Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Other people say it better

There's been a lot of discussion lately about Prop 8 and role of African American voters. It's been a major topic of blogging and conversation at my school and among my blogger friends and around lunch tables and over gchat. Mostly my friends are white and while we think of ourselves as liberal and accepting, there's admittedly been a certain perspective lacking.

If you're hoping that I am now going to start a reasoned discourse on this topic, you're about to be disappointed. I'm not. You might have noticed from my recent posts that being reasonable is not my strong suit right now. I'm on the edge.

But I read a post today about this whole issue that I found to be incredibly reasoned, and so for those who are looking for something like that, I'm pointing you to it.

A teaser:


In order to address homophobia in the black community, we have to be able to acknowledge that it exists without people of color and "allied" white liberals knee-jerk calling anyone who does so a "racist." Calling each other names and then angrily retreating back to our own segregated little corners of the world because some things are too "taboo" to acknowledge won't get us anywhere near addressing this. White LGBT people need to acknowledge white privilege and call people out for making asinine, racist comments on the internet and in the public sphere. Just because you are gay it doesn't give you a free pass to be racist or sexist.

These discussions are too important for that kind of stunted knee-jerk type of thinking.

Not only does homophobia contribute to the escalating rates of HIV/AIDS in the black community, but the denial of marriage rights for gay men and lesbians is unfair discrimination, inequality, and intolerance that stamps gay people with a badge of inferiority.

I anticipate realizing Obama's promise of hope and change for all Americans. I celebrate what his victory means for our nation and to African-Americans. As one commenter here said a few days ago, it's a great time to have a black Democrat in the White House. Now, we have work to do. We are all harmed when the rights of some of us are taken away or denied. Even though the injustices we face are different, I remain in solidarity with all people who face true injustice.

4 comments:

April said...

I appreciate your blog about this issue and am saddened that yet again, states even had this on the ballot...and that these amendments passed...

I've been hearing lots about this, too and think it goes far beyond what some are arguing as "the oppressed becoming the oppressor."

I was listing to Jasmyne Cannick on "Talk of the Nation" earlier this week, who basically argued for an entirely new approach for these issues in the African American lgbt community.

(Her opinion piece, which you might have already come across, in the LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-cannick8-2008nov08,0,3669070.story)

Although one can take issue at different points in her op-ed (and her aggressive tone seems divisive in itself--although obviously she can be angry), I do think she tries to get at some of the more blatant frustrations between the white and black lgbt communities. I think one of the most compelling aspects of her argument is her mention of the close relationship of black communities with religion/churches:

"But the black civil rights movement was essentially born out of and driven by the black church; social justice and religion are inextricably intertwined in the black community. To many blacks, civil rights are grounded in Christianity -- not something separate and apart from religion but synonymous with it. To the extent that the issue of gay marriage seemed to be pitted against the church, it was going to be a losing battle in my community."

(In)Sanity Gal said...

Thanks for the comment April - I did read her piece, and initially I got all riled up about it. Mainly because I felt like she was suggesting that the fight for marriage equality is not worthwhile as compared to fights that address equal rights or poverty in the African American community.

I think she hit on a sore spot that I already have, which is a concern about where I choose to spend my time and energy. When I'm reading about something like the child prostitution industry or Darfur, I do feel conflicted about focusing on gay marriage.

But I've been thinking about it a lot since I read her piece, and I've actually thought about the quote at the top of your blog and about that sort of notion in general - that inequality in any place, in any form affects all people.

I actually wasn't surprised by the statistics about the Af Am voters. I would imagine you weren't either. On this ballot, it wasn't a race issue, per se. It was a religious issue, and Af Ams are historically more religiously conservative. Just like all the Mormons who donated to Yes on 8.

I think what a lot of folks have been saying, and what I agree with, is that demonization of the other side is not the answer. That it has to be about conversation and dialogue and showing people that gay people aren't scary.

April said...

Here's another piece I found, which takes a completely different approach in tone/argument.

http://www.slate.com/id/2204661

Basically tracing the roots of denying marriage back to the problems with sex discrimination (and those problems are certainly intertwined with religion).

(In)Sanity Gal said...

thanks for the link, april. i haven't seen very many articles that aren't all saying the same thing, but this one really had a different viewpoint. and it makes a lot of sense. something to think about as we continue on in this struggle...

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