Author: has written 462 posts for this blog.

Return to: Homepage | Blog Index

57 Responses

  1. Medea
    Medea November 9, 2008 at 7:54 pm |

    I’ve heard it said more than once that the No on 8 campaign was inadequate, but I’ve seen a lot of TV ads posted on Alas, a Blog–it seemed like a good effort. Were there too many television spots and not enough phone calls?

  2. victoria
    victoria November 9, 2008 at 8:21 pm |

    Re: “sending money, manning booths and tables and call centers”

    A picky point given the larger subject matter, I know, but in the future would you consider a non-gendered wording like “staffing” booths instead?

  3. piny
    piny November 9, 2008 at 8:32 pm |

    I cannot comment on the success of the campaign, I don’t think; I’m queer, I live in a queer part of the state, my vote was a foregone conclusion, I haven’t been here, and most of my news doesn’t come from mainstream sources. The complaints I heard were that the campaign was not fast enough, not inclusive enough and not smart enough–at a time when focusing on dialogue with people of color would very likely have had a significant effect on the outcome, nobody was interested.

    And just to be clear: I have no problem with criticizing LGBT organizations who take money in order to wage these campaigns on a professional non-profit basis. The post was about criticizing people in demographics; I’m pretty sure the No on 8 campaign was willing to let straight people stuff envelopes, too.

  4. piny
    piny November 9, 2008 at 8:34 pm |

    Whyever not? We at feministe aim to please.

  5. lurvynun
    lurvynun November 9, 2008 at 8:45 pm |

    what rubbish.

    it isn’t bigotry to expect that, at the very least, black men and women could have registered, uh, comparable levels of homophobia. People have looked at the numbers and said, “wuh” precisely because they are _comparing_ to other populations, including asians, latinos, whites.

    and of course they are going to expect that an oppressed group will have slightly better attitude toward social justice issues than white males!

    every single time someone who is disabled gets made at feminists for their privilege, every single time someone who is Latino get mad at white feminists for their privielge or at black feminists for doing or saying something bigoted about Latinas, etc. it is *precisely* because they expect an oppressed group to have at least a smidge more understanding of the oppression of other groups.

    they don’t get upset with white males. they get upset with another oppressed group for being clueless.

    it works all the way around, primarily because of the way we conceive of knowledge, action and social justice. but it is also a strong part of our common sense thinking: the meek shall inherit the earth and all that nonsense.

  6. Peter
    Peter November 9, 2008 at 9:18 pm |

    I’ve read some of those blogs that blame black people for the passage of Prop 8 and it really rubs me the wrong way. I haven’t seen anyone blaming gays themselves, but it doesn’t surprise me.

    You know what? I doubt that blacks and gays combined equal up to 15% of California’s population. Its not “their” fault that prop 8 passed. A lot of white people voted for that shit too, and it passed on the backs of white people if we must assign blame to identity groups.

    I for one don’t want to assign blame to identity groups. But as long as we’re on the topic, Prop 8 wouldn’t have passed without 30 million dollars from Mormons in Utah.

    That said, it still says something that Prop 8 passed by a razor thin margin. 10 years ago, it might have had an overwhelming victory. We’ve made some progress, not enough apparently. I’ll let others decide if it was poor campaign tactics, or whether people didn’t know they were actually voting to amend the constitution, or whether people just weren’t informed enough about what it really meant. I know that I saw a lot of deceitful television ads promoting Prop 8. So, I think there was a LOT of misinformation being propagated.

  7. Bene
    Bene November 9, 2008 at 9:32 pm |

    I find it really appalling that there seems to be a certain expectation of being owed, too, piny.

    What really depresses me about this unfair schism is the fact that I saw a fantastic interview with Julian Bond on In the Life not more than a week or so ago, where he discussed why he is against Prop 8. I do think that there is a definite problem with homophobia in the African American community, from what I’ve read, but that’s a symptom, not the cause–which is the greater patriarchal, disenfranchising cultural system. To assign blame solely on race is to unproductively throw around blame and alienate potential future allies.

  8. AnonymousCoward
    AnonymousCoward November 9, 2008 at 9:43 pm |

    Savage isn’t the only person talking about this. For instance, Melissa Harris-Lacewell was talking about it on Maddow the other day, going so far as to say “communities of color demonstrated an awfully bigoted vote”:

    Pretending that there isn’t *serious* homophobia in the black community (what you seem to be advocating, since calling attention to it is apparently “hateful” to your eyes) isn’t going to make it go away.

