Were MSNBC Anchor’s Comments About Romney’s Black Grandchild Racist?
Were the comments made by MSNBC anchor Melissa Harris-Perry about Mitt Romney’s adopted African-American grandchild racist? The host has come under fire in recent days for comments both she and her panel made about baby Kieran Romney, which poked fun at the lack of diversity in both the Romney family and the Republican party. Outlets like the Washington Times have described the segment as an attack by “racist media,” prompting Harris-Perry to publicly apologize to the Romney family via Twitter.
In the segment on her self-titled show, Harris-Perry showed the photo of the Romney family that included Kieran and asked the panel to give their thoughts. “One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just isn’t the same,” said actress Pia Glenn, using the same tone as the classic Sesame Street song. Perry joked that she was looking forward to the 2040 wedding between Kieran and North West (the baby daughter of Kim Kardashian and North West), while comedian Dean Obeidellah said the photo summed up the diversity of the Republican party. “I think this picture is great,” he said. “It really sums up the diversity of the Republican party and the RNC, where they have the whole convention and they find the one black person.”
Many viewers that Harris-Perry was tastelessly mocking trans-racial families and being just as bigoted as the conservative outlets she targets. “My white family has an adopted black grandchild in our midst whom we love and adore, just as we do all the children in the family,” wrote viewer Rebecah Kirkendoll. “To target a child in any way, even in so called jest, is detestable, and this ‘joke’ was very mean spirited. Shame on MSNBC and all who participated in this immature and hideous display of racism.”
Harris-Perry ultimately took responsibility for the controversy and tweeted her apologies to the Romney family. “I am sorry. Without reservation or qualification. I apologize to the Romney family,” she wrote. “I work by guiding principle that those who offend do not have the right to tell those who are hurting that they r wrong … as black child born into large white Mormon family I feel familiarity with Romney family & never meant to suggest otherwise. I apologize to all families built on loving transracial adoptions who feel I degraded their lives or choices.”