Mary Jane: Previously on Being Mary Jane...
I had a really great time tonight.
Now I'm looking forward to the next time.
Well, then I'll try to step it up the next time.
Where's--where's your mom?
She went out.
Patrick: I'm over here at Tracy's.
I knock on the door to find D'Asia all by herself.
I want to get her to school, but my car won't start, so if I could please use your car, I'd greatly appreciate it.
Sure. No problem.
I've given up too much of what I want in the Talk Back segment, but I finally figured out what direction I want to take the show.
Kara says you want to make Talk Back Talk Black.
Yeah, all black everything.
Mary Jane: According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, human trafficking is the second-largest criminal industry in the world today, only behind drug trafficking.
300,000 people are trafficked annually in the U.S.
These numbers and these facts are staggering.
Here to shed light on those dark statistics is my guest, founder of Bridget's Dream, an organization committed to helping trafficking victims become survivors and learn to dream again.
Leah Albright-Byrd, welcome to the show.
Thank you for having me.
As horrible as that 300,000 number is, the truth is, the majority of them are women and children.
Is that correct?
Yes. That's correct.
In fact, the average age of entry in our country is 12 to 14.
I think many Americans believe that s*x trafficking is something that happens to women in other countries, but the enslavement and rape of young girls is happening right here, in our land of the free.
Yes, that's absolutely true, and as long as we continue to think that it's a problem that's only impacting those from other parts of the world, we overlook that 75% of the victims in our country are American citizens, and of that 75%, 88% are minorities.
Mary Jane: And there are people like you and Jada Pinkett Smith who are screaming at the top of their lungs about this issue and how it affects American children, especially our girls.
In fact, you were an advocate for the passing of Prop 35 in California, groundbreaking legislation that helps protect victims.
Please, explain the impact that the new law will have on the state of California.
So now that Prop 35 has passed, it will ensure that prison terms for human traffickers are increased.
It also requires those who've been convicted of human trafficking to register as s*x offenders, and lastly, it mandates law enforcement training for every law enforcement officer throughout the state with a goal and an objective of making sure that those officers are able to better identify victims and not treat children as criminals.
Mary Jane: I know your organization, Bridget's Dream, which you founded, is an organization that provides support for survivors of trafficking.
But was it a personal mission?
Yes, it was definitely a personal mission.
I am a survivor myself.
So my exploitation happened between the ages of 14 and 18, after I ran away from home, and there are so many kids that are vulnerable.
There's about 2.8 million runaway American youth a year, and so during my exploitation and while I was on the streets, I met a young lady.
Her name was Bridget Gray, and unfortunately, she did not get out the way that I was able to.
And so while I was in my recovery process, she was murdered, and she then became the inspiration for the work that we now do.
Mary Jane: I mean, I've heard stories of parents selling their own children-- that our foster care system actually feeds this nightmare.
How do we help our young girls and boys avoid being trafficked altogether?
Well, the main thing is education.
So we have to educate them, for one, about their vulnerabilities.
It's our job to protect our children, and we have to make sure that they know some of the risk factors and they know the tactics and the recruitment strategies that traffickers use.
Lastly, it's also really important that we educate them about internet safety.
I think social media is a phenomenal tool that we have as a society, but it's also a tool that traffickers are using to recruit children.
Well, now, what specifically are some of the tactics?
Well, it's not uncommon with social media to equate your social media success with the number of friends or followers that you have, and so a lot of times, kids are just accepting friend requests from people that they do not know.
They don't know that this is a person who's targeting them, and so pimps take advantage of that.
Traffickers take advantage of that.
They create profiles and request these kids, and then recruit them that way.
Leah Albright-Byrd, thank you so much for being here today.
Thank you so much for having me.
I know we're all news people, and telling good stories is what we're supposed to do, and that should be reward enough, but--
Mary Jane: Oh, Lance--
SNC has not been nominated for an Emmy for outstanding breaking news coverage in three freaking years, and we did that!
And we're gonna win too!
To Hurricane Kenny and Team Talk Back.
Rock it, baby.
Ratings for your s*x trafficking piece.
That was a good show.
Yes, it was.
You know, I think there was an award show last night.
We're on at 2:00.
Just say it, Kara.
I already did.
Are you still gonna have time to meet with the producers?
