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.


Amy Lynn said...

I think she's only half right. You can certainly predict (with a pretty good success rate/greater than chance) how a Black voter will come down on a certain issue - Black voters TEND to be Democrats, tend to be middle class or struggling, etc. There IS a Black community in that effect, whether or not Pam chooses to believe it.

Anonymous said...

I agree there's probably no more of a black community than a white community or a latin community. Or a gay community, for that matter. There is however some factor that produced a very high percentage of black people to vote yes for 8. Most of the black people I've spoken with about prop 8 and about gay "issues" in general don't perceive the gay experience as a civil rights movement. Just yesterday I had a discussion with a woman about the history of the black civil rights movement in America. She certainly understood what a brave thing Rosa Parks did by refusing to sit in the back of the bus. She understood how Martin Luther King also impacted the history of blacks in America. Black American history was forever changed from that point forward. She could not see any connection between these people/events and the Stonewall riots or the assassination of Harvey Milk.
Whether or not there is any black community in America, the lives of all blacks in this country were unquestionably impacted by Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King and by the actions of so many others who refused to continue to allow themselves to be marginalized and treated as second class citizens.
Black people in America have a history. Gay history in America seems to be something most people are less familiar with. Even among gays. My friend sees gay issues as a question of morality and not a matter of civil rights. Ultimately, I told her I respect that we have different opinions, different personal experiences, different histories and certainly different definitions of morality. But even granting our differences, I am unable to comprehend why she and so many others feel compelled to legally force their brand of morality on everyone.
For me, the point seems to come down to religion. I firmly believe this is a civil right issue.
I hope these three concepts will be considered as we move forward:
1. We are all created equal.
2. America was created in the spirit of freedom from religious persecution.
3. Our constitution protects minotiries from the tyranny of the majority.

Anonymous said...

I left out one major point:
4. Separation of church and state

Jackie said...

I too, see this as a civil rights issue. I'm very upset about Prop 8 and I'm even more upset that Black folks voted 70% for it. I don't know how or how much the No on Prop 8 education addressed civil rights versus morality. In hind sight that should have been a major focus. Unfortunately, black churches(with a few exceptions) have a history of erasing critical thinking when it comes to homosexuality, (among other things). It's this same homophobic thinking that prompted such a large black vote for George W. Bush for his first term. The churches where the civil rights movement was born are the same places that find nothing wrong with denying rights to others. I lay the blame directly there.

Anonymous said...

Religion is the greatest threat to any government. Our founders knew that and tried very hard to eliminate it's influence. Ruling Kings and the Roman government used the priests and Roman Gods to falsify to affirm their legitimacy to rule. It disappoints me that California voters did not see through the veil of this imposition from a religious institution and adhere to what the founding fathers desired for their new government. It disappoints that a blatant discriminatory attitude still prevails after all this country has been through.

Or could it be this is just actually a selfish economic (not discriminatory) action in as it first appears to be on the surface? Given California's economic strains are they afraid partners would now qualify for the same benefits as their counterparts resulting in a large economic impact on current benefit programs?

Being a "hetro" by definition, I fail to see how in anyway it would take away (in any way what-so-ever) from me. How in the world whom another chooses for their life partner would affect the choices I make is beyond my understanding. But then I never will live long enough to understand "exclusion".

We are one Earth, one peoples. We all live on this rock and when we pass we can take no money, house, or any form of Earthly item. Every "human accomplishment" stays on this Earth where "human accomplishments" remain. In short do we eat what candy we need to be content and leave the rest for others who follow? OR only the wrapper (rubbish).The acts that remain for the living either serve to promote or they serve to darken future for others who may follow. Why on Earth do so many people leave behind so much misery I will never understand.

There was a short book penned by Richard Bach (Same author as J. Livingston Seagull) called Illusions: The Adventures Of A Reluctant Messiah (1977). The question arose, what is the commandment of all commandments that towered over all others that the creator wanted us to obey? It was "Be Happy".

Does Prop8 fulfill that commandment?

"Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you're alive, it isn't."
~Richard Bach~

Anonymous said...

BTW: I wanted to add- Sam Harris said in his Vblog.. while he grew up in Oklahoma in a hetro family. His family, as much as he loves them and influenced him, didn't create the desire to whom he has chose to share his life with.

PS: Sam just got married under the wire!

Sam Harris: Proposition 8 and The Aftermath of Injustice.

Anonymous said...


It's everything I believe 100%. WOW well said!

Keith Olberman

Amy Lynn said...

Olbermann was GREAT, but I felt like Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer, going, "Once again, things that could've been brought to my attention YESTERDAY!"

This comment would have been wonderful to deliver... LAST MONDAY.

As bad was the vote was, the LGBT and liberal communities SCREWED this one up, and now cry spilt milk.

Steve Schalchlin said...

Whether or not anyone "blew it" is less important that focusing on what to do next. I think the very loud blowback we're hearing is miraculous. Only a few years ago, there would have been no media support for gay marriage.

But with Rachel Maddow -- finally, and out gay anchor person on the air! -- we are no longer "completely" invisible in the newsroom.

Prejudice becomes a little harder to overcome when people come OUT of the closet and make sure their friends and family KNOW who they really are.

Amy Lynn said...

I think you're wrong. We're NOT hearing a very loud blowback. We're seeing the same level protests in the gay communities that we've seen for years. Protests that will die down as they take a backseat to the pressing needs of our country, and the difficult agenda President Obama is going to face in January.

