MSNBC guest Joy-Ann Reid, who writes for NBCUniversal-owned website theGrio.com, suggested that Mitt Romney was racist for helping a struggling African American woman he met while on the campaign-trail by giving her money from his own wallet. "It galls me," Reid started. "I don't even like to watch it. I felt like it plays into every sort of patronizing stereotype of black people. Oh, here's this little lady, let me give her 50 bucks."
The woman, Ruth Williams, said she was praying for divine guidance as to how she would pay a late electric bill when she happened upon the Romney tour bus. After talking to Romney about her troubles, he reportedly gave the woman approximately $50 to help her pay the electric bill.
Rather than consider the instances full-context, however, Reid was outraged by what she considered to be a condescending act.
Newsbusters provides the video and partial transcript:
Reid, who appeared on "Now with Alex Wagner" along with panelist Ari Melber of The Nation, stated:
As an African-American woman, it galls me. I don't even like to watch it. I felt like it plays into every sort of patronizing stereotype of black people. Oh, here's this little lady, let me give her 50 bucks. I mean, this is the guy who offered a bet of $10,000 on stage, you know, to another candidate, but, you know, here, let me lay off 50 bucks on this woman. And I think it plays into that conservative meme that you don't need actual programs that the government puts in place to help people in need, we'll just give them charity. The church will take care of them, I'll give them 50 bucks.
Melber, on the other hand, argued that Romney was simply faced with the emotional decision of wanting to help someone in need.
Melber began, "When I worked for campaigns and candidates, you often have these events and people stand up and they don't have policy questions, they raise their personal problems."
"And so they talk about how they can't pay this bill, or they went down to this government agency and had a problem, and, it's a very difficult thing for candidates because you sort of say, well, if this is a case worker issue, you should talk to someone in my office or let's send some letters to the agency. There's that technocratic response. And then there's the human, heartfelt response, which is, someone's hurting and they need help."
And the society needs to help them and that's usually through government. And so, the point I have here is, I think Mitt Romney's response -- he gave this woman cash -- was, she needs help. Right? The problem here isn't just giving the cash, although, your criticisms are on point, the problem is that that's not how he legislates, because they want to oppose the payroll tax cut. They want to oppose unemployment insurance for people who are between jobs. They basically have a policy that they can't even defend one-on-one because he feels so bad saying no, which was his government response to her.
Was the act patronizing or was Romney merely placed in a position where he felt he needed to help the struggling Williams. If faced with the same set of circumstances and you were in Romney's shoes, what would you do?