Then I will gather them and buzz you when we're all together.
Will you stop?
Treating me like I'm some kind of diva.
When have I ever made the writers wait?
We always do.
No. No, no, no, Kara.
I dip in and out, but there's a huge difference between that and making you guys wait.
Listen, there's no larger plot here.
I just need you to give Talk Back some direction since you're completely steering that ship now, and I want everyone to hear directly from you what you want.
This way, we get it right.
I will be there in five.
Congrats on the nomination.
You two were gold together.
Did you see the ratings?
Oh, yes. I did.
Kara made sure that I saw them.
So you know there's work to be done.
There was an award show on last night.
Ad sales are concerned that your stories are only appealing to the smaller advertisers.
Is that the code word we're using now?
Excuse me? What?
I've only been at this new direction one week, Greg.
And we don't want to wait a month before we realize that we're drowning.
Who do you have lined up?
Kara: Well, we lost Ameena Matthews.
She had to cancel.
But we're waiting to see if we can slide Geoffrey Canada into that slot, and we do have Ron Finley confirmed for next week...
[electronic pop music]
woman: ♪ I died a week ago ♪
♪ There's nothing left ♪
♪ It's caught on video ♪
♪ The very last breath ♪
♪ The very last... ♪
Mary Jane: How do we keep pushing the envelope?
What stories are not being told?
Lance: What about a piece on school shooting classifications?
If a shooting is labeled a gang shooting, it doesn't make the news, but if it's deemed a school shooting, it becomes more of a priority.
Most of this affects poor neighborhoods.
Didn't we just cover a school shooting?
Lance: But it's another angle that calls out the hypocrisy.
Actually, what you're doing is telling those parents to get over it because now, there's another parent with a dead kid now.
I don't understand how you got that from what I just said.
Look, I like the pitch, Lance, but I want to be careful not to focus only on poverty and violence.
Let's open it up, guys. Let's open it up.
Well, a new report on why autism is linked to older mothers just came out, and Holly Robinson Peete's fund-raiser for the cause is coming up.
Maybe we could have her on.
I'd be interested in hearing her insights.
So we're gonna have an actress come on and talk about autism?
An actress who's made great strides in bringing attention to the disease.
Kara: Oh, absolutely.
I mean, I absolutely agree with that, but how is an autism fund-raiser newsworthy?
Okay, has anyone figured out a new angle to my ugly black woman story?
Why don't you bring on Satoshi Kanazawa and debate him point for point?
No one even remembers that Psychology Today article.
I remember it.
MJ, that's not only old news, it's dead news.
Besides, what's your entry point?
What's new about ugly black women?
Debating Satoshi would be coming from a place of anger, which I don't want to do.
But there's got to be another way into this story.
Lance: What about focusing on the perception of black beauty from the black community?
We could make it a panel discussion.
See where it goes, like a check-up.
Checking up on what, exactly?
We could focus on how mainstream magazines are lighting the skin tones of the black women on their covers.
Yeah. We--we already did that story, Dorian, before you got here, and you know why?
Because it's old news.
Okay, look, I like where we're headed.
I really like where we're headed. Let's just keep digging and keep pounding away for another way in.
♪ Reinventing the wheel ♪
♪ Always searching for something ♪
♪ That's not real ♪
Hey, I'm outside.
Mary Jane: Uh, hello.
What do you mean, "What?"
Valerie: What do you want?
I thought we were celebrating my Emmy nom.
[laughs] Not tonight.
Okay. I'm sorry.
I thought when you said, "Hey, let's do something," you meant, "Hey, let's do something."
I have to get up at 5:00 in the morning.
So do I.
It's getting cold.
Come on. It'll be real quick.
Listen, I am not going anywhere.
I just wanted to celebrate my first big nomination, but it's cool.
No, no, no. It's fine.
It's fine. It's fine.
So tell me about it.
Oh, now you've got time.
Oh, two seconds ago you were, you know, going on and on about how married women with kids just have such a hard road.
What are you talking-- I didn't say any of that.
I said I had to get up.
Have you been drinking?
I had one shot of tequila to celebrate with a coworker.
Yeah. That's not like you at all-- to even drink a little and drive.
You're the responsible one.
You're the one who told me about Uber.
Okay. Stop. Okay?
