Melissa Harris-Perry had what was probably her most passionate and intense television outburst ever when she delivered a fiery monologue about being poor in America on her Saturday show.
The moment occurred during a long segment on what Harris-Perry felt was the demonization of welfare recipients as "undeserving" of aid. She clashed repeatedly with guest Monica Mehta, labeled by the show as a business and finance expert.
Harris-Perry's frustration with Mehta rose perceptibly when Mehta said that welfare payments should not be "limitless."
"Limitless?!" Harris-Perry shot back. "The limits currently ... established under a Democratic president are appalling."
A few minutes later, Harris-Perry, referring to the debate about welfare recipients "deserving" aid, said, "I just feel like, from the bottom, you have to be able to say, 'I deserve the ability for class mobility.'"
"Which is funded by public education, by low-cost health care," guest Nancy Giles said. "Which is enabled by taking risks," Mehta cut in.
Slamming her hands down on her desk, Harris-Perry exploded:
“What is riskier than living poor in America? Seriously, what in the world is riskier than being a poor person in America? I live in a neighborhood where people are shot on my street corner. I live in a neighborhood where people have to figure out how to get their kid into school because maybe it'll be a good school and maybe it won’t. I am sick of the idea that being wealthy is risky. No! There is a huge safety net that whenever you fail will catch you and catch you and catch you. Being poor is what is risky. We have to create a safety net for poor people. And when we won’t, because they happen to look different from us, it is the pervasive ugliness! We cannot do that!"
Later, Harris-Perry said she was sorry for "losing my temper," adding that it had been a "hard week" for her. Among other things, the home she was going to rebuild in New Orleans was destroyed by Hurricane Isaac.