Melissa Harris-Perry Apologizes for Comments about Romney's Black Grandson

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 31 2013 12:00 PM

Melissa Harris-Perry Apologizes for Comments about Romney's Black Grandson

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Melissa Harris-Perry has now learned the invaluable lesson that it's never a good idea to make jokes about the race of someone's grandchild.

Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for GLAAD

MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry has formally apologized for her embarrassing and puzzling comments on Mitt Romney's black grandson, disseminating her regrets through a series of tweets:

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.
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Harris-Perry seemed to invite off-color comments after placing the Romneys' Christmas card on a screen and asking for a caption. She then told viewers to "imagine Mitt Romney and Kanye West as in-laws" if the grandson married North West. One of her guests, comedian Dean Obeidallah, riffed on the sentiment, joking that “I think this picture is great. It really sums up the diversity of the Republican Party, the RNC. At the convention, they find the one black person.” Her other guest, Pia Glenn, sang "one of these things is not like the others" while Perry chuckled. Both guests have since apologized as well. The incident brought cries of protest from the conservative press and politicians.

Romney himself made no public comment on the matter. He does, however, seem to have lost track of his ever-growing (and totally adorable) clan of grandchildren: On Twitter, Romney described the adopted baby boy as his 22nd grandchild—though he made the same comment about a different grandson born in July.

Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers science, the law, and LGBTQ issues.