On Monday, former MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry appeared on The View to talk about her public breakup with the network.
In particular, Harris-Perry was asked about parts of her now-leaked letter that seemed to suggest racism was a root cause of her leaving, since she wrote: “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.”
“Is the implication that there’s some racism in there?” Joy Behar asked after reading that quote.
Harris-Perry explained that she had been writing in “shorthand” for her staff and did not realize it would be seen by the public, so she then explained what she meant: “I’m an African-American politics scholar. When I say ‘mammy,’ I mean something very particular. The history of mammy is that mammy is the black woman who cares more about the master’s family than about her own.”
“Did I think it was racialized? Not in the sense of they’re coming after Melissa for being black,” she said. “Do I think it has racial implications? 100%.”
She pointed to the fact that her show had the most diverse makeup of any show on the network.
“It’s just an empirical reality. Taking this show off the air, even if you put me individually back on as a host meant that the folks who sat at our table, whether they were transgender, women of color, Latino Republicans, they just weren’t going to be there anymore,” she said.