Melissa Harris-Perry is the perfect example of a progressive Black woman making waves in today’s world. She epitomizes what having it all looks like. She holds a doctorate degree, is the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University, leads a nation of #Nerdland followers, is a mother and a wife, and, until recently, the host of a nationally televised news talk show on MSNBC.
To put it simply, she is #BlackGirlMagic on all levels. And her solid grasp of her career goals is proof that she knows it, too.
Amid her departure, in an email to her staff, MHP stated,
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. I love our show. I want it back.
For the record, I am here for it ALL!
Though I have never had a nationally televised talk show (yet), many of us know how it feels to be ignored, overlooked, taken for granted, used, pushed out, stressed out, over-worked and underpaid, then, ultimately, screwed over in business. The pain and rejection can be a bit much to handle. But there was something about MHP’s email and “ether-ing” of the network that made her situation into a reflective and learning moment for me.
Here are the top five takeaways you can learn from witnessing MHP’s brave public departure from MSNBC:
1) Always Be True To Who YOU Are: There is no greater pride than that which comes from being true to yourself, your values, your causes, and your purpose. MHP made it clear that she will talk about what she wants to talk about on her show. Higher-ups be damned! She has been trusted to deliver newsworthy moments to her audience for years; why would she divert from that now?
2) When Faced With Opposition, Stay The Course: In the email to her staff, MHP also stated,
MSNBC would like me to appear for four inconsequential hours to read news that they deem relevant without returning to our team any of the editorial control and authority that makes MHP Show distinctive. While MSNBC may believe that I am worthless, I know better.
Knowing your voice, and your worth makes it easier to stay on course, even in the face of opposition. For years, her viewers tuned in to her show to get a multitude of diverse opinions and views on many issues that face us as a nation. Simply reading news without her or her staff being invited or allowed to add editorial input was not going to happen on her watch.
No Ma’am, No Ma’am, No Ma’am!
3) Sometimes Growth Comes Via Adversity: We all know this is not the last time we will see MHP on television. As soon as this started unfolding, I immediately knew there was something bigger on the horizon for her. God is simply moving.
This has happened so many times in my own life, albeit on a smaller scale, that I don’t even get mad when things go south. I just immediately start wondering what’s next and open my eyes, ears, and heart to everything that may come my way now that the old is out.
4) Don’t Dim Your Light for Anybody, Anything, or Any Opportunity:
To quote MHP:
I know who I am. I know why MHP Show is unique and valuable. I will not sell short myself or this show. I am not hungry for empty airtime. I care only about substantive, meaningful, and autonomous work.
You better preach, Pastor Harris-Perry!
5) Tell The Truth, Shame The Devil: While MSNBC apparently did not like MHP’s email, it’s important to note that nowhere in her words did she say, “Kick rocks.” She simply stated that should would return once she could regain the editorial control and voice she once held.
Soon after the news broke of her tensions with the network, we learned that her show was canceled. While most of us probably shouldn’t tweet about our employers after we quit, MHP’s receipts were impressive. And she wasn’t afraid to cite them.
She sent an arsenal of factual and personal tweets equipped with charts, reads, zingers, personal accounts, one-liners, and a proverbial “bish, bye.”
As simply stated in MHP’s last tweet, “So #MSNBC y’all keep making cable great again. I’ll be staying challenging & unpredictable. #NerdlandForever.”