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Why gays and liberals need to stop scapegoating the black community for Prop 8

By Griffin · November 7th, 2008 · 2 Comments


I touched on this briefly in the previous post, but I can’t stress enough how counterproductive it is for the gay and liberal community to scapegoat African-Americans for the passage of Prop 8.  Today, I was in the car listening to Randi Rhodes, a white liberal talk radio host, and she said something like (and I’m paraphrasing here, but not by much): “Is it instinctive for blacks to be homophobic? … Don’t they know the Bible they’re using to oppose gay marriage was used to justify slavery?”  Wow.  I mean, where do you even start with something like that?  Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see anyone making any inroads whatsoever into the black community on the gay marriage issue if the strategy is to:

A) Single out African-Americans as the sole reason why gay marriage was repealed, ignoring all other factors, including the Mormon Church who created and funded Prop 8 and the other non-black 90% of the electorate who also voted in favor of it.

B) Launch racist attacks that harken back to a time when blacks were viewed as naturally inferior to, or at least intellectually different than, other races, using words like “instinctive.”

C) Attack the Christian faith of African-Americans by invoking slavery.

Like I said, maybe it’s just me, but that actually seems like the stupidest, most counterproductive way anyone could possibly react to Tuesday’s result.  I understand a lot of people in the gay and liberal communities are angry right now, and rightfully so.  But to react by throwing verbal trash cans through the windows of black churches and communities is not the answer at all.

Earlier today, a Daily Kos contributor, who happens to be both black and gay, wrote a fascinating post on the reasons why people need to stop scapegoating the black community for Prop 8.  The two best reasons:

It isn’t even clear that the exit polls people are using to ”prove” overwhelming black support of Prop 8 (and by proxy, black homophobia) are accurate.  African-Americans made up just 10% of California’s electorate on Tuesday– compared to 63% white, 18% Latino.  With CNN’s tiny sample size of only 224 African-Americans throughout the entire state, the figure showing 70% of African-Americans supporting Prop 8 could easily be off by a very large percentage, depending on where in California those selected African-Americans lived.  A swing of just 22 black voters in that statewide sample– easily possible if too much of your sample is coming from conservative inland communities– changes the support from 70% to 60%.

– Even if African-Americans had opposed Prop 8 at the same percentage as whites, it wouldn’t have made a difference.  There was just too much support for it from the rest of the non-black electorate.  For every one black voter who voted in favor of Prop 8, there were six white and Latino voters who did the same.  So why– other than racism and frustration– single out the black voter for blame?

If gays and liberals want to find someone to blame for the passage of Proposition 8, there are a few much better options: the Mormon Church, as I mentioned; San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome, whose arrogant pro-gay-marriage rants starred in several Yes on 8 commercials, and who blew open the issue of gay marriage being taught in schools by foolishly officiating a gay wedding in front of a class of first-graders; Barack Obama, who opposed Prop 8, but made (probably wisely for his campaign) no real effort to make that fact known to the 61% of Californians who voted for him.

And of course, there’s the gay and liberal communities themselves, who refused to put a human face on the issue or an actual gay couple in any of their ads.  In fact, most No on 8 ads didn’t even use the word “gay” or any variation of it.  It was as if Prop 8 was a civil rights issue, a separation of church and state issue, a marriage issue, but definitely not a “gay” or ”homosexual” issue.  But as long as gay marriage supporters continue operating in this mode of subconscious shame, I suspect gay marriage opponents will continue to feel vindicated in their belief that homosexuality is something to be ashamed of.

Lastly, the gay and liberal community needs to realize that the black community is operating at unprecedented levels of goodwill and open-mindedness right now.  A lot of African-Americans got their minds changed dramatically on Tuesday night about whites, racism, and their place in America.  So rather than using this time to attack that community, now is probably more like the perfect time to begin positive outreach and education efforts.  On the other hand, if these attacks continue, they will almost certainly lead to a knee-jerk defensiveness throughout a black community that is accustomed to being disproportionately and unfairly blamed for so many other issues– a wound that could take years to heal.  And the absolute last thing gay marriage supporters need to be doing right now is making more enemies.

Tags: Democrats · Media · Religion


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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Just an observation: equating Melissa Harris-Perry to the KKK is a bridge way too far : The Reid Report // Sep 29, 2011 at 8:11 am

    [...] off Perry’s concerns as “foolish” strikes me as being of a piece with, say, scapegoating black Obama voters in California for supposedly causing Proposition 8 to pass — something that not a few white liberals did, [...]

  • 2 Graciela // Sep 20, 2014 at 4:34 pm

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