Does Paul Ryan's Black Ex-Girlfriend Matter?

Story tools

A A AResize

Print

 
 Shortly after it was announced that Rep. Paul Ryan would join the Romney ticket as this year's Republican vice presidential candidate, I wrote a piece titled, "What We Know About Paul Ryan and Blacks."

Well, I recently learned of another significant addition to this list.

As reported on Twitter by CNN's Pete Hamby, Ryan said he has a black sister-in-law, but perhaps even more interesting, his "college sweetheart" was African American.

So here is the million-dollar question: Is the fact that Ryan has dated interracially a noteworthy detail to consider when analyzing his politics and policies?

Here's a well-known phrase that has virtually become a punch line: When someone finds himself on the ropes facing an allegation of racism, the go-to reflex defense is usually something along the lines of "But some of my best friends are black!" Translation: "I can't possibly be racist or racially insensitive because there are black people I like and they like me. So there." Many of us are so used to hearing this -- and, frankly, dismissing it (remember George Zimmerman's media-friendly pal Joe Oliver?) -- that we long ago stopped asking, What if it's actually true?

For years Lou Dobbs was the face of the anti-illegal-immigration crusade. As a result of his seeming obsession with the issue, he became in the eyes of many the face of xenophobia and racism, not to mention public enemy No. 1 of Mexican immigrants. There's just one hitch to this narrative: Dobbs is married to a Mexican-American woman, meaning that he is the father of Mexican-American children. (His Mexican-born mother-in-law even lives with his family.) Read more here.