn. According to one national institute of health study, youth exposure to violence have decreased IQ and reading ability, lower grade point average, more days of school absence and decreased rates of high school graduation. And complex trauma which disproportionately affects students of color and from low-income backgrounds could be very common among Compton`s student population. The plaintiffs claim that about a quarter of all students in Compton district have experienced to two or more instances of severe trauma in their lifetimes. And while the case has not been deciding the federal judge presiding over it acknowledges that the allegations of exposure to traumatic events might cause physical and mental impairments that could cause -- that could be cognizable as disability under the rehabilitation act or the ADA. If the plaintiffs win, the complex trauma is classified as a disability under federal law. We could see sweeping changes in how schools address student behavior in Compton and beyond. And in a few moments we are going to hear from the president of the Compton Unified school district board. But first, joining me now, Kathryn Eidmann who is staff attorney for the pro-bono firm public counsel. Pedro Noguera who is distinguished professor of education in UCLA. And Dr. Robert Ross, president and CEO of the California Endowment. Thank you all for being here. Let me start with you. Should we think of growing up in Compton as potentially disabling? DR. ROBERT ROSS, PRESIDENT/CEO, THE CALIFORNIA ENDOWMENT: Well, certainly, the science and data on this issue have become pretty clear. Number one, time does not heal all wounds. That adage is not true, the science does not support that. Secondly, exposure to trauma and toxic stress, adversity is bad for your health, not just in the immediate but in the long term as well. And so, one of the things that we need to do is make sure that this issue, whether the lawsuit wins or not, it is an important policy conversation within the school setting with about making sure we put our arms around these young people, not suspending them out of school for their behavior, that their willful defiance, missing a lot of school, their academic failure may be the very first symptom that they`ve been trauma exposed and trauma injured. HARRIS-PERRY: My husband is a civil rights lawyer. Mostly does housing work but he came in and saw sitting on my desk just the title, you know, should growing up in Compton be a disability. And like as soon as he saw that, he goes, man, that`s brilliant. And he meant it like as a legal strategy, this idea that the ADA is a powerful potential tool here. Talk a little bit about what it would mean to make accommodations if, in fact, complex trauma is understood as potentially disabling? KATHRYN EIDMANN, ATTORNEY, PUBLIC COUNCIL: Absolutely. So as Dr. Ross discussed, we know that trauma affects the brain and trauma affects the ability to learn. And schools have been successfully starting to implement strategies to address this trauma in Massachusetts and San Francisco in Washington State. And what experts have found are that whole school trauma sensitive strategies training all school site staff, replacing (INAUDIBLE) of discipline with restore professes. And providing adequate mental health support have been fantastically successful in assisting students in restoring the ability to learn and also in addressing behavior and attendance problems. HARRIS-PERRY: So Pedro, I have to say, this suit coming on the back end of that viral video that we saw of the young girl being flipped out by the school resource officer. And then the very first thing that I learned about that young woman was that her mother had recently died and that she was in foster care. I said, wait a minute. How in the world did the school not know that and not, you know, that this student is someone who we shouldn`t at all points recognize that there is likely trauma. Is this litigation kind of a way to start moving us towards thinking about students in a different way? PEDRO NOGUERA, DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR OF EDUCATION, UCLA: I hope so. I hope so. We know that trauma can be assessed. So there is no need to worry that some of this has become an excuse for any kind of acting out behavior. You can identify it, you can assess it, the science behind, it is very strong. We know that many communities have higher rates of trauma even than our returning veterans. And we recognize trauma amongst veterans for a long time as a disabling condition. So the idea that schools should do more than simply punish these children I think is really important. HARRIS-PERRY: And so, here`s my worry. Because I mean, it is part of what I`ve always seen in your work and research, and that is if -- we, for example, interviewed the young woman mayor of Compton. She talked about Compton. This is quite some time ago. She talked about Compton, really, from a kind of asset-based model of understanding. I know that you have talked about young people that way. And I guess part of what I worry about is that it becomes stigmatizing. We already know that zip codes determine life outcomes in all of these ways. Does this kind of discourse then further stigmatize young people? NOGUERA: Well, I don`t think it is to blame Compton for Compton`s problems. It is an American problem. It is an American problem that we have so many communities. There are so many communities just like it across the country where you see the same kinds of issues and concerns. We focus on poverty but we ignore the social effects of poverty. The violence that accompanies it, the hunger, the instability in children`s lives. Those are the larger issues. And the simple truth is schools can`t solve those by themselves. HARRIS-PERRY: So then, why not join together with the school system and sue some other entity rather than suing the school system? EIDMANN: Well, you know, civil rights litigation is a tool that`s a catalyst for change and has been successful in these very types of problems where there have been long standing intractable problems and change has been slow to come. The practices in schools have not caught up with the science behind what we know, the reason that we know are affecting the children. And we hope that this lawsuit can be part of the national movement for change and changing how we address trauma in schools. HARRIS-PERRY: So, on one hand I hear you about sort of rethinking the young people, but I also want to think a little bit about the realities of the classrooms themselves and how an imposition of addressing this in our public schools that are under resourced that are trying to race to the top or not leave any kids behind or test them all in five minutes. Like what are the realistic possibilities of an implementation of a kind of a wrap- around strategy in what public schools looks like today? ROSS: You know, there are two points to make. Number one, as Kathryn mentioned, there are school districts who are on top of this. There are principals in schools that are beginning to implement restorative dresses practices, social emotional health and wellbeing, being assessed and supported. Even a district school in San Francisco that`s using (INAUDIBLE) medication and quiet time to make sure the kids and the teachers had the kind of resiliency support they need. HARRIS-PERRY: Is that a well-resourced school or is it a school operating in poverty? ROSS: It is a public school district in San Francisco. It is not Beverly Hills. It may not be Compton. It is probably somewhere in the middle, but it does work. But also, back to Pedro`s point, this is profoundly structural. This is not an accident, right, and it is not just about Compton. You talked about justice reform. We had the crack cocaine epidemic. We had three strikes and you are out. We had zero tolerance in schools. So, zero tolerance in schools which was allegedly zero tolerance for the behavior has fundamentally turned out to be for black and brown kids and especially boys as Pedro knows. Zero tolerance for the child. And these are -- this is where the track record begins. The portal to the school to prison pipeline. When schools suspend these kids, when they push these kids away, when kids gets disengaged, when they drop out of school, black boy in California who drops out of high school has an 80 percent chance of going to jail. And so, we have got to stop it with a prevention strategy, not a punishment strategy. And we think that`s what the lawsuit is going to at least raise the conversation level about. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Let me just day. I`m down with the boys. I also don`t want us to miss the girls on this because I think sometimes the trauma questions that we ask, we recognize them in boys, we talk about the violence they might see, but don`t often for example talk about sexual assault and violence that young girls may experience and now we have the new data about the sexual assault in the prison pipeline. (CROSSTALK) HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Kathryn Eidmann and to Dr. Robert Ross. Pedro is going to stick around because up next, we are going to bring in the other side of this. The president of the Compton school board of trustees. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: In Compton, California, a group of five students and three teachers are suing the city`s school district for better accommodations for students who have experienced severe trauma potentially impairing their ability to learn. Despite the cost it would take to satisfy those accommodations, plaintiffs argue that expanding services for students suffering from trauma could end up saving the district money in the long run. The district has said it already works to deal with the impact of childhood trauma on a daily basis. If successful the suit would force the district to provide staff training and to broaden mental health services. Not to mention legal fees incurred by the case. That`s a very strong mandate and it needs to be funded, the district`s attorney David Huff told NPR. Joining me now is president of the Compton Unified school district, board of trustees Micah Ali. Nice to have you here. MICAH ALI, PRESIDENT, COMPTON UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT: Pleasure. Pleasure. HARRIS-PERRY: So what is the school district`s perspective on this case? ALI: So the school district`s perspective is very clear. We believe that the lawsuit is moot because we have been working diligently providing many of these services. Let`s talk about the wraparound services. School-based health centers which has -- or which afford mental health capacity. Let`s talk about the investment with respect to early childhood education. Talk about the audits and ways in which we have worked to overhaul a special education. This lawsuit is a billion dollar claim, a billion dollar claim. How did we find out about the lawsuit? By way of a press release. The fact of the matter is why Compton? Why not sue the federal government? Why not look at ways in which to fully fund the IDEA act in 1975? HARRIS-PERRY: So, that`s actually the question I asked the plaintiffs and so I will ask you as well, why not actually join up with the plaintiffs? Because I presume you are not saying we got a handle in the schools, we have plenty of resources, no worries. So I guess part of what you wonder is why not join with plaintiffs, with students and teachers and say, I don`t know, sue the gun manufacturers, young people are seeing trauma because of gun violence or the federal government for sufficient resources. Like why not think of another defendant out there? ALI: Well, perhaps you`re absolutely correct. Why not look at suing the state of California. Again back to the federal government. The individuals with disabilities act. If in fact we`re going to classify trauma as a disability, then would it fall within the IDEA act of 1975. But then, here is another interesting point. At the time when school districts throughout the country are trying to reduce young African- American and Latino males` engagement and participation in special education by way of something called disproportionality, here, we want to put more children of color into the education system. So then again, that is really look at what are we really trying to accomplish here by way of helping students. HARRIS-PERRY: So this is really important. And goes back a little bit to the stigma question I was asking for, though it is a little more structural institutional than that. You know, for a long time the behavioral responses to trauma of young people living in difficult circumstances have been labeled as learning disabilities as opposed to reasonable human responses to trauma. And yet the ADA does provide very real protections that make the strategy a smart one legally. NOGUERA: I think it is a smart one. I think to me it is a little bit like targeting Topeka, Kansas for the Brown decision, right. Topeka wasn`t the only one discriminating on the basis of race but set the precedent ending racial discrimination throughout the country. Compton`s been picked on but they could have picked on (INAUDIBLE), they could have picked Oakland, they could have picked on many, many other places that have the same issues. So I think -- HARRIS-PERRY: New Orleans. NOGUERA: Micah is right that, you know, why pick on Compton. At the same time Compton has the issues. And I don`t think it is a stigma to address the needs of children. Respond to the needs appropriately is not to stigmatize. HARRIS-PERRY: So talk to me about how all of this -- Compton, New Orleans -- all of them are existing in a federal space. What has the past decade of education policy done to either improve or worsen these circumstances? NOGUERA: Well, it hasn`t helped. We focus so narrowly on achievement. We have completely ignored the inequities outside of school. We`ve pretended children of Compton can do as well on the same test as the children in Beverly Hills. We know the children in Beverly Hills have so much more invested in them by their families and by their schools. This inequity has perpetuated the gap in achievement that we claim to be so concerned about. And I blame this administration and most state governments for pretending that by focusing on achievement you can get better outcomes when in fact you are ignoring the very needs of the children. HARRIS-PERRY: So what then does work? What -- if you could wave the wand to address your students and other across the country, what would it look like? ALI: It would look like what Compton is currently doing. We are infusing positive behavior and eventually solutions throughout. We are looking at response to intervention. Support services throughout the school district. We are appropriating a tremendous amount of resources to hire counselors and behavior science specialists. All of this has been going on far before the lawsuit was ever filed. HARRIS-PERRY: Are you still out of school suspending? ALI: We have reduced expulsions and suspensions -- you would not believe the amount of reductions. HARRIS-PERRY: Because I know Miami-Dade, one of the things that they are doing to try to address this is to end -- say there`s never any time when it makes sense, unless the child`s a threat to other children. Right? That just doesn`t make sense to throw children out of school. Right? And we know, again, that that expulsion piece is so connected to the school to prison pipeline. NOGUERA: No, it is a huge problem. And it is a problem that we`ve not paid sufficient attention to because we always target the most disadvantaged children. That`s who is being suspended. But I would say, California has under resourced schools and that`s the bottom line. I mean, Compton should be say something, yes, bring us some more psychologists. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, right. We`ll take some more. NOGUERA: So we can respond. Because California has gone to being one of the states with the lowest per people spending in the country. And districts like Compton suffer because of this. HARRIS-PERRY: It is going to be fascinating to much with a how this plays out and undoubtedly the impact it will have all across the country. I want to say thank you to Micah Ali and to Pedro Noguera. Coming up, many know her best as "Roo" from "the Hunger Games." But that`s not even half of it. Amandla Stenberg joins me live next. \ (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: It was in the first entry of the popular "Hunger Games" series when we first were introduced to the courageous and vulnerable child named Roo. Now "Hunger Games" is by design a story dominated by the death of young people. But the tragic death of the strategic, lovely and loving Roo is especially heart wrenching. Roo`s death is actually the definitive turning point for the protagonist, for the story line and indeed for the entire trilogy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you blow up the food? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every bit of it. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good. You have to win. