Melissa Harris-Perry defended herself against critics who railed against the MSNBC host for comments she made about Justice Clarence Thomas.
On Thursday, Harris-Perry appeared during MSNBC's dayside programming to discuss what many criticize as the lack of diversity in President Obama's cabinet. Harris-Perry said she too worried about the lack of diversity but cautioned critics that the debate is far more nuanced. She said:
I think we want to be careful, because no one wants to assume that any given physical body carries with it a set of political ideas, so for example, you know, Clarence Thomas sitting on the Supreme Court of the United States does not mean that Justice Thomas is representing, necessarily, the positions, the issues, even the Constitutional interpretation that is shared by the vast majority of civil rights organizations and by the vast majority of African-Americans.
Simply putting women in a space, for example, had Congresswoman Bachmann ended up as the president of the United States, she might not have been representative of women's issues in the broadest sense, because so many women are, in fact on the side of reproductive rights and justice. On the other hand, it also matters to have a diverse cabinet, to have a diverse set of opinions and ideas. My biggest concern is I worry that maybe the president has lessened his diversity, in part because he suspects it will cause less of a battle with the Senate process. But, I bet that it won't. These Republicans are so determined to stand in the way that it won't matter whether these are white men or black women. If they're coming from the president they're going to get resistance.
Harris-Perry tweeted on Friday, writing that she was unaware that many people took issue with her comments about Thomas. Over the course of several tweets, Harris-Perry wrote:
To be clear, I did *not* say Justice Clarence Thomas is not *really* black nor did I question the authenticity of his blackness in any way," she said. "In 1999 I wrote & published a book where I argued Thomas & other black conservatives are part of a long tradtion within black communities. For critics interested in something other than inaccurate soundbites, you could feel free to read the book. We regularly invite black conservatives to @MHPShow and we even hosted a panel of all black Republicans to discuss African Americans in GOP. What I *did* say is that sharing racial or gender identity with someone is *not* the same thing as sharing political interests. My criticisms of Thomas are not because he is inauthentic as a black man. That is silly. Who would even judge such a thing! I have a criticism of Justice Thomas on race policy.
Harris-Perry then pointed critics to her October 2012 comments about Thomas.
"If you prefer to ignore what I've actually said, written, or done...that is cool too. It's fun to watch the drama I inspire by speaking," she said.