MSNBC Panel Mocks Photo of Mitt Romney Holding African-American Grandchild

1543975_10152130623422489_953027394_nAs liberals, we often act as if we’re completely innocent when it comes to being racially ignorant.  I’m sorry, that’s just not true.  Sure, liberals are often much more accepting of other races, but that doesn’t mean there’s still not ignorance and racism that exists within the liberal side of the political spectrum.

Now, is all ignorance malicious?  No.  Sometimes within a society we’ve just been shaped to view things a certain way.  The way we were raised, our environment or who we surround ourselves with plays a huge impact on how we view the world and ultimately our reaction to what we see.

This country (just like many other countries around the world) constantly deals with racial issues.  It’s a debate I enjoy having because it’s such a deep psychological circumstance.  A question I always go back to is one that was posed by my Anthropology professor.  He asked us to describe race to someone who had never heard of the word, was blind, and had no knowledge of color.  Can you do it?  Sure, you can use cultural stereotypes but that doesn’t describe race — that’s culture.  Describing someone’s actual race, without using color, is an entirely different thing.

Well, unfortunately some of this non-malicious stupidity was shown off on MSNBC as a guest panel was asked to “caption” specific photos from the past year.  It was more or less harmless fun until a photo of Mitt Romney was shown with all of his grandchildren surrounding him as he was holding his newest — an adopted African-American child named Kieran.

Now, some of you might remember this story from a few months ago when we slammed liberal bloggers who were throwing a fit over the child’s name.  Apparently, Kieran means “black” or “dark” in Gaelic.    At the time, these bloggers tried to make the asinine claim that somehow the Romney family was being “blatantly racist” toward the newly adopted member of their family.

To say this attack was pathetic would be a vast understatement.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not by any means a defender of Mitt Romney — but for anybody to claim a family giving a child a home was somehow being racist toward that child is simply reprehensible.

Fast forward to this MSNBC panel where, when asked to caption the photo, Pia Glenn began singing “One of These Things is Not Like the Others.”  An obvious comment aimed at the one African-American child in the photograph.  It was clearly meant as a joke and wasn’t overly offensive, but why even go there?

Another panelist, Dean Obeidallah, took the political route by saying that the photo, “really sums up the diversity of the Republican party.”  Again, not that what he said was offensive, but why try to politicize a photograph that was nothing more than a very nice family photo?

Then in bizarre and unnecessary fashion, Melissa Harris-Perry went off on some idiotic comments asking what would happen if this baby married North West (Kanye West’s daughter).  She said, “Can you imagine Mitt Romney and Kanye West as in-laws?”

Just — stupid comments about a seemingly happy family photo.  Why even go down that road?

Instead of taking that moment to praise a family for adopting an African-American child (who will now be given a life most of us can’t even dream of, filled with unlimited opportunities) this panel morphed into some sophomoric group of adolescents mocking the fact that the child isn’t white.

Again, not that anything they said was particularly disgusting or meant in a malicious way, it was just extremely disappointing to see this panel (on a major cable news network) focus on the child’s race rather than the real story of the photograph.  A story of a child being adopted by a family who will hopefully provide a loving home for him.  Something Kieran might not have experienced had they not.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • Janice Best

    I certainly don’t see the need to “praise a [white] family” for adopting a black child. I feel badly for black children brought up in racist (mildly or worse) homes’ and we have reason to believe the Romneys are at least mildly racist.

    Still, I agree with the fact that these “captions” did not need to be said. And we *should* be better than this.

    • Jim Bean

      Your comment reveals you’re in no position to be accusing someone else of racism.

  • RosemaryPeppercorn


  • Jo Clark

    Well, this is disappointing. I expected better. This is one of those situations where a joke, ANY joke, is not a good idea. Compliment the family and move on.

    • Pipercat

      Not me, her show sucks.

  • mojones1

    Agreed. It is the height of hypocrisy to take potshots such as this and it lowers progressives to the same behavior we deplore in conservatives. MSNBC should know better and someone directing this segment should have cut to commercial and clued in this clueless panel.

  • polliwogg

    All that pink and blue makes me want to vomit.

  • km

    A lot of racist Whites are adopting Black children. My friends brother just adopted two, and he is easily offensive. Ask slave owners why they had sex with their slaves, and had children with them, then you’ll have your answer. Why bother asking us these questions when Romney was a minister in a church that said Blacks could not go to heaven.

    • mildmannered

      In 1978 God changed his mind about black people (per LDS Church)

      • Voter4America

        We see a picture of a family. The Romneys see a picture of themselves with their “property.”

      • Jim Bean

        You comment is the product of a purely sick and evil mind. You make the Left squirm by not having the presence of mind to mask the true condition of your heart.

    • Rachel Woods

      Tomorrow is January 1, 2014. I don’t think there are any slave owners left to ask you idiot. Not to mention the moron church has reversed a lot of its teaching, Its called growing and evolving. Bigamy is a perfect example.