Look, you have no idea what's going on at work and the pressure I'm under, so stop.
All right. All right.
You don't have to raise your voice to communicate.
This is why I've been telling you that you might want to try taking some Xanax.
I'm not-- I'm not taking Xanax now.
It would help you with your stress.
I'm not gonna take Xanax. Thank you.
I appreciate your concern.
I drove over here.
I'm a public figure.
I'm not gonna jeopardize my career.
And since I don't like partying alone, I'm going to take my Emmy-nominated ass home.
I'm going to take another shot, and then I'm gonna take my ass to bed.
If you text me when you get home.
Mary Jane: Thanks for nothing.
[percussive electronic music]
[woman singing indistinctly]
Mary Jane: No, I mean, I have Kara and Lance and Dorian and a few other researchers, but it's not enough.
I mean, most nominated shows have twice of what I have.
So Kara's your researcher.
No. Kara's my EP-- My executive producer.
Okay. So she's the boss.
No, we're a team, for the most part.
So Kara doesn't want to increase your team.
Kara would love to increase my team, but we're not prime time, so everything's a fight.
I'm talking about everything from what I wear to how many curls are in my hair to my guests.
They want me to be a freaking robot.
Bet if I change my name to Cynthia, then I'd get what I wanted.
You shouldn't do that.
Everybody knows you as Mary Jane.
Okay, so you've seen my show this week, right?
Yeah, Dad. Honestly.
I've been watching Serena.
But I do DVR them.
You don't know how to DVR, Dad.
I decided to take Talk Back in a whole new direction.
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Your mother told me about that.
It's all black now. That's good.
I'm branding myself, doing stories that I actually care about.
So now, you can do your job and help your people.
Exactly, just how you fought for the skycaps to keep their jobs.
Yeah, I was at the height of my career then.
You know, I was gonna--
Pauletta, you gonna wind up losing your job listening to your father.
Woman, will you let me tell the story, please?
Now, he could play the race card back then, 'cause white people had a lot of guilt, and they was scared of Jesse Jackson.
Hell, they over him now and us.
Saying the N-word and everything-- doing this to the president.
Say what you might, but I got their money.
Now, didn't I?
But I couldn't buy that fur because you was scared of losing your job.
Oh, my butt cheeks were a little tight back then.
Tighter than Dick's hatband.
Mary Jane: Okay, okay.
Yeah. On that note, guys--
Mm-hmm. Dick's hatband.
When you start talking about your butt cheeks, it's time for me to go.
Uh-oh. All right.
Pauletta, the struggle continues, baby.
You getting dementia. Ain't you?
Dementia? Listen to you.
I want two barrettes in the front.
[TV playing indistinctly]
Here, let me see.
Oh, that's cute.
[knocking on door]
Guess who brought breakfast.
Are you hungry?
Oh, good. Here.
All right, go finish getting ready for school.
Then we'll eat. All right?
Well, I finally heard from Tracy.
She's been arrested for shoplifting.
She's gonna be arraigned tomorrow morning.
How's D'Asia doing?
She's asking questions, and I don't want to lie to her.
I appreciate you coming by.
It's no trouble.
I--you know I don't mind pitching in.
It's just that, well, I'm running a little short on rent this month.
Let me cover breakfast.
Tracy borrowed $200 from me for D'Asia.
She said she'd pay me back last week.
You know, I love that little girl so much.
I wish I could repay Tracy's debt, but I'm a little tight right now.
I'm really in a bind.
Do you think that you could ask your family or--
Let me see what I have.
I needed it.
I'll get you the rest by the end of the week.
Never have anything healthy.
Um... want one?
No. I'm good. Thanks.
Can you, umm... help me understand what she's doing?
I just don't know why black people get so sensitive over this stuff.
They have the president, NBA, Jay-Z, Beyoncé.
Carnival Cruise and American Express-- they're all run by black people.
Mary Jane makes more than both of us.
Kara, what is she upset about?
Just... do the damn job and shut up.
I mean, is it too much?
I mean, I love my people too, but not all the time.
Even black folks get sick of black folks.
Then maybe that's why the ratings are slipping.
Because we're doing good shows, right?
[engine turning over]
[sighs] Come on. Come on.
[light guitar music]
All right. All right.
All right. All right.
