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Saturday, November 08, 2008

African Americans Voted for Prop 8 in Disportionate Numbers

This wasn't surprising. The same demographic trend was obvious with other votes on this issue. Rachel Maddow had a guest on last night who suggested the No on 8 people failed to have a good outreach strategy and message to the African American community. There's been lots of discussion on this issue over on Pam's House Blend:

In South Carolina, the LGBT population is small. Whether that's a reflection of the truth or just a reflection of how good some people are at living in the closet, I'm not sure. Despite the anti-gay sentiment inherent in so many things in my lovely home state, I am proud to say it's LGBT population is pretty close knit. There is a sense of community of sorts -- an "us against them" theme that reaches beyond race. Because, frankly, when there's so few of you, little things like the color of someone's skin seem to matter less and less.

So, I start this diary with that to preface my absolute shock at what has come out of the anti-Prop 8 movement. Maybe I'm just naive (I am almost certain I am), but I had no idea that there was such racial prejudice within this struggle. I blame the smallness of the SC LGBT "community" on my lack of knowledge, lol.

After reading some of the unbelieveable responses of people I usually agree with, I had to write this diary. Most of the posts seem to stem from just a general lack of understanding about the significance of race, the ignorance of labels, and the assumption that one group of people are beholden to the LGBT movement.

So here goes...
popsiclestand :: The "Black Community"

First, let's get this label, "black community" on the table and out of the way. What is the "black community"? As a black woman, I really want to know. Is it my distinctly southern community that I grew up in? Is it my distant cousins' northern, inner-city community? Is it my good friend's west-coast, breezy community? What is it? Those two words have been thrown around so much in the wake of Prop 8 passing that I think a real definition needs to come out for it.

From my perspective, there is no "black community" in the sense that there is somehow a massive collective, hive mind that people with dark skin somehow share. This isn't the only time this label has come up. Whenever some public figure utters a racial slur, the media turns to the leaders of the "black community" for a response. Usually Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson. Sure, they are black leaders who are very outspoken. But somehow, there is the perception that these people and their ideals speak for the black race. I've never even met these guys and I only agree with Jesse Jackson's methods and motives half the time. But he speaks for me? What's up with that?

No, the term "black community" is an objectification of a race of people who may or may not share qualities beyond the color of their skin. It takes away the personal and replaces it with a set of sterotyped expectations. Based on what? I'm not even sure. It's a flippant way of dealing wtih race without dealing with race. Just put a broad label on something and pretend you respect the people you put under that label -- even though you don't give their individualness much thought. Then that label is applied to every person who's black. In the case of the Prop 8 blame-game, suddenly that label is used to, from my perception, justify a sort of passive-aggressive racism.

It irks me.

If you look at the statistics and follow the money that supported Prop 8, the actual characteristic that those who voted "yes" actually share is a traditional belief system. This is across race, gender, etc. There were white people who voted for Prop 8. The LDS church, who provided millions to support Prop 8, is majorly white in its make-up! But suddenly, it's a "black community" problem. I hope I'm wrong, but this whole thing just seems like an excuse for some people to say some things about black people that they've been waiting to say for a long time.

A reader responds:

I agree BUT (0.00 / 0)
The same could be said about there being no Gay Community as well, at least under your definition. I do admire that in your writing you mention that distinction as well, unfortunately I see that the majority here would forget that fact. I see remarks and diaries talking about the "racist" behavior of the Gay Community and how this election was a wake-up call on racisim in the gay community.

Why is it that when the african american voters of california vote en masse in a way we would call bigoted we can't call them a community but when a few crazy fags call some one the n word then it's the fault of the entire Gay community for not educating the other??

An incredible double standard. I read the diaries here, and the comments, but I don't get it. What exactly was the lgbt leaders of the no on 8 campaign supposed to do? How do we educate people who will not even pay attention to Corretta Scott King's words in regards to this being a civil rights issue? How can we educate people who will not listen to the current and past leaders of their own fight for equality?

I don't blame every black person for this loss, I personally know a few (and not personally, know of many more) who certainly voted for my rights, but I would ask you why a group can be called a "community" when they do something good, but then be called "individuals" when they do something bad?

Just look to the headlines here on this site to see that we have no problem calling the loose coalition of gay individuals a community when blamming them for the racist acts of a few nasty angry people, but have a problem calling the african american voting block a community.

So, what's it gonna be? Who is and what makes a community? We can't discuss this without an agreement on the terminoligy.

I myself am not big on labels, my favorite shirt tells you all you need to know about me. It simply states: HUMAN

by: Burnsey


Marie said...

California is not a big African-American state, only about 7%. 57 percent of those voters did not tip Proposition 8. Find someone else to blame if you must. David Mixner explains about that "community"[ I agree word often used wierdly ] vote.:

"Now in relationship to the African-American community, much has been made of a CNN exit poll that show 70% of that community voting "Yes On Eight". Dr. Fernando Guerra of Loyola's Levy Center for the Study of Los Angeles did a far more extensive poll than CNN and found that the 70% figure was way too high. The figure is closer to 57% (still not acceptable) but a long way from the 70%. Other models that I have been running in an attempt to get the facts and not the emotions show the latter a more likely figure.

The other data that appears to be emerging (BUT yet to be totally verified) is that African-Americans who early voted (which was a huge number) voted YES while those on election day voted NO. Remember we did not do extensive campaigning in many of the African-American precincts until the final week or so which was long after tens of thousands had already voted. Our campaign was slow to use Obama's opposition to Proposition Eight which he gave the day after the initiative qualified five months before the election. "