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: It was a man (INAUDIBLE) who brought Roo and her tragic end to the screen. But some moviegoers who apparently skipped the part of the "Hunger Games" novel where Roo`s described with thick brown hair, dark satiny brown skin and golden eyes, they were confused. They were distressed to find and African-American actress had been cast to play the fragile but fearless character. Fast toward to 2015, Amandla Stenberg now a teenager on the rise in Hollywood has become a model of social media activism speaking out on behalf of young people of color on topics ranging from police brutality to diversifying stem fields to black girl magic. Her advocacy has some calling her the voice of a generation. And just last month she was named one of "Time" magazine`s 30 most influential teens of 2015, four days after her 17th birthday. Amandla continues to forge new paths and working with Los Angeles-based stranger comets debuted the comic series, "Niobe." She is live last week. Along with being the physical model for the series heroin, she co-wrote the series about a warrior tasked with saving her world. About the series she said, I was drawn to give voice to "Niobe" and co-write her story because her journey is my journey. I connect to her mixed racial background and quest to discover her innate powers and strengths, to learn who she truly is. And we need nor bad ass girls. So joining me now is actor, activist and all-around bad ass, Amandla Stenberg. It is so nice to have you here. AMANDLA STENBERG, ACTOR: I`m so excited to be here. HARRIS-PERRY: So talk to me first, about "Niobe," about this comic project. STENBERG: Yes. So "Niobe" actually first appeared in a series called "the Untamed" by Sebastian Jones. And I thought she was really awesome initially because she`s this black girl elf. And I`m a huge nerd and a fan of fantasy. And so, to see a character that represented me was really amazing. And so I met Sebastian actually at a festival and we started talking it more and more. And we realized it would be a really great idea to expand her story more and make her the lead. HARRIS-PERRY: There is something about that rendering in the super hero comic format that is kind of extraordinary. It is like you have this little thing inside of yourself that becomes real on the page. STENBERG: Yes, exactly. When I was always growing up I always wanted more black female super heroes, black female super role models. You know? And so, I hopefully can kind of provide that for younger black girls through "Niobe." HARRIS-PERRY: So, one of the spaces where we find you, where we hear your voice so frequently is on social media. Yet social media can also be a really fraught location for women especially women and girls of color. Just this past week an Australian teen who had hundreds of thousands of followers opted out because she said you constant will I have to present this self that isn`t who you are. Talk to me about that. STENBERG: Right. I mean, I definitely think that side of social media does exist. But I also do think that it is a really powerful tool for social activism and a really powerful tool for people who feel like they don`t have enough representation. I mean, it used to be you could only find your role models through, you know, celebrities, through the people who are the top singers and the top actors. And now it is like you can log on to Instagram and see someone who looks like you and feel like you`re represented and feel like your identity is validated. So I think that even though that really gross surface level part of social media does exist, it is also a really awesome way to connect to people and spread messages. HARRIS-PERRY: You talk about representation a lot and the ways in which race representation connect. You were voting a friend and you reflected saying it is revolutionary in itself to be a young African-American person, to just be yourself. STENBERG: Yes. HARRIS-PERRY: What are the challenges to being an authentic self when you are a young woman of color? STENBERG: Yes. I mean I think that there are a lot of subliminal messages that you receive that tell you that it`s not necessarily OK to be yourself. I mean I remember being younger and feeling like I was embarrassed of my hair or I didn`t want to be too loud or too in the way. And through "Niobe" we are kind of trying to share the message that black girls shouldn`t be afraid to be too loud or to have too strong of an opinion. And you know, and I was like recently went natural with my hair. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes! STENBERG: Yes! And it`s been kind of this process, this journey of self- love and everything. HARRIS-PERRY: So, in that there`s also not just one authentic way to be a black girl. There are all of these many different ways. You just met my 13-year-old daughter who -- both of them, 13-year-old black girls. And yet, even they express black girlhood differently. And so, I`m wondering also about how many role models and images and representations we need. STENBERG: Yes. That`s why I`m so excited about social media in a lot of ways because you can find those nuanced ways. I think we are kind of opening up to what the definition of blackness can be and it`s not just this one mentality, this one way of being. There are so many different kinds of awesome black girl nerds and black girls who don`t maybe wear their hair natural, black girls who have their hair in braids. Black girls who likes a certain kind of music. I think we`re really seeing how beautiful the spectrum that there is and that`s really exciting. HARRIS-PERRY: Let`s listen from Comicon to somebody talk about just what an awesome model of all this you are. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEBASTIAN JONES, STRANGE COMIC: "Niobe`s" first book "she is life" I wrote with Amandla Stenberg who played Roo in "the Hunger Games" who has known as sleepy hallow. She`s now become this wonderful cultural activist and blossoming into an amazing young lady. I`m very honored and lucky just to, you know, part of her squad. You know, when I met Amandla, I felt like I would, you know, hit the jackpot. I was very, very blessed to write with her and she`s such a great, positive force. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Very nice to hear someone you work with say nice things. STENBERG: Yes! Yes. That`s so nice. My heart is so full. HARRIS-PERRY: You`re more than a cultural activist. Being a black girl nerd, I`m sure black girl nerds is tweeting their hearts out just using that term. Is in part about the cultural piece but you are also a Stem advocate. Tell me about that. STENBERG: Yes. I mean, I did this event to basically support girls in STEM. I think that along with a lot of other subliminal messages girls get told that they aren`t good at math and science. And that`s just not true. There`s no innate thing in us that prohibits us from being good in those fields. It is just that they`re dominated by men a lot of the time. And so, I did this event that was just to empower girls by actually building race cars out of fridges. It was really cool. Just empower them to follow their dreams and their passions. HARRIS-PERRY: This was my dad who used - I mean, there are four daughters. And everybody had to learn to change the oil. Right? Just because there`s nothing innate in you that makes it impossible for you to do so. I want to say thank you, Amandla, for joining me. And thank you just for all of the work that you`ve been doing. STENBERG: Thank you so much. HARRIS-PERRY: Still to come this morning, creative of the hit sitcom "Blackish." Kenya Barriss. And also, writer, producer and director Ava Duvernier. And of course, 2016 politics. There is more Nerdland news at the top of the hour. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry live this morning in Los Angeles, California. And coming up this hour, Kenya Barris, creator of the hit ABC sitcom "Black-ish" and Ava DuVernay, director of the Oscar nominated film "Selma." Yes, it is something of a "Nerdland" goes to Hollywood edition for us. But we begin this hour with the man having his moment, namely Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Following his strong performance in the most recent Republican debate shutting down Jeb Bush, giving a jab at Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio has emerged from the crowded field as one of the most serious contenders for his party`s nomination. Polls have Senator Rubio in third place nationally and in Iowa and in New Hampshire. But increasingly the freshman senator is being seen as number one by the establishment and political conventional wisdom. The blog FiveThirtyEight has been keeping a handy leaderboard of Republican endorsements. And they point out that while Jeb Bush still sits at the top the majority of his endorsements came months ago. Rubio, on the other hand, has surged since September. In the past nine days Mr. Rubio gained endorsements from three U.S. senators, two members of the House, and billionaire GOP fund- raiser Paul Singer. So yes, when it comes to the GOP establishment, rallying around a consensus candidate, you could say there is an undeniable amount of Marcomentum. At the same time Senator Rubio is assuring up his right flank making clear his conservative bona fides on all the important campaign issues, particularly the issue of immigration. Born to Cuban immigrants, Rubio has long split with his party on immigration. In 2013 he was one of the gang of eight, the bipartisan group of senators who wrote the comprehensive immigration reform bill. He has since moved away from his own bill and here`s what he had to say when asked about deferred action for childhood arrivals or DACA on this past Wednesday. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARCO RUBIO (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: DACA is going to end. And the ideal way for it to end is that it is replaced by a reform system that creates an alternative. But if it doesn`t it will end. It cannot be the permanent policy of the United States. