Thursday, November 06, 2008

Scapegoating: Stop blaming and get to action

So, so much has happened since I last updated this blog and I will be discussing my life over the past few months, but right now I need to get this off my chest. Here goes:

Black people are not the reason that Proposition 8 passed in California.

For those that don’t know Prop 8 is a measure that calls for a constitutional amendment to California’s constitution. It would declare marriage to be between one man and one woman. In May 2008, the California State Supreme court ruled that gay and lesbian people have the right to marry under the California constitution, which does not prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Of course this put all the right wingers into an uproar, and with millions upon millions of dollars (mostly contributions from entities outside of California) Prop 8 was put on the November 2008 ballot.

Much to the surprise of people all over the state of California, Prop 8 passed. In California, marriage is now defined as being only between one man and one woman. In the six months since the state supreme court ruled in favor of same sex marriage, over 18,000 gay and lesbian couples have exercised their constitutional right to marry the person of their choosing. With the passage of Prop 8, the validity of those marriages are now in question.

So what does this have to do with Black folk, you ask? In case you’ve been living under a rock on Pluto and hadn’t heard, for the first time in history the United States a major political ticket had a viable African American candidate running for President of the United States, Senator Barack Obama. I think the prospect of 1). George W. Bush out office and 2) having a president who was Black, energize black folks and they got out to vote in numbers not seen in years. Even though Barack Obama was not my first choice for president (go Dennis Kucinich) he has qualities and ideas that made me proud to cast a vote for him when November 4, 2008 came around.

Back to Prop 8 & black folk. It is no secret that the overwhelming majority of Black folks hold religion in high esteem. I’m sure the reasons behind that are for another post. I think for a lot of black folk homosexuality and religion are diametrically opposed. In the minds of many (NOT ALL), homosexuality is a downright sin and abomination. So it would only be natural and morally right (in their minds) to vote to pass a measure that would ban same sex marriage. Homosexuality goes against their religious beliefs. It doesn’t matter that what they were voting for would strip a segment of the population (a segment that includes other black folk and racial minorities) of their civil rights. It didn’t matter that they were voting to write discrimination into the state constitution, the same constitution that not too long ago blatantly discriminated against African Americans. It didn’t matter that they were using the same agreements against gay marriage that were used against interracial at one time in American history. All that matter was homosexuality is a sin. So while many black folk were casting their ballots for the man who would become our 44th president, they also cast a vote to ban marriage for same sex couples.

Now, if I didn’t know better, I would understand why so many gay (white) people are up in arms and blaming African Americans for the passing of Proposition 8. But, I do know better. I know that black folk make up 6% of the California population. Even if all black folk in California had voted Yes on 8, it still would have passed. I know that it was not African Americans who put proposition 8 on the California ballot. I know that it was not black folks who funneled millions upon millions upon millions of dollars into the state of California to fund the Yes on 8 campaign. If we’re going to play the blame game, start with the following:

Knights of Columbus gave $1,000,000 to help pass Proposition 8

The Mormon Church (not always the biggest supporter of Black folk) and other ultra conservative religious organizations raised millions to help pass Proposition 8.

No on 8 campaign. Why them? Because they ran, to put it blatantly and in layman’s terms, a punk ass ineffectual oppositional campaign. Did you see the commercials on TV? While the Yes on 8 was running ads full of blatant lies about schools and children

No on 8 countered back with timid ads like these

and don't forget this one

While I understand it’s important to get the message out anyway you can and a no vote is a no vote, where was the outrage on No on 8’s part? Hell, where are all the gay people and couples that this evil law is going to affect? Where was the outreach to communities of color? Where was the outreach to gay, lesbian, bisexual people of color? I can’t tell you how many times I turned on black Bay Area radio stations and heard Yes on 8 advertisements. Not once did I hear No on 8 on any of the stations that predominately catered to African Americans, but I sure as hell heard them on them on the one station in the bay area that specifically caters to young white gays (a station that I do enjoy listening to everyday, by the way). Why are we preaching to the choir?

Is there homophobia in the Black community? YES!!!! There is also homophobia in the Latino communities, there is homophobia in Asian communities, and there is homophobia in white communities. There is homophobia in all communities so why, all of sudden, is it the fault of black folks that Prop 8 failed?

So, now that Proposition 8, the ban on same sex marriages, has passed and the legal battles are now going to be fought, what happens next? For me, it just leaves more questions. When are we gay people going to stop marching on the streets of the Castro district and West Hollywood and start marching up and down the streets where those who hate gays live? When are white gays going to start actively reaching out to people of color in the fight to end discrimination? When are gay, lesbian, and bisexual people of color going to finally come out, stand up, and demand our place at the table in our communities of color and in the gay community at large?

- Strange ((^_~))