Up. Don't step on the crack.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. [laughs]
Come on. You ready? We're almost gonna make it.
Okay. Give this to your teacher.
Is Mommy picking me up?
Your grandpa's gonna pick you up today.
Give your daddy a big kiss good-bye.
Okay. Have a great day.
See you later.
See you, darling.
Excuse me, Mr. Patterson?
Vice Principal Harrison.
I remember you.
I wanted to talk to you about D'Asia.
I've noticed she's been tardy a lot lately.
Yeah, she's been going back and forth between my place and her mom's, and I had a little car trouble this morning.
Oh, I'm sorry to hear that.
I also wanted to talk to you about her lunch.
Since D'Asia hasn't brought one in a while, the school's been providing lunch for her, and there's been a daily charge to her account.
How long has this been going on?
Brenda, would you pull up D'Asia Patterson's lunch account, please?
Brenda: Yes, ma'am.
Looks like it's been five months.
If money is an issue, there are assistance programs available.
You'll just need to fill out the--
Thank you. No. I can pay for my daughter.
What's the balance?
That would be $487.50.
I don't have my checkbook with me.
You don't have to pay now, but you will need to take care of it soon.
woman on radio: Is that there's a long history of institutions regulating the bodies of African-American women, really standardizing them...
[radio continues indistinctly]
Or cornrows that are unkempt...
woman on radio: Not authorized.
These kinds of restrictions are most assuredly race-based.
The suggestion that dreadlocks are merely--
man: Hey, hey.
I was waiting for that spot.
You were on your phone.
I was waiting.
I've been circling this damn lot for a half hour.
Move your car.
That was my spot.
Yeah. The key word-- "was."
I can't just be a regular, old bitch?
I have to be a black bitch? Seriously?
Yeah, 'cause you look like a monkey-- an ugly, black monkey!
Valerie: I'm in your area and I wanted to drop off something.
You sure it's okay?
Mary Jane: Yeah. I'm not doing anything.
Valerie: Okay. I'll see you soon.
Mary Jane: Cool.
All right, it's just...
A little, you know, something to celebrate your nomination.
Girl, did you re-gift me?
It's the thought that counts.
Mary Jane: I mean, everything's great.
You know? Work is... work.
I'm handling it.
How's Lisa? Have you seen her?
Valerie: Yeah. I have, actually.
We've been doing yoga together.
Oh, good for her.
You know, you can reach out to her.
What were you gonna say?
Mm-mm, 'cause this is not gonna be some kind of therapy session.
'Cause, you know, I don't need therapy, Val.
Well, that's good, 'cause I wasn't offering.
Lisa--Lisa may. She may need therapy.
You know, I am not some door-to-door psychiatric salesman.
You were just-- you were right.
I don't get to do a lot between being a mother and a wife and working, and I felt bad that I couldn't hang out with you the other night to celebrate, and you have really been making an effort to reconnect.
So you know, I was just-- I just thought that--
Was I wrong for what I said to Lisa?
Uh, no. Um...
Unless it wasn't how you truly felt.
I just don't understand why I have such issues with everybody.
So why do you think you're at odds?
It's funny, 'cause I have all of these-- these great relationships.
But sometimes it scares me, because I don't feel connected to any of them.
It's like I'm going through the motions of being a good auntie or sister or daughter, friend.
I mean, I show up everywhere I'm supposed to show up.
I look-- I look great on paper.
I loan money, and I check up on people.
I send the birthday cards.
I say all the things I'm supposed to say.
But yet, when everybody's doing okay for the moment, my phone does not ring.
Nobody's calling me just to check up on me or say, "Hey, wow, great show tonight. The work that you're doing is-- it's really making a difference, Mary Jane."
Nobody says, "Good job," or, "Way to go."
Not one person.
Let me get us some more wine.
Mary Jane: Thank you.
woman on phone: Inmate calling from Polk County DOC.
Will you accept the charges?
Yeah. I accept.
Tracy, what were you thinking?
Tracy: Please, don't lecture me.
How's my baby?
Give her a kiss for me?
How much is your bail?
I took care of you.
It's your turn to take care of me.
woman: Curl. Come up.
Twist to your right.
Come back to center.
One, two, three.
Same side. Keep it going.
Two--we're gonna do 15 to the same side.
