When Melissa Harris-Perry decided to show a photo of Mitt Romney’s family, complete with his new Black grandson, to point out his differences. This story and eventual apology got me thinking about all of the apologies we heard in 2013. And there were a lot.
Alec Baldwin apologized to gay people after using a derogatory slur saying, “Words are important. I understand that, and will choose mine with great care going forward.”
Keep that statement in mind.
Paula Deen apologized to Black people, also for having used a derogatory slur in the past saying, “I beg you, my children, my team, my fans, my partners, I beg for your forgiveness.”
Mayor Rob Ford apologized to Toronto for lying about using crack cocaine.
Jimmy Kimmel apologized to China for an ill-conceived comedy sketch where a 6-year-old jokingly said the U.S. should quote, “Kill everyone in China.” Ouch!
President Obama apologized to America for what fact-checkers are calling the biggest lie of the year, “If you like your healthcare plan you can keep your healthcare plan.”
MSNBC’s Martin Bashir apologized to Sarah Palin. It was late, long, candid and complete, yet not enough. He was gone.
And Bashir’s colleague, Melissa Harris-Perry, apologized to Mitt Romney for showing on TV, a family photo with his adopted grandson, who happens to be Black, just to poke fun at the governor and the Republican Party. (See above)
There is nothing funny about that. The first rule of comedy is that it should be funny, it wasn’t. There is nothing humorous about a panel of adults on national television pointing out the ‘otherness’ of a baby in relation to the members of his family; especially a little Black baby.
April Dinwoodie, who is biracial and was adopted by a White family wrote on CNN.com, “The exchange was a cold reminder of just how easy it is to flippantly do harm, and also of the dearth of understanding and sensitivity surrounding race and adoption.” You can read her article for more details, but she makes the point for me.
And so does Alec Baldwin.
In his apology he said, “Words are important. I understand that, and will choose mine with great care going forward.”
That’s good advice to Melissa Harris-Perry, her colleagues at MSNBC and all of us. We should choose our words very carefully, exactly the way Melissa Harris-Perry did in her apology.
Her words, “I am sorry. Without reservation or qualification, I apologize to the Romney family.” She got it right. And it takes a very big person to do that.
None of us are perfect. We will all make mistakes in the New Year. So, perhaps one our resolutions should be to learn from Ms. Harris-Perry; the art of the apology.
For more, click here.