      • ASSASSYN

        Yep, the moron church flip flopped on the issue of black people to become socially acceptable and eliminate controversy. But growing and evolving? It is a religion (a odd one at that), conservative by design. And as such nothing about it evolves it just transforms to stay relevant.

      • Pipercat

        Very well said, too bad it’s wasted on this nontroversy…

  • patty

    It was one of his children who adopted the child.I am sure that as a grandpa he will love the child just as his sons family loves the child,and I don’t care for the man but will defend him as far as family goes,Bet if he doesn’t ecept the child,the parents will walk away from him

  • artdude102

    So many true things to slam mittens about- no need to take cheap shots @ the grand kids.

  • Debra Ann

    I think “this is a lovely photo” would have been perfect. The fact that anyone would feel a need to mention the child Romney is holding just shows their ignorance. It’s a child – period. We need to stop looking at black and white. We are in a “blended” generation – get over it.

    • Pipercat

      The atmosphere has been polluted by the shear amount of vitriol spewed. Get used to all this effluent and the faux outrage that follows.

  • Chris Ballenger

    Skin color identity is so trivial. Why not discriminate against eye color or hair color? It’s the same thing. It’s just as stupid.

  • Voter4America

    Why even go down this road? Because the party of racists — the Republican Party — brings it on themselves. They are the most tone deaf group of people when it comes to matters of race that I’ve witnessed in my lifetime. As for these remarks by MSNBC panelists, it sounds to me like Allen Clifton, the author of this article, got up on the wrong side of the bed. And what, pray tell, do you think the Romneys will do to help instill any “black pride” in this young person? How much black history do you suppose this child will ever be exposed to by his adopted family? How is being a Romney going to be good for this child? Do you really think the Romneys will cut him in on the inheritance? Please.

    • Rachel Hogan

      The ignorance, it burns.

    • Jim Bean

      MSNBC embarrasses the Left by giving voice to their hidden bigotry and still – its the Republican Party’s fault. “The Pubs made me do it.” And it occurs to me that if the child is not exposed to any black history whatsoever, he/she is much more likely to grow up to be a successful, well-adjusted, and happy member of society. Might even vote Republican (OMG!)

      • Voter4America

        I rest my case.

    • Rachel Woods

      who cares? How about American pride, or pride in one’s family? How about the child growing up color blind instead?

    • T Lewis

      You’re ignorant. He’ll go to the best schools. He’ll have access to the Romney network to obtain good employment. He’ll want for nothing material and it seems will likely grow up in a caring family. And yet you’re obsessing about whether he’ll have “black pride”. Oh my. This is the power of the liberal intellect right here — focusing on the important things in life.

      • Voter4America

        And you would deny the child of knowing who he is. Nice.

      • T Lewis

        You don’t think he’ll know he’s black? Do you have any cognitive functionality? I’m somehow of the opinion that he’ll have no problem recognizing his skin color and, if he’s interested in Black history, he’ll be more than capable to learn himself, but maybe you don’t think he’s inherently capable of that. Is that it? You’re not really very progressive are you: you’d rather have people identify themselves by the color of their skin rather than the content of their character. Evolve, please.

      • Voter4America

        Oh, I’m sure he’ll know he’s black. His name will tell him that. The Romneys named the kid Kieran. Which is Gaelic for “little dark one” or “blackie.” Now tell me again how the Romneys don’t see color and have this child’s best interests in mind?

      • T Lewis

        No, of course, they have only very evil intentions toward this adopted boy. I’m sure they’ll lock him in a cellar and only bring him out for show and tell. Do you realize how idiotic you sound? I guarantee that he will turn out much better than you — you’re deranged. This is why I don’t frequent these websites much: they bring out the “best” liberal minds.

      • strayaway

        Voter, please go on. Explain who “he is”.

      • Voter4America

        Well, he’s not you. Which is a good thing. One of you is one too many.

      • strayaway

        Voter, you ducked answering. I was so hoping you would expand on the child being denied knowing “who he is” as you put it. I don’t want to put words in your mouth but you seemed to suggest that the child is supposed to be in a certain place maybe culturally or something and that the Romneys will prevent that from happening somehow. I mean, the President was raised by comfortably well off white people. But even if this child goes to BYU and becomes a Mormon elder without identifying with black culture and history, is that bad? Why?

      • Voter4America

        In one sentence you say you don’t want to put words in my mouth, and in the next sentence you put words in my mouth. You righties are amazing. Amazingly stupid. What I was referring to was the Romneys complete lack of any knowledge whatsoever about black folks. You, obviously, don’t consider it essential, or even helpful, for a young black person to grow up with a sense of where he comes from. As long as he’s “safely” within the embrace of white folks, it’ll all be just fine. Of course then when he ventures out in the real world, he’ll discover the sad reality. God I hope you don’t have kids. They’re in trouble if you do.

