Thursday, January 09, 2014

What we can learn from Melissa Harris-Perry

What we can learn from Melissa Harris-Perry

This article can be read in its entirety by clicking on the link above. I read this article, and my heart immediately broke. It broke because I would NEVER want someone to point out to Isaac that he is different. It is happening already sometimes. People will say, "Why are you the big brother but your little brother is bigger?" I know this can happen in genetic families, but in our family it has happened because Isaac is adopted. I never want him to feel different. Because he is not. He belongs as much as anyone. My in-laws have eight grandchildren. Three of them are adopted! And I can tell you that they don't consider any of these children any different than any of the others, because they are not.

So what happened?

Last week, a segment appeared on Melissa Harris-Perry’s show on MSNBC that reviewed the best photos of the year and asked a panel of actors and comedians to give them humorous captions. It was supposed to be a light-hearted look back at the year, but things went awry. One of the photos was of Mitt and Ann Romney surrounded by all of their grandchildren . . . a photo tradition the Romney's do every year. This year, Mitt was holding his newly adopted African-American grandson, the only person of color amongst over 20 cousins. 

Immediately, the child’s racial difference became the focus. Actress Pia Glenn jokingly sang "one of these things is not like the others," (the song used in Sesame Street segments to help kids identify which object doesn’t belong) and comedian Dean Obeidallah joked that the photo "really sums up the diversity of the Republican Party." Melissa Harris-Perry wondered what it would be like if Kieran Romney (the child in focus) ended up marrying North West and Mitt found himself with Kanye as an in-law.

The segment was brief, but it immediately drew a firestorm from conservatives and adoptive parents alike. Conservatives were upset that they used the photo as an opportunity to take a pot-shot at their political party. Adoptive parents were upset that jokes were made indicating that this grandson didn’t fit n. Both were upset that such jokes were coming at the expense of a child.

The journalist issued an apology which was incredibly heartfelt:

"I am sorry. Without reservation or qualification. I apologize to the Romney family. I work by guiding principle that those who offend do not have the right to tell those they hurt that they [are] wrong for hurting. Therefore, while I meant no offense, I want to immediately apologize to the Romney family for hurting them. As black child born into large white Mormon family I feel familiarity w/ Romney family pic & never meant to suggest otherwise. I apologize to all families built on loving transracial adoptions who feel I degraded their lives or choices."

To read the entire article, click here. 

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