tv Melissa Harris- Perry MSNBC December 8, 2013 7:00am-9:01am PST
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a word that was originally intended at a derogatory term. meant to shame and divide and demean. the word was conceived up by a group of wealthy white men who needed a way to put themselves above and apart from a black man, to render him inferior and unequal and diminish his accomplishments. president obama has been labels with this word by his opponents, and at first he rose above it, hoping that if he could just make a cause for what he'd achieved, his opponents would fail in making their label stick. but no matter how many successes that he had as president, he realized there were still many people for whom he'd never be anything more than that one disparaging word. a belief he knew was held not just by his political opponents, but also by a significant portion of the american electorate. and so he decided, if you can't beat them, you've got to join them. so he embraced the word and made it his own, sending his opposition a message they weren't expecting. if that's what you want me to be, i'll be that.
y'all know the word that i'm talking about. obama care. that's right. i said it and i'm not ashamed. and neither is president obama. because he knows that of all his victories, over two terms in office, his legacy is ultimately going to be remembered for this one single word. i mean, what do you call the president who rescues the u.s. auto industry? obama care. what do you call the president who finally eliminates osama bin laden? obama care. what do you call the president who ends don't ask, don't tell? say it with me. obama care! heard the one about the president who pulled us out of the greatest recession since the great depression? yep, obama care. and what about the one, you know, about the president who reduced drug sentencing disparities? obama care. stop if you have heard this one. a group of underpaid woman and the president who passed a pay equity law walk into a bar -- okay, you see where i'm going with this. short of bringing about world peace before he leaves office, the affordable care act will loom large in the president's
legacy, as the singular accomplishment of his two terms. and now following the relaunch of a new and improved and fully operational healthcare.gov website, the president is not only owning it, but doubling down. and putting a bright spotlight on the obama in obama care. this week, the white house announced that it is going to be all aca, every day, from now until december 2rd, enrollment deadline for coverage on january 1st. starting with the president himself, who has been pulling his best, you know, hustling almost every day this week, to make the hard sale on the affordable care act. this was his pitch on tuesday. >> i'm going to need some help in spreading the word. i need you to spread the word about the law, about its benefits, about its protections, about how folks can sign up. tell your friends, tell your family. do not let the initial problems with the website discourage you. >> and this was president obama on wednesday.
>> i'm going to need you all to spread the word about how the affordable care act really works, what its benefits are, what its protections are, and most importantly, how people can sign up. i know people call this law obama care, and that's okay. because i do care. i do. >> and this was president obama on thursday. >> my advice to everybody is, the website's not working, go to healthcare.gov, take a look for yourself, in your state, what's available to you. there is no reason why you should not have health insurance. >> see, i wasn't exaggerating. every day he's hustling. over the next three weeks, if you go a day without hearing from president obama on obama care, you can be sure it's because he's passed the mic to democratic members of congress, the democratic national committee, democratic congressional campaign committees, or advocacy organizations to help him
deliver his message. and if you miss the message on television, the white house has promised that you'll find it on facebook, twitter, and even in your inbox. after an early fumble with the rollout, this is president obama on offense. driving hard to penetrate the gop defensive line. and he is playing to win. joining me now is ari melber, co-host of msnbc's "the cycle" and correspondent for the nation. suze kim, national reporter for msnbc. tara dowell, who is the democratic strategist, and susan del percio, republican strategist and contributor for msnbc. thank you all for being here. so susie, you're a first-time nerd at our table today. talk to me, is this what offense looks like? because we certainly know what defense about the obama care act looks like. is this sort of the president going out and saying, oh, yeah, it is obama care? i mean, i'm obama and i care. >> i think, definitely, the fact that he's committed the next three weeks to every single day, hammering this message home is definitely a decision that the
administration made that they have enough confidence with the website, with what obama care can offer, that they can just send that message, every single day, without necessarily apologizing for everything that's happened. i think this is definitely a shift by them to try to change the momentum, to try to change popular perceptions about the law. that said, their website still does have some problems, particularly not just in terms of -- it's much easier to sign on to the site. i think wait times have gone down. they've made it a lot easier. but in terms of the back end, the information that insurers are actually getting about the people who are trying to sign up, still 10% of that information is incorrect. and that could lead to a bad scenario, in which people think they have obama care may not actually be signed up on january 1st. so there are still some difficulties on the technical side that the administration is trying to fix. >> so, ari, i saw you madly making a note as suzy was talking. so, do you think, for example -- and i saw you reacting, when you went to the question of the
website. so part of what i'm wondering here is how long will this website fumble going to haunt the policy, which is the much broader sort of set of questions here? >> the trend line is, the thing is working a lot better, and as long as that is continuing to be the case, it will not take a long-term bite out of the policy. and i think some republicans realize that. there's a big difference here in the messaging between the politics and the policy. the politics is, i won. and some of that swagger that you're talking about. and we've heard that message repeatedly. and public opinion on the overall ingredients of this law has not actually moved that much, right? the policy piece is different, because you can't be as boastful. and that is, i care, that is, we want this thing to work. that is, at times, this thing is difficult, right, and massive healthcare reform is difficult. that's why it hasn't happened in a generation. and so i think they've had to thread that needle, and obviously, having a problem with the site access was a huge issue. there is another piece to this that goes beyond that. which is over half a million americans are covered in some way.