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: So, the obvious question is, from a crowded field of 15, are we now seeing the one voice that might emerge to unite them all! Here to help me answer that question, Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez, author of "You`ve Come A Long Way Maybe." And former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Also Ange-Marie Hancock, associate professor of Political Science at the University of Southern California and author of "Solidarity Politics for Millennials." So, Leslie, it is going to be Rubio, huh? (LAUGHTER) SANCHEZ: Lot of people hope so. There`s a lot of excitement about him, you can`t deny it. We`re still early in the process. There`s so many exciting things about him as a candidate. He`s charismatic, you know, kind of an engagement of the base which a lot of people were being looking for, an energy that we desperately need. I think you point to some really interesting things. This flip-flop on immigration is going to be a challenge. Nobody is going to let him walk away from that. It doesn`t matter who you are, Republicans have faced difficulty. Anybody that Eric Cantor, I mean, anybody that flip-flops on that immigration reform is going to have a problem. Hillary Clinton, too. HARRIS-PERRY: And it`s not just immigration reform. I mean, that is part of it, but the other piece of it is, I mean, we were talking about the demographics that are going to change in the country. It certainly makes sense to me that we`re going to see increasing Latino candidates in both parties, right? Increasingly taking this kind of leadership role. On the other hand, there are meaningful differences between Cuban and Chicano or Mexican-American populations in terms of how they understand issues around immigration, partisan politics, all of that. And so, I`m wondering how you think Rubio might play in the broader population. VILLARAIGOSA: Well, it remains to be seen how he`s going to play in the broader population but if you`re talking about -- HARRIS-PERRY: Broader population of Latinos. Yes. VILLARAIGOSA: In the Latino population, I don`t think he`s going to play nearly as well as some might think. They`re not just going to vote for him because his last name is Rubio. HARRIS-PERRY: Right. VILLARAIGOSA: Any more than African-Americans are going to vote for Carson because he`s African-American. HARRIS-PERRY: Amen sir, say that again. Yes. VILLARAIGOSA: And the fact is, they`re going to vote for him based on the issues, based on his experience. I mean, this is a guy who spends a lot of time criticizing President Obama for his lack of experience, and he`s had four years in the United States Senate. He was a part-time legislator before that. The fact that he`s flip-flopped on immigration I think is going to hurt him with Latinos particularly because initially he was for comprehensive immigration reform. Now he`s just for, you know, closing the borders. And obviously we all agree that the system is broken. He`s no longer -- he`s also said with respect to DACA that he would immediately end DACA. HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, that feels like a way to organize your opposition. Yes. ANGE-MARIE HANCOCK, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Pretty much. I mean, I think, not only is it a way to organize your opposition, what we have to know about the undocumented population in the country is that 80 percent of them are Latino. And so it alienates Latino voters because these are members of their families. HARRIS-PERRY: Right. HANCOCK: So we`re not just talking about this in kind of the abstract. We`re talking actually about people`s mothers, sisters brothers, fathers. And I think that`s the first thing. But I think the other thing that`s really important is the most organized segment of the undocumented population are the dreamers. Who have already -- are willing to occupy their own party candidates` office. Occupy the Obama, you know, campaign offices. What`s to say they`re not going to do the same thing on the other side if he`s even more hostile than Obama is? HARRIS-PERRY: Well, and I get primary politics. Right? This is true, you know, you move to the right, you move to the left to win that primary. But that said, the like clarity of DACA is going to end? It just feels like, oh, oh, some people are organizing right now. SANCHEZ: Right. But let`s look at it, it`s never been a permanent solution. It was always something that need a permanent reform solution. It takes leadership to come up and say we need to address this, there`s a sense of urgency around it. I don`t think a lot of Republicans certainly supported what the President was doing. But a lot in the Latino and the immigrant community did and that gave a lot of momentum. And now looking forward, what is the long-term real solution for this? I think Rubio will address that. That`s the distinct difference. And though you see this evolving of a position on immigration I think that will eventually evolve back to comprehensive immigration reform as we get to a general. The truth is, it is tough to get out of this republican primary but he does have -- he`s increasingly with the bona fides, he`s increasingly talking about important issues and matters but more importantly he is relatable. That is what the distinct difference. A lot of people don`t see that undercurrent. HARRIS-PERRY: It is a fascinating moment for me. Like, in part because you and I used to do a lot of TBD together. Like during the 2007, `08 cycle. But that said, like you know, this notion about him as, you know, he`s going to stand next to Hillary Clinton and seem like a child in comparison to her expertise. The idea that he is, you know, exciting and energizing, a person of color -- I mean it really does sound like we`re talking about President Obama in 2007. I don`t mean to make comparisons about them substantively but like the media discourse around it. And it`s -- I don`t know -- it makes me feel like I can`t quite get my fingers on whether or not I think he is a serious contender here. SANCHEZ: Oh, no. I think he`s definitely serious. Don`t forget that election was a generational election, people divided on that age over 44 years old, before and after that. And I don`t think people want to see a repeat of the Clintons. That`s very much a challenge. Before having with the Bushes. It is kind of like Bush fatigue is still there. They`re very legitimate, very strong candidate, it is going to have to shake out in policy. HARRIS-PERRY: So, hold on. I want to talk a little bit about my Bush fatigue -- oh no, not mine, just other people`s. Okay. When we come back, the GOP front-runner PAC making their case and pushing back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Marco Rubio is climbing in the polls but he is still lagging behind the two surprisingly durable GOP leaders, Ben Carson and Donald Trump. Rubio may have his struggles with messy finances and his past support for immigration reform, but the lead candidates are not without their own issues. Donald Trump has defied conventional wisdom by remaining a consistent front-runner but Trump still has a serious challenge when it comes to attracting crucial Latino votes. Just by hosting NBC`s "Saturday Night Live" last night Mr. Trump inspired a sizable protest outside 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City which is where our show normally is. My producer kept telling me about it. And Dr. Ben Carson had quite a week with many questions being raised about his past culminating in headlines like this one. Quote, "Ben Carson defends himself against allegations that he never attempted to murder a child." Okay. What`s that? I mean, as a political scientist, Ange-Marie, I mean, this is a fascinating moment for me. You know, we saw Carson and Trump early on, I thought, well, this is the silly season. But it isn`t. Actually there does seem to be something somewhat different happening here. And when you attach it also to the bit of a crisis around the House Speaker that occurred it does feel like the party is not quite sure what kind of party it is right at this moment. HANCOCK: I think there is very much a crisis in the Republican Party about which direction they want to go in and how they`re really are going to grapple with those demographic changes that we see coming down the pike. I think the other thing though that`s going on is there is this kind of rampant populism in the country that`s on both sides. HARRIS-PERRY: -- But it`s a bad thing. HANCOCK: No. I am a populist but the thing that populism does is that it opens up these spaces for kind of, you know, what would you like to call it? You know, the crazy town? Crazy house, you know, the folks to come in. And really just and that`s actually one reason why it is good to have a long vetting past this, right? That we have a long primary season. All states have to vote and