  9. Eva
    Eva November 9, 2008 at 9:59 pm |

    It’s incredibly depressing that prop 8 passed, and incredibly depressing that so much of the conversation surrounding its failure has either devolved into racism or tried to deflect racism by blaming the queer community. First of all this 70% figure that’s being tossed around is not by any means reliable. It’s from an exit poll, and exit polls are marginally reliable in general, and become increasingly unreliable when they’re supposed to reflect smaller demographic groups. I believe 280 black voters were polled, total. That’s not a great sample size, and it’s a much smaller sample size than the population of white or latino or asian voters questioned by the same poll, because of California’s demographics. The poll would seem to indicate that black voters, 6% of California’s populace, became 10% of the electorate, which, even assuming higher than usual turnout in black neighborhoods, is unlikely, if not mathematically impossible- it would require more than 90% of eligible black voters to turn out, including people currently serving time in prison for non felony offenses. It is clear that there are strains of homophobia in black communities, as in all communities, and that a lot of it comes from the church– black churches or civil rights groups that promoted yes votes on prop 8 deserve to be called out on it, but based on actual evidence of political activity, not sketchy numbers.

    The willingness to so quickly blame “black voters,” just shows how quickly even supposed progressives are willing to jump to race as the most meaningful reductor of a group– not religion, not class, not education, not skin color. So many of these complaints seem to forget that there’s a significant black queer community, and outright dismiss whatever percentage of black voters, straight or queer, who voted against prop 8, in order to focus on the homophocis hypocrisy of “black people.” Yes, any black person who voted for Prop 8 ought to be ashamed of him or herself (assuming they understood what they were voting for– the Yes on 8 people also ran a disinformation campaign, confusing people about what a yes vote actually meant). But any person of any race who voted for Prop 8 should be ashamed of themselves. There’s some weird quid pro quo argument being advanced in some places, that somehow black voters owe something to people for electing a president who was one of “them”. I assume that most voters who voted for Obama did so because they thought he best represented their interests, because of the available candidates, he most closely stood for the country they wanted to live. If anyone actually went into the voting booth and voted based only on the idea that it’s about time we had a black president, that person is an idiot.

    I understand that it must hurt like hell to see a national celebration, and so much talk about how far our nation has come, on the same day that the state has told you that you/your marriage are not legitimate. But it’s not just Prop 8 and the heinous Arkansas ban on gay adoption that passed– the anti affirmative action measure in CO passed, the English only Prop in MO passed overwhelmingly. Obama notwithstanding, there’s a lot of work to be done to move this country in a truly progressive direction, and it won’t get done through anger and division.

    On that note, I don’t think it’s fair to say the queer community should have fought harder, because this shouldn’t even be something there’s a fight for– it just be a basic matter of civil rights. But, since there was a campaign, it’s worth discussing. The few No on 8 ads I happened to see– and I don’t live in CA, so maybe I only saw the ones people were complaining about on progressive blogs– seemed to focus on the Mormon church, and “Mormons” knocking on people’s doors and invading their privacy/invalidating their marriages. I understood that the point was supposed to be about separation of church and state, but it seemed to be the same kind of tactic of fear, and making one group into a boogeyman that I usually expect from the right wing. I was offended, and I’m not at all religious. I think the message (sad as it is that it’s necessary to argue this) should have been gay couples are your friends and neighbors and love eachother and build families and communities just like anyone else, and aren’t going anywhere or forcing you to be gay, not Mormons are Evil and Scary!!!

  10. piny
    piny November 9, 2008 at 10:00 pm |

    No, I’m not arguing that at all, and less than a week after the election I’m already getting kind of sick of that response–although, to be fair, this definitely isn’t the first time people of color have been blamed for being superhomophobes.

    These people are not just calling attention to homophobia amongst people of color. They’re arguing that it’s a special phenomenon distinct from plain old white homophobia, and arguing that people of color have a special obligation to not be homophobic. They’re also using black homophobia to justify white racism. Dan’s comments section filled up with a buncha racist gay people right after he posted about the issue. Does he see that phenomenon as relevant to anything? Maybe interesting in light of the rift he described, the suspicion and anger, the mistrust? Apparently not.

    That kind of arguing isn’t going to do anything to solve the problem of black homophobia, to the extent that it needs a specific activist response. It will cement the disconnect, and it will do so at the expense of plenty of people who can’t take sides.