many through medicaid or lower income americans, right? and that was something that for a variety of washington reasons, was never sold that hard because they pitch at the middle class. the middle class is the political strike zone. i don't think democrats should be apologetic at all about the fact that so far, more people who need it the most have been covered. >> except for the fact that 5 million people got kicked off of their healthcare plan. they're at a net loss of 4.5 million. >> but susan, what we know is they made some adjustments around the question of sort of the willingness to extend, you know, some of those plans, which although people initially were saying, oh, i'm losing my health care, also, i think folks didn't quite understand that these were policies that were so subpar, that in a lot of ways, they didn't do full conch. but i guess one of the things i'm wondering, based on what ari was saying, is that if the democrats are having trouble threading the needle, it also feels to me like republicans have been doubling down on the offense against obama care for a long time. come 2014, come 2016, are
americans are going to be saying, we have been this going on four, five, six years at this point. >> there's a big difference between 2014 and 2016. 2014, there's still a lot of kinks. and any government policy is very difficult to implement. but let's not forget, in 2011 and all the way through 2012, the president took a victory lap with it. he's the one who in late 2011 said, yeah, call it obama care. i'm going to own it. the campaign, they sent out e-mails. so obama care. so they wanted to own it. then they had to implement it. and that's where they got in trouble. because they did this victory dance, if you will, and then all of a sudden, the website happens. now, to think you could be that successful, just simply because the first part, which children under 26 went on, contraception, there were a lot of positives, which republicans agreed with many of those things in the negotiations or during the negotiations. but to take that victory dance and then to have to implement it, then you have to step back,
and that's when they realized they have a problem. that's when the whole, if you have your policy, your keep your policy, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. people are learning they can't. and the biggest problem they have is with young people. and right now the fact that people are taking their information in california and giving it to insurance is a big turnoff for young people. >> i'll let you in on this. >> first of all, from a messaging standpoint, i want to go back to that point. it is great that the president is out there and that he's pushing the message and he's on offense. but the entire democratic party needs to be doing the exact same thing. because right now, what's happening is, the entire republican party is unified around this issue. they're fighting on every other issue area, but on this issue, they are unified against it. so every single democrat has to be on message. so the mistake that the democrats made that allowed some of this misinformation to get out there, that has now penetrated into the american public, is that they did these big town hall meetings for the
midterm elections in 2010. and so you allow people to organize and get these groups out there, that were there to just obstruct. what you need to do is do small group meetings. start with your base, start with women's organizations and use your best weapon. michelle obama. >> i love that. stick with me, because we'll have robert gibbs when we come back, and i want to ask about who would be the effective surrogates here. i love the idea of first lady obama out there sort of selling this law, but i wonder if there are some real challenges in making that happen. stick with us, we are bringing robert gibbs into the discussion next. when it's donut friday at the office,
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right now what this law is doing is helping folks and we're just getting started with the exchanges. just getting started with the marketplaces. so we're not going to walk away from it. if i've got to fight another three years to make sure this law works, then that's what i'll do. that's what we'll do. >> that was president obama this week, resetting the narrative, launching his push on the affordable care act version 2.0, maybe 3.0. i'm not sure. joining me now from washington is someone who worked in the white house during the administration's original obama care pitch. former white house press secretary and msnbc contributor, robert gibbs. nice to have you this morning. >> good morning, how are you? >> pretty good. robert, i want to play for you a moment from march of o 2010, march 22nd, 2010, a press conference where you're speaking. i want to play this for a sec. >> look, health care is going to become law tomorrow. i think that -- i can't speak to all of the amendments or all of the shenanigans that will be tried on capitol hill over the
course of the next many days. but we're confident that this process is coming to an end. >> right, we're confident this process is coming to an end. that's march of 2010. we are still having this fight. are you surprised about how much resistance and shenanigans there have been? >> no, i'm not. i mean, what i was referencing there was the legislative shenanig shenanigans. remember, this thing -- this thing took, you know, ten, eleven months, and had multiple near-death experiences, and was in, to use a health care analogy, critical condition for many of those months. so, look, i think the white house always viewed, there was a legislative process, and then there would be an implementation process, and i think as you heard the president say, this is a year's long implementation process. this is just, you know, this isn't -- you turn a light switch on, and all of a sudden, something becomes law and we just move on from there. it's a process that's going to take some time. >> so, robert, i want you to
sort of take us backstage, for those of us who are not washington insiders, and what is the conversation or the set of conversations that happened when the administration says, okay, we are now going to embrace the language of obama care, we're now going to go on offense, we're going to spend three weeks putting the president out there. what are the set of conversations that lead to that kind of strategy? >> well, i think, first and foremost, obviously, you've got a pretty important window of time in the next, you know, 2 1/2 weeks to get people signed up to insure that they have coverage that begins on the first of january. you couldn't do this marketing blitz until the website worked, because certainly, the administration knew that every time they mentioned the website, people would go there. and if the capacity wasn't there to handle those people, then people would get turned off even more. so, now that the front end of the website is worki ining much much better. the point now is the administration needs to target their messaging and go exactly
where people live that need to sign up for health care. and particularly, you saw the president spend a lot of time last week, and i assume he'll spend a lot of time in the next 2 1/2 weeks and ultimately in the first three months of next year targeting what are called young invincibles. those are the people that are 18 to 24, they're younger, they don't think they're going to get sick. they have access to affordable health care and we've got to reach those people in order to ensure that the numbers that sign up by the end of march include both those that are sick and have pre-existing conditions and are able to get health insurance for the first time, as well as younger people that are healthier into that system. >> so, tara, i want to give you an opportunity to engage with robert here about your idea about who the other voices should be in addition to the president. >> i think, first of all, anyone up for re-election in 2014 should absolutely out there and all politics is local.
so they need to go into their districts and they have the better chance at microtargeting, because it's their districts and they need to do it anyway, and they need to meet with small groups, women's organizations, the polls show that women were more likely to to like health care reform than men, and that's generally across the board. >> on that point, renee ellmers, the republican from north carolina who was called out on this show before for being transphobic, because of her statement that men have never had babies, which just look it up, in fact, they have, but i want to play a little piece that i think is going directly to this strategic idea, tara. let's listen. >> they are making you pay more, usually much more. and in many cases, taking away the doctors you've been seeing for years. if you want to talk about a war on women, look no further than this health care law. >> so, how important is it going to be to push back against this new war on women language, that it's obama care that's the war
on women? >> look, i think just because a republican says it doesn't actually means that it moves people in the real world. i mean, you've got to -- there have to be credible messages and credible messengers and i'm not entirely sure that that's one of them. look, i do think, when you mention women, look, i think particularly, to reach, say, the young invincibles, i think the most important messengers in this case are moms, you know? i think these are messengers that can talk to their children and convince them of the necessity to get affordable health care coverage, even if they never think they're going to get sick. i said earlier, we've got to speak to where people live, and that's what the administration clearly has to do. and what i mean by that is, where people get their information, where people get their news, where people get their entertainment. a lot of this stuff is not going to happen in broad daylight, so to speak, like the president walking into a room and doing an event. it will happen, as was said, in
small groups, it will happen on social media. i'm 42, i'm not going to be watching the media that the young invincible 28-year-old is e seeing. so i'm not even going to see some of that messaging. >> robert, i think it's possible that you might be overestimating the ability of moms to get their adult children -- but i'm down. i get it. thank you so much for joining us this morning on "mhp" show. when we come back, i'll bring ari, suzy, skand susan back int this conversation. a governor from the south who may be the best ally that president obama has in the country right now. you have time to shop for car insurance today? yeah. i heard about progressive's "name your price" tool? i guess you can tell them how much you want to pay and it gives you a range of options to choose from. huh? i'm looking at it right now. oh, yeah? yeah.
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who rarely sides with the party base, he has emerged as one of the loudest champions of obama care. he has agreed to expand medicaid. according to the governor, 69,000 kentucky residents have enrolled in health care programs and he expects that number to grow over the next few weeks and he's telling both republicans and democrats to get on board. in a september op-ed in "the new york times," bashir told the naysayers, quote, get over it and get out of the way so i can help my people. and this week, he offered this advice to members of the democratic caucus. >> be patient. take a deep breath. because i'll guarantee you that by next november, this issue is going to look a lot different than it looks up here on the hill right now. so, yes, this may be an issue next november, but i think it's going to be an issue in favor of those who want to provide health care for every single american. >> what do you make of the government's argument there? >> i think it's interesting.
the most successful part of kentucky's expansion seems to be the medicaid end of things. and this is where you've seen states succeed the most in terms of enrolling the most people. and i think in messaging, i mean, if republicans are saying that, well, if you like your plan, you can keep it, and that was a lie the president put forward, if they're saying we need to end obama care, they're going to be taking away health insurance from people who have had it for a while. and that itself can be a powerful counterattack. but interestingly enough, it's not just democratic government who's embracing this, it's a handful of republican governors as well. and i think that that is a really revealing sort of point. governor kasich of ohio said the reason we're doing the medicaid expansion is it's a human issue, it's a moral issue that these people need to be covered. and i feel like those voices are going to begin to get more attention as well. >> so, susan, suzy is not wrong on this point, one of the things that republicans are right about when they have angst about the government, that once it is implemented, it is hard to go take it away.
