Melissa Harris-Perry | The Nation

Melissa Harris-Perry

Melissa Harris-Perry

 Race, gender, politics, religion and our struggles.

‘Are You Black?’ ‘Yes.’ An Interview With Rachel Dolezal

In these excerpts from an interview with Melissa Harris-Perry, Rachel Dolezal, the former president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP who resigned amid accusations that she lied about her racial identity, explains her relationship with the black experience. Watch the second part of the interview below.

How Should Journalists Cover Sexual Assault?

Salamishah Tillet

What responsibilities do journalists have when reporting on sexual assault? In the past few weeks, two high-profile cases have ignited a heated debate on just that question. One of those cases is an alleged rape case at the University of Virginia first reported by Rolling Stone, the details of which have since been thrown into question by an article in The Washington Post pointing out possible inaccuracies in the magazine’s reporting. The second case involves the numerous allegations of sexual assault made against Bill Cosby. Salamishah Tillet, Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, joined Melissa Harris-Perry to discuss her latest Nation piece, Why It’s So Hard to Write About Rape. She explains, “[There is] that skepticism that journalists are supposed to always have when it comes to covering a story. And then we have this kind of inherent skepticism, not inherent, a socialized skepticism against the stories of rape survivors. And when they come together as this moment has produced, there’s a sense to kind of restore the integrity of journalism without necessarily protecting the rights of victims.”
—N’Kosi Oates

My Message to Michael Brown’s Mom

Melissa Harris-Perry

The St. Louis County grand jury that declined to indict Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown failed miserably to uphold justice last week. But as Melissa Harris-Perry says in her heartfelt message to Lesley McSpadden, Brown’s mother, “I want you to know, your son’s life did matter. No decision by any jury, anywhere, can ever change that truth.”
—N’Kosi Oates  

Why Are Some Colleges Still Blaming the Victims in Sexual Assault Cases?

Letter of the Week

Last week, the public got a glimpse of the attitude some administrators at the historically black Lincoln University are taking toward sexual assault. In a video shot in September of a convocation delivered to an all-female audience, the university’s president, Robert Jennings, says, “We have, we had, on this campus last semester three cases of young women who after having done whatever they did with young men and then it didn’t turn out the way they wanted it to turn out, guess what they did? They then went to Public Safety and said, ‘He raped me.’ ”

His remarks ignited a firestorm of criticism, and Jennings has since released a letter to the students at Lincoln apologizing for his insensitive remarks. In this clip, Melissa Harris-Perry explains just how serious such attitude toward sexual violence really is.
—N’Kosi Oates

Will the Supreme Court Destroy the Affordable Care Act?

Dorian Warren

President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law in March of 2010, and it’s been dogged by right-wing attempts to reverse it ever since. Last Friday, the Supreme Court announced it would hear another challenge to the ACA, this time in the case King v. Burwell. Depending on how the judges come down, they could end up outlawing some of the federal tax subsidies that are helping people buy individual insurance policies.

Dorian Warren, an associate professor in Political Science at Columbia University, argues that doing away with these subsidies will be “taking money out of people’s pockets and taking away their health insurance coverage.”
—N’Kosi Oates

Did Ferguson Police Violate Human Rights During the Protests?


At the onset of Ferguson’s protests, Amnesty International USA deployed observers to monitor police interactions with the demonstrators. On October 24, the human rights organization released “On the Streets of America: Human Rights Abuses in Ferguson,” detailing the human rights concerns raised by the actions of law enforcement and public officials during the initial protests. The report highlights the excessive use of militarized policing, including tear gas, loud sirens and rubber bullets, and how these tactics posed real threats to the demonstrator’s right to protest. Melissa Harris-Perry and her panel—including Aisha Moodie-Mills, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, Jelani Cobb, associate professor at the University of Connecticut, attorney Raul Reyes and civil rights attorney Lisa Bloom—discuss the Amnesty report and the Ferguson protests’ ongoing legacy.

—N’Kosi Oates

Why Did This Florida Inmate Die—And Who Killed Her?

Julie Brown

A month ago, Latandra Ellington wrote a letter to her aunt from the Lowell Correctional Institution in Florida, saying, “He told me he’s going to beat me death. He was all in my face, then he grabbed his radio and said he was going to bust me in the head with it.” The 36-year-old African American inmate was extremely afraid of one of the people whose job it was to keep her safe during her imprisonment: a correctional officer. Ten day after she wrote the letter, on October 1, the mother of four was dead.

Though the circumstances of her death are still unclear, a private autopsy revealed that Ellington suffered from force trauma in her abdomen consistent with being kicked or punched. Appearing on the Melissa Harris-Perry Show,Miami Heraldinvestigative reporter Julie Brown dives into the details of the case, explaining that Ellington was just one of four inmates to die while in the state’s custody at Lowell in 2014. 
—N’Kosi Oates

The Ebola Crisis Has Revealed Just How Unequal Our Healthcare System Is

Thomas Eric Duncan

Thomas Duncan was the first person to die from Ebola on American soil. He was also a 42-year-old Liberian immigrant, and his nephew Josephus Weeks argued in an open letter in The Dallas Morning News that, because his uncle was a man of color with no health insurance, “Thomas Eric Duncan was a victim of a broken system.” As Melissa Harris-Perry explains, “America does not have one healthcare system. It has many.”

—N’Kosi Oates

What Will Protect Black Americans From Police Violence?

Melissa Harris-Perry

Over the last few months, videos chronicling aggressive interactions between police officers and black people have gone viral. From chokeholds to taserings, to being shot and killed, the police have been caught again and again subjecting black Americans to disproportionate violence. But, as Melissa Harris-Perry explains, all citizens are protected by the fourth amendment, which states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated...” Are these videos doing anything to guarantee this right?  
N’Kosi Oates

Can Ferguson’s Protests Build a Nationwide Movement Against Police Violence?

Mychal Denzel Smith

It has been more than sixty days since the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. This past weekend, thousands of protesters took to the streets for the beginning of Ferguson October, a series of events meant to kick off an organized movement against police violence. On Saturday, Mychal Denzel Smith joined the Melissa Harris-Perry show with editor-in-chief of GlobalGrind.com Michael Skolnik, and the author of Impolite Conversations, Cora Daniels, to discuss the movement building in Ferguson. “Justice is not just confined to whether or not Darren Wilson is arrested and whether or not he is indicted,” Denzel Smith explained. “Justice is the other demands—how we shift police culture and how the interactions between young black people and the police go from here forward and I think that’s the bigger movement.”
—N’Kosi Oates

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