Harris-Perry is great on television, able to think on her feet during those rapid-fire, expert-in-a-box debates, and has come into her on with her own show. She is disarmingly effective, at once confrontational and charming. But it's in her writing that you see the depth of her insight. What I love most about her body of work is her unwavering assertion that society has a responsibility to address racism and sexism.
The crux of her work has been an investigation of the confluence of race, gender and politics, and especially the stubborn inequalities that exist in the US. As I have said elsewhere on this site, these issues are not the quaint, sixties-era counterculture obsessions that conservatives and even centrist Democrats would like to make them. If nothing else, we should view the work of people like Harris-Perry with self-interest. We won't ever begin to realize our potential as a country until we lay these problems bare and solve them. Harris-Perry's commentary on current events, which you can read on her website, melissaharrisperry.com, is lively and smart. She has a biting sense of humor and writes with entertaining prose, while her theories are carefully considered and defended. It is a treat to find a writer who can be entertaining and colorful while operating inside a sound, academic format. Harris-Perry definitely pulls that off.
In a recent article on her website, melissaharrisperry.com, Harris-Perry spoke about Presidential politics, the rhetoric around Herman Cain's campaign, and the potentiality of having two black candidates run against each other for the White House.
"[W]e need to bury, once and for all, the idea that racism is primarily about saying mean or unflattering things about black people, and specifically saying mean or unflattering things about President Obama. We need to insist that discussions of American racism rest firmly in revealing and addressing the disparate impact of policies and practices that create or deepen racially unequal outcomes. Racial animus might have prompted the nasty signage about the president at anti–healthcare reform rallies, but who cares? The issues of racism in healthcare are the continuing racial health disparities that impact black Americans from infancy to old-age. When some whites refuse to vote for Barack Obama it might be caused by racism, but the voting racism I am much more interested in is the voting and registration regulations that state governments are imposing right now in ways that will likely disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of black voters. If we allow white Democrats to believe that support for Barack Obama is sufficient to protect them from any racialized criticism then we will have to extend that same logic to Republican supporters of Cain. Both are ridiculous. The politically relevant question on race is not the willingness to support a candidate who shows up in a black body. Anti-racism is not about hugging the black guy running for president, it’s about embracing policies that reduce structural unfairness and eliminate continuing racial inequality."