Melissa Harris-Perry Claims Tokenism

Melissa Harris-Perry Walks Out On MSNBC, Accuses Network Of ‘Tokenism’

Melissa Harris-Perry has walked out on MSNBC. According to CNN Money, the move comes after what Melissa claims were “weeks of pre-emptions” that attempted to “silence” her on various progressive issues. However, things may not be what they seem.

Variety reports that Harris-Perry sent an email to her staff, which was first obtained by the New York Times, detailing the reasons for her decision to walk out on the network, refusing to host her show on Saturday.

“Here is the reality: Our show was taken — without comment or discussion or notice — in the midst of an election season. After four years of building an audience, developing a brand, and developing trust with our viewers, we were effectively and utterly silenced.

“Now, MSNBC would like me to appear for four inconsequential hours to read news that they deem relevant without returning to our team any of the editorial control and authority that makes MHP Show distinctive.”

This move is disagreeable to Melissa, who has accused MSNBC of using her as a “token” black woman.

“I will not be used as a tool for their purposes. I am not a token, mammy, or little brown bobble head. I am not owned by Lack, Griffin or MSNBC.”

Melissa Harris-Perry said that she loved her original the way it was, and “wants it back.” Following the now very public nature of the fallout between herself and the network, that may now be impossible — even when election season is over.

MSNBC has expressed dismay at Melissa’s decision, and released a statement in response to the controversy and Harris-Perry’s decision to walk out.

“In this exciting and unpredictable presidential primary season, many of our daytime programs have been temporarily upended by breaking political coverage, including MHP.”

“This reaction is really surprising, confusing and disappointing.”

MSNBC admits making changes to Melissa Harris-Perry’s show and schedule. However, made it’s been made clear that Melissa was by no means singled out for this purpose. For example, Ed Schultz, Ronan Farrow, and Joy Reid all had their daytime shows canceled and Rev. Al Sharpton’s program was moved to Sunday.

The topics of current broadcasting are more so focused on breaking political news and discussion than non-political news and subject matter. Melissa made comments insisting that not only did she resent the manner in which her show was hijacked, but she hasn’t been on the air “for weeks” thanks to being pushed aside for live election coverage — of which she’s had little or no part.

Said Harris-Perry, “I have been deemed less worthy to weigh in than relative novices and certified liars.”

Melissa Harris-Perry, a professor at Wake Forest University, holds the distinction of being the only tenured professor hosting a news program. On her show, she often discussed issues related to social justice, race, and gender.

While there could be room for these subjects in a highly volatile political season, during which they’ve been relevant in a political context, MSNBC has made it clear that they’re willing to throw out anything that won’t make the network competitive against its rivals. Unfortunately, that may include the Melissa Harris-Perry show.

Despite accusations of tokenism in her heated email to staff members, Melissa later told the New York Times that she didn’t know if race was a factor in her treatment by MSNBC. To Melissa’s credit, this controversy has demonstrated that perhaps MSNBC went too far, and has failed to provide viewers with the level of stability shown by more competitive news networks.

However, that Harris-Perry made the accusation of racism and tokenism without any substantial proof might not work for her in the future once election season is over. The network could decide to cancel her show outright and move on.

Do you think Melissa Harris-Perry was right to walk out, and that she’s being treated in a racist manner, or was this all one big misunderstanding? Share your thoughts below!

[Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for GLAAD]