by Dr. Boyce Watkins
Actress Stacey Dash, best-known for her appearance in the film “Clueless,” is having her core ripped over her recent endorsement of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. After mentioning her support for Romney on Twitter, fans went ballistic on Dash, calling her every name in the book.
“Vote for Romney. The only choice for your future,” Dash tweeted.
That’s when the hounds came after her for expressing her opinion.
“You’re an unemployed black woman endorsing @MittRomney. You’re voting against yourself thrice. You poor beautiful idiot,” said one of her respondents.
Dash didn’t back down, but kind of did. When you’re a celebrity depending on black people to support you, you pretty much have to do what they tell you to do.
“My humble opinion… EVERYONE is entitled to one,” Dash responded, mistakenly presuming that most black people respect the concept of freedom of speech.
I remember speaking on a European cruise for the National Professionals Network this summer. We spoke about the Obama Presidency in front of a group of highly-educated black professionals. One woman stood up and said that she supported Mitt Romney and felt that African Americans are better off abandoning the Democratic Party.
I was shocked and disappointed by the fact that the woman couldn’t get a sentence out without being booed down by people who felt that she was some kind of sellout for not supporting President Obama. They didn’t want to hear her arguments, because some of us fear even considering a point of view that might cause us to change our minds. When I saw how the crowd reacted to this woman for simply stating her opinion, that’s when I knew we were headed into very dangerous territory.
The Obama presidency has been a true learning experience for the black community about manner by which we utilize our democratic freedoms. Since President Obama was elected, nearly any voice of dissent, on any level, has been squashed by the masses, as if all those who dare to have a differentiating opinion should be tarred and feathered in public.
This hasn’t been helped by all of the black public figures who lined up to make it clear that no one in the black community has a right to even question any decision that comes out of this administration. Voting for President Obama was not enough. You must give his administrative complete dictatorial authority over all that happens in black America. And even asking his administration to do more to earn your vote was considered to be an act of treasonous sabotage.
I’m sorry my friends, but that’s not democracy. We disrespect the presidency and the concept of liberty by oppressing each other in the way that whites have oppressed us for the last 400 years. Some of the behavior I’ve seen during the last four years has been nothing less than shameful.
I don’t agree with Stacey Dash’s support for Mitt Romney, in large part because Romney doesn’t seem to care about poor people. But the truth is that most black people don’t care about poor people either, and even consider it criminal that Cornel West has been touring the country to promote poverty for the past year (poverty and black unemployment have become the inconvenient truths of the Obama presidency). The fact is that President Obama can say or do damn near anything when it comes to limiting constitutional freedoms, dropping drones on innocent children, ignoring racial inequality, etc. and our infinite intoxication with his presidential power leads us to march along like little brainless soldiers who don’t believe in making our own decisions.
This way of thinking is very dangerous, and what we must understand is that with the power of a black presidency also comes the responsibility of doing all we can to ensure that we have a government that is for the people and by the people. You don’t get that kind of freedom by squashing all dissidents with force instead of logical arguments or handing over a blank check of approval to any leader because you are enamored with his charisma and racial identity.The easiest way to waste your vote is not by staying home at the polls. The easiest way to waste your vote is to support an administration and then destroy anyone who asks for something in return.
Stacey Dash has the right to support anyone she wants. The challenge of Democracy is not whether you can support the rights of someone who agrees with you. It is whether you can protect the liberties of those who disagree. By renting our brain space to black public figures who’ve been rewarded for backing the Obama Administration, we are failing this test in a horrible and embarrassing way.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and creator of the Building Outstanding Men and Boys Family Empowerment Series. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.