A generation from now, no one will blink an eye at gay marriage. People my age don't care what you are. But at the moment, the population is not swayed that way.

Amy Lynn said...

Also, regarding the "very loud" blowback, does anyone think there'd be protests against Prop 8 if McCain had won last week? No way. But we naively put Mr. Obama's first term in real peril if we continue down this road, asking him to focus on non-essential matters right of the bat.

Anonymous said...

(In response to Amy's comments...)

A few days ago, I commented:

>>I wonder if electing Obama has something to do with all of this? People feel hope again, even with the nasty prop 8 situation. If Obama had lost, I wonder if people would have just taken the prop 8 loss as just more of the same awful crap we've gotten used to and gone about their business?>>

I think you're part right on this. I remember when Bill Clinton first took office. One of the first things on his agenda was gays in the military. He underestimated the opposition on this and got off to a very bad start. The far right hated him for supporting gays. Gays hated him for botching the whole thing with "don't ask, don't tell." It took a very long time for him to recover from that and to be able to do anything else good and constructive.

Hopefully, Obama will address this. It must be addressed quickly because, even after electing a black president, America is still very far from embracing "liberty and justice for all."

It would be naive to think this is just about gay marriage. What it's about is civil rights. People are taking action right now to demand civil rights. Right now is the time to address it.

Amy Lynn said...

It scares me how self destructive the LGBT community is. The issue with Mr. Eckern in Sacramento brings us right back to the days of McCarthyism and blacklisting - the No on 8 people have become the real "haters".

Also, I don't think Obama will address this. There are, frankly, much more important things to be done, and he himself does not believe in gay marriage.

Steve Schalchlin said...

The Mormons put out a list of businesses to boycott if they supported "No on 8." All the gay writers said was that if this man is going to contribute $1000 to destroy our marriages, we don't have to patronize his theater.

This is how politics works in America. If you plan to destroy my family, I don't have to buy your products.

Amy Lynn said...

I'm glad that some of the NYC theatre community is beginning to support Mr. Eckern. Maybe he can come out here and get a job.

Judge not, lest ye...

Steve Schalchlin said...

Yes, Amy. You can support anyone you want to support. Even the ones who are out to destroy our civil rights.

Amy Lynn said...

That's an unfair attack. My point is that everyone's PRIVATE opinion, however wrongheaded, should be respected to the point where they shouldn't have to pay with their job.

Steve Schalchlin said...

A public donation is not a private opinion.

Amy Lynn said...

You and I both know that donations for propositions are not normally made the business of the whole country. The No on 8 organizers, in an effort to demonize their enemies, has been spreading these public lists everywhere, aching for a witch hunt.

Steve Schalchlin said...

We have no other power except economic. If people decide to spend money (THAT THEY EARNED DOING WORKS BY GAY WRITERS AND PERFORMERS) in order to destroy the marriages of those very same people who pay their salaries, then we have every right to spend our "gay dollars" elsewhere.

Again, that's how democracy works.

The Mormon Church sent out orders to destroy our lives and he went along with it. If he had simply voted privately, that his choice.

But he took money he earned from our work and used it against us.

All donations to political campaigns are public. This is WHY they are public.

Amy Lynn said...

OK, this is a real question.

With all that's going on in the world the economy, Iraq, etc., considering if you and Jim chose to be civil partners in CA, you'd have the same rights as any married couple:

Not having the word "marriage" is, according to you "destroying your life"?

Steve Schalchlin said...

First of all, "civil unions" do NOT hold up in court as "equal" to marriage or else the CA Supreme Court would have ruled that they do.

Secondly, this was vote to destroy gay relationships. That's what the Mormons and the Catholics are hell-bent on doing.

I do not have to spend my money on people who do not view me as an equal citizen under the law. It's that simple.

Amy Lynn said...

You're not answering the question. Is any gay relationship so fragile that not having the ability to marry destroys it? If so, that's a serious indicator of something else.

And of course, spend your money how you will. But do NOT put someone else's livelihood in danger because you don't like how they vote.

Steve Schalchlin said...

I didn't say they had the "power" to destroy my relationship. I said this was the INTENT of the supporters of Prop 8. And I don't have to support them in this endeavor.

Amy Lynn said...

I didn't say you did. But this poor man had to resign because people can't respect each other's decisions.

Anonymous said...

Just for the record. The Yes on 8 folks sent letters to companies that supported gay rights or made contributions against prop 8. These letters threatening that if equal contributions were not made to no on 8, their businesses would be boycotted. It seems to me what's happening now comes down to turnabout is fair play. It's a reasonable and logical reaction. In other words, we are not turning the other cheek. I'm tired of being slapped. Not only am I not turning the other cheek. I am slapping back.

Amy Lynn said...

From Camelot: "Revenge! That most worthless of causes."

Anonymous said...

Amy -
Who said anything about revenge?
I prefer not to do business with people and companies that I know have taken steps to promote my being disenfranchised or excluded in any way. History has shown it's a very bad idea to continue to collaborote with those who would have me excluded from the table.

This is not revenge. This is self preservation. This is also the nature of activism. I have an extremely solid history of activism and am confident the battles I have chosen and the actions I have taken were not only just, but they changed history.

With this in mind, I trust my instincts.

Let's agree to disagree on this, OK?

Amy Lynn said...

Agree to disagree, absolutely. I respect you taking to the streets, and hope you respect my staying the heck out of it.