MSNBC has confirmed with The New York Times that the network and Melissa Harris-Perry have officially parted ways—and one of the main reasons for the break was over Beyoncé’s #BlackLivesMatter-themed music video for “Formation”—the same video made by a non-white person that white people just don’t seem to understand.
As NYT reported, the break between the two over the direction of Harris-Perry’s titular show came roughly four weeks ago after “Formation,” which features allusions to both protests organized by the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina:
“When she said wanted to discuss Beyoncé’s new video, ‘Formation,’ and how it addresses race, she said she was encouraged to focus on the election instead. She wound up discussing the video anyway but as she did, footage of Jeb Bush and Chris Christie rallies in New Hampshire appeared in a box, an indication that the network’s priorities were shifting.”
Harris-Perry’s kerfuffle with NBC execs came to light after an email she wrote to her staff was leaked, with her permission, by former colleague Jamil Smith on Friday.
In the email, Harris-Perry cited moves made within recent weeks by the network to usurp the program’s autonomy, preempting it for two weeks with coverage of the election. The network’s choice subsequently took away focus from topics like race and identity politics, which it has been known for since first airing in 2012.
“Our show was taken—without comment or discussion or notice—in the midst of an election season,” she Harris-Perry wrote. “After four years of building an audience, developing a brand and developing trust with our viewers, we were effectively and utterly silenced.”
Harris-Perry was quick to assert her autonomy as a black female personality within the national sphere—and that, essentially, she is nothing to fuck with.
“I am not a token, mammy or little brown bobble head. I am not owned by [NBC executives] or MSNBC. I love our show. I want it back.”
She later clarified a phone in interview with NYT that her comment was not meant to infer that she was being targeted because of her race.
“I don’t think anyone is doing something mean to me because I’m a black person,” she said.
Regardless, Harris-Perry failed to appear on her show this past weekend, which led to ensuing speculation that the Wake Forest professor was finally done with the network.
While Harris-Perry has not issued a full statement regarding the split at this time, she did tweet her farewells on Sunday morning,
Right now, there is no word on whether the show will be cancelled or whether someone else will assume Harris-Perry’s role as anchor.
Harris-Perry hasn’t been the only person of color on the MSNBC roster who has suddenly been ousted and/or preempted due to the elections. As The Washington Post pointed out, Jose Diaz-Balart, who hosts a two hour bloc in the mornings on the network, has als0 disappeared from the lineup, which inspired the hashtag #MasJose, demanding that Diaz-Balart is put back on the air.
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