Jennifer Carroll, the lieutenant governor of Florida, has been under fire this week for incendiary comments about lesbians (not to mention single women) made in a television interview in which she responded defensively to allegations that she engaged in a same-sex relationship.
“I’m the one that’s married for 29 years! The accuser is the one that’s been single for a long time. So usually black women that look like me don’t engage in relationships like that,” she said.
In a piece for Essence, Aisha and Danielle Moodie-Mills, a married African-American couple who advise the Center for American Progress on LGBT policy and racial justice, not only point out the irony in the way the Tea Party Republican and Navy lieutenant commander judged others based on arbitrary traits having nothing to do with their behavior, outlook or character; the couple also link Carroll’s outlook to immigration and other troubling policies that support profiling in the legal context.
The folly of her remarks is certainly obvious. As a married black lesbian couple that defies this misguided characterization that black lesbians are not feminine or attractive, and with one of us having been raised by a single black mother, we take personal offense to them.
But most disturbing is the ease with which she promotes the stereotyping and profiling of people based on arbitrary traits that have absolutely nothing to do with the content of their character, such as how they look, their family status, or their class.
Jennifer Carroll, of all people, should know better.
Born in Trinidad and having immigrated to America when she was 8 to be raised by relatives, she surely has felt the sting of cavalier judgment based on nothing more than her accent or her immigration status.
Nor would many look at her and guess that she is a conservative Republican and self-professed “Tea Party Trini” who was the first black person ever to be elected statewide in Florida.
Because in America, we still seldom recognize black women’s ambitions and achievements, yet all too often make dangerous assumptions about who they are, or are supposed to be and typecast them as caricatures of themselves.