  11. lurvynun
    lurvynun November 9, 2008 at 10:07 pm |

    the rubbish is in your claim that it is bigoted to expect blacks to have a better sense of social justice than a group of white middle class straight males.

    it’s not bigoted to wonder why, as savage did, that so many *more* blacks voted yes to 8 than did other people of color *and* whites. 70% is a big ass difference compared to 49% and 53%. And in an election where the issue of the day was over coming racial injustice, it is pretty painful to realize that blacks weren’t just “typical” in the homophobia they expected — which is what you’d expect: “normal” levels of homobia, not 50% more than whites’ levels of homophobia.

    he’s not holding blacks to a special standard, only asking, “fuck, couldn’t you be only as homophobic as everyone else?”

    when you got busted for having a less than clued in response to racism, you were busted precisely because people expected more from you of all people. that is because people of color expected you to get it faster than a straight white feminist. happens all the time. if it’s bigotry, then this entire blog stinks of it and so does 99% of the blogsophere supposedly concerned with social justice.

    so, while i agree with you that the problem is pernicious, I think the people crying foul have to deal with the tree trunk – nay, timber industry — sticking out of their own eyes.

  12. mzbitca
    mzbitca November 9, 2008 at 10:10 pm |

    I dont feel that there is anything wrong to say that there is some sense of homophobia in the African American community but I think that Renee made a pretty good point as well about it being about the church more than anything.

    Also, The LBGQT movement was caught by surprise in CA in some ways. There was little fear about Prop 8 passing but then the LDS church got involved and the money and the lies started flooding the airwaves. I have heard complatints from POC from the GLBQT community that there was little diversity in many ads on their side and they seemed to only be courting the white vote.
    As women and feminists we often get frustrated with Democrats for assuming they have pro-choice women votes and I wonder how many people just assumed that as minorities Blacks and Hispanics would go against Prop 8 in some time of solidarity. It is not our job to educate others about their bigotry in many ways but there should be some acknowledgedment about how much anti-homophobia campaigning is in the African American Community

    Also, I think to focus should really be on the churches that encouraged lies and money that did more to hurt Prop 8 than anything else

  13. Peter
    Peter November 9, 2008 at 10:19 pm |

    As far as I know, one poll has been published on the voting demographics related to proposition 8. And as some else mentioned, the results of that poll are statistically dubious.

    I’m not black, and I can’t pretend to know, or pose as an expert, on what the black community largely thinks about homophobia. I strongly suspect that homophobia is not a function of skin color, but more related to economic status and degree of religiousity. I suspect a baptist or an evangelical is more likely to be homophobic, regardless of skin color, than a silicon valley agnostic computer geek.

    The only thing I can vouch for being knowlegeble about, is that the Mormon Church poured everything they had into this. And most of that money came from Utah. And the television Ads promoting prop 8 were filled with some of the worst lies and distortions I’ve ever seen in political ads. Hey, I though christians weren’t supposed to lie?

  14. AnonymousCoward
    AnonymousCoward November 9, 2008 at 10:26 pm |

    Exit polling (the same exit polling, in fact) suggests that black voters were 10% of the total voting population in California in 2008.

    Well, given what Savage has written in that same thread:

    I’d say that he does find the phenomenon troubling. However, I think this election, if anything, was a repudiation of the concept of “guilt by association.” With that said, I don’t think you can solve the problem if you can’t discuss it. Yes, discussing it will bring out the racists (handily labeled as “scum” by Savage in the initial post, let alone his subsequent posts), but they’re going to come out any time race is discussed, regardless of the content of the discussion.

  15. alicepaul
    alicepaul November 9, 2008 at 10:48 pm |

    I volunteered with No on 8 here in LA. I think there are lots of factors as to why it passed; many people wholly believed the lies that gay marriage would have to be taught in schools, and that churches would be forced to perform same sex marriage if it stayed legal. People really bought this, and No on 8 either did not or could not find an effective way to counter it with the truth, which is a huge shame. I think moderates of all races would have been more likely to vote No if they were more assured that schools and churches wouldn’t be affected.

    That being said, I am quite dismayed at the 70% statistic as well as the behavior of some white gays. But I certainly don’t think it is bigoted or racist to expect blacks to support the civil rights of other minority groups, and for members of those groups to be profoundly let down when they don’t. I’m sorry.

    I’m equally disappointed when some feminists don’t support rights for sex workers or trans people. I’m frustrated by sexism coming from Jews, and Anti-Semitism coming from blacks. The bottom line is that oppressed groups should be sensitive to the mistreatment of other oppressed groups, and vote in a way that expresses such. I don’t think this is an unreasonable standard. Either you’re an ally or you aren’t.

  16. Eva
    Eva November 9, 2008 at 11:01 pm |

    The fact that that poll suggests black voters were 10% of the total voting population is one more reason that poll is unreliable. Someone over at dailykos did a full mathematical breakdown of what would have to happen for that to be possible.:

  17. Rebecca
    Rebecca November 9, 2008 at 11:14 pm |

    The willingness to so quickly blame “black voters,” just shows how quickly even supposed progressives are willing to jump to race as the most meaningful reductor of a group– not religion, not class, not education, not skin color.