kind of weigh in to make sure that we actually get the right two candidates. VILLARAIGOSA: Yes. I`m not sure that there is a crisis in the party in the sense that they don`t know which way they want to go. Virtually all of the candidates have gone farther to the right than the last election or the election before that. None of them would fit in to Reagan`s party when you look at the positions they`re taking. And so, from my vantage point, the party`s going clearly to the right. So whoever the nominee is, they`re going to have a really tough time with the center of the country. Look, what`s absolutely clear is the country`s evenly divided. And so, you know, big swath of votes are in the middle. I don`t know how they go back from self-deporting 11 million people, how they go back from so many of the issues that they`ve just gone so far to the right on. HARRIS-PERRY: So the country`s evenly divided in some ways -- except that the Republican Party has basically run the board in terms of actual governor`s offices and state legislatures. So, it is evenly divided maybe among kind of this population that will choose a president, but like it is bizarre to me I guess, Leslie that he question I keep having is, so 35 states, I mean, governors and now even majority in the Senate and you look at it and you say, well, these are the people who we would normally elect to be president, our governors, senators, vice presidents. And instead it is like a business guy and a doctor who have never held elected office before. SANCHEZ: Right. But you know, you could argue that both parties are very much lacking a back bench. I mean, there should be more governors running. There should be more bona fides like Hillary Clinton. HARRIS-PERRY: And there should be more Democrats of any kind. SANCHEZ: Of any kind. You know, I don`t buy the argument that we`ve run so far to the right. The Dems that run so far to the Left. Look at Bernie Sanders and feel the burn. And you know, Kennedy wouldn`t even recognize his own party now. So, I think that the challenges are, it all looks like a telenovela. Like it`s all a little too much. A lot a hair throwing, a lot of crying, a lot of flamboyance. And we need to reel it all back in. I like the long vetting process. And we`ve seen when you`ve had, you know, go to Latin America if you want to know what big populist, you know, exciting candidates look like and what a disaster it turns out to be. HARRIS-PERRY: But you don`t want to reel it too far back in. I mean, one might argue that Jeb Bush is like the most dialed back, you know, candidate that one could imagine it. And then that also doesn`t sort of bring folks out. SANCHEZ: And governor Kasich as well. And we were talking about. Is very strong, sensible leadership. I think people want an establishment candidate who is a reformer, who can come in from the outside and shake things up in Washington. People are disgusted with Washington. But the type of tone that you`ve seen from Donald Trump and Dr. Carson -- Dr. Carson`s vulnerability now is that he was always this truthful candidate, called it like it was, even tempered. HARRIS-PERRY: And now he`s -- it`s all into question. SANCHEZ: It`s all into question. So, it`s a big vulnerability. VILLARAIGOSA: -- They`ve gone so far to the right. You got Kasich and Jeb Bush both very conservative governors on their track records, and they`re not to the right enough. HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. When John Kasich is too liberal for you, you are on the right indeed. Still to come this morning, the director in demand able to bring me live in studio. But up next, Speaker Paul Ryan says he`s all about getting things done. So why is there one thing he`s already told us he is not even going to try to do for the in the next 14 months? (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: New House Speaker Paul Ryan won -- or took -- it`s hard to say exactly what happened there -- but he won his leadership position by promising to make changes and to get things done. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: We need to move from an opposition party to being a proposition party. Because we think the nation is on the wrong path, we have a duty to show the right one. Our next speaker has to be a visionary one. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: But in his first order of business, Speaker Ryan declared that he will not allow a vote on comprehensive immigration reform bill as long as President Barack Obama is in office. I`m not exaggerating or extrapolating or inferring. In his own words in an op-ed last week for "USA Today," Speaker Ryan said, quote, "The House of Representatives will not vote on comprehensive immigration legislation as long as President Obama`s in office." So Speaker Ryan has shut down any movement on immigration reform simply because of who is president. Now, this is quite a shift from the Paul Ryan who when he was first sworn in to his new position talked in grand terms about vision, democracy, taking on tough issues. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RYAN: We will not duck the tough issues. We will take them head-on. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Or the Paul Ryan who called out his own party saying that they`d lost their vision. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RYAN: We are not going to have a House that looked like it looked the last two years. We are going to move forward. We are going to unify. Our party has lost its vision and we`re going to replace it with a vision. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Or even the Paul Ryan about ten days ago who talked about wiping the slate clean. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RYAN: The House is broken. We`re not solving problems. We`re adding to them. And I am not interested in laying blame. We are not settling scores. We are wiping the slate`s clean. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Yep, yep, he`s going to get right on that just as soon as Barack Obama`s no longer president. Come on. VILLARAIGOSA: This goes to my point. I mean, Boehner is a conservative Republican. He`s a conservative Republican. And yet the Freedom Caucus is going to constrain them and not allow them to kind of lead. I used to be speaker of the California State Assembly. And I tell you, your job is to protect the institution, too. And you`re the speaker for everyone not just your own party. Obviously, you know, you`re in the majority and so you`re going to push your issues but you have to work across the aisle. I just don`t see this Freedom Caucus giving him the freedom to be the leader that he needs to be if they`re going to be a proposition party not an opposition party. HARRIS-PERRY: So, I so appreciate that framework, because there will be disagreements in a big diverse democracy, but it does feel like the institutions of how we work together matter. And I worry the problem isn`t how Left or Right but just the idea that government shouldn`t exist, that it shouldn`t be doing this work, that government is itself inherently a problem. So, you have 40 members of the Freedom Caucus, not a majority either of the House or even of the party at large, who can hold hostage the process itself. HANCOCK: You have a set of ideologues who literally want to shrink the government to the size that they can drown it in a bathtub. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. HANCOCK: I mean, we heard this. That they literally want to -- that`s how small they want to get it. And they are holding the rest of the country hostage. And because they come from districts that are completely safe so they are not going to be kind of turned out by any kind of popular election, we really have this struggle and this crisis. But I think, one of the questions that`s worth asking is whether or not Paul Ryan will be able to hold on to this all the way through the election if somebody like Rubio becomes the candidate because part of how he gets Latino voters is to say, DACA might go away but DACA goes away and we have comprehensive immigration reform in place. So is it day one of that presidency or is it before that because Rubio needs to be on Clinton/Julian Castro ticket. SANCHEZ: Right. I don`t buy the gloom and doom of this whole deal. I mean, let`s review. I think he is a bit of a realist, he has a fractured caucus. And every major immigration reform that`s happened in Congress is because of a Republican president. I think that`s the fear. Barack Obama talked about this for a long time, did not put the political chops around his own coalition to make this happen and I think he realizes the political reality. A Republican president comes in, moves these reforms, you can work together with the Democrats and come up with something and really build a broader bipartisan coalition that can get this done. It is foolish to move forward on this right now as just the political issues -- HARRIS-PERRY: It is an interesting issue. It`s an interesting point. VILLARAIGOSA: What