so this point that once people have the obama care, talking about repealing it or taking it back becomes a very different issue than having never implemented it. does that mean it's sort of the end of that repeal discussion going forward? >> well, the repeal portion, yes. the fact is that the republicans have never had the repeal portion to offer. they kept saying, replace. they had the repeal, but they never had the replace. so right now, as you go forward, it is the law, it is being implemented, you're going to have to look, instead of replace, what you want to fix or drastically change. so that argument does come off the table. here's the problem with what the governor said. given that this is a new system, you can't running for re-election bet that everything is going to go perfect. as a matter of fact, it is more likely, and not because it's a democrat, but because it's government, that they're going to see more things go wrong, as we go forward. so if a republican is running -- a democrat is running for re-election in 2014, for them to double down on the affordable care act right now, it's a very
dangerous thing, where it's not hard for a republican to do it. >> i think it goes much deeper than that, this which role are you trying to play? and what you have with the president and most of the democrats, to this date, they didn't lose that many votes from the original 30-some that oppose the aca, when it was first passed, it was a small caucus of demes and there are still those caucuses that are critical. but at the larger perspective, you have a president and most of the democratic party that is the chef. they are cooking, okay? and the republican party are all restaurant critics, okay? and they're coming along and they're saying, i want a little bit more here with the herbs and the spice and this appetizer was too salty. and that's fine, and there's a certain number of people that will read restaurant reviews, but there's a lot more people that want to go to restaurants, even when the food is not perfect and every dish that comes out isn't exactly what you. >> but as a political strategy -- >> i don't -- and i don't mean to take something very serious, but it is that way. and that is different than someone come along and saying,
i'm a better chef. >> that's a pure political strategy. >> it's a fundamental difference in political strategy. >> but this is exactly why democrats should double down on it. because there's so much misinformation out there. yes, some people may lose the coverage that they have. but that's bad coverage. they're not losing some great policy. many people have actually gone bankrupt with insurance, bankrupt. >> right. most of the health-related bankruptcies are not the uninsured is actually people who do have insurance. but it's -- >> and they need these stories to be out there. they need this to be -- they need people who have been through that experience, who have had that experience, who are now okay. they need them alongside with them, meeting with people. that's how you do strategy. you're going to keep saying what you're going to keep saying. so we have to say what it is. >> there is no issue, 11 months out, that unless you are 100% certain, which, for example, republicans are 100% certain that their base, just republicans, are going to still dislike obama care. >> and the base is all you need
for the midterms. >> right, for the midterms. there is no strategy that you would put in place as a consultant that you would bet everything on, on your whole election, 11 months out. but if you double down on obama care, you certainly are in. >> just to go back, a little bit, to the restaurant analogy -- >> please. >> the problem, i guess, both for democrats and republicans, is that we're actually not going to be served the full meal for years. there are so many different parts of obama care, some of which the administration has deliberately delayed saying it's not ready, we don't have enough time. and the fact is, we won't actually entirely know whether obama care is successful or a total failure for a good while yet. and that doesn't really fall conveniently into this midterm election -- >> but if you saw what that governor said, if you see what a governor christie says, and i think what president obama should do, is own it. i did it, you know what, we need time to put it forward. let's go. >> so that's what the president is, right? so the president, despite the
fact that his approval ratings right now, he's at a 50% disapproval rating, right? yet he recognizes, this is it. all the other things i mentioned in the show, he's not the president who did those things, he's the president who did this thing. he is embracing it and owning it, even the language of obama care. for a long time, i resisted. i was only saying aca on air, until the president said, we're all in, this is the thing we're doing. >> and rhetorically, he's got to embrace it. but it did two things, it made it political by linking it to a president, and that's going to have divided opinions in the country. the other thing it did, it made it sound like this set of regulations is a healthcare product. how's my obama care. to susan's point, it is not a product. it's a set of regulations in the same way that if you pass a regulation that says you need to have a seat belt in cars, there will be costs in the short-term. the cars that all exist have to be refitted. does the manufacturer pay for it, does the individual?
who gets fined for that? that could be complicated. but over the long run, you say, that's a safety regulation, and we save money. >> it's even less the menu, less the actual entree, and the food safety regulations a to the back. >> boom, there we go. >> up next, the gop acknowledges its woman trouble and offers special training sessions on how to talk to the navy. [ male announcer ] if you stash tissues
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starker. in 2012, black women voted at a rate nine points higher than african-american men. and that is a trend that's been true for years. turnout among women has been higher than turnout among men in every election since 1980, when 59.4% of women and 59.1% of men voted. the number of female voters has also overwhelmed male voters in every presidential election since 1964, when 39.2 million women versus 37.5 million men voted. and of course, as we know, technically, there is a gender gap in how women vote compared to men. women as a whole who voted for president obama overcome governor romney by an 11-point gap. although, as you've learned here, that was largely driven by women of color. black women voted for president obama, 96-3. now, most white women, 56%, voted for romney. but among all white voters, the president did better among white men than among white men.
42% of it white women voted for president obama while only 42% of white men did. women are decisive in our elections and we've seen more women running for office in recent years and winning. 20 women now serve in the u.s. senate and 78 in the house. what's more, it seems that american voters don't harbor a particular bias against the ladies. in open seat races, women win at the same rate as male candidates, but all challengers, men and women, face an uphill battle in unseating incumbents and there are just men in office who automatically have that incumbency advantage. now women are coming for them. and how a man runs against a woman, especially how a republican man runs against a woman, well, let's just say that tends to make for some good tv, which is why the republican party is now offering a crash course in how to deal with women troubles. more on that next. ♪
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when republican men run for office against women, heck, they even talk about women, it can go kind of badly. >> if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. >> even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that god intended to happen. >> the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low. >> why should you vote for me? because i do not wear high heels. she has questioned my manhood. i think it's fair to respond. >> you're part of the problem. the media is part of the problem as well. >> oh, come on! that's so easy. >> oh, come on, carol! >> that's so easy, that's so easy! >> carol, you're beautiful but you have to be honest as well. >> okay, i think we should leave it here.