Yes. 12 more. Here we go.
Squeeze that stomach in tight when you rotate.
Mary Jane: Patrick, what's going on?
Tracy's in county lockup.
Bail's set at $3,000.
Mary Jane: What happened?
Well, apparently, she was shoplifting.
It's a petty theft charge.
I wouldn't ask, but I'd rather borrow it from you than the bail bonds.
She's D'Asia's mother, and she was there for me when I felt like I had no one in my corner.
I'll give you the money.
Mary Jane: It's no problem.
I will pay you back.
Don't worry about it.
Look, I made it out for cash, so you can just cash it.
Just go. Go.
Just call me later and let me know everything worked out okay.
I'll catch up with you a little later. All right?
You know, there's usually an entry point for a discussion like the one I hope to have today-- a news item, a documentary, a book, or a radical act that allows us to take a deeper dive into a topic like black women's beauty.
I missed my window on this subject when Psychology Today published an article that brought into question black women's beauty.
They didn't say that we were not beautiful.
They said we were straight-up ugly.
Psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa actually tried to prove scientifically that we were less attractive.
See, I just knew that this story was going to be all over the news, but what happened next is what astonished me more.
The story came and went.
I mean, sure, some black women bloggers wrote eloquent, angry essays, and me and you-- we tweeted about it, Michaela, but that was about it.
The article was taken down, but no one rattled the cages for black women except black women.
So maybe Satoshi was an entry point to the deeper issues I was looking for.
Uh-oh, Mary Jane, where are you going with this?
Hold on to your hats.
Mary Jane: I mean, forget if we're ugly or not.
Maybe it's worse.
Maybe black women are invisible to our own men, or even worse than that, black women are just not worth fighting for.
Mark, does an attack like this do more damage to black women than the silence of black men?
If we're going to be honest, we've been dealing with 200 years of these kinds of attacks, right.
So this is not anything new or unusual.
What I think is really at the-- what's really egging black women on at this period in time is this feeling of betrayal-- that black men did not close ranks around them, right.
That black male silence was complicit in the attacks that came from this particular magazine.
Black women, historically, have always closed ranks around black male issues.
Black women should expect the same kind of support from black men.
India, your hits, Video, and Brown Skin, and I Am Not My Hair-- they were all new anthems that ushered in a new millennium for black women.
Does that movement still exist?
It's certainly not the mainstream movement.
We turn on television, and we know what the mainstream movement is, and it's actually the polar opposite of the socially responsible message that we're talking about, that was so popular in the early millennium.
I meet children of that legacy every day.
I've been in the music industry for 15 years, and just in the last 3 years, I meet grown women--
25, 26, who say, "I grew up on your music," and they do things like, "My hair-- this is because of you."
When you were writing these hits that spoke so eloquently to black women and our struggle, collectively, did you feel beautiful?
Did you feel empowered?
Were you empowered?
Or were they more like mantras that you were-- would hope to sort of catch on, to hype women up to actually believe that about ourselves?
That is a multitiered question for me, because I was so young. I was in my early 20s, and I did-- I felt good about myself.
I didn't think I was perfect, obviously.
I had my issues, but I felt good about myself, but I started, just as I was coming into the public eye-- started seeing that other people didn't think I was beautiful.
And so I would say, "I'm this. I'm not that."
I'm not the average girl from your video."
Like, I would say-- right?
At the core of those songs, it's really about self-worth, self-definition, and why would you allow anyone else to be the authority on you?
Now, you know, one could argue that the horrific comments made in Psychology Today-- comments that were then co-signed by black men's silence-- could leave black women with a post-traumatic stress disorder.
Is that why it meant so much that Lupita Nyong'o won the Oscar or graced the cover of People Magazine's Most Beautiful issue or cover of Vogue, or that she's starring in the highly-anticipated new Star Wars movie?
Michaela, shed some light on that.
It's insane, this discussion that we're having.
When you think about it-- look at us.
Look at how beautiful we are.
Look at all the colors in your skin, and all the colors in your skin, and all the colors in Lupita's skin.
This is what makes black girls magic-- like, that all of us can say, "We are sisters with this plethora of beauty."
Our hair can change shape and sizes with a hot comb and some water.
It shape shifts, then.
We can be all these things, but we've become-- they've become battlegrounds. Right?
