Before Mitt Romney was introduced at the Republican National Convention on Thursday night viewers saw a 10-minute video created to humanize Romney. The video featured the Romney family inside their home several times but in one of the scenes a women who appears to be working for the family in the background was simply ignored.
Is she one of the four housekeepers the reports have alleged Romney is underpaying? It could be, but more importantly some say the video made her invisible.
"As I’m watching Romney’s RNC video spotlighting his family, I find it interesting there is no mention of the woman in the red shirt in the background, who is obviously there helping," said artist Ramiro Gomez, who’s art looks to start conversations about the labor force that takes care of families and homes.
"Yet another reason why I’ll keep making my cardboard cutouts, we are not invisible and we will be heard," wrote Gomez to his Facebook followers as the video was broadcasted live Thursday night. Colorlines.com spotted the video thanks to a tip from Gomez, who is a nanny during the day.
"Not only was there an invisible chair last night there was a lot of invisible help in the Romney family story," said Colorlines.com’s economic justice blogger Imara Jones. "We constantly heard about Ann Romney’s struggle with her five children but no references to the household workers who gave a hand. Earlier this year, when asked, she couldn’t even remember their names."
IRS forms released earlier this year by Romney’s presidential campaign show that despite reporting income of $21.7 million, the couple paid only $20,603 in taxable wages for household help in 2010. This figure was divided among four women: Rosania Costa ($4,808), Kelli Harrison ($8,667), Susan Moore ($2,238) and Valerie Cravens Anae ($4,890).
The Huffington Post went to several Boston-based domestic staffing agencies and found the salary range for a housekeeper is between $20 and $30 an hour. The HuffPost’s Christina Wilkie did the math and realized that the amount the Romney’s reported in their IRS forms doesn’t add up to fair wages.
"Yet the Romneys still paid only half of the lowest range of an average housekeeper’s salary, which raises the question of who cleaned the Romney houses the other 50 percent of the time," Wilkie wrote in her story published in January. A Romney campaign adviser declined to respond to questions from The Huffington Post about the housekeeping salaries.
"The average net worth of Latinos is $7,000. The Romneys are worth a quarter of a billion dollars. That economic gulf creates a labor pool that allows the Romney’s to make their lives easier, but the people that help them everyday are rendered transparent to Romney eyes. It’s curious," Imara Jones went on to say.