>> wow! and yet next year, at least ten republican house incumbents next year are likely to face women challengers, which might have something to do with this. politico reported this week that the national republican congressional committee is trying to head off any todd akin legitimate rape-style comments in next year's midterm elections by tutoring members on how not to run against women. susan, i mean, all of us were just squirming like, oh, right! they said that! and so you and i were talking in the break, of course you would tutor a candidate about how to run in any election, but part of it is like, the akin comment was a gaffe. that's what they believed. >> the best way for republicans to avoid that is not to put up todd akin candidates, first and foremost. and it does mean, that does go to a bigger question for the republican party is, are they going to have to start playing a much active role in primaries? meaning the leadership? because as a rule, leadership likes to stay out of it, and yes, there's expenditure groups
that get involved, but will leaderships have to start raising money or keep other republicans out? which was a problem for the democrat s years ago, and that' kind of a few phenomenon right now. but the problem what we heard about in that politico story, is they actually had a seminar entitled this. that's the problem. it's absolutely true. you do tutor any candidate, how to run against a woman, how to run against someone older, how to run against an incumbent versus someone who's never run for office. so i expect to see all of that. but, again, these gaffes are by who they're putting up as candidates. so that's more important. >> this is the thing, though. it's not just these kind of fringe candidates who hold these extreme fuse and are saying these kind of distasteful things that fall on dead ears. house republicans pushed a bill that would basically severely limit the rape exception that was in the hyde amendment, that basically would say, that would only count as rape if you reported it to the police, if
there was this documentation. that was something that was in the mainstream of the republican establishment. it's not as if they are just kind of fringe people sort of spouting out these views. this is where the party stands on these issues now. >> let's listen to john boehner, just for a moment. i think this is a really good point. let's take a listen to john boehner, being very optimistic about how well things are going for the republicans on this question. >> i'm trying to get them to be a little more sensitive, you know? you look around the congress, there are a lot more females in the democrat caucus than there are in the republican caucus. and you know, some of our members just aren't as sensitive as they ought to be. >> do you think you're making progress on that front? >> i do. >> they're just so sense itisen. >> he is on to something. i've got a sensitivity program for you. spend time with women, right? and there's 98 women in congress. 75% of them are in the democratic caucus. so the photos, we've seen, tell
that story. and so even before you get to the policy, which is very important and related, but there will be some women republicans who have certain views and see a religious -- have a religious view of when life begins and policies associated with it. but at a larger scale, they need more women in the caucus and more women in the staff, and that goes to a point we've discussed many time, melissa, which is the difference between tokenism and affirmative action. they like women as candidates when they can try to use it to deal with their vulnerability, but they haven't been serious about affirmative action for the country or the rest of the caucus. >> your point isn't just, don't spend time with your mother, daughter, or your wife, but colleagues. you use the affirmative action language. if we go back to that mitt romney moment during the campaign, where he said binders full of women, right? and the discourse immediately becomes how difficult it is to put women in binders. and yet, what we miss then is
what he's actually saying is, i think it is reasonable to use a gender-based affirmative action policy to diversify the south. but it was so awkward, the binders full of women. >> i defended him that week and said it was sad that mitt romney's awkwardness overshadowed the fact that a republican in massachusetts, at least at that time, was do proactive recruitment of diversity in his cabinet. that's a good thing. >> right, just dona't say you pt women in binders. >> not great messaging around that. i think the problem for republicans is a lot of people in the party are older men. they grew up at a time when women primarily were in the kitchen. that's a different dynamic. that was part of their psyche. so it's going to be very hard for them to appeal to women when their core belief system is that they shouldn't even -- this is not everyone -- but for some of them, they shouldn't even be running against these women. >> what's happening with my face, i know you're looking like, uh-oh. certainly, that's true, but
always only for one class of women, right? so women are always working in other people's kitchens when they're poor and working class and latino and african-american and immigrant women. yet, i was about to sort of push back against that, and yet the men who are there are not necessarily, for the most part, from those communities. but stay with us, because it's not exclusively a republican issue, and in fact, i think our vice president, joe biden, might be able to teach republicans a few things about running against women.
last year. >> we have these sanctions in place. it's in spite of their opposition -- >> oh, god. >> they've given 20 waivers to this sanction. under a romney administration, we will have credibility on this issue. >> vice president biden? >> it's incredible. when governor romney's asked about it, he's said, we've got to keep these sanctions. and he's said, you're talking about doing more. are you going to go to war? is that what you want to do? this is a bunch of stuff. with all do respect, that's a bunch of malarkey. >> stuff, malarkey, laughing and mocking, but here he is four years older, shall we say, holding himself back as sarah palin goes on the attack. pay attention to joe biden's face. >> barack obama and senator o'biden, you've said no to everything in trying to find a solution to the domestic energy that we're in. now barack obama and senator biden also voted for the largest tax increases in u.s. history. barack had 94 opportunities -- on the tax thing, i want to
correct you on that again. and i want to let you know what i did as a mayor and as a governor. and i may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but i'm going to talk straight to the american people and let them know my track record also. >> you can see him, he's like, uh-oh, no. i guess the important thing, this does go to the idea that clearly, and this is from a cnn.com story, from back in 2008, clearly biden had been prepped specifically about running against a woman candidate and, in fact, in this story, no candidate for president or vice president in the history of the country has had more advice on what to say than senator biden had on his debate with senator palin. >> and he comported himself extremely well, because biden is not one to bite his tongue in any way, shape, or form. but i do think that for the republican party, again, this is going to be, especially with the tea party, and the tea party holds far more conservative views about women, about
minorities, about the places of women and minorities. and so as long as they continue to have the level of influence that they have, the candidates' views are going to reflect that. >> and suzy, you made such a good point in the break. we tend to think of this as, don't say legitimate rape. don't say that your body can just shut that whole thing down. but in fact, when we talk about women voters, it's not just about those kind of issues, it's about economic issues. >> no, absolutely. for example, in terms of the low-wage jobs that we're adding to the economy and the service sector and other things, a majority of those jobs go to women. a majority of jobs in the government, the public sector jobs that republicans are determining to cut down go to women. there are pocketbook issues that are more at the court of women, women are not just their reproductive tracks, they are people who are often making a ton of economic decisions at the head of the households. if i say the one opportunity for
republicans along those line, a lot of people view obama care or health care as an economic issue. this is something that is a v vulnerability for democrats. in fact, obama's approval rating among white women and work class white women has dropped dramatically because of health care. and that's because, it does go to this point, that women care about their family's economic health, their community's health health, and this is something that goes to the heart of what they care about. >> and it's a reminder, also, that democrats, your point about not taking them for granted, there are still four states in this country, iowa, delaware, mississippi, and vermont that have never sent a woman to the u.s. congress, right? and although mississippi might, you know, we might go, oh, mississippi, also, not a delaware or vermont nor iowa. the democrats don't have this all figured out. >> no, i don't think they have it all figured out. i think what you saw with palin, of course, was an extra sensitivity because it went against type. because democrats have more women in the caucus and have
probably done more just on elevation, separate from policy. and yet, here was the republican party that have beat them to the punch on this issue. obviously, as an echo to the hillary/obama contest. and yet the reaction was sophisticated by women voters, to your point. not that, oh, because there's a woman on their ticket, there was going to be some huge exodus. that didn't happen. >> that said, let it be a different woman this time. so sarah palin is one sort of -- >> let it -- please, be. >> yes, please be a different woman. but it feels to me that there's a deep bench of republican women governors who really could make serious candidates, either at the presidential or vice presidential level in 2016. >> absolutely. we see that with susan martinez, for example. you can't write her off as a potential vice president nominee, i don't think she's run for president, but the same with kelly ayotte. that's certainly implied there. so there's something about those four state also that you talked about, and actually, i think you see in all 50 states, is going
to terrace point. men have been doing this a lot longer. there is that high aerarchy, th is that waiting your turn. so what happens, ironically, in the republican party, because they're so apt to get republican, show women, you know, we like women. they'll let women leapfrog a little bit more than the democrats will. >> well, yeah. >> women and also candidates of color. there is a strategic value to choosing the republican party for a certain demographic groups, in part because the line is shorter, right? which is a whole another segment and one that would be fun to have. ari melber, who has the win today for the longest running metaphor on this show. >> why am i being held out of the hip pop? >> i know. you are, but if you want to arm wrestle gene grade, i welcome that. >> yet again i feel marginalized. >> yet, indeed. nerdland, where white men are marginalized. suzy khimm and susan del percio, thanks so much. coming up next, the breaking race news that happened last
