MSNBC’s Harris-Perry at Cornell: Hope Trayvon Martin ‘Whooped the S*** Out of George Zimmerman’ (Video)

What a shame and an embarrassment for Cornell it was to feature MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry as the speaker at the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Lecture on Feb. 23.

The event, titled “We Can’t Breathe: The Continuing Consequences of Inequality,” was ostensibly meant to serve as a thought-provoking reflection on contemporary race relations and the role the teachings of Dr. King should play today in light of recent elevation of racial tensions due to the cases involving Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice.

Instead, Harris-Perry delivered an hour-long comedy routine lightly mixed in, here and there, with some serious thought. Though she did reference Dr. King on numerous occasions, Harris-Perry clearly established from the very beginning that this event was really just about Harris-Perry, and not Dr. King, one of the greatest figures of the 20th century. After a humbling introduction delivered by Dean of Students Kent Hubbell, which referenced Dr. King’s 1960 speech at Cornell and also honored Cornellians slain in the Civil Rights Movement, Harris-Perry started off by taking a “selfie” with the audience behind her.

The event took place in Sage Chapel, with an audience of about 250 packed into the pews. Despite the sanctity of the setting, Harris-Perry could not resist herself in peppering curse words throughout her speech, some of which were obviously planned and not spur of the moment. At one point, she referred to her vision of democracy–that “democracy is for losers”– as “hot shit” and later exclaimed she hoped Trayvon Martin “whooped the shit out of George Zimmerman.”

What would Dr. King, a pacifist, think of those who champion violence in his commemoration?

It actually does not matter what he would think, argued Harris-Perry, because there is now way of knowing. True, but then the MSNBC spin-doctor went on to claim Dr. King is a “social construction” anyways, so what the actual Dr. King said and did is of little relevance and consequence to the modern-day conception of Dr. King.

In one of her many bids to come off as quirky, Harris-Perry also equated Dr. King, an icon of peace who changed the nation and the world for the better, with Beyoncé, a pop singer who does not even write her own lyrics.

“We think of King as the one great voice, like Beyoncé,” said Harris-Perry.

Though the audience laughed along with Harris-Perry when she joked about the Tea Party, George W. Bush, Beyoncé, Southern black culture, and Ithaca’s weather, most in attendance were hesitant to cajole along with her when she boasted about her honorarium no fewer than three times. At one point the MSNBC host even quipping she would “be down with lower taxes” because of all the money she makes from her speaking circuit.

The cornerstone of her presentation–aside from the cringe-worthy spectacle she was making of herself–was the idea that the country must “break bodies [in order] to perfect the union.” During the presentation, the word “bodies” was used no fewer than 100 times in line with the emergent phraseology of leftist activism that places an undue emphasis on physicality rather than on actual thought. It is through “bodies” and “motion” and “spaces” that these modern-day leftist protesters and activists seek to effect change, not through “minds” and “thinking” and “ideas.” Harris-Perry went on to explain to the audience the struggle of “black bodies” throughout American history, showing slides on her accompanying PowerPoint depicting images of “bodies that have moved,” “bodies that would not be moved,” “bodies that sat,” “bodies that rose,” etc.

“We break bodies in order to… get to where we need to go,” she explained.

The importance of using the word “bodies” over, say, the word “people” is because bodies, being purely physical, cannot think, whereas people–the union of body and mind–can. The problem for body-obsessed activists is that those who can think for themselves clearly do not drink their Kool-Aid.

The MLK commemorator went on to discuss how fraught the past decade was for black bodies, citing the response to victims of Hurricane Katrina as well as the arrest of Harvard University professor Skip Gates in 2009. Referring to the Harvard professor, Harris-Perry said, “Your respectability cannot and will not save you…they went into his house and got him.”

The last segment of the presentation concerned art. Earlier in the speech Harris-Perry did lament how the movie ‘Selma’ only won one Academy Award, but in this drawn-out closing segment she spoke about the need for “black bodies” to become artists. Indeed, given the turmoil facing the country after a string of highly controversial white-on-black and black-on-white crime cases, Harris-Perry’s solution for blacks and non-blacks alike it to become artists–singers, drawers, actors.

Once again, the new rhetoric of the activism class showed in Harris-Perry’s speech supposedly delivered in commemoration of Dr. King. Here on display was the infantilization, the self-parodying of the gravity of topic of discussion–race in America–by minimizing the proper role of rationality and introspection to make room for galvanizing buzzwords and catchphrases.

