Commentary: Paul Ryan Dated a Black Girl. Who Cares?

Paul Ryan

Commentary: Paul Ryan Dated a Black Girl. Who Cares?

Just because vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan dated a Black woman in college doesn’t mean he’s a good leader for African-Americans.

Published August 22, 2012

It’s been well established now that Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s choice for vice president, is not very beloved in the African-American community.

Because Ryan’s commitment to America’s Black community is being called into question, some reporters have pointed to the fact that, in 2005, Ryan said in an interview that his “college sweetheart” was Black. Does dating a Black person mean that Ryan empathizes with the African-American community more than people know? In a word, no.

While dating a Black woman certainly may mean that, at one point in his life, Paul Ryan really liked a Black person, it doesn’t really say anything about how he feels about the African-American community as a whole. Nor does it say anything about how he’d govern African-Americans in the office of vice president.

I’ve met several racists in my time who say that I’m “not like” those other Black people. That is to say, I was alright with them, but Blacks as a whole they didn’t like. I’m not saying that’s what Paul Ryan’s done in his life, nor am I calling him a racist. But it’s important to keep in mind at times like these that “I dated a Black girl once” is akin to the oldest line in the book: "I’m not racist, I’ve got a Black friend.” Having a Black friend and being a good leader to African-Americans are two different things.


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(Photo: Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)

Written by Cord Jefferson


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