    Eva makes a really good point. Were “uneducated” voters or “lower-class” voters polled, what would the percentages be? (Do we have an exit poll for “religious” voters?)

  18. Eva
    Eva November 9, 2008 at 11:22 pm |

    According to this blog, 60% or more of people in the following groups all voted for Prop 8: The elderly (65+)
    People who decided for whom to vote in October (but not within the week before the election)
    People who were contacted by the McCain campaign
    White Protestants
    Those who attend church weekly
    Married people
    People with children under 18
    Gun owners
    Bush voters
    Offshore drilling supporters
    People who are afraid of a terrorist attack
    People who thought their family finances were better now than 4 years ago
    Supporters of the war against Iraq
    People who didn’t care about the age of the candidates
    People who are from the “Inland/Valley” region of California
    McCain voters

    I can’t vouch for the numbers, because I don’t know where they came from (most likely the same unreliable poll), but it is interesting that they haven’t gotten nearly the same amount of discussion. I’m betting elderly voters, or people in Mccain tshirts aren’t getting singled out for abusive ephiphets and threats at protests, the way black people, even black queer people carrying no on 8 signs, are.

  19. AnonymousCoward
    AnonymousCoward November 9, 2008 at 11:40 pm |

    Rebecca: CNN’s exit polling also includes education and religion.
    If we trust the poll, identifying as black has more predictive value of voting for Prop 8 than identifying as Protestant or Catholic, though less than going to church weekly.

    College was the break-even point, with high-school and some-college educated voters cutting against the ban, and post-graduate educated voters cutting for it. However, yet again, level of education is less predictive for determining how an individual voted than identification as black.

  20. Peter
    Peter November 10, 2008 at 12:10 am |

    Oh hell, lets just use that exit poll and blame it all on black women.

    Black women, had the highest percentage in favor of prop 8.

    (sarcasm alert).

    If the blame is going to be laid an anyone’s feet, it belongs at the feet of the Mormon church. Not black people, and certainly not Black women.

    I don’t know how many of y’all are aware of this. But the pro-prop 8 ads were highly deceptive and manipulative. They even tried to tie themselves to Barack Obama as a way of manipulating black voters. They had some ad that played clips of Obama saying he wasn’t in favor of gay marriage, and the implication was that Obama was in favor of prop 8.

    I’m pretty sure that was intended to manipulate black voters. And the whole thing about how we were supposedly going to teach gay marriage in public schools, and “indoctrinate” kids to the gay lifestyle? Seriously, I don’t know how alleged christians can sleep at night telling so many lies.

  21. redwagon
    redwagon November 10, 2008 at 12:25 am |

    “many people wholly believed the lies that gay marriage would have to be taught in schools, and that churches would be forced to perform same sex marriage if it stayed legal. People really bought this, and No on 8 either did not or could not find an effective way to counter it with the truth, which is a huge shame.”

    That is it. I think the issue for these people is freedom of religion. And if they thought they were voting FOR the freedom of other religions to marry people they would have opposed Prop. 8. But because most people don’t understand the relationship between church and state (do you? in detail? truly?) they thought if Prop. 8 failed then the church THEY go to would have to marry gay people.

    Like, seriously, gay people would show up a homophobic church to get married anyway? “We hate rice. Please throw rocks”.

    But I think it is this ignorance, as well as homophobia, that put Prop. 8 over the top. I think that this is an example of the traditional liberal intellectual argument that lost to the narrow emotional argument. On the positive side, this does indicate a possible winning argument: Freedom of Religion.

    Should the Mormons be able to dictate to the Presbyterians? Few people would support that.

  22. Rebecca
    Rebecca November 10, 2008 at 12:34 am |

    I can’t vouch for the numbers, because I don’t know where they came from (most likely the same unreliable poll), but it is interesting that they haven’t gotten nearly the same amount of discussion. I’m betting elderly voters, or people in Mccain tshirts aren’t getting singled out for abusive ephiphets and threats at protests, the way black people, even black queer people carrying no on 8 signs, are.

    I saw that list on another site, and someone made the good comment that that’s in large part because, except for elderly people, the other groups aren’t recognizable on sight.

  23. Bene
    Bene November 10, 2008 at 1:17 am |

    Not visible on sight and more difficult to demonize.

    In the end I guess it just reads like more white people feeling entitled, in my mind, and as a white queer person, that makes me very, very tired. Being willing to keep people, people who could very well be disenfranchised, from voting because they disagree? What the hell does that make us? It’s not an issue of being morally superior to object to this targeting, it’s a legitimate concern.

