Candidate criticized for publicizing his interracial family

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

politics(Thanks to Tariq for this tip!)

A local South Florida politician is coming under fire for pushing his candidacy by drawing attention to his interracial family. Nick Sakhnovsky is white, his adopted son James, is black, and his wife Alice is black too:

The billboards feature the ubiquitous picture of Sakhnovsky and his adopted son, James, 9, standing next to a gold and white logo with a dark hand and a white hand on the verge of a handshake. “For all of us! Elect James’ Dad,” the ads say…

Sakhnovsky even registered himself as Nick “James’ Dad” Sakhnovsky with the Florida Division of Elections.

Usually I would say hey, the guy has an interracial family. What’s the big deal? All politicians use their families as campaigning tools — why should it be different for Sakhnovsky?

But I am a bit disturbed by this case. It would be one thing if he included photos of his family in a matter-of-fact way, but he seems to be going out of his way to say “hey look at me, I’m the father of a black son!” Just the fact that he’s identifying himself as “James’ Dad” smacks of exploitation to me.

It’s also interesting that Sakhnovsky is positioning himself as a candidate who understands diversity because he has an interracial family. I guess it’s the old “I can’t be racist, I’m in an interracial relationship!” posturing that we’ve documented extensively here on Racialicious.

As the underdog in the race for state representative in District 93, Sakhnovsky hopes his focus on diversity will translate into votes among all races.

“I basically have a unique ability to bring different perspectives to the table in Tallahassee,” he said. “I live this kind of diversity every single day.”

…He has made diversity the theme of his campaign, emphasizing his interracial family at every turn, and claims that he is in better position to represent the entire district because of his appreciation for diversity.

So here’s a question for you: If you know that a politician has an interracial family, would you think that he/she has a better grasp of race and diversity issues than a politician without an interracial family? What would be your gut reaction?