is he going to move forward on? HARRIS-PERRY: I have to say. It is an interesting point because it is empirically accurate that in fact the big immigration reform policies, not all of them but many of them came out of Republican presidents, but it is in part because of exactly this sort of massive resistance strategy that we`re talking about. It is not because democratic presidents haven`t put them forward. It`s because, I mean, it`s a bit like the ACA where, you know, for example President Obama actually put forward for a long time been a Republican healthcare reform plan and then got massive resistance to a thing that had initially been introduced by Republicans. VILLARAIGOSA: It`s not just that. They`d like to shut down the government and Planned Parenthood. I mean, the fact of the matter is, this people have gone. And I`m, look, I`m not being a partisan right now. I was mayor of a big city. You have to lead oftentimes working with everyone. But at the end of the day they`ve gone so far to the right on so many things, I just don`t see how they`re going to let Ryan be the speaker of, as he said, a proposition party. Because that means that they`re going to have to be compromise on some of these issues and I just don`t see them doing that right now. HARRIS-PERRY: Interesting to watch what happens both in the context of the presidential election year and with this new speaker. Thank you to Leslie Sanchez, Antonio Villaraigosa and Ange-Marie Hancock. And up next, the creator of the ABC hit sitcom "Black-ish" Kenya Barris joins us live. "Nerdland" is in Hollywood. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: The Emmy nominated and NAACP image award winning hit sitcom "Black-ish" is now in its second season on ABC. The show is about an accomplished, wealthy African-American family living in an affluent California neighborhood is a fan favorite with Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross leading the talented cast. And "Black-ish" started this season with a bang. The season premier was all about the "n" word. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) (Singing): I ain`t saying she a gold digger, ah, but she ain`t missing with the (bleep), ah, and I ain`t saying she a gold digger, ah, she ain`t messing with no (bleep) -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Okay. No! UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Told you it was a doozy. (INAUDIBLE) (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: The episode revolved around the question of who exactly can or should use the word. And brought not only complexity and nuance but had me dying cracking up the entire show. The brains behind this phenomenal sitcom is our next guest, "Black-ish" showrunner, writer and executive producer Kenya Barris. I can`t tell you how excited I am. KENYA BARRIS, CREATOR, "BLACK-ISH": I`m excited. HARRIS-PERRY: This show, we are a little obsessed with it in my household in part because I find myself, you know, raising children in circumstances that are much more privileged than I was raised in, much more integrated circumstances that I was raised in. And this feels like it is going right to the heart of those questions. BARRIS: I feel like that was so many people that I knew when we talked that was our experience. And now it is like this new generation and it is like how -- the question came in, you are taught to give your kids more than you had but in doing that what do they lose? HARRIS-PERRY: Uh-hm. BARRIS: You know, I`m not what sort of a balancing act between, you know, Andre who`s -- character as kids. And Laurence Fishburne who is the father added -- layer to that generational aspect. And I think in some aspects every generation has that question. I think now more than ever it is a different question with, you know, Barack and things like that. HARRIS-PERRY: Yep. BARRIS: And you, I think that there`s so many -- there`s a different look for us and it is, you know, what is the -- how do you sort of navigate that as a parent? HARRIS-PERRY: You know, the first human ever to make a sentence, it was like, oh, you know, President Obama -- and you. So I appreciate that! (LAUGHTER) I am down for that! Let me say though, the "n" word episode and the gun episode which I`m pretty sure might have actually happened in my own house, they were a little edgy. And they`re not, you don`t come to some easy conclusion at the end of those episodes. And it feels a little different than the first season. Are you getting braver in this space? BARRIS: I think that we`re kind of seeing what the show is differently. I can only feel like in a lot of ways I`m derivative of what like Norman Leer was, growing up in some of those things that he would do shows -- my agent was telling me they just screened the "All In The Family" pilot. They were like that show would never come on today. HARRIS-PERRY: Right. BARRIS: You know? And to me that`s counterintuitive when we live in a supposedly more evolved society, why aren`t we talking about issues and talking about things and using comedy to do it? HARRIS-PERRY: And that part, the comedy. Because I can remember my father who is an activist and deeply concerned with questions of racial equity, I can remember him just like -- you pull up his chair and watch "All In The Family" with such intensity and find it hilarious. And I`m wondering if there is ways that comedy allows us to do work around race that a drama wouldn`t allow us to do? BARRIS: I mean, I think that was the challenge for us on ABC has become very, very supportive. You know, normally dramas were the things that people were allowed to sort of have issues with. At least in contemporary society. You know, Norman Leer dealt with it with comedy. But I personally believe like comedy is one of the better things to sort of talk about issues because you can laugh and not realize that you`re just sort of talking about something and letting your kids take it in. And so, for us that was the challenge. Norman, you know, has this thing where he says it`s -- it`s hard to do my boss is coming over and my wife burned the pot roast. But when you are doing comedy about issues, that`s our challenge and that`s what we`re trying to continue to do. HARRIS-PERRY: I want to play a little conference room scene from the "n" word episode that was just -- let`s play that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what word I miss? Colored. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What! UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God! UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s up? What`s up? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I just -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Okay. Mr. Stevens, that word is offensive and reminiscent of a not-so-great time in American history. So, let`s all just take it down the notch. Maybe -- firearm, Charles? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In that case maybe someone should tell that to the NAACP. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, that group been sending mixed messages for a long time. (END VIDEO CLIP) (LAUGHTER) HARRIS-PERRY: It is a great -- well, I mean, nothing is more fraught in this moment than the question of black male violence, anger, threat. BARRIS: Sure. HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, that is the thing that we are discussing in the world. BARRIS: Sure. HARRIS-PERRY: And yet you can take it and play with it and invert it in that way that just makes it feel like, aw, man, yes. BARRIS: I mean, I really credit, like we have an amazing group of writers. It is a very mixed group. And we have Jonathan Groff, who is my partner and Larry Wilmore who I you know, did the pilot with and who was my mentor and you know brother, he balanced some of the stuffs. And just, you know, we have like a crazy mixed group of people. And one of my favorite episodes of Corey Nickerson (ph) what was about spanking. And that sort of became the platform of how we break our stories. HARRIS-PERRY: Uh-hm. BARRIS: We polled the room and we said, how many of us were spanked as kids. HARRIS-PERRY: Uh-hm. BARRIS: And literally, I think 12 of the 13 writers raised a hand. And then we said how many of us spank. None of us raised our hand and we couldn`t answer why. HARRIS-PERRY: Uh-hm. BARRIS: We pulled to the room and we said, how many of us were spanked us kids? HARRIS-PERRY: Uh-hm. BARRIS: And literally I think 12 over the 13 writers raised their hands. And then we said, how many of us spanked? None of us raised our hands. HARRIS-PERRY: Right. BARRIS: And we couldn`t answer why. HARRIS-PERRY: Uh-hm. BARRIS: And so that became the question like, we didn`t think we became bad people. HARRIS-PERRY: Uh-hm. BARRIS: What was the thing going on? And so, that`s how we sort of felt like that`s an interesting story. HARRIS-PERRY: So, ABC just seems to be doing the damn thing around this question. What is it? What has made space to allow "Black-ish" to allow what happens on Thursday night to be happening on the