Politics

10.11.12

Why Stacey Dash’s Looks—Not Her Race—Matter in Her Romney Endorsement

Who cares what a D-list actress has to say about politics? If she’s drop dead gorgeous, people will pay attention—and lash out, as Dash found out. But let’s not pretend her race has an impact on her Romney support, says Allison Samuels.

Stacey Dash is cute. OK, she’s more than just cute. She’s downright gorgeous. Her flawless café au lait skin, flowing hair, and slender frame are without doubt much desired attributes for many women, particularly women of color. African-Americans still struggle with the sad reality that some in the black community elevate women solely on the hue of their skin and the texture of their hair.

For my money, that’s exactly what’s behind the uproar over Dash throwing her support behind Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Why else would anyone be outraged about what an unemployed 46-year-old mixed-race actress has to say about politics on Twitter? Since when does anyone—Piers Morgan, I’m talking to you—care what a D-list actress of color has to say about anything unless Whitney Houston dies or Marion Jones is released from jail? Many prominent women of color routinely share fascinating and controversial comments on Twitter each day, to absolutely no fanfare.

But Stacey Dash is drop dead gorgeous, so people take a special interest when she voices an opinion. They listen very carefully to what she has to say, and they lash out if they don’t like what they hear. That’s the trap Dash stepped into over the weekend. Not long after her first “Vote For Romney” tweet on Oct. 7, accompanied by a photo of the actress in a Baywatch swimsuit and American flag, nasty, insulting, and racist comments began to flood her Twitter account.

Tweets that referred to her as an “old hag” and an idiot were retweeted without mercy. Even Dash, who surely knew she’d get some attention for her endorsement, appeared surprised at the intense level of vitriol directed her way via the social network.

But what exactly was Dash’s crime? Was it not supporting the reelection of the first black president or was it airing the dirty secret of being dissatisfied with President Obama’s performance? Or were African-Americans simply stunned that a woman so long revered in the community for no other real reason than her stunning looks could be so removed from the political and social beliefs they hold so dear?

I’m going with door No. 3, while also asking when exactly Stacey Dash’s views on politics became of vital interest to anyone inside or outside the black community.

With the exception of the film Clueless, the occasional Kanye West music video, or her stylish layout in Playboy a few years ago, Dash has lived a rather low-key and uneventful Hollywood existence.

Her short-lived role on the Vh1 show Single Ladies ended abruptly earlier this year with apparently no love lost between Dash and her fellow co-stars. Her brutally honest conversation with talk show host Wendy Williams in 2010 revealed her three marriages and six engagements to a series of white men, spanning her entire adult life from the age of 17. In a true moment of TMI, Dash shared with Williams her penchant for sleeping with potential husbands on the first date.

Of course, none of those factors disqualifies Dash from the right to voice her opinion and support whomever she likes politically. But all of those factors certainly did lead me to glance at her tweet supporting Romney and move on without a second thought.

When exactly did Stacey Dash’s views on politics become of vital interest to anyone inside or outside the black community?

Anyone who’s followed the former Massachusetts governor’s campaign closely knows that Romney has said or promised little that would give African-Americans or Hispanics much to look forward to if he were to take office. That fact goes a long way toward explaining Romney’s near zero level of support among black voters and extremely low polling numbers among Hispanics.

But the real world isn’t Dash’s reality. 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. My guess is that Dash’s smooth brown skin has had and will have little impact on her social and political views, and those who consider themselves fans of the actress should take heed of that and keep it moving.

Take a stroll down memory lane. Has Dash ever gone on record speaking out about the black teenagers who made up the Jena Six or taking a stand on the Travyon Martin case, or anything else remotely race related? She hasn’t because she’s not that girl. Trying to force her to be based solely on the hue of her skin or the fullness of her lips is really being clueless.