The things that make us so beautiful-- no other group of women can say this-- can say that you and I are sisters, where our skin is different.
Our hair is different, but we're together.
But there's a-- there's a whole community of people trying to debunk our beauty.
So there's a-- there's an insanity around it, and people like Lupita and the First Lady start to be a salve on this idea.
But we have to-- we have to say that we're magic.
We have to say that our skin is beautiful in all its hues and continue that conversation, because the other one is relentless.
And that's why the silence from black men on this issue is complicit with the attacks from Psychology Today.
Too often, we've seen examples of black women who go out on a limb to not only support themselves, but also to nurture and take care of the men and the boys in their families.
Very often, black men will only go to the doctor to get a prostate exam because some woman more than encouraged him to do that.
We do not see that same kind of encouragement amongst black men for the lives of black women.
Ask a black man, "What is a fibroid?"
We all--we all know what prostate cancer is, right?
And almost 80% of all black women at some point suffer some--from some aspect of fibroid disease.
You'd be hard-pressed to think of any disease that affected 80% of black men that every black woman and girl in America wouldn't know about.
But our problem is our problem, but your problems are also our problems.
We have to right the ship on that.
So what is beauty?
Do we leave it up to the masses to shape our imagery, or do we define it for ourselves?
Ultimately, it comes down to having the self-worth and confidence to stand in your own skin and fully embrace who you are.
Mary Jane on TV: I mean, how can we expect others to see our worth when we continue to dim our own light?
The culture at large may not see eye to eye on this topic, but having the discussion is a part of the healing process.
I'd like to thank my guests, India Arie, Mark Anthony Neal, and Michaela Angela Davis for joining us today.
As Confucius once said, "Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it."
I'm Mary Jane Paul.
Thank you for watching, and I'll see you tomorrow.
Come on. Hurry up.
Did you get the money?
guard: You've got 20 minutes.
What's going on with you?
You talking to Phil again?
Who told you that?
I saw him once.
guard: Keep your hands on the table, please.
I messed up, but I'm done.
I'll get help as soon as I get out of here.
How's my baby?
I knew she would be.
So did you get the money?
Patrick, I can't stay here.
Can't you ask your sister?
I mean, your mom hates me, but what about your dad?
Don't worry. I'm working on it.
guard: Come on. Get up. Let's go.
Mr. Patterson, it's good to see you again.
Yeah. You too.
School's not out for another ten minutes.
Did you want us to send for D'Asia?
No, no. I'll wait.
I actually wanted to pay off the balance for D'Asia's lunches.
Brenda, would you pull up D'Asia's account for Mr. Patterson?
We don't usually see you after school.
Well, I work late, but I took off today so I could come down and straighten everything out.
Yes, I am very familiar with late hours.
Yeah. Thank God for grandparents, huh?
Listen, if you're ever in a bind, you can feel free to call me.
I'm happy to help any way I can.
Oh, thank you.
Smith on TV: I understand that there are a lot of black women who felt that, you know, being brown or being dark was a hindrance, and while I don't want to ever discount their roles, I just want to say that that's not every brown girl's story.
There are some dark women, like myself, who have always loved the skin that they were in, and I think a lot more women than what is portrayed in the media actually do know that.
But you know, of course, the sad story always gets more--
Well, hello there.
Great show today.
I found myself complimenting every black woman I saw today.
That's a lot of compliments.
I mean, this is Atlanta.
That's why I'm so tired and hungry.
Have you eaten?
Would you like to eat with me?
I'm on my way.
[Janelle Monáe's PrimeTime playing]
[Mary Jane laughing]
No. I mean, it was crazy that I did it.
No, there's no current context for me to tell that story.
Well, you wanted to do it.
That's relevant enough.
Yeah, well, I took advantage of my privilege.
Didn't it feel good?
Oh, it felt so good.
Okay. Where are we going again?
So the whole meditation thing...
Totally did not work out for me.
You got to keep at it.
It's like practice.
A chicken shack?
It's in honor of you returning to your roots.
And I figured a brother'd have to be real black to date you.
Oh, so black.
Monáe: ♪ For our love ♪
♪ Ain't nobody thinking about the stars above ♪
♪ It's a prime time for our love ♪
♪ And heaven is betting on us ♪