    It’s not wrong to note statistics, and it’s not wrong to be concerned about the relationship between LGBT activism and communities of POC. It is wrong to take the issue and turn it into a flashpoint of distain. Better education. Better understanding. Outreach that stays and goes on past any election day. Don’t let this be undermined by spite and anger.

  24. Protest8SF
    Protest8SF November 10, 2008 at 1:40 am |

    yes, having one minority politically reject another minority, especially when the latter worked so hard for the former, is a difficult pill to swallow.

    Kind of reminds me of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act fight last year when prominent gay writers were willing to push transsexuals under the proverbial bus for their own political gain.

    I’m not quite sure how that comment was meant to be read, if it was blaming African-Americans or blaming the racists that are blaming African-Americans. If it’s the latter, the analogy to the ENDA occurred to me, too. That is, the GLB groups that were willing to abandon transpeople for the watered-down ENDA have no room to be pointing fingers at African-American or Latin@ voters, even if it weren’t racist to be making generalizations based on race.

    Protest8SF are organizing a rally in SF for 11/15, 10:30 at City Hall, and we’d really like to have speakers from POC and religious communities. GLBTQI people and straight allies come in all colors and faiths (and lack of faith) and we’d really like to recognize that at the rally and make a point of condemning the racist blaming going on. Our site is here.

  25. Isabel
    Isabel November 10, 2008 at 1:59 am |

    and of course they are going to expect that an oppressed group will have slightly better attitude toward social justice issues than white males!

    I have a problem with this. It reminds me of people who express surprise that, for example, sometimes Hispanic are racist towards blacks. The assumption seems to be: “But they’re all minorities! Don’t they have special automatic minority bonding?”

    No. Just because blacks&Latinos get lumped together in discussions of various issues in this country about as often as peanut butter&jelly does not mean they necessarily feel any sort of solidarity. A LOT of members of oppressed groups, while acknowledging and reacting against they existence of racism, don’t necessarily self-identify as “members of an oppressed group.” Nor do they identify as “not white people.” You’re talking about an awful lot of different communities–even breaking it down into blacks and Latinos is a huge oversimplification–each with their own history, their own community norms, their own relations to other communities, including, yes, whites, but including other communities as well.

    It would be pretty neat, yeah, if getting hated on by the white straight rich christian dudely powers that be automatically made you aware of every single other group in that situation, but I really don’t see why it should be surprising that that doesn’t happen. For example, women are widely agreed on this blog to be an oppressed group, yet I never hear people talking about how CRAZY it is that WOMEN would be racist! Hell, some women are wildly SEXIST because, yeah, for better or worse in terms of effects, women are individuals, not a monolith, free to fuck up same as dudes.

    Now, I’ll grant that I hold self-identified feminists to a higher standard than women at large, because self-identified feminists are expressing a commitment to social justice, and I believe if you are seeking any sort of social justice, to exclude any group from that is ultimately to restrict your goals. I don’t think you can be for social justice without being for social justice for all. But women and feminists are not synonymous groups.

    Moreover, while similarities between forms of oppression can be useful for building solidarity or illuminating points–more than once, something in my white-privileged head has “clicked” because I set up a parallel to feminism–and while all forms of oppression are equally “bad” for lack of a better word, all oppressions are not exactly the same. Yeah, they all serve the needs of the oppressive class–but sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, transphobia, ablism, sizeism, these all have their own nuances and causes that overlap, yes, but are not identical. To say that, for example, homophobia is EXACTLY THE SAME as racism is to ignore, for a start, the factor that religiosity plays in homophobia.

    And speaking of religion: I’m frustrated by sexism coming from Jews

    I’m frustrated by sexism coming from anyone, but what is it about Jews that would lead you to expect less from them? Their history of oppression? What about their history of being an ancient patriarchal religion with some very strict gender roles in its more Orthodox forms of practice, does that not start to explain some of the sexism? Are you equally frustrated by sexism coming from Muslims in America today? (obviously not to imply all Muslims are sexist).

    What about poor whites? Is racism coming from them especially surprising because in our capitalist society the poor often get the shit end of the stick? Or does it almost make more sense because of the history of the American South, the way racism against blacks served to prevent poor white resentment against rich whites from leading to a threat against rich whites? Do you see how history and local culture make these things play out in subtly different ways in all groups, marginalized or no, and generalizing about “oppressed groups” is not very useful because it eliminates these nuances and to a certain extent it robs groups and people of their individuality to a certain extent?

  26. Pinko Punko
    Pinko Punko November 10, 2008