Harris-Perry, Jelani Cobb: Blacks Not Seen as American Citizens

During Saturday’s “Melissa Harris-Perry” on MSNBC, host Melissa Harris-Perry and University of Connecticut professor Jelani Cobb discussed Hurricane Katrina and the perception of African-Americans in America.

Harris-Perry stated that she noticed people in New Orleans during Katrina wrapped themselves in American flags, and weren’t labeled as Americans, but rather refugees by the media.

“The media, from my perspective, was complicit in. I’ll never forget just how difficult those images were of New Orleanians literally wrapped in American flags or waving American flags and being labeled not as Americans needing rescued, but as refugees.”

“They’re literally showing, displaying their sacrifice as citizens and we still couldn’t see them as Americans,” she added.

Cobb explained that people in Katrina, as well as Walter Scott and other recent African-Americans shot by non-African-Americans, are not seen as citizens and have had to “deploy new forms of media to establish” their “humanity.”

“With looters, they were refugees. The problem wasn’t with the idea of people being called refugees, it was that it was an honest depiction of what people’s status actually was. If you are a citizen, is there any question someone should shoot you in the back like with Walter Scott? If you are a citizen, a true citizen, a human being, is there any question whether you should be shot for going into the store for skittles and iced tea? We can go through the litany of names that belong in the same place as Katrina and the other idea is the image, you mentioned the media of it, we have consistently had to deploy new forms of media to try to establish our humanity.”

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