      • strayaway

        The sentence i wrote was, “I don’t want to put words in your mouth but you seemed to suggest that the child is supposed to be in a certain place maybe culturally or something and that the Romneys will prevent that from happening somehow.” It worked! You stopped ducking my question.

        I do consider it desirable but not essential to know about “where one comes from”. You fail to provide evidence that growing up in the Romney clan will prevent that. Remember, Little Barry, grew up being raised by everyone but his black relatives; mostly by his comfortably well off white grandparents. His father abandoned him. That didn’t prevent him from adopting ‘blackness”.

        (anecdote warning) I do know one woman who was adopted by whites and grew up in a small town in which she was the only black. When she got to college, she said that she tried to identify and hang out with other blacks but she was rejected as being an oreo. She eventually married a white guy and they have two kids. So not everyone takes the route of Barack Obama. So what? This is America. Why do you want to put everyone in your mold? German Americans don’t all have to study German history or the Mein Kampf to understand themselves better. Why should blacks? Note: I think it it neat if blacks do take in interest in their personal history. I appreciate history.

  • Jim Bean

    Liberals are not (comparatively) “more accepting of other races.” But they sure are the ones to ‘see’ the racial implications of anything/everything as a tool to promote themselves as ‘better than thee.’


      Yeah, actually we are. Significantly more accepting of other races than conservatives. MSNBC does not define the democrats no matter how much you want it to. They are just another corporation with it’s own agenda. We are defined by what we do, seek to to do, and have done. And none of it involves discriminating against a race, gender, sexual orientation, or stalling government because we dislike the skin tone of a president. Conservatives however…

      • Jim Bean

        Like Detroit, for example?

      • Pipercat

        … or Kalamazoo!

  • Eve Alexander

    Could you be assuming racism and offense? For instance the comment “One of These Things is Not Like the Others” could refer to the little boy at the back of the photo who is bawling his eyes out instead of smiling like everyone else. The comment “really sums up the diversity of the Republican party” could refer to the fact that everyone in the picture is wearing matching outfits. As Richard Carlson author of “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” recommends, assume innocent intentions.

    • T Lewis

      I hope you’re kidding…. They clearly thought that Romney’s black adopted grand child was hilarious. To Pia Glenn, he “is not like the others” because that’s what every adopted child wants to be told. How sad are these classless liberals that they can’t even hear what they sound like. And there are people on these boards defending them. Pathetic.

    • strayaway

      “One of These Things is Not Like the Others” seems an expression of surprise or a mention of something thought to be a little newsworthy; neither harmful nor hostile.

  • Scott6113

    I think it’s great they adopted. It is such a loving choice.

  • therrendunham

    Aside from the fact that kids should not be cannon fodder for political debate, I could not disagree with you more. To place a blanket condemnation of the snark disregards much of the circumstances that underpin the black/GOP dynamic. How do we know this isn’t the Romneys freeing themselves from the right-wing fringes of the GOP? Why must we assume that their mockery isn’t an insightful, if inelegant, commentary on the state of diversity in the Republican Party, that only AFTER THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE LOST that he can make himself comfortable with (if not accessible to) an African American? I don’t know if Harris-Perry and her panel were mocking the baby so much as the dog and pony show that this picture represents, and to dismiss that wholesale reflects the very racial ignorance you purport yourself to eschew.

  • Dave Marsh

    What a beautiful family would have been the appropriate response. Mr. Romney should be praised for giving all of his children and grandchildren opportunities in life that exceed those of many others. I don’t agree with the man politically, but when it comes to his family values, he is spot on.

  • Tess Stanley-Hannah

    In my personal experience, having two bi-racial children enter our family within the last 7 years, racism in a family doesn’t stop because of them. My father and brother STILL tell racist jokes around the dinner table, not with the children present, but it still happens. It just happed again at Christmas. We also have 3 gay family members, but it doesn’t stop them from making fun of them either. Just because a family has members of different races, doesn’t mean the racism just goes away immediately. Hopefully in the long run, interracial families will change the overall feelings but a racist is a racist and it takes a lot more than one baby to change that for a lot of them.

  • MLR

    I’m no fan of Romney since I am a liberal but the photo of the Romney family with all his grandchildren was very nice. I love large families since I came from a large family myself. With that said I’m stunned at people’s reactions to this incident. Dean Obeidallah was poking fun at the Republican party, not at the Romney family and certainly not at the baby and absolutely nobody seems to remember that MHP said the baby was gorgeous. The only thing I did find somewhat offensive was the song. But this is free speech right? I mean if the crazy right-wingers like the ones that slammed Cheerios, or Duck Dynasty can exercise freedom of speech, then so should MHP and her guests. Freedom of speech is a two way street. As Progressives we need to exercise our freedom of speech more and stop freaking out at dumb little incidents like this one because the right-wingers sure as hell don’t call out their own, instead they rally around them. But they sure as hell will call out a liberal for anything they perceive as offensive which is a lot. I’m not suggesting we embrace every hateful remark done by a liberal but we shouldn’t throw them completely under the bus either.