Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry, professor of Political Science at Tulane University and host of MSNBC’s “The Melissa Harris-Perry Show,” is facing the wrath of the political right. The Sister Citizen author released her latest MSNBC “Lean In” promo where she states the importance of acknowledging villages when raising children.
In the video, Dr. Harris-Perry says:
“We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had kind of a private notion of children. Your kid is yours and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of ‘These are our children.’ So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities. Once it’s everyone’s responsibility and not just the household’s, then we start making better investments.”
In other words, it takes a collective village to raise a child into a high-functioning adult. Maybe Dr. Harris-Perry’s usage of “collective” and “belong” weren’t politically-correct, but her assertion that the support of a community is essential in child-rearing was spot-on. However, political critics have pounced on The Nation columnist, calling her stance “unflippingbelievable.”
Former governor Sarah Palin tweeted, “Apparently MSNBC doesn’t think your children belong to you. Unflippingbelievable.” She then attempted to compare Dr. Harris-Perry’s comments to President Obama’s “you didn’t build that alone” sentiments. Other conservative pundits, including Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, referred to Dr. Harris-Perry as a communist, socialist and Marxist hell-bent on stealing people’s kids.
Frank Hagler, a pundit for PolicyMic explains the ludicrousness of Palin, Limbaugh and Beck’s retorts.
“They couldn’t be further from the truth.
Perry starts by saying, ‘Your kid is yours and totally your responsibility.’ Perry is not advocating usurping parental authority any more than Obama was downplaying entrepreneurial spirit and individual achievement. What both Obama and Perry are stating is that in a global economy, it takes a village to raise a child and support from others to be successful.When you send your kids to school, when they join the Boys or Girls Scout or when they join a little league team or book club, or even when they become a member of the church, they become part of a community. They belong to that community and that community has a responsibility to provide support for the parents. The community needs to make those kids feel like they belong there and that they are in a safe, supportive and nurturing environment. The community i.e. the state doesn’t replace the parent they provide ancillary, complementary and supplementary support to the parents. If these communities do not feel like the kids belong to them then they will not provide the type of service necessary to help develop them into responsible citizens. It is not enough to pay for the service. We don’t want our children to just be part of some exchange of goods or services. We need them to feel like they belong to the community and the community has to feel like they belong to them.”
Dr. Harris-Perry has also responded to the criticism. She writes:
“I believe wholeheartedly, and without apology, that we have a collective responsibility to the children of our communities even if we did not conceive and bear them. Of course, parents can and should raise their children with their own values. But they should be able to do so in a community that provides safe places to play, quality food to eat, terrific schools to attend, and economic opportunities to support them. No individual household can do that alone. We have to build that world together.”
In “Why caring for children is not just a parent’s job,” Dr. Harris-Perry also explains where and how she learned the importance of collective communities raising children.
“I learned it from the conservative, Republican moms at my daughter’s elementary school, who gave her a ride home every day while I was recovering from surgery.
I learned it watching the parents of Newtown and Chicago as they call for gun control legislation to protect all the children of our communities.
I learn it from my elderly neighbors who never complain about paying property taxes that support our schools, even if they have no children in the schools today.
And I have learned it from other, more surprising sources as well. I find very little common ground with former President George W. Bush, but I certainly agree that no child should be left behind. And while I disagree with the policies he implemented under that banner, I wholeheartedly support his belief that we have a collective national interest in all children doing well.”
Dr. Harris-Perry is also using vitriolic lemons for lemonade. She’s launched a mini-campaign to raise awareness for villages.
“Are you raising a child with the help of family, friends, and your community? Are you a part of that extended network for someone else’s child? What does caring for children look like in your world? Email [email protected] or send a tweet to @mhpshow using the hashtag #caringforchildren.”
Is the criticism being lodged at Melissa Harris-Perry warranted?