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these things don't bake themselves. we have to bake them for one another. we can bake the world a better place one toll house cookie at a time. nestle. good food, good life. welcome back. i'm melissa harris-perry. last week, after the show wrapped, i had to have a little conversation with my executive producer, because while i was on the air having a good time and eating pie and talking about crust, there was breaking news that no one told me about. when there's breaking news, we are supposed to get an msnbc breaking news alert. like this one that you can see here, because at 9:58 a.m., a week ago today, two minutes before we went to air, the republican party declared, racism was over! and only five years after
president obama's election had ended it the first time. i mean, a tweet at 9:58 a.m., at the gop -- excuse me, from @gop, the republican national committee read, today we remember rosa parks' bold stand and her role in ending racism. ending racism? i mean, that seemed like something we should have heard about. 58 years after rosa parks refused to give up her seat on that montgomery, alabama, bus, now the rnc had a much better-worded statement on their site. and they did send a follow-up tweet hours later that indicated what had happened. they meant to say, "her role in fighting to end racism." but it was too late, because femmenista jones, the writer, had created the hashtag, racism ended when, giving credit to bill clinton and even some of their best friends. but this is just more laughing to keep from crying. all of this was the latest example of how a country, our
country, is still unable to properly discuss race, in a society increasingly forgettable about structural racism and the way it pervades our nation. we noticed the flashpoints of horror, the shooting of trayvon martin and jordan davis and remeisha mcbride. we produced outrage about the stories is like this one where a 13-year-old girl was placed in protective custody when police didn't believe the two black men when he was traveling with were her legal guardians. no, there isn't any more to that story, they were just standing, waiting for a bus when they were arrested. charges were finally dropped this week, but, listen, far too often, in our public discourse about racism, we get stuck on the individual manifestations of explicit racial bias. and while hurling the n-word may be easy to identify as racist, it might also be the least impactful act of all racism, with which we should be concerned. instead of working ourselves
into a twitter on every biased utterance, it's time to develop a public vocabulary to discuss structural racism in the ways that it continues to cause and maintain american inequality. joining me now are michael denzel smith, a blogger for "the nation".com and a nobler fellow at the nation institute. march lina morgan at harvard university and executive director of the hip hop archive, tanner colby, author of "some of my best friends are black," and walter kimbo, president of dillard university, in my hometown of new orleans. so michael, you wrote a piece this week, in which you responded to the kind of rosa parks tweet that caused this big twitter frenzy, but specifically asked the question, why do we keep sort of framing this as, things are better now than they once were? >> yeah, it doesn't matter whether it's better. because we can pat ourselves on the back for being better than
ch chattel slavery -- >> we are. we should mark, this is not that. >> it's not that. but what material impact does that have on people right now if you are facing the prison industrial complex? if you are facing dilapidated schools on the basis of racism, on the basis of the governing philosophy of this country since its inception is white supremacy. if we are not willing to unpack that and then say to ourselves, how do we build institutions where that isn't the governing philosophy, how do we say, then it doesn't matter right now if it's better than slavery or better that segregation, because the material impact on people's lives is they don't have access to the same resources that white people have. >> you know, i wonder, as you make that point, i'm wondering, marcy, if part of the problem is the word, racism. like if there's something about that word that has become so attached to these individual utterances or these individual expressions that when we say it,
it actually obscures more than it illuminates about the structural inequalities that we're talking about. >> i do think that there's been a real problem in terms of, that term has been redefined by those who did not want it discussed, in general conversation, in american history, in the schools. and this notion of racism means blame. and once that got tied into blame as opposed to really dealing with the institutional aspects of racism, we ended up in a bind. and i think a lot of us slept on the moment when that happened. as the right began to talk about, you know, don't say the "r-word." at one point it was called that. and then you have to figure out, how do we actually talk about this. and somehow it diminished the reality that it is a horrible thing. that there is a historical reason that we talk about racism. that things happened that we
should not just say, okay, it's over, it didn't -- i didn't do it, therefore it's not important. but once we don't talk about racism, we end up actually losing what it means and what we all went through. >> and being in a place where we're reproducing it, without even knowing what it is. but you said something that i thought that was really key here, tanner, and that is the idea that as though saying racism automatically requires an actual bad guy. so if i say, we are dealing with a question of structural racism that all the white folks in the room are like, whoa! i don't hate black people. you're like, that's not what i said. i said we're dealing with structural racism. so is the problem that racism assumes that there is an individual bad actor who we have to blame? >> i don't know that it's so much an individual bad actor, but one thing i find is the differently between structural racism and personal racism is that all structural racism is personal racism. if you look at it from 30,000
feet, there's a structural racism in play. but go back in history, it wass wassenn't an institutional thing. it was a handful of real estate developers in the room who said, you know what, people are scared of black folks, so if we sell them, we'll make a lot of money. and it becomes institutionalized over time. and so when you look at it from 30,000 feet, we call it structural racism. but what keeps it in place and keeps it going is the individual decisions of 350 million people who failed to do the right thing a few dozen times a day. >> this is -- i want to underline this, because i think your point about housing is so critical here. so we're looking at a recent study on the question of housing discrimination, and so this is recent. like, this is not -- this is not 1940, this is not 1950. and this recent study, in fact, shows that there is substantial discrimination against minority renters, right, where, in fact,
african-american and hispanic aren renters are shown substantially fewer apartments and houses and opportunities. yes, it's both structural, as you point out, but also, it is, even today, being resubstantiated by the choices made by real estate agents and landlords. >> all evil is the result of a human failing on some level. whether we abstract it or on a personal level. and it's not even a bad actor. my wife and i have a great apartment in a white neighborhood with public schools. how did we get it? we knew somebody who knew somebody. so we just got the apartment. >> and that, walter, becomes the language of privilege, right? and that is, of course, invisible. part of what happens around privilege is, it's not as though what tanner is saying is, i have a gabillion dollars and i have those gabillion dollars because i'm white and i've had it handed to me, but there are all these networks associated with white tha ness that go all the way back.
>> i think people are still afraid, they don't want to call it racism or call it privilege. that means, i have to own that there are some things that i have that i may not have worked for. they were given to me because i was a member of the dominant group. so that becomes a challenge. it's just something that people don't want to address, but we have to. it's ironic, we're having this conversation. i'm a preacher's kid during the most segregated hour of -- >> right. >> this is why we're having this conversation. we don't want to deal with racism, but you go into churches right now, of course, i attend a church in new orleans, so we have a white pastor, but about half of the congregation is african-american. >> one of my favorite churches, by the way. >> first grace zion baptist church, pastor sean. so i see people working on that, but most people don't have to. and if i'm in the dominant group, i can live my life without dealing with other people and that becomes a challenge. so that's -- people afraid of that too. >> stick with us, because we're going to talk very specifically about who doesn't want to talk
about it, as soon as we get back. we're going to talk with a woman who was reprimanded for teaching about racism in the classroom. that professor join us next. we know first grace didn't see us, because we're a church right now, but we love first grace. turn to roc® retinol correxion®. one week, fine lines appear to fade. one month, deep wrinkles look smoother. after one year, skin looks ageless. high performance skincare™ only from roc®. take skincare to the next level with new roc® multi correxion® 5 in 1, proven to hydrate dryness, illuminate dullness, lift sagging, diminish the look of dark spots, and smooth the appearance of wrinkles. high performance skincare™ only from roc®. ♪
shannon beginy teaches an introduction to mass communications can court at a community college in minnesota. at a recent class when she was discussing structural racism, a white male student in the class spoke up. according to gibney, loudly. he said, why do we have to talk about this in every class? why do we have to talk about this? he was later joined by another white male student in filing a
racial discrimination complaint against gibney with the university and the school's administration thought they had a legitimate beef. gibney received a formal reprimand from the vp of academic affairs, which read in part, "shannon, i find it troubling that the manner in which you led a discussion on the very important topic of structural racism alienated two students who may have been most in feed of learning about this subject." joining us now from minnesota is shannon gibney, professor of english at a minnesota community and technical college. thanks very much for being with us. >> thanks for having me, melissa. so start just so that folks understand. when you are teaching a lesson on structural racism, what does that look like? what is the content of such a lecture? >> well, you know, we just need to talk about, you know, a lot of what you and your panel has been talking about, right? that this is -- there are historical reasons why, very good historical reasons why, and lots of them.