network? BARRIS: I do really think that it is having people who sort of speak to everyone without not speaking to who they are. You know, like that`s some of the things I love about your show. You know, it was one of the things I always credit Barack about is that he`s a black man and he does not run from that. But at the same time he speaks to everyone. And I think that that was a different look for most of America to say like that was something that, you know, you had to sort of seem like you were leaning to one side to appeal to everyone. And that was, in previous pilots what I had done, and that was the big difference between what we wanted to do on "The Cosby Show." "The Cosby Show" was about a family that, you know, happened to be black. HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Just incidental. Right. Uh-hm. BARRIS: And that was amazing for the time. But we want to do a show about a family that was absolutely black. And at the same time, the specificity of that spoke much more universally to the audience. HARRIS-PERRY: It is so interesting, the idea about -- speaking to the universal. It is the lesson Tony Morrison teaches us that we will say over and over again, you tell that story to tell the big story. When you see Tracy Ellis Ross, please tell her that we worship her a little bit and -- (LAUGHTER) -- that we love her very, very much. She seems like everything. Thank you to Kenya Barris. BARRIS: Thank you. HARRIS-PERRY: Up next, Ava`s here. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Golden Globe nominated filmmaker Ava DuVernay made an indelible impact on the Hollywood scene in 2014 as the director of "Selma." The epic historical drama about the campaign for voting rights in 1965 Alabama. Now, it was a heady assignment. "Selma" is an iconic water-shed of the modern civil rights movement meaning that there are plenty of opinions about how the story should be told. So, when she took on the task of making Hollywood`s first big screen film about Dr. Martin Luther King, she knew that she would be making history literally interpreting and representing who we are as a nation. Ava is making history in another way, by stepping boldly into the role of America`s foremost black woman filmmaker in an industry that is notoriously difficult for women and people of color. But DuVernay was ready. No newcomer to Hollywood, in 2012, she became the first African-American woman to win the dramatic directing award at Sundance for her acclaimed feature "Middle of Nowhere" and her first narrative feature "I Will Follow" which she wrote, financed, produced and directed was hailed by critic Roger Ebert as, quote, "One of the best films I`ve seen about the loss of a loved one." Now she is the first black woman ever nominated for best director Golden Globe. And now is one of the most influential voices in all of Hollywood. DuVernay is lending her voice and credibility to a new project. The African-American film festival releasing movements known as a firm which DuVernay founded in 2010. It has been relaunched as Array with an expanded focuses on filmmakers of color and winning the filmmakers globally. I am just so pleased to be joined now by Ava DuVernay. AVA DUVERNAY, DIRECTOR, "SELMA": Yes. HARRIS-PERRY: So happy we`re in the same room together. DUVERNAY: Absolutely. How are you? HARRIS-PERRY: The last time we talked was like right after the release of "Selma." DUVERNAY: Yes. HARRIS-PERRY: So, how much has changed? DUVERNAY: You know when the last time we talked? It was Golden Globes were the next day because you were asking me about my dress. HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right! That`s right. What are you going to wear! DUVERNAY: Yes. Yes. Yes. I was like, don`t ask me! Yes. Yes. No, it was a good time. HARRIS-PERRY: So, what has changed? How different is the human that is Ava in this space now? DUVERNAY: It hasn`t been even a year. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. DUVERNAY: You know, it hasn`t even been a year. A lot more to see, a lot more people to talk to, a lot more to think about. You know, it`s just kind of expanded my world personally. So, when I think about what`s changed I don`t think about professional. I think about, you know, I just got back from Mumbai two days ago. That`s an opportunity that wouldn`t have come to me without "Selma" which kind of put my filmmaking on a worldwide platform. And when I was there I couldn`t help to think about of all the people of color and women filmmakers who don`t get those opportunities to take their work abroad to get that feeling. Yes. HARRIS-PERRY: This is the most fascinating part than it what you have done with this moment to me. So, I want you to talk to me about Array and what Array is going to be doing starting November 13th. But this very idea that in a moment when there is an opening for you to walk through because of your art, because of your work, that your first impulse is come on, everybody and let`s go, the door is open. Why that? Why in this moment decide to be pushing, amplifying so many other voices? DUVERNAY: Who wants to be in the room by their self? I mean, that`s the plan. I think part of -- HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, the answer is -- some people. But I`m with you, yes. DUVERNAY: I think for me, I was trained as a publicist. I was a publicist for 12 years. So, part of my job every day was thinking about how to amplify other people. And I also got to see a lot of mistakes that people made when they had a small opening or it was their moment or it was their 15 minutes how they just -- they shrunk instead of enlarged. HARRIS-PERRY: Uh-hm. DUVERNAY: And so, and it was because it was just trying to hang on to everything that they had. So ferociously and so fiercely that they, you know, they forgot to open up and, A, experience what was going on with them and, B, to know that no party`s fun alone. HARRIS-PERRY: Uh-hm. DUVERNAY: And so, yes, I think that`s just the way I think. HARRIS-PERRY: So what`s Array up to? Tell us about it. DUVERNAY: Oh my gosh! Well, you know, firm was something I started in 2010 just simply as a selfish function of I am making this film and no one`s going to want it. And so in order for it to reach an audience I have to create that pipeline. And so, in doing that, I said, okay, if I have created it, then other filmmakers like me, black filmmakers who are having the same challenge can come to Array, a firm. So, with the last five years, we`ve released ten films. But someone on a way I think it was real because of "Selma." Traveling the world. Meeting all kinds of different filmmakers. And so, wow, we think black filmmakers have it bad? When was the last time you saw a native American filmmaker woman filmmaker, Native American man? Latino. North African Middle Eastern filmmakers. Asian- Pacific Islanders. I mean, it is rough out there for everyone. HARRIS-PERRY: Uh-hm. DUVERNAY: And so the idea is, you know, together we are strong. Why not put all of the folks that are having difficulty being kind of shut out of a system that really only thinks and looks a certain way. HARRIS-PERRY: Uh-hm. DUVERNAY: And why not create an alternatives or allow other kinds of folk to be in our alternative. And so in August we relaunched from African- American film festival releasing movement to array. HARRIS-PERRY: Uh-hm. DUVERNAY: And on November 13th we put out our first two films. One by a South African, woman filmmaker, white woman filmmaker out of South Africa, this is a beautiful film called "Ayanda" about this, you know, this gorgeous -- this black woman, young black woman who inherits and takes over her father`s car mechanic shop in South Africa and they just got this hair and these colors and she`s falling in love and she`s grappling with loss and life. And it is really, really gorgeous. And you`re not going to see it in theaters except through our collective that`s powered by regular people who just love film. And then the other one is "Out of My Hand" which is a really interesting film by this Japanese-born filmmaker who lives in either Brooklyn or Harlem right now. Somewhere in New York. HARRIS-PERRY: Yep. DUVERNAY: And you know, it is all the same to me. