Race, gender, politics, religion and our struggles.
Last week, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was indicted for reckless or negligent injury to a child after using a wooden switch to spank his 4-year-old son, prompting conversations about the morality—and efficacy—of corporal punishment. In America, corporal punishment isn’t illegal: In fact, it’s legal in every state. Nineteen states permits corporal punishment in schools. Roughly 70 percent of Americans support the use of corporal punishment. Although physical disciplinary actions are common throughout the US, the ramifications are rarely highlighted. On Sunday, Melissa Harris Perry and her panel, including Camilo Ortiz, the Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis and Stacey Patton, explored why so many parents still rely on corporal punishment.
This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the groundbreaking choreopoem for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf. The author of that acclaimed work, Ntozake Shange, joined Melissa Harris-Perry on Sunday morning to share her thoughts on the Ray Rice controversy and her groundbreaking piece, and says that since the time of her poem, “domestic violence has gotten worse.”
Since footage emerged of Ray Rice physically assaulting his then-fiancée Janay Rice in a casino elevator, we have heard the voices of the Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Yet in the wake of such attention, Janay Rice’s voice has been almost entirely unacknowledged by the media. On Saturday, Melissa Harris-Perry and her panel discussed domestic violence, sports and privacy.
Nation contributor and Knobler Fellow Mychal Denzel Smith joined Nancy Giles and Karen Finney on the Melissa Harris-Perry Show this weekend to discuss his cover story for The Nation on youth movements fighting for racial justice. Smith invoked the killings of Michael Brown in St. Louis, Oscar Grant in Oakland and Trayvon Martin in Florida to argue that a more connected, national movement is required to seriously combat America’s racist policing attitudes and policies. “You have to upend the entire system of racism and white supremacy that is the defining characteristic of American philosophy and government,” said Smith. He praised groups like the Black Youth Project and the Dream Defenders for getting out in the streets and forcing elected officials to address issues, like privatization of juvenile detention facilities and racial discrepancies in marijuana arrests, that have devastating consequences for youth of color and their communities.
— Hannah K. Gold
Over the past decade, white police officers have repeatedly slaughtered unarmed black men—Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri, was one of many. On MSNBC, Nation columnist Melissa Harris-Perry named nine black men who were gunned down while defenseless in the last ten years, before going on to explain that between 2006 and 2012, white police officers killed a black person at least two times a week. She then noted that in 1857 Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney declared in a court opinion that African-Americans had “no rights which the white man was bound to respect”—an idea that many white police officers in America clearly still hold true.
—Hannah Harris Green
Yesterday, Melissa Harris-Perry appeared on All In with Chris Hayes to discuss the birth of the interracial Moral Mondays movement. She told Hayes that this initiative goes against many Northern liberals’ perception of the South, which they see as “so utterly backward and so utterly racially divided.” The reality is more complicated, she explains: “There is a level of intimacy, interracially in the US South that hasn’t always led to equality but has meant that there have been moments when interracial political movements could emerge.” This history of fusion movments since the aboliton of slavery should keep us from seeing Moral Mondays as game-changing, says Harris-Perry,”there are strategic partnerships, but we probably should not expect enduring, long-term coalitional change.”
—Hannah Harris Green
Three weeks ago the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls in Nigeria was treated as merely the latest in a line of attacks in that country by the religious extremist group Boko Haram—noted briefly, and just as quickly forgotten until tireless campaigning by the girls’ families and an accompanying social media campaign forced action. Nigeria’s president, previously silent on the kidnappings, has promised to secure the girls’ return. The state department offered the Nigerian government its assistance. Protests at the UN and in Nigeria are helping to keep global attention on the plight of these young women. “You have not been forgotten,” Melissa Harris-Perry told the girls in an open letter on her show this weekend. “We are sorry it took us so long to pay attention, but we are watching now. We are pounding the drums because each of you matter.”
The estimated $300 billion in anticipated tax refunds this year is irresistible to predatory preparers targeting the poor. Stephen Black, director of the Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility at the University of Alabama, appeared on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry to discuss this “wild west” of an industry that leeches money from impoverished communities. Families expecting the earned income tax credit, in need of help with tax preparation but without access to the certified CPAs that do taxes for the wealthy, turn instead to shady pop-up operations that sprout during tax season. “The average single mother working at Walmart making $19,000 a year, raising two kids, goes into one of these places,” says Black, “and will come out $300” poorer.
“How do we express a rage about the lack of progress while also acknowledging that our circumstances are not that of our forebearers?” asks MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry of a panel that includes Nation.com blogger and Nation Institute fellow Mychal Denzel Smith. Smith, whose recent Nation.com post, “The Function of Black Rage” is used as a focal point for the segment, responds, “We do just that.” While it is a good thing black people in America are no longer slaves, says Smith, “we have so much more to do,” pointing to issues like mass incarceration and food insecurity that often go unacknowledged as “racism, that are the products of white supremacy.”
Since publicly identifying as a trans woman in 2011, Janet Mock has been deeply involved in transgender activism, and her new memoir, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More, carries forward that work. As she explains in this clip on MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry show, this memoir reaches out to an audience of young people facing experiences similar to hers. In the book, Mock describes her path toward realizing her identity and finding love: "I wanted to show that we can be lovable and we as trans women, as marginalized women—period—of color that we can exist in the daytime and live a very full life and write our stories."