Leave Stacey Dash Alone. No, Seriously.

Stacey Dash Republican
(image via Rebloggy.)

In case you haven’t heard by now, Stacey Dash is the newest member of the FOX News family. She’ll be joining the network as a “contributor”, who will “offer cultural analysis and commentary across across FOX News’ daytime and primetime programs”. 

We first learned of her political leanings back in 2012 when she tweeted her support for Mitt Romney in the year’s election. The tweet triggered an epic pile-on from all corners of the internets ranging from snarky tweets to outright racist and misogynist attacks to even snarkier blog posts which made clever use of the word “clueless” in their titles.

Stacey Dash Mitt Romney

While I don’t envision myself voting Republican in my lifetime, a lot of the conversations surrounding Stacey’s political leanings are starting to make me super uncomfortable. I might even have to bust out everyone’s favorite term to describe some of the criticisms she’s received as, well, problematic.

I’m generally the last one to defend black republicans, or any republicans for that matter, for their political leanings. They don’t need my defense and they probably aren’t looking for it. But, I can’t ignore that that conversations about Stacey Dash are basically a warped form respectability politics on one side and paternalism on the other. Despite the fact that over 90% of African-Americans vote Democratic, there seems to be an intense reaction when one of us breaks protocol and crosses over to… the other side. Cue dramatic horror music.

Stacey Dash Mitt Romney

The term respectability politics is usually applied to blacks adopting certain behaviors and practices to placate the dominant culture and protect themselves from discrimination from said culture. Like politics in general, the concept is markedly black and white. In the case of Stacey Dash, a similar set of politics is applied in order to help minorities of different stripes gain power and representation while working to oppose the dominant culture. The simplified version of respectability politics rarely accounts for shades of gray in the form of class, country of origin, income, gender, sexual orientation and other factors which might how equal one gets to be in the fight for equality.

For women of color in a country whose politics are dominated by a two-party system, our political affiliations are decided for us from birth. When a woman of color breaks her predetermined political protocol as both a woman and person of color there’s an intense fear that her “escape” will be leveraged against other marginalized groups and used to divide and conquer. This fear conveniently focuses on the racialized rhetoric which has always pervaded American politics. But it also completely ignores the harsh reality that black women and poor women of color are rarely given a voice in liberal politics and often spoken for or spoken to. Our support and loyalty is usually expected, rather than earned. This is not to say that the party that has birthed the fable of the “Welfare Queen” has done a better job on this particular front.

For me, my vote has always simply boiled down to, the lesser of two evils, and a commitment to the rights of others such as the LGBTQ community, not staunch loyalty to a particular political party. When I look at articles in more “mainstream” spaces critiquing black female republicans like Stacey Dash, there seems to be a ubiquitous underlying message in those criticisms. I can practically hear a voice in the background screaming, “How dare you leave us black woman, don’t you know you have nowhere else to go!”. Terms like “Aunt Tom”, “stupid” and “idiot” are peppered among every other sentence or comment, or in the case of Stacey Dash, “clueless”.

I find myself literally wincing at the pain of seeing comment after comment calling a black woman an idiot over something as innocuous as a few tweets and a, likely, much needed hosting gig. “Clueless” residuals can’t be that lucrative right? I don’t see the danger in having women like Michelle Malkin or Stacey Dash in echo chamber spaces like Fox News where they have little power or influence at the end of the day. At least they are being contained. Stacey Dash won’t be reducing that 90% black Democrat vote number anytime soon as she’ll be preaching to the converted. If she takes her message to the streets, then I’ll be concerned, for all parties involved, or at the very least, I’ll be really entertained.

Until that happens, I’ll just be busy over here adding images of Stacey Dash to my giant “Black Don’t Crack” collage. (Seriously, this thing is covering my entire apartment.) I’ll still dress up as Dionne from “Clueless” next Halloween. And when I spot her inevitable book on the shelves of an airport bookstore, I’ll simply shake my head, chuckle, and keep it moving.