By Tiff J
Stacey Dash is an actress who has been in the business for quite some time but who, quite frankly, isn’t registering on many people’s radar these days, when one considers the value and influence of celebrities in this current cult of personality. The media hasn’t really reported anything noteworthy about her since she was unceremoniously fired from the cast of the VH1 series “Single Ladies” for reported difficult on-set behavior and before being ousted, yet again, from the cast of the film “Supremacy” for similar reasons. And those of us who’ve caught on to how some celebrities go about garnering press for themselves- particularly when their star has faded- have come to realize that clamoring about this highly charged election year has become a popular way for some to elicit attention… good, bad, and ugly… because as the adage goes, ‘any publicity is good publicity’.
Rapper Nicki Minaj recently caused a stir after she coyly rapped a Pro-Romney/Pro-Republican verse on a mix-tape, Clint Eastwood addressed his dissatisfaction with our current administration to an empty chair that comically become known as “Invisible Obama” – leaving viewers flummoxed- during a speech at the RNC, and of course Chicago-born rapper Lupe Fiasco turned up the volume on his political stance right before the release of his fourth album. So amid the dervish of media attention popular celebs have stirred up when they’ve spoken out (or tweeted) about politics, it didn’t seem all that unlikely for a less prolific celebrity to take a similar approach and openly express her political alliance … and so onward Stacey Dash went this past Sunday tweeting, “Vote for Romney. The only choice for your future,” making sure to attach a ‘twit pic’ of herself wearing a tight red tank-top, standing in front of an American flag with the words ‘Dash America’ emblazoned across the photo. The backlash from some of her followers was immediate and it was palpable, her somewhat clumsy sounding tweet quickly spreading across the Twittersphere. People did not take kindly to the 46-year old “Clueless” actress’s endorsement, and many called her names and questioned her intelligence…
“You’re an unemployed black woman endorsing @MittRomney. You’re voting against yourself thrice. You poor beautiful idiot.” Read one tweet, which made the rounds with over 500 re-tweets.
Undaunted, the actress managed to get herself booked on Piers Morgan’s show this past Tuesday evening, where she defended her endorsement and further expounded on why she plans on voting for Romney; stating that she was displeased with the state of the country and how she wants the next four years to be different– “I believe him. I watched him, the Governor and his wife, on ‘Meet The Press,’. They spoke to me, they seemed authentic and genuine.” She said.
And while Dash (who is a mixed-race Black woman) has Vice-President hopeful Paul Ryan’s encouragement, the bulk of the criticism Dash has received, has prompted some people in the Black community to harshly brand her a gold-star seeking sellout who doesn’t seem to have a firm grasp of politics or Romney’s platform…
“The fury, I really don’t understand the fury. I don’t understand it. I don’t get it. I was shocked, saddened. Not angry. […] But you know what; you can’t expect everyone to agree with you.” She told Piers Morgan.
Everyone is entitled to their constitutional right to vote for whichever candidate best suits their interests and concerns. Many of the insults people tweeted at Stacey were out of line, particularly since she isn’t the only celebrity of color who has endorsed and who currently endorses/votes for Republican candidates, nor will she be the last. I’m also loath to agree with Allison Samuel’s short-sighted assessment in the Daily Beast, where she played the Colorism card, suggesting that the uproar stems from Black people’s jealousy of Dash’s multicultural roots and look– “She’s a Hollywood starlet with an exotic beauty that allows her to flow effortlessly between the black and white worlds. Her feet rarely touch the ground of the real world because they don’t have to. My guess is that Dash wasn’t talking to people of color at all when she tweeted her Romney endorsement.” Samuels wrote.
I take issue with the narrative some online media platforms and conservatives continue to try to paint, which questions the intelligence and veracity of Black voters. This latest and very minor dust up- (and that’s exactly what it is… dust that’s being kicked up for publicity and political gain)- is being used as ammunition to further criticize and push propaganda aimed at suppressing Black voters while simultaneously engaging an actress’s obvious quest for attention.
The aforementioned trope (and Samuel’s presumptuous Daily Beast article) suggests that Black people don’t have the aptitude to vote based on issues that are pertinent to our lives and that we have no sense of awareness. This election year, the Black community has been saddled with accusations that our respective votes hinge on nothing more than racial solidarity, and that most of us are more inclined to re-elect President Barack Obama for no other reason, other than his being Black. Rarely do I see this accusation lobbed at staunch conservatives or Romney supporters, or at those White voters who’ve been emphatic about their contempt for Obama from the start.
Following Stacey Dash’s endorsement of Romney, the media was quick to brand her detractors as “racist” Black Obama supporters and the New York Daily News went as far as to attack their grammatical skills; interesting, when you consider that many White conservative Republicans’ flagrantly racist and misogynistic rhetoric and false equivalences isn’t written off as the blind fervor of White Supremacy or White solidarity. It’s always suggested that those voters are merely passionate about the issues.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that on some level Dash is just as complicit as Allison Samuels, in helping perpetuate stereotypes about other Black voters, as illustrated by her rather flighty use of an over-utilized Martin Luther King quote and her beaming over being called “brave” during a phone conversation with Paul Ryan; the actress said, “I chose Mitt not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character,” as if to suggest other Black people don’t have the capacity to also choose accordingly. And I’m still left wondering whether her public endorsement was out of genuine concern for the issues she claims Romney’s platform raises for her, or if she was simply trolling.
While I mull what Stacey Dash’s actual motives were for the random (albeit innocuous) tweet, I strongly maintain that the actress has the right to her opinion, regardless of what her intentions are in making them public, and would like to suggest an idea different than what Allison Samuels surmised: perhaps some of Stacey’s followers were scrambling to understand how a woman, who happens to identify as Black, could openly endorse a candidate who has zero interest in promoting women’s issues and whose statements indicate that he has no desire to endear himself to minority voters. But alas, she is just one voter with an opinion, as we all are.
And since I suspect the media (and conservatives) will continue to blow this situation out of proportion and use it to paint Black liberals as a monolith, I’d also like to encourage folks to divert the energy they’re using hurling insults at Stacey Dash, into poring over their own decision and then exercising their right to vote on November 6th.