MSNBC host Melissa Harris Perry is being ridiculed after launching a tirade claiming you’re not a “hard worker” unless you were an African-American slave who picked cotton.
Melissa unleashed the rant while speaking with Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, on her show.
When Aguilar said Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan was a good choice for Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives because he’s a hard worker, Harris Perry scolded Aguilar, saying Ryan doesn’t know what “hard work” really is.
“If there’s somebody who is a hard worker when he goes to Washington, it’s Paul Ryan,” Aguilar said.
Melissa interjected: “Alfonso, I feel you, but I just wanna pause on one thing: I want us to be super-careful when we use the language ‘hard worker’ because I actually keep an image of folks working in cotton fields on my office wall because it’s a reminder about what hard work looks like.”
Harris-Perry conceded that Paul Ryan may be a hard worker, but that’s only from a relative standpoint, because he’s very privileged.
“I feel that he’s a hard worker, but in the context of relative privilege,” said Melissa.
Harris Perry said the only other group that may be deemed “hard workers” are poor single moms, but she said the Republican party dismisses them as leeches.
“I just want to point out that when you talk about being a hard worker, the moms who don’t have health care, who are working, we don’t call them hard workers,” said Melissa.
“We call them failures, people who are sucking off the system. That’s what you guys [Republicans] do as a party.”
Aguilar disagreed. “That is very unfair,” he said. “We can’t generalize about the Republican Party.”
Critics slammed Harris-Perry on social media, saying one race does not corner the market on “hard work.”
History shows many other groups have risen from slavery, including the Israelites, who were enslaved for 400 years in Egypt.
Similarly, Greeks and Germans were enslaved by the Roman Empire, and Jews were forced to work in slave-labor camps under Nazi rule during World War II. There are countless other examples of “hard-working” slaves who did not work the cotton fields in the U.S. South.
Harris Perry was rebuked on Twitter by critics who say her remarks are racist and invalidate their own hard work and life experiences.
“Hey MHP, have you ever worked a 12-hour shift on the floor of a 700-bed hospital? No? then STHU,” wrote on Twitter user.
Another added: “I know people of many colors who are hard workers, starting with myself!”
Meanwhile, the IRS filed a $70,000 tax lien against Melissa and her husband in April 2015 for failure to pay income taxes on her 2013 earnings. Ironically, Harris Perry has frequently criticized the wealthy for not paying enough taxes.