It would be completely disingenuous to suggest that there’s no correlation between who a man (or woman) happens to date and/or marry and how others perceive him. As much as many of us support President Obama for his intellect, his energy, and his spirit, the fact that we think his wife is equally (if not more) awesome definitely hasn’t hurt him. The same dynamic takes place whenever one of those slideshows featuring popular athletes and entertainers and their mates makes its way around the internet, as the guys who (gasp!) have Black wives always get a small boost with their “Black” stock. And, if I had a dollar for every time I heard that Robin Thicke or Robert DeNiro or Bill Maher were granted honorary “Black Passes” for being seen with women of color, I’d, well, I’d just have a lot of dollars.
This concept even carries weight in the business world, as many in corporate America will tell you that single businessmen usually aren’t taken as seriously as their married counterparts. In this sense, a ring might be the best financial investment a man can make.
With this being said, I understand why some people may argue that vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s connection to Black women — he has a Black sister-in-law and apparently dated a Black woman in college — could mean that him being in office wouldn’t be as bad for us as we initially thought. Perhaps he’s not as out of touch as we assumed, and his apparent soft spot for Black women may suggest that he’d be sympathetic to issues dear to the Black community. Plus, while a Romney inauguration probably won’t have Jay-Z and Beyonce performing, maybe Ryan’s Black connection might be able to land Seal or one of Hootie’s Blowfish.
But, being “related to and/or attracted to a Black person” has no connection to “being good for Black people.” There are thousands of misogynistic men and misandrist women who are still attracted to the opposite sex even though they kind of hate them. And, while I don’t think Ryan hates Black people, what he does with his little head probably isn’t going to affect the policies he supports with his big head. As I said before, a person’s mate does have an effect on how they’re perceived, but it doesn’t change who they are. Paul Ryan could have dated the entire cast of “Sparkle,” but that still doesn’t change his person, his politics, and his party.
Also, as Clarence Thomas continues to prove, you can be Black and not be good for Blacks.