Prop. 8 black blame


I could go on about other demographic breakouts, but the conclusion is the same: No, of course AA voters aren’t the sole reason Prop 8 passed; some of the blame belongs elsewhere. But they’re a damned big part of the reason, and we shouldn’t try to paper over that fact.


Given that no other racial/ethnic group’s rejection of Prop 8 even came close to these figures and that black liberalism has been contested since the Reconstruction era (think DuBois vs Washington struggle), I find that it is not plausible to blame blacks for the passage of Prop 8 by statistics alone.

Some of the statements being made by West Coast queers about the blame the African-American community holds for “passing” Prop. 8 is wrong. The numbers just don’t support that “conclusion” that blacks were the reason Prop. 8 passed. And, I find it disturbing that the only folks I’ve heard repeat those lines are privileged, white gay men.

But… the fact that African-Americans continue to overwhelmingly reject our equality is problem. Our community’s leaders need to ramp up their outreach efforts. Another PHB comment I find insightful:

When the Harry Jacksons and Miles McPherson’s et al. were running up and down California citing phrases such as “I didn’t choose to be black/spanish”or “don’t equate sin with skin,”  where was everyone?

On the recent controversial anti-equality statements made by Jasmyne Cannick, OIA columnist Jack Kirven wrote yesterday:

Although I think her argument is flawed, I do want to know more about the process of picking sides when a person is double- or triple-marginalized. Which part of yourself becomes more important when your own communities don’t get along? How do you relegate portions of yourself? It must be very conflicting, and on behalf of all us people with only one level of marginalization (whether it be based on gender, sexuality, race, religion, etc.), I would like to say to all you people born into a political hotbed because of some combination of factors you didn’t choose, I sincerely wish you full equality – for every part of yourself.

I think this is where our outreach efforts should fall: On exploring the intersections of prejudice and engaging minority communities by relating to them how, in MLK’s words, “an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” If one minority’s rights can be stripped away so easily, doesn’t it make sense that others will be stripped away also?

There’s no doubt that outreach to communities of color failed in California. In fact, outreach to almost every community failed in California. Why were organizers spending so much time in the Castro? And, why didn’t voters in San Francisco really turn out to vote against Prop. 8? What about all those people who voted “yes” on Prop. 8 thinking they were voting for us? Why did the No campaign keep images of loving and committed same-sex couples out of California’s sight?

There’s plenty of “blame” to go around, but I’m convinced — as should you be — that placing that blame on African-Americans alone is extremely misguided, short-sighted and based on zero fact.

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