Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Why Are We Talking About Paul Ryan's Ex Girlfriend?

'Paul Ryan Caricature' photo (c) 2012, DonkeyHotey - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The minute Ryan announced that during college he dated a Black woman, I knew it was going to be a bad situation all around.  First off, fending off charges of racism with hey dated a Black woman is a hot mess.  Marginalized people cannot and should not serve as a get out of jail free card. Having a relationship with a marginalized person at some point in no way proves that one is not bigot, or has not engaged in some form of bigotry, especially when this comes from a White, straight, cisgender, able bodied man of class privilege.  To make sure that Ryan got his message across, he claims be a 'big, big fan' of Martin Luther King and a staunch advocate of civil rights."  If any of that were true, he wouldn't be on a Republican ticket, being led by Mitt the flipper Romney.

Ryan didn't think about what his little revelation would do to Deneeta Pope - the woman he met and dated 20 years ago at Miami University.  Ryan was only interested in picking up whatever political capitol that he could gain. Of course, it didn't take the press long to track her down and delve into her personal life.  There is absolutely no way that Ryan could even conceivably argue that this wasn't going to happen, from the moment he announced that he was once cool enough to be in an inter-racial relationship.  He's got swirl points folks. Though the two have reportedly remained friends over the years, their romantic relationship wasn't particularly serious.  Why is it important for the world to know about a romantic relationship that was fleeting?  The only reason that this became a part of the conversation, is that the party of Lincoln is well aware that they have a better chance of being struck by lightening, than getting even a small percentage of the Black vote.  Sure, some of this is because Blacks want to see Obama get a second term, however; what Republicans refuse to acknowledge is that you cannot support policies which are detrimental to people of colour, married with statements that reveal a desire to hold onto White privilege and still expect to get the Black vote. This makes Deneeta Pope nothing but a tool for Ryan and the Republican ticket.  Their version of the American dream supports the ongoing oppression of people of colour.


According to Yahoo News:
In a 2005 interview, Mitt Romney's future running mate Ryan said that he had been confronted with racism personally, because he had dated an African-American and also had a brother with a black wife.

"I have a sister-in-law who's African American, My college sweetheart was black," he had said.

"I just experienced some ugly comments, some racist views from people who I thought were friends of mine," Ryan said.
He didn't confront racism because he dated a Black woman.  At best, he maybe saw the hostility itself but none of it served to force him to experience what it is to live in a White supremacist state as a person of colour. It's not like he is suddenly going to be subjected to racist policies like stop and frisk because he once got his swirl on. He didn't actually experience anything and I am sick and tired of this ridiculous parallel.  In the same article, Pope says that they experienced no racism as a couple and considering that she described their relationship as hanging out at a few parties, I find that easy to believe.  More importantly, the one best equipped to make the determination about race is Pope and not Ryan.   Furthermore, bringing his Black sister in-law into the story to once again attempt to gain points for inclusivity and colour blindness, also reveals how manipulative and oppressive this tactic is.  Neither Pope or his sister in-law are actually people to Ryan and why are we to believe that his ties with two Black women say something significant about Ryan's understanding of race? Neither Pope, or his sister in-law -- could hope to represent Black women -- let alone all Black people living in the U.S. 

Pope recently married but she cannot focus on he new husband because everywhere she turns, she is being asked questions about Ryan.  She has already said that were never in love, so her relevance is Ryan's bid to become vice president should be questionable. No one would even be talking about her if she wasn't Black.  The Daily Mail Fail is now reporting that Pope spent time in prison for fraud. This woman has paid her debt to society and has moved on with her life, but her criminal past is all over the media.  Why is this even news?  How is this relevant to Ryan's bid to become the vice president?  The answer is that it is not relevant, but thanks to Ryan's bid to appear racially aware, Pope's name is now a hot item.  Now that the media has found this little tidbit, you can be sure that they are going to continue to dig.  Pope did not sign up to be a public figure and should have the right to a private life, but once the media takes an interest in you, they will keep digging until they reveal every private or shameful moment that they can sensationalize for profit.  The fact is, Ryan put her in a position for this to happen.

It disturbs me that people are asking the wrong questions about Ryan's association with Pope. It concerns me that so few see the self serving nature of the revelation about their brief relationship, or express concern that her criminal past has become a topic of conversation. Pope should be a non issue in this election and the fact that she is now everywhere I turn, reveals how little people understand race and privilege.