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Saturday, November 08, 2008

A response to the L.A. Times' Jasmyne Cannick about Prop H8

[1/10/08: In this article I berate Jasmyne for voting yes on 8. To clarify, she actually claims that she voted no but didn't feel the need to even casually discuss it with black folks - which I believe to be equally complacent.]

Jasmyne A. Cannick of the LA Times writes:

I am black. I am a political activist who cares deeply about social justice issues. I am a lesbian. This year, I canvassed the streets of South Los Angeles and Compton, knocking on doors, talking politics to passers-by and working as I never had before to ensure a large voter turnout among African Americans. But even I wasn't inspired to encourage black people to vote against the proposition.

Yes Jasmyne, because you speak for all gay black people. First of all, you don't. Secondly, why would you have to be inspired to vote against Prop 8 and its inherent social injustice in the first place? With same-sex marriage legal in California up until November 4th, why would your default position be to think that we should place a ban on it? What if Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation and then had that will overturned by the tyranny of the majority? 'Oh, sorry, you're not free; we were just kidding.' That's how gay married couples now feel.

Why? Because I don't see why the right to marry should be a priority for me or other black people. Gay marriage? Please. At a time when blacks are still more likely than whites to be pulled over for no reason, more likely to be unemployed than whites, more likely to live at or below the poverty line, I was too busy trying to get black people registered to vote, period; I wasn't about to focus my attention on what couldn't help but feel like a secondary issue.

Nobody asked you to put money, time, or energy into the Prop 8 campaign. We simply asked you to not help take our rights away by simply voting no. There was a day when you as a black woman could not have married a white man, let alone a woman, but apparently that thought never crossed your mind, nor the thought that with discrimination against gays being what many consider the last acceptable form of bigotry, getting rid of it once and for all would actually boost the social standing of all minority groups. Thanks a lot.

You also didn't consider that Barack Obama was going to be the inevitable winner of the presidency since about the time of the bailout last month. Apparently, that wasn't enough for you. Has your racial agenda overwhelmed your lesbian agenda or what? Your true problem though is that while you're spouting off about how the campaign against 8 didn't do enough to convince you that everyone should have equal rights, you should have known that they are one and the same. Watch the following video from leaders of the black community in Oakland who seem to agree with me.

Did you also see the proponents of Prop 8 (did you notice how 'pale' their spokesperson was?) attempt to again transform a civil rights argument into a religious one? But wait, I was told repeatedly that the Prop 8 people weren't religious zealots. I was told there was separation of church and state. Apparently, I was misinformed on both counts as the will of the duped voters overturned this most fundamental Jeffersonian doctrine of faith and government. And once again, Jefferson was a devout Christian who advocated for a secular republic. So what message does that send exactly?

You also didn't consider the fact that this initiative was put on the ballot by forces whose only goal is the intentional division and conquering of the electorate. The strategists behind Prop 8, Republicans all, hate you too. And they like to tinker with the constitution. Congratulations. You gave them exactly what they wanted and they'll probably be coming for you next. Happy now?

And then there was the little white lie... about a black guy... to both African-American and Latino voters, who according to your commentary, have more important issues to worry about. Do you really think the GLBT community doesn't also share your concerns about the economy, national security, or health care? Do you really think that we gay activists gave up all of our other issues this election cycle for what you seem to consider the 'secondary' issue of marriage equality? The operative word there is 'equality' for if civil unions actually were 'separate but equal,' I likely would have voted yes on 8 too! Just remember: Republicans love it when minorities turn on one another, especially when it was all their idea in the first place. I see they have you right where they want you.

Again Jasmyne, thank you so much for such militant complacency towards a fellow socially-oppressed community, but you don't have to worry about a backlash, do you? African-Americans have full protection under the law, overly aggressive police practices not withstanding (DWB), and well, we gays still don't in many, many places. Did you know that 30 states don't even have job protections for GLBTs?

But wait, aren't you supposed to be a lesbian as well? It's kind of hard to tell through all that complaining about the lack of outreach by No on 8. Wow! The gall they must have had to assume that as a lesbian, you didn't need to be 'reached.' You don't understand that they never saw you for the color of your skin to begin with, just like Dr. King would have wanted. Please pardon them for their ignorance.


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Anonymous Anonymous said:

Why don't you report on blacks being verbally attacked at these rallys in L.A.? So much for gays being civilized. http://www.pamshouseblend.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=8077

November 08, 2008 10:51 PM  

Blogger Sarah Michelle Spinosa said:

#1 -

I didn't report it because I didn't know about it. Plus, I live in OC and this was a commentary, nor a report.

I absolutely ADMONISH the despicable act of mob violence. Marches should be peaceful as Dr. King would have wanted.


November 08, 2008 11:08 PM  

Blogger Unknown said:

The opponents of Prop. 8 should just get over it. They lost, and these demonstrations just prove they're too immature to accept the will of California voters.

I didn't particularly like how the California electorate voted in more bonds. Do you see me screaming in the streets because the voters elected to spend more of my tax monies for bond interest payments? No. I'm disappointed, but I'm not going to engage in mob action to express my point.

