Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Prop 8 Backlash

Of all the amazing “firsts” to come out of the 2008 election, it is the just-developing rift between some African American LGBT figures and the rest of the “No on 8” crowd.

“8”, of course, referring to Proposition 8, which halted California’s short-lived Gay Marriage experiment.

Pollsters have noted that the same black voters who so enthusiastically supported the candidacy of Barack Obama, in large numbers supported Prop. 8, and essentially bought into the argument that our children would be ‘taught gay marriage’ in schools, and that would be a bad thing…

Of course, there are numerous black leaders who voted against the measure, not the least of whom is my friend and colleague Prof. Ron Buckmire, with whom I serve on the board of an LGBT broadcasting group. Prof. Buckmire was quoted in the Nov. 8 LA Times as saying “There is a lot of work to be done in the black community.”

But an astonishing number of black voters either felt there were not enough rights to go around for everyone, and blacks should get them first, or there are secretly deep currents of homo-gender-phobias we haven’t noticed before.

Latest to pile into the debate is LA blogger Jasmyne Cannick, who wrote in that same edition of the LA Times charging Gay leaders with essentially ignoring the plight of people of color, and only calling on them when they needed support. In short, Gay America, says Ms. Cannick, is every bit as racist and prejudiced as main-stream America, and they shouldn’t be surprised that Blacks voted two to one for the measure.

Ms. Cannick was briefly also involved in the broadcast venture for with Prof. Buckmire and I work.

I think for many of us who marched with our Black brothers and sisters, who signed petitions, who worked the tables at the street fairs and parades, who participated in boycotts, who insisted on inclusion in our faculties, boards, and governance and who have genuinely tried to right the wrongs of other generations and other times, those charges sting.

But I think it is also counter-productive to make claims that “white people think this way” or “black people think this way”… That’s too easy an explanation for something that is much more complicated.

I remain committed to the causes of equality, at every level, within any group. If our Black leaders feel that not enough has been done, I hope they will step into the positions of leadership and inspire by their deeds, not condemn by their bitterness.

LA Times Story “Why gays, blacks are divided on Prop. 8,0,2231845.story

LA Times Commentary by Jasmyne Cannick(I can't get these links to work, so you'll have to copy and paste till I get them fixed...sorry...),0,3669070.story

NPR segment featuring Jasmyne Cannick

NPR blog mentioning Jasmyne Cannick’s comments - commentBlock

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