Saturday, November 08, 2008

"But What About African Americans on Prop 8?"

Several people have commented both privately and publicly that in my little rant yesterday about Prop 8 that I was happy to criticize Mormons, Catholics and evangelicals for the passage of Prop 8, but that I failed to mention that 70% of African Americans also voted against us.

The fact is that I believe that the things that tied those opposing us together was not race, but religion (and age -- older folks resist change).

Still, it's a fair charge and one I was struggling with until I read this entry from Pam's House Blend.
If you look at the statistics and follow the money that supported Prop 8, the actual characteristic that those who voted "yes" actually share is a traditional belief system. This is across race, gender, etc. There were white people who voted for Prop 8. The LDS church, who provided millions to support Prop 8, is majorly white in its make-up! But suddenly, it's a "black community" problem. I hope I'm wrong, but this whole thing just seems like an excuse for some people to say some things about black people that they've been waiting to say for a long time.
She discusses how the term "the black community" is a myth:

First, let's get this label, "black community" on the table and out of the way. What is the "black community"? As a black woman, I really want to know. Is it my distinctly southern community that I grew up in? Is it my distant cousins' northern, inner-city community? Is it my good friend's west-coast, breezy community? What is it? Those two words have been thrown around so much in the wake of Prop 8 passing that I think a real definition needs to come out for it.

From my perspective, there is no "black community" in the sense that there is somehow a massive collective, hive mind that people with dark skin somehow share.

...No, the term "black community" is an objectification of a race of people who may or may not share qualities beyond the color of their skin. It takes away the personal and replaces it with a set of sterotyped expectations.
She ends her post with:
All of that being said, if someone wants to talk about the reason WHY so many black people voted "yes" on 8, that would be a different story. We could have a civil conversation about that, because that's asking questions of those who voted "yes", not of some ficticious "community" that's easy to place the blame on. We should also talk about why so many old people voted "yes", why so many religious people voted "yes". You get the point. We should be looking at what factors cause people to forget freedom and equality. I'm certain that "blackness" is not one of those factors.
Thank you, Pam. You said it perfectly.

You know, I get that people are angry that their own rights have been given and then taken away. But let's not act like blind soldiers standing in battlefield shooting at anything that moves.
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