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. You`re like, somewhere over there on the other side. DUVERNAY: But anyway, you make this gorgeous film about this Liberian immigrant. And you see him in Liberia when he`s working on a rubber plantation all the way to him being a cab driver. So, it is kind of like I`m always in a cab in New York or even an uber, and you wonder, who is that guy? What`s his story? This is that. It takes you all the way back. And so, anyway these are the kinds of stories that are completely marginalized out of the box in terms of what Hollywood wants. And we say Hollywood doesn`t determine what we want, we determine what we want. This is what we want to see. More vary voices so we got to put that there. HARRIS-PERRY: We`ll going to take a break, when we come back, I have a pitch for you. I have a story I want you to make. So, when we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Ever since her 2014 film "Selma" was nominated for a best picture Oscar, Ava DuVernay has been one of the most sought after filmmakers in Hollywood. She`s certainly has a (INAUDIBLE). She shared on Twitter this week that she`s in post-production on one project casting another and writing another. And that new work soon. Her rebranded company Array has two films set for release week. Ayanda which you just heard about becoming of age story about a woman struggling to save her father`s car repair shop. And "Out of My Hand," a film about a Liberian rubber plantation worker`s new life as a cab driver in New York. DuVernay was also courted by Marvel to direct its Black Panther movie but declined telling Essence, quote, "We had different ideas about what the story would be." And elaborating during her -- address at the blog during her conference in July that quote, "What my name is on means something to me." It really wasn`t going to be an Ava film. Still with me is Ava DuVernay. So, I want to talk about an idea I had, it`s because it randomly occurred to me. I was looking at "Essence" had this spread of all the African-American women who are working in the White House, the Obama administration right now. And I thought, oh my God! We have to tell that story. So, I was thinking about how part of what you did with "Selma" was to bring forward all of those historical women who got lost behind King. DUVERNAY: Uh-hm. HARRIS-PERRY: And I was thinking, we can`t let them get lost. I want those stories. So, maybe not this week or maybe not next week, but someday, I want a story of those women. Yes. Just since you have a lot of projects by the way. DUVERNAY: Yes. Yes. Okay. Good idea. Good idea. HARRIS-PERRY: So, that`s my pitch for you. DUVERNAY: Yes. Yes. HARRIS-PERRY: You know, in thinking about King, which undoubtedly did a lot in the context of "Selma." One of my favorite aspects of King is he talks about creative maladjustment, the necessity of the being creatively maladjusted to oppression. But that also means we have to have tools of creativity. And I guess part of what I`m wondering is, where you think kind of next generation of young women of color filmmakers, where that will be for them, what we`re doing to nurture their capacity to make art. DUVERNAY: Well, I mean, the interesting thing is it`s access, really. I mean, that`s the unfortunately, you know, when we`re talking about black people making film, our conversation is not as mature as it should be because -- and not because the work isn`t mature or the filmmakers are not because that`s definitely there. But in terms of when you talk about tools. Very much been a limited amount of people who have had access to the tools up until now. HARRIS-PERRY: Uh-hm. DUVERNAY: The tools used to be, 35 millimeter film, which was hard to get and expensive. He has had a 35 millimeter camera. But then when you shot it, you had to take it to a lab and you had to get out of the lab and you had to project it in a certain -- all these barriers to creativity existed. And now those are no more. I mean, literally if we went to make a film right now with your iPhone and mine. I could do a two shots -- I could like the swing down on this swivel chair, we could do this and put it up on YouTube tonight and tell a story if we wanted to. And so, everything has changed, and that is sparking and trigger a new creativity, a new way of storytelling that I think is tremendously exciting. I feel blessed to be alive right now. HARRIS-PERRY: You`ve actually become quite promiscuous in the places where your work will appear. I mean, there was a time when and not just your personal work but the work that you`re pushing out that this platform like Netflix and, you know, television and like it`s just -- it`s different now. It doesn`t have to necessarily be on that big screen in the movie theater. DUVERNAY: Sure. Sure. A lot of talk in Hollywood about what is a film now. Anyway, there was a film called "Beasts of No Nation" that a filmmaker that people really like. That he had previously made feature films in television and now he`s making this film that`s on Netflix but it`s not really television, but is it? It`s also in theaters? All the lines are blurred in terms of what is a film. And so, you know, it`s not about the forum anymore. You know what I mean? And it`s also not about the destination anymore. It`s really truly now just about the story. We`re watching stories on web series. We`re watching a stories, you know, a story I told for Apple in 30 seconds with Kerry, Tiraji and Mary. We`re watching along form stories. We`ve been watching stories. HARRIS-PERRY: Yep. DUVERNAY: Eight hours people are sitting down. HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, yes. DUVERNAY: It`s all new. HARRIS-PERRY: My favorite thing is watching you watch stories. So, I love watching you tweet about Straight Outta Compton and the kind of like, in Real-time reviewing that was going on. One of my favorites being, you`re talking about being a woman who loved hip-hop at that time. Was about being in love with your abuser because it was ours and yet it was also against us in these important ways. And if feels like that`s always this challenge that we exist in as women of color. Maybe particularly as black women. Both loving this blackness that is ours but also recognizing the violence it can sometimes do to our very femininity to our womanhood. DUVERNAY: Yes. I mean, absolutely. That`s everywhere. And, you know, it`s been, you know, I think it`s so important when we think about all of this to not think about this problem, the challenge in the present moment. That was part of what "Selma" really got me thinking about is just the continuum that we`re on. HARRIS-PERRY: Uh-hm. DUVERNAY: And so, this is an age-old issue. This is something that sisters before us have had to grapple with. They`ve dealt with successfully. And so I think part of the remedy, part of the solution is to look back. What did they do? What did everybody else do? What did I do? What did Harriet do? What is, you know, what is Michelle doing? What is Melissa doing? (CROSSTALK) You know, what is -- doing? HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Exactly. DUVERNAY: You know, the next generation as well? And so, it`s exciting. It`s all here for us for the taking. I feel positive about it. Maybe just today. I don`t know. Maybe tomorrow. HARRIS-PERRY: Do Black Lives Matter to Hollywood? DUVERNAY: You`re making me laugh. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. That`s an interesting reaction. DUVERNAY: Sometimes. Sometimes. But not often enough. You know, very sporadically. And, you know, but there are black lives who live here 24/7, and we have to matter to ourselves more than what the outside world thinks of us. And I think in Hollywood, that is a problem. It speaks to your first question about being perfectly fine to be the only person in the room. Not even fine to have two in a room. You know what I mean? It`s not enough. So, yes, hopefully that idea infects us out here a little bit more. HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Ava DuVernay. Once again, "Ayanda" and "Out of My Hand" released this weekend on Friday. DUVERNAY: Support these filmmakers. HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. Support the filmmakers. Before we go this morning, we have an announcement. A wedding announcement that is. MSNBC`s own and Nerdland favorite, not to mention an occasional guest host of this program, Janet Mock, was married Friday to photographer and filmmaker Aaron Tredwell. The couple wed in Janet`s hometown in Hawaii looking both ridiculously spectacular and happy. Our most heartfelt congratulations to Janet and Aaron. Everyone in Nerdland, we wish you much love, joy and great adventure in your lives ahead. And that`s our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. I`ll see you next Saturday, 10:00 a.m. Eastern. But right now it`s time for preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT." Hi, Alex. ALEX WITT, MSNBC HOST, "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT": This is so fun watching you from L.A. What great interviews. And could Janet look more beautiful than she did in that wedding picture? HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, man! She would be great. WITT: Okay. And check your e-mail. You have recommendations for dinner and restaurants. Okay. Let`s get to the news. Have a good one, Melissa. And thank you. For all of you, new information in the crash of that Russian airliner. Why one lawmaker is calling the disaster a wake-up call to both the U.S. and Russia. The outrage in Colorado after nude photos turned out on the phones of at least 100 students. How teenagers used technology to keep it all a secret. Plus, everything you wanted to know about the White House rejection of the Keystone Pipeline but were afraid to ask. 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