Let us only hope Cornell will select a more refined, serious speaker next year. On campus, comedians should perform their skits in Bailey Hall, not in Sage Chapel in commemoration of Dr. King.

31 Comments on MSNBC’s Harris-Perry at Cornell: Hope Trayvon Martin ‘Whooped the S*** Out of George Zimmerman’ (Video)

  1. What do you expect from an actor?

    • the “let me critique this” culture of our country is disheartening. if her speech or anything else anyone does is not to your liking keep it moving. why stop solely to express what you don’t like about something? you probably take pride in your yelp reviews.

      • That is just stupid. If someone is invited to give an address to a school, then it will be discussed and criticized. It requires a total lack of self-awareness to criticize someone for criticizing someone.

  2. Even if he did “whip the Sh*t out of him, Trayvon got what was coming to him and Zimmerman was rightfully acquitted so Good guys 1 Common street thugs 0. As it should be.

    • Got what was coming to him, Chris? Being followed after the 911 operator told him not to and then shooting him without thought; not to mention his constant run ins with the law since then. You Chris, are one of the many reasons why there is still a race problem in this country! #facts

      • When you sucker punch someone, knock them to the ground, get on top of them and start beating their head into the ground then you DESERVE to get shot.

        Martin DESERVED it.

      • Apparently, you didn’t read (or perhaps understand) the events of that night, Brian. Neither of your assertions are accurate. He verbally agreed not to follow Trayvon and was returning to his vehicle when he was attacked. He drew his weapon ONLY after Trayvon sucker-punched him and was beating his head on the pavement.

      • The notion that George Zimmerman followed Trayvon Martin against the advice of the dispatcher is a canard. While it is certainly possible that that is what Zimmerman did, the fact is that the dispatcher never discouraged Zimmerman from following Martin until Zimmerman had told the dispatcher that he was following Martin, and there is NO EVIDENCE that Zimmerman continued following Martin after that point.

        Also, I’d like to know how you know that Zimmerman shot Martin “without thought.” He was on the ground, being savagely beaten, and so he shot Martin. How does that qualify as shooting “without thought”?

        • He didn’t give any thought to how Martins’ poor mother was going to feel after learning that her thug in the making son was dead.

        • Man walking, minding his own business, an inept, gun toting to make up for his inadequacy, miscreant (as exemplified by his domestic violence on numerous occasions, assault on police officers and his daddy, a former judge manages to wrangle a concealed carry permit for him when everyone knows you cannot carry if you have a history of domestic violence) confronts his physical superior, gets his tail whiped so he uses his equalizer to interrupt premantly a journey to the store. Yup, that’s about right.

          • Ya your buddy Trayvon a Thug….. Just like your bro Mike Brown a thug. People like you need to be aborted.

          • Your poor command of the English language belies how intelligent you are. I bet you think this is a compliment.

          • No, “shibumi01,” that isn’t about right. It’s wrong. There is no evidence that Zimmerman confronted Martin, or even trailed Martin for a considerable amount of time. Indeed, while it is entirely possible that Zimmerman followed Martin for more than the handful of seconds that elapsed between the point at which he got out of his car and the point at which he indicated to the dispatcher that he would stop following Martin, and that he ultimately confronted Martin, there is no factual basis on which to believe that he did either of those things. Your opinions about this case are based, to a large degree, on pure speculation. I wish you could see that.

          • Both Zimmerman and Martin had issues in their past. Just like nearly all people. Those things do not matter when it comes to determining who was in the wrong that night. I’d think someone who insults the intelligence of others based on their command of the English language would know this. If we are to play that game, Martin was a thief and got into numerous fights. He is far from the angel the media tried to paint him as.

            That night Zimmerman was patrolling his neighborhood as a result of prior criminal activities that happened in the recent past. Completely legal. Zimmerman noticed Martin walking down the street in the dark and decided to follow him because he felt he was acting suspiciously. Completely legal. Zimmerman lost sight from his car and got out to keep an eye on him while calling 911. Completely legal. 911 told Zimmerman to stop following Martin and as far as we know Zimmerman complied and began going back to his car. At this point Martin jumped Zimmerman and began beating him. Evidence from the scuffle shows this seems to be the case. Zimmerman pulled his gun and shot Martin once which immediately stopped the assault.

