Melissa Harris-Perry's biracial family may have been behind her tearful apology on MSNBC for an insensitive racial joke involving Mitt Romney, according to Christopher Parker, a professor at the University of Washington.
"Quite possibly her mom or her father, quite possibly, maybe her sister [suggested it]," Parker told "The Steve Malzberg Show."
"She comes from a biracial family. Her mom is white and her dad is black. So one of them could have possibly gotten to her and told her she was wrong."
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On her MSNBC show, Harris-Perry showed a Mitt Romney Christmas card with the former GOP presidential candidate surrounded by his family and holding Kieran Romney, the adopted black son of one of his sons.
She asked a panel for comment and comedian Dean Obeidallah joked that the image "sums up the diversity of the Republican party." Harris-Perry then said Kieran could one day marry North West, the child of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.
"Can you imagine Mitt Romney and Kanye West as in-laws?" she asked, laughing. A week after the segment, Harris-Perry offered a tearful, on-air apology.
"I don't think those were crocodile tears . . . I know Melissa personally. Melissa's a very tough person and she's not going to cry if she really doesn't mean it," Parker said.
"Those were tears that were generated, I would suppose, from an interaction with her mom or dad, or maybe even both of them . . . [saying] you know what, that really was not right."
Parker is co-author of "Change They Can't Believe In: The Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in America
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