I'm getting real tired of hearing about a proposition that failed. The election was November 4, 2008, almost a week ago. Some propositions won, some didn't. That's life in California, wherein those who are governed chose how they wish to be governed.

Proposition 8 has amended the State Consitution, and those who are screeching about the results are proving to those who voted for Proposition 8 that they (the pro-8 voters) that they made the right decision by voting Yes.

November 09, 2008 5:00 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Thank you for that post.

The Mormons are only doing this so they can show the Jerry Falwell crowd they are as big a haters as the Evangelical crowd, because the Jerry Falwell crowd never thought the Mormons were 'real christian' (and never will).

We're all in this together. Gay people want to keep our houses, our health, and our families just as much as Black and Latino people. The GOP would be glad to see us tear ourselves apart, but we are stronger when we ALL stand together against ALL injustice.

November 09, 2008 8:05 AM  

Blogger Sarah Michelle Spinosa said:

#3 -

Oh cut the crap.

'Proposition 8 has amended the State Consitution, and those who are screeching about the results are proving to those who voted for Proposition 8 that they (the pro-8 voters) that they made the right decision by voting Yes.'

Do you really think it's fair that an amendment to the constitution require only a simple majority vote? Do you think Prop 8 could ever pass a 2/3 majority, which is the standard for the U.S. Constitution? It couldn't have. Not even Prop 22 did.

It seems to me that all you're trying to do is quash opposition voters, telling them to just shut up because they aren't as respectable as you seem to think you are and neither are their rights.

Tyranny of the majority is alive and well. Nobody's is rubbing the Obama win into McCain voters' faces, so why is it OK for Prop H8'ers to gloat and simply call those of us who just lost our rights complainers?

Jeffrey Toobin of CNN calls the wake of Prop 8 'unprecedented.' Never in our nation's history have rights even been awarded and then taken away. There's something wrong with that and you know it.


November 09, 2008 12:19 PM  

Blogger Sarah Michelle Spinosa said:

To a commenter on Jasmyne Cannick's blog regarding the black community's propensity towards orthodox Christianity:

'It may be silly (you should see Bill Maher’s movie to understand how silly) but for so many black people it was truly all we had."

Well there you go, that’s the whole case against religious dogma right there, and remember: you made it. I don’t need a Black Religious Studies 101 class to know firsthand what you’re talking about in regards to the black community’s relationship with Christianity; I understand what you’re saying, but you’re not listening to me.

If black leaders are going to continue to mire themselves in tradition and a fanatical belief in just one verse of the Bible (Leviticus 18:22 - Old Testament) instead of Jesus’ entire life’s message of tolerance, acceptance, and equality (New Testament), then hopefully they’re going to make themselves obsolete very, very soon. I for one would like to see both Pat Robertson and Jesse Jackson hit the bricks.

I don’t think anyone is blaming the followers for anything other than allowing themselves to be manipulated and straying from their original goal of equality for all. All. Not just black. Not just gay. All. And many ‘black churches’ agree with my line of thinking; they’re not all the same, so my position is far from unprecedented.

Your statement about white spokespeople for Prop 8 doesn’t help your case. Sure, the white guy may have the same ‘values’ as you for the moment (he doesn’t), but what you’re really saying is that the black community is just taking the white (Republican) man’s offer to lift itself up on the backs of another minority group.

I don’t think that 7 in 10 black people hate gays (even as I know that 7 out of 10 feel that we’re not worthy of equality in the eyes of the law), but you need to understand that we gay people, black and white, are treated as a sub-subclass. I don’t really think straight African-Americans can really say that anymore. Indeed, the oppressed are beginning to resemble the oppressors. This is no longer a race war; it has become a class war. I’m not sure which is worse, but they’re both sad.

The truth is that some in the black community have had a white-Christian-instilled phobia of homosexuality that was passed down to them through the generations. African-Americans’ ancestors were tribal Pagans, not Christians, and they converted out of necessity. Outdated thinking like this persists due to a lack of education that should have been conducted by black gays as you yourself implied. If you want white people to be part of the conversation only as long as they’re fundamentalists, you can’t then bemoan their liberal counterparts for not conducting outreach on the other side. You can lead a horse to water… but what’s the point if you know he won’t drink?

And really, how much could No on 8 have possibly done to undo generations of political manipulation in only a few short months? That said, the black community needs to take a long look in a very public mirror and stop blaming a lack of outreach for its own shortsightedness instead of simply dismissing the very initiative in question as a white luxury.

Again I remind you that not only was it whites who sought to ban gay marriage (so much for ‘gay-white privilege’) as they continue to oppress everybody who is different than they are (see Bush, George W.), but also that the Mormon church used this issue to shield itself from accusations of ‘moral inferiority’ due to their own generations of polygamy. See the domino effect?

This is what makes Jasmyne’s article so shocking and disappointing. She just doesn’t see the big picture.


November 09, 2008 8:36 PM  

Blogger J.Scott said:

I like Jasmyne. I like that even though she's gay she feels there are more important issues to be tackled than gay rights. So what she was saying is that she was fighting for what is important to her. What's wrong with that? Just because she's black and gay she has to go out and support gay marriage? Doesn't that seem a little racist?

November 10, 2008 9:46 AM  

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