#NerdlandForever: My top Melissa Harris-Perry moments

I am in a state of full-blown shock at the moment. Melissa Harris-Perry, referred to by Ta-Nehisi Coates as America’s foremost public intellectual, was unexpectedly cut from MSNBC’s weekend lineup. #Nerdland, as Dr. Harris-Perry dubbed it, was more than just a loving nickname referring to her eponymous show; #Nerdland was, and still is, a collection of those who often have no platform to discuss critically-important issues. From transgender advocacy to covering the trial of a police officer charged with (and later convicted of) multiple counts of rape, #Nerdland truly gave a voice to the voiceless in so many marginalized, under-served and abused communities.

Personally, Dr. Harris-Perry’s show not only inspired me to explore black feminism and intersectionality, it allowed me intelligently question some of the values that are often mentioned when American exceptionalism is discussed. Dr. Harris-Perry made it OK to be an intelligent, inquisitive and thoughtful public figure while also staying true to yourself and your values.

MHP show certainly had its uncomfortable moments – but what honest, productive discussion doesn’t? As the host of one of the most diverse shows on cable TV, Dr. Harris-Perry’s charisma, snarky humor, passion and intellect naturally lent itself to some fiery yet substantive discussions – not something often seen in the world of political punditry.

Although the MHP show is over, #Nerdland will continue to live on in the hearts and minds of all those it touched – including myself. After four incredible years, it’s nearly impossible to list all of my favorite MHP show moments; but here are a few that will always stay with me.

MHP discusses the politics of hair

Many of us who were born with kinky hair often struggle with staying authentic while also maintaining acceptability within the corporate realm. After MHP delightfully broke down the diverse nature of black hair, her panel delved into society’s obsession with hair.

If you enjoyed that discussion, you’ll also like MHP’s open letter to a little girl who’s school principal said her hair was “unacceptable.”
The George Zimmerman verdict

The shooting of Trayvon Martin sparked a nationwide conversation on race relations and “Stand Your Ground” laws. After George Zimmerman, Martin’s shooter, was found not guilty of second-degree murder, MHP convened a panel and had a painfully honest discussion about the vulnerability of black boyhood.


What is riskier than being poor in America?

I will let this video speak for itself.


MHP advocates for collective caring – and everyone loses it

What’s great about this MSNBC promo is that folks completely freaked out over it. MHP even appeared on her colleague’s show to discuss the freak out. Even greater? She eventually auctioned the pink sweater she wore in the promo and donated the money to the Children’s Defense Fund.


MHP challenges the “perfect victim” notion

Respectability politics doesn’t just impact black folks’ professional lives – it can come into play even after we are gone. In this open letter, MHP delves into why there is never a ‘perfect victim.’


The arc of racial injustice

On the heels of the Eric Garner and Michael Brown killings, MHP highlights some of the painful injustices that have plagued communities of color between 2004 and 2014.



While I am heartbroken over losing the MHP show, I am absolutely certain this isn’t the last we have seen of Dr. Harris-Perry. So many supporters are expressing their appreciation to Dr. Harris-Perry for opening up a unique space where everyone was truly invited.

Thank you, Dr. Harris-Perry, for helping me to understand and recognize so many critically-important issues affecting our world. As we’ve seen with the sudden disappearance of your show, the struggle truly does continue.

-By Nicole Blanton

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