unfortunately, why folks of color do not have the same access to material educational resources, et cetera, et cetera. right? that it's not sort of this evil, bad guy, individual villain situation going on. and, unfortunately, i think because, as you said, also, we have not actually had a lot of practice at having these kinds of discussions about, sort of, how systems work, to oppress large groups of people, while at the same time, they work to privilege other large groups of people that, you know, the first response that many of us have is one of defense, defensiveness. so, you know, sometimes that's what happens in the classroom, unfortunately. because i -- >> i was going to say, professor gibney. absolutely, right? sometimes, particularly when we're trying to foster
conversations that young people are not used to having, on any of a variety of topics, but race can be one of the key ones, defensiveness is one part of it, which is part of why it always falls on us to do the work of trying to make these classrooms sites of democratic deliberations that are useful. so when you have had success, when you have had students open up and be willing to do that kind of conversation, what has been the key difference km wh? what makes a student more willing to have that type of conversation? >> i think a lot of it has to do with the composition of the classroom as well. i teach, as you said, minneapolis community and technical college. it's an urban, two-year community college, downtown minneapolis. our students are phenomenal, they're fantastic. majority working class folks, a lot of students of color from all different backgrounds. 33% students of african disisn't. that's african, african-american. we've got refugee students. we've got students who also have
had, are dealing with every social problem imaginable. so we've got students who, you know, are coming to school hungry, homeless, you know, all kinds -- we've got ex-offenders. but when you have that kind of mix in the classroom, it can really create, i think, what happens is that the classroom really becomes this place where reality, right? this sort of like human material reality is manifested, right? and so it's not sort of like this abstract discussion like, racism or, you know, sexism or classism or homophobia or whatever. it's like, no, this is my life. this is my experience. >> it has these material consequences for people's lives. hold for me one second, because i want to ask you, you have been president at multiple universities now, so you deal with students who come and complain. what do you see as the problematic nature of how this particular complaint, as well as you now know it, was dealt with? >> the issue for me, and i
looked at, shannon mentioned it's a very diverse institution. about 60% of students are students of color. when you look on the website and see the leadership, the leadership is overwhelmingly white and white male. and so part of it, for me, is that i think there might be a sensitivity to the student body that is engaged there. so it was easy to say, let me just embrace the complaints of these two white male students as authoritative, because they're part of the dominant group, that's part of the privilege. and then to reprimand the instructor based on that, when they need to have a broader conversation about, as she indicated, how do we get all these diverse people together, to really make a meaningful, rich experience, because in reality, we know, they're going back to their neighborhoods, they're living with people who look like them, they work with people, and so this is the only space that they have to engage in that. so it's an opportunity to have meaningful dialogue, so i don't think the first thing id do is say, let's reprimand. let's look a the climate on our
campus. let's ask ourselves a hard question. >> that's the question around structural racism, let's ask ourselves the hard questions. professor shannon gibney, thank you so much. thank you for trying to use your classroom as a space to try to have these type of conversations. >> thank you so much, melissa. we'll need to take a quick break, but while we're gone, we'll ask another hard question. who do you think is the unlikely culprit who's currently hurting black colleges. ♪ [ male announcer ] how could a luminous protein in jellyfish, impact life expectancy in the u.s., real estate in hong kong, and the optics industry in germany? at t. rowe price, we understand the connections of a complex, global economy. it's just one reason over 70% of our mutual funds beat their 10-year lipper average. t. rowe price. invest with confidence. request a prospectus or summary prospectus with investment information, risks, fees and expenses to read and consider carefully before investing.
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so we've been talking this hour about structural racism. let me be really clear about this. structural racism does not require intent. case in point. president barack obama, who delivered the commencement address at morehouse college this summer, president obama who signed an executive order, increasing funding for historically black colleges and universities, that president's administration has advanced a
policy that is disproportionately hurting historically black colleges and their students. a decrease in federal grant funding and a tightening of eligibility requirements for the parent plus loan program, which judges applicants by their credit histories, has hit thousands of families and caused a significant dip at hbcu enrollment. that's not because the loan program changes are racist. they're not. it's not like president obama is plotting to destroy black colleges, but african-american families were among those hardest hit by the recent recession, especially in the housing market, and without home values to borrow against, families rely heavily on plus loans to enroll their children in school. even though there is no intention to harm hbcus, loan programs have disproportionately affected black colleges. so far, hbcus have lost over $300 million. the situation is so bad that the secretary of education apologized to college leaders, was that hasn't stopped the ongoing possibility of a lawsuit from the historically black colleges and universities against president obama.
so although this is tough, you're the president of an hbcu, nobody thinks president obama wants to kill black colleges, but this is a policy that ultimately has a structurely racist impact. >> it's been really tough. it's been tough for me personally. because the night president obama was first elected, my wife was in the hospital, my daughter and i were at the house. she was in the hospital, because we had a son born that day and his middle name is barack. so we feel this, you know, closeness to the president, but my concern is sometimes people around him, who are helping to make these decisions, sometimes forget about the conversations that we're having and if you look at, you know, the wealth gap with african-americans having one-tenth the wealth of whites and earning 75%, those are the kinds of things that when you deal with the student population like mine, 75% of pell grant eligible. the average in higher education is about 35%. so when you change those kinds of programs and you say, well, we don't want them to have these big loans, they don't have any
money to begin with. so if i don't have any money, and you're telling me i have to have money to get money, that's what the policy is basically telling us. >> this feels like exactly the thing you were just talking about. the 30,000 feet thing. you're problem is such a good one. when you're making policy, sometimes what you need is proximity to and intimacy, and a an awareness of thousand it's going to affect those communities. >> and the question is, who in the obama administration is going to have that kind of knowledge. in theory, you would think they would. but the larger issue of what hbcu s are facing is an even bigger threat is diversity of -- >> tell me more about that. >> well, the hbcus are facing this serious crisis, and the loan program is part of it, but the larger problem is that we
have, as a society pb in the wake of jim crow and in the wake of ending jim crow, we set off on two different tracks. we kept hbcus in place and put all of these affirmative action and diversity action on predominantly white schools. >> but don't worry, those are almost all over now. right? so this is an interesting question that continues to come up, right, michael? and it's in part, part of what then becomes confusing in the conversation around race and structures. because what you need to be able to say is, look, we both need aggressive and appropriate affirmative action programs that allow for students to make the choice of opting into predominantly white institutions, and we want to have a space that is structurally sound and financially secure, that is about these historically black colleges and universities, which often actually have higher percentages of white students in them than often the white schools have of students of color. >> yeah, i think what the original -- what we were talking about, you know, these policies
coming from the obama administration that hurt hbcus points to the fact that we don't need a personal hatred of black people, of people of color, in order to reinforce structural racism. and i often think that the problem is that structural racism is what informs that person or animus, right? i think when we get to -- like, tanner was talking earlier about housing discrimination and, you know, people take advantage of the fear that white people have of black people. that fear is not born in a vacuum. so we have this idea of black people as criminal, but that's not just like a belief, that people just had. it comes out of a set of policies after reconstruction, that essentially reenslaved black people through the black codes, you know, putting them through the prison -- building the prison industrial complex that made it almost illegal to be black in public spaces. like, and so locking them up creates the idea that, oh, black people are criminal, because they are being locked up. but they're being locked up for arbitrary reasons. >> if you don't live near each other and go to school near each
other and the only images we see reinforce that sense of criminality, those structurely raci racist anxieties actually generate. one quick piece before we go. tanner, you just had a baby, a son named dashel parker, and we have a little gift from nerdland. of course, we give books to babies around here, because we are nerds. >> excellent. thank you very much. >> please pass that along for us. mike denzel smith and tanner kolbe, thank you so much for being here. our other folks are going to stick around, because up next jean grey is in nerdland and i'm telling you, it's going to be dope, it's going to be awesome, it's going to be all of that. even if you are not a hip hop follower, you need to stay for this. because if you don't know, you're going to know. so ally bank has a raise your rate cd that won't trap me in a rate. that's correct. cause i'm really nervous about getting trapped. why's that? uh, mark?
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missy eliot, nicki minaj. among these artists are foundational mcs, those who have gone platinum, who have built multi-platform careers and those who have redefined hip hop as we know it. but rather than talk about the distinctive timber of light voice or the utterly unique lyrical quality of eve's story telling, or the way missy redefined what a hip hop video could do or the massively complicated gender-bending multiple personas that nicki minaj harnesses in her music. rather than assess them on their talent or sonic appeal, these artists are typically relegated to the category, female rappers, or more recently, femme-cs. now let me be clear, i think it matters when the mcs spitting on stage or on a track is a woman, but not because women mcs are more positive or feminist, it's not like sisters are wrapping about puppies and rainbows, i want women on the mic, because i want to hear women flow about
everything. sex and violence and money and politics and just plain old bravado. i want us, because sometimes women are just the baddest artists in the game, or as nicki might say. >> i'm going to rap anyway, because i'm just great at it. >> it's time to stop acting like femme-cs flow like girls and recognize that hip hop needs women on the mic. i'm pleased to welcome the incomparable mc producer, writer, director, and social media darling, jean grae. nice to have you here. >> that was such a good intro. we could just go home now. i don't have anything to say. that was amazing. >> talk to me about that. on the one hand, i want to say, well, we don't want to just put women on the mic in a dwroir. on the other hand, i want to say, i want matters to have women's voices in this game. >> absolutely. i think what happens is, you know, where it gets difficult is, i get angry when someone
puts my gender in front of my actual job. and i think it's blatantly obvious i'm a woman and i've never approached of it as being a handicap to anything that i have to do. if anything, it's a bonus, you know? >> and yet, right, we know from tribe, right? so some time ago, we know from tribe that it is industry rule number 4,080 -- >> company people are shady. >> are shady. are they particularly shady for women? >> i don't think i ever went through a lot, dealing with large record companies. i was raised in a very indy record household. my parents are both jazz musicians and my mom started her own record company in the '80s, which was, you know, a crazy thing to be doing and a crazy thing for a woman in jazz to be doing. and when i started releasing records, it was immediately just the feeling that you had to do it independently. so i never really went to labels in search of a deal or saying,
i'm trying to pitch myself or sell myself. i think i probably had one meeting and the one meeting that i had, i was like, yeah, i can't do this. i can't be part of this. and, you know, i need to be able to have a limitless imagination and creative force. and so for me, going the major label route was never really on option. i think, definitely, when -- just in terms of selling a product, for males and for females, you know, going to a major label, they're saying, this is what we want you to look like. and we want to mold an artist. and we want to sell a product. and you kind of can't be too angry at that, you know? >> so let me ask you about, so, two things you said there that i want to follow up on. one is when you brought up jazz, i thought, oh, yeah, right. we often level a critique against hip hop, and particularly it's misogyny or it's seclusion of women in ways that we then don't look back on other musical or artistical
forms. and jazz is this deeply male-oriented space. so you coming from a parent who who's navigated that, is there a desire to be independent that emerges? >> i think so. and especially, my mom and my family coming from south africa, so, you know, she was performing in all these places, so you're not only dealing with the race issues, then you're dealing with the gender issues. and then performing in america and europe, when she was in her 20s and 30s, and then you're dealing with being foreign. so she never really put the idea forth to me that it was anything that was stopping her from doing that. it was just me watching her do it and thinking, i don't have any limits or i don't have any problem navigating this world. i just have to go through and do it. so it wasn't even a thought of really being independent, it was just kind of, this is what you do, this is how it gets done. >> as you just reminded me, you were born in south africa. so we were talking about, asking
the wrong questions of mcs, what are the wrong questions that the media have been asking about mandela and about mandela's legacy over the course of the past week? >> i think it's been a very, you know, how did he -- i know asking me, pretty much, how did he influence you. and i'm like, that's -- we can go so much further than that. and i think a good conversation to have, especially, in the wake of his passing is, there's such a rich history to south africa. and it's definitely not just black and white. and i think a lot of americans, and especially black americans, coming from mixed cultures could really, really understand and delve into and relate more if we actually -- you know, we have the internet. and we could go through it and research and say, okay, what do i really want to know about this country? it's not just apartheid, it's not just mandela, you know, there's two things and we don't
go any further than that. i think it could open up a bigger conversation. >> it's an interesting point, what south africa becomes, as a symbol then for the entire american electorate is, it is apartheid, and it is somehow libertiy will be rated by mandela. >> stick with us. we'll add a few more voices to the table. i'll keep pushing and two other questions i stem cell need to you. i want to know why you channeled jean grae and why did you kill professor x. that just seemed wrong. he was trying to help us. up next, hip hop in the classroom. ♪ [ female announcer ] let betty do the measuring and get a head start on delicious homemade cookies. visit bettycrockercookies.com for fun holiday ideas. betty crocker cookie mix. just pour, mix...love.
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[ male announcer ] get the spark business card from capital one. choose 2% cash back or double miles on every purchase, every day. what's in your wallet? i need your timesheets, larry! i am founding director of the angela cooper project in new orleans, and this week we hosted a conference on gender, sexuality, and hip hop. if you were following our hashtag, femme hip hop, you know the concert gathered a variety
of disciplines from universities across the country and even the world. the thoughtful, complex researchers found that hip hop now finds itself in college classrooms, even in the ivy league, yes, even at harvard. established in 2002, the hip hop archive and research institute at harvard university have a mission to facilitate learning and leadership through hip hop. back with me, rapper, producer, writer, director, and social media darling, jean grae. also, marsalina morgan, amber rose johnson, a junior at tufts university, who is also a spoken word artist and was at the conference, and walter kimbrough, who is also sometimes known as the hip hop university president. i want to start with you, marcy, why a hip hop archive at harvard. why is that something to have a place like that? >> first of all, harvard and hip hop have a lot of in common.
>> you have got to tell me what harvard and hip chop have in common. >> so much in common. i think it's a perfect union in many respects. and of course not everyone agrees, but it's just a matter of time. one thing is that harvard is really very clear on what it is as an institution, how important it is, what it means to the world. what its obligation is. and that's the way that hip hop rolls in many respects. it's like an mc is not just trying to compete, the mc is trying to service, it's trying to represent, it's trying to deal with any number of skills inlyricism. and that's a perfect marriage in terms of harvard and hip hop. as i say to people all the time, if you don't think it should be at harvard, where do you think it should be? what are you actually saying? >> but i love that idea, at the core of hip hop is that bravado, this, i'm the best, and that is
certainly, that's certainly part of harvard's dna. but also part of what i'm interested in here, and walter, i want to sort of push on this a little bit, is the idea that hip hop is not just a topic. like, you don't go take a class on hip hop and then you learn the elements and this is what graffiti is, right? but it's actually a tool. it's a way of approaching, doing any set of projects. and that's something i've seen you do at philander smith and now at dillard. how do you use hip hop as a tool for academic engagement? >> i think a lot of complex issues can be discussed through the lens of hip hop, particularly with the conference that you just had and in talking about women in hip hop. >> which dillard helped to support. >> you were excited and one of our students we saw in the promo package was participating and she said that created a great space for women to have this conversation about hip hop. but there are a lot of complex ideas that can be discussed. and you can look at jean's videos and talk about some of the issues there that deal with
societal issues. we want to talk about, you know, abuse and relationships and all those other kinds of things. it becomes a way for us to have those conversations in the end, for higher education. we want people who can think critically, communicate well, and if that's a vehicle to do that, sometimes it's okay to abandon the books and look at what's happening in hip hop as another way to engage young people. so i think it's a great tool, a great opportunity for young people and faculty and staff to have meaningful conversations about issues that are important today. >> amber, you underlined some of the exact things you're hearing from president kimbrough. because i asked you, why spoken word? why are you using this as a medium as a student. >> absolutely. and it's interesting you were talk about the bravado and the kind of pushing back and how hip hop was created in a time where people of color were not lifted up, so they had to push back against something. and that's exactly what spoken word is doing. spoken word being an element of
hip hop. and phillips, a poet i study under, who has kind of guided me throughout my studies, she says that poetry and spoken word pushes the woundry of language and pushes the boundaries of any kind of barriers that we're experiencing as people of color. so my approach as a student and as, you know, a young scholar and a poet is to find ways to push back against the boundaries and get closer to a truth that can be meaningful and that can really hold the weight of our stories as people of color. >> i love that language, the weight of our stories. that always feels like part of what's happening in our music is the weight of some very specific stories, your stories, but they end up being universal in this important way. and i always see you performing on these multiple levels. like you're doing a lot of interesting metaphoric work, you're doing comedic work, you know, you're representing things both with your physical space as well as with your vocals. but does it feel weird to be a subject of study? to have a hip hop artist and to have academics sitting in the
ivory tower, thinking about how you're using metaphor? >> i think it's a great thing. i think for some artists, that's the best form of flattery, that finally, you know, someone will get it if you take enough time to really put those words together and think, this is not what a lot of people think of as rap is, you're rhyming some words over a beat, and it's so much more than that. and i do try my best to challenge myself and make things that are relatable and use it as a form of talk therapy and a form of therapy for others. so when people actually get it, it makes me -- it pushes me to write more and be able to push, you know, more boundaries and break more walls down. >> so what have you seen when you've had those moments at the archive, where researchers and artists end up at the table together. you know, any of those moments, sometimes the artists' names, we may not know as well, but they show up and they're engaging as real-life repositories of this information, with the young people who are studying.
>> i think what happens is what we all dream will happen when we're, you know, in these institutions and dealing with the relationship between education and real life. we're really talking to artists about, we understand what you've been doing at some level, but we want to know more. we respect the work. and we also recognize how much knowledge you actually have to have, and how much practice you've done and the work that has gone into what you're doing. and what we're trying to do is to make sure that that work is treated the way any other work. i mean, i think hip hop belongs with all the other disciplines. i want to see lyrics from jean grae, nas, a number of artists, along with works in the social sciences, talking about urban areas and cities. it's so important that we have
those particular narratives, rhy rhymes, struggles represented. because we're really saying to young people, look, your world. we get it. we have been missing this. we haven't been talking about these things. you've kept this going. we now have generations who are talking about really hard issues, because hip hop won't let it go. >> and it validates the textual lyes of young people themselves as value to study. thank you all for being here. last week we put together a black feminism syllabus. i hope y'all will help me put together a hip hop syllabus we can share for our audience spop if folks are just beginning to think about hip hop as a subject, we'll put that together for you, nerdland. jean grae, marcy morgan, walter kimbrough, thank you so much. but amber rose johnson is not leaving yet. because when we come back, he's doing the footnote. hi honey, did you get the toaster cozy?
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the first person to present at this week's gender sexuality and hip-hop conference in new orleans was amber rose johnson. she's a junior at tufts university. she's a sixth grade teacher, a community organizer, and poetry champion. as soon as i heard her engage in a lyrical critique of the american news media and our incomplete biased, and often inhumane treatment of marginal communities, i knew amber rose had to come to nerdland. so it's my pleasure to pass the mic to miss amber rose johnson. >> did you see the news? did you see the bodies? our bodies. they were displayed all over the news. my body, our bodies were bloodied all over the news. did you see the bodies? they were marked and mocked and dressed up and knocked down. they were raped and stolen and
beaten and beaten and blackened and blue. this isn't new. the black and blue, the marked flesh, the cut-out tongue. the news reminds me that bodies like mine are beaten. the news reminds me that bodies like mine are marked and the bodies are everywhere. hunted. some of them made it to your timeline. some of them made it to your news hour, but the news doesn't capture everything. did you see the bodies? they're everywhere. they're dancing in sweat-filled basements. they're making love in houses and apartments and black seats and brown on black and browned bodies. they're changing shapes to fit the need. they're working hard. they're making music. they are fighting to survive. they didn't make it to your news hour, but they made it to the
bus stop. they made it to church on sunday. they made it to work and they made it through the day. and someone should have put that on the news. do you see the bodies? they're laughing like endangered hyenas. they're creating moments to escape the hunt. they're keeping each other safe. the bodies are dead and dying and managing to live. they are resisting and resisting and resisting, and that resistance is too terrifying for the news to watch. >> somebody should have put that on the news, and i'm glad that we did. we put that on the news. amber rose johnson, thank you so much. that's our show for today. thank you to you at home for watching. we'll see you next saturday at 10:00 a.m. eastern. we've got lots of good stuff planned for nerdland. right now, it's preview of "weekends with alex witt." >> i don't know if i want to do a preview after that. that was so powerful. >> when people are that good, i
know. >> i was sitting here like this. amazing watching this girl. anyway, thank you for that. for those of you who want a little news, i'm going to tease some for you. here we go, everyone. ice storm part two. parts of the east coast will not be spared by this nasty stretch of weather. answers to where and when and how bad in minutes. for years iran denied the world access to one specific energy plant. today, nuclear inspectors are there. so what might they find? we've got a live report from iran. here's the headline, american schools versus the world. expensive, unequal, bad at math. i'm going to talk to the author of that article. and reality check. will the amazon dream of delivery drones ever get off the ground, and could they be dangerous? don't go anywhere. i'll be right back. [ male announcer ] it's simple physics...
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of all day pain relief. this season, discover aleve. all day pain relief with just two pills. it's hitting the nation's capital right now. that ice storm that swept through the southwest, where is it headed and how hard might it hit? answers next. nuclear inspections begin in iran. what exactly do they expect to
find, and what did president obama say that may have surprised some? saving a city. on tuesday, detroit will move one more step toward bankruptcy. what price should the city pay to get rid of its massive debt? they're known as weapons of war, but why do some people say drone deliveries could prove to be a danger of all of us as well? hey there, everyone. welcome. it's high noon here in the east, 9:00 a.m. out west. we welcome you to "weekends with alex witt." we begin with the deadly winter storm gripping much of the nation. a second arctic blast is making its way across the country. snow it already falling in the nation's capital. we have a picture there of the white house. certainly beautiful, but it can be a mess. along with the snow and freezing rain, millions are bracing for more power outages and more dangerous