            That night Martin had been walking home after buying some things from a convenience store. During the walked he noticed a man following him and sped up to get out of sight. As far as we know he double backed to jump and assault Zimmerman because he did not like being followed and then was shot as a result of jumping and assaulting Zimmerman.

            The only other acceptable variation is that Zimmerman continued to follow Martin until they confronted one another and then as a result of thus confrontation Martin physically attacked Zimmerman first and was shot as a result.

            In both situations Martin was shot in an act of self-defense by Zimmerman. Regardless of whether Zimmerman made a bad decision following him.

    • As I stated, all hail to the post racial society. Just look at this post and the obstructionist congress.

  3. Citing King to Beyoncé? Next thing you know Kanye West will be guest speaker at Cornell! Colleges use to have educated speakers to represent prime examples of their values!

  4. I guess ivy league (lower case on purpose) sanctity trumps truth thereby rendering painful truth, “an embarrassment.” And here I thought or had been lead to believe (I don’t really) live in a President Obama ushered in post racial society.

  5. Sigh, people can debate on and on about who deserved what. The one thing most folks fail to consider (especially Zimmerman supporters) is that you only heard one account of the story and that is the person who did the shooting. You’ll never know if Zimmerman was telling the truth or not or at the very least hear the deceased’s account because Zimmerman made sure the only true witness wasn’t there to tell it. You may ask, “why would he lie?”, and the answer would be “to avoid going to jail.” There’s a reason perjury is an offense on the books because people lie…under oath. I’m not saying Zimmerman did or did not lie, I just don’t understand this blind acceptance without any consideration that perhaps his truth is just that, his truth and not THE truth.

    • “You’ll never know if Zimmerman was telling the truth or not or at the very least hear the deceased’s account because Zimmerman made sure the only true witness wasn’t there to tell it.”

      When you say things like that, you’re implying that the reason that Zimmerman shot Martin was to ensure that he would get away with the shooting of Martin. It’s an irrational and, in light of the main point of your comment, hypocritical argument. You’re basically saying, “We’ll never know whether Zimmerman shot Martin in self-defense, because he made sure that the one person who could tell us whether he shot Martin in self-defense was dead.” You’re taking it for granted that he killed Martin illegitimately and simultaneously criticizing others for taking it for granted that he killed Martin legitimately.

      • Zimmerman made recorded phone call to police dept. as did Trayvon Martin to his girlfriend besides texting as presented in court to 12 jurors, here you are all speculating as Melissa Harris-Perry did to the audience at Sage Chapel!

      • Actually that is not what I am implying. I’m saying that the only side presented was Zimmerman’s and of course his account is going to be presented in his best interest. It’s like when they say history is written by the victors. It doesn’t make the account completely accurate. And so to blindly accept Zimmerman’s statements as fact ignores any other perspective that could have been presented because the person with that perspective is not here to present it. I’m not taking for granted that Zimmerman illegitimately killed Martin, merely acknowledging the possibility that he may have.

        • Conversations were recorded on Zimmerman’s phone to police at time of incident, to Trayvon Martins girlfriend through recorded conversations and text which jury and court heard so trial is over. Time for the pure speculation from Melissa Harris-Perry and those that are racist to quit since they all seem to be pulling the race card themselves, that makes those using racist!!! BTW, we are all of the human race, so to me they would be ethnic bias!!

  6. Progressives are always going to be the most worthless trash in every room.

    Youngsters in university will learn this over the next couple of decades, that despite their own egotism and self-regard that they are the most beautiful creatures ever born to mankind…progressives are in reality the most vile, most bitter and most ugly souls around.

  7. Cornellgrdstudent // February 27, 2015 at 3:14 pm // Reply

    The person who wrote this article was trying very hard, indeed, to de-contextualize many of Harris-Perry’s comments. If you were in attendance, you would know this.
    She said early on that she was going to utilize humor purposely, as she has grown to, alongside some harsher content. And by framing the lecture in this way, it would make no sense for anyone to believe that these blatantly comical moments were at all meant to be anything other than that.

    The idea that Harris-Perry was championing violence for violence’s sake is absurd. She was holding violence under the light, pointing the audience to the violence that has been carried out on this country’s grounds in the name of white supremacist institutions and beliefs. And yet, she was interested beyond the nonsensical physical violence perpetrated against black human beings here, even showing photos from lynchings and directing our eyes away from the dangling bodies and to the smiling, proud, very white and still incredibly violent people who saw that scene as entertaining. And those white bodies just enjoying a prime time lynching were an example of how you champion violence.
    If the only violence you are concerned with is that of a human acting in defense for the life that he cannot be sure the greater population of his country will see worthy of defending, then you are, in my opinion, perpetuating an ideological violence. Forget the violence of the reaction to his death. Forget the violence that caused it. Forget the violence that causes more like it. Forget any violence that is not the violence you care about — that of someone, hopefully, not wanting to just die because it’d be easier for white folks to respect him then.

    Why not mention the moment after her tax joke where she very seriously noted that she believes that we do have to raise taxes, as if she was afraid that you’d missed the joke for what it was? And yet, here we are — you having missed the joke because you wanted to. You having missed every joke because you’d rather deal with your curated moments and details than the very inconvenient, harder parts that Harris-Perry was trying to get us to look at? Because you are all about the dangling body and refuse to look at the smiling mob that hung it in the tree?

    The author of this article is, perhaps, most disappointing because there is no attempt to hide that he/she was not listening. An obvious example of this is the spiel about being an “artist.” Not only is it disrespectful to people who are artists and do use their mediums to act in this world against institutionalized violence and it’s kin, but it also ignores the fact that Harris-Perry gave a definition of the artist and it was not limited to the surface idea of what the artist is thought to be. To paraphrase, she said that the artist sees unjust order and makes chaos. She likened this to NCA&T students who organized a Greensboro sit-in in the face of unjust order. She likened this to people who utilize their physical bodies to disrupt spaces even now across this country. How is that about singing and drawing and painting? Why the blatant disregard for what she was actually saying? Does it inconvenience you too much to argue with her actual points since you must argue?

    And what good does it do you to misrepresent what happened in that room by currating moments and sound bites for the approval of people who weren’t present? Knowing it will be spread? How about doing what is actually required to meet here where she was?

    I know and you know that this is a misrepresentation of those ideas. Have the courage to require more of yourself.

    • Time for the pure speculation from Melissa Harris-Perry and those that are racist to quit since they all seem to be pulling the race card themselves, that makes those using racist!!! BTW, we are all of the human race, so to me they would be ethnic bias!!

    • Cornellgrdstudent,

      You equate me with the men and women who, in the picture you are referencing, smile and appear gleeful against the backdrop of a lynching. How egregious. I am almost beyond words. What you have done is taken my criticism of Harris-Perry’s presentation and equated it with lynching. How this makes any sense to you is absolutely beyond me.

      Additionally, you accuse me of “not listening.” Clearly, I listened, and I listened better than anyone in the audience because my report and video of the event made national news media. If you or anyone listened more carefully, or more thoughtfully, please provide me with your write-up of the event, and let me know how many other news outlets reference it.

      Best,
      Casey

      • Dear Casey: It is only obvious those that critic you are using the race card to get a response and in my book they are of ethnic bias since we all are of the human race so impossible to be a racist in my world unless you are from another planet. Do not let them detour your evaluation of observance, and report from your soul, not to those that intimidate you through their outlandish remarks!

      • Cornellgrdstudent // February 27, 2015 at 11:15 pm // Reply

        This is ridiculous. I never likened you to a lynch mob. How you got to that point is probably the same as how you got to the off-center analysis you do in this article.
        Your lack of reading comprehension is not my responsibility.
        And, surely, your report made national news because it was sensational. End of story.

        • Dear Cornellgrdstudent:
          It is the words of your ethnical bias where you refer to Melissa Harris-Perry speech as a comical statement to the following:
          She was holding violence under the light, pointing the audience to the violence that has been carried out on this country’s grounds in the name of white supremacist institutions and beliefs. And yet, she was interested beyond the nonsensical physical violence perpetrated against black human beings here, even showing photos from lynching’s and directing our eyes away from the dangling bodies and to the smiling, proud, very white and still incredibly violent people who saw that scene as entertaining. And those white bodies just enjoying a prime time lynching were an example of how you champion violence.
          Cornellgrdstudent your evaluation of the speaker Melissa Harris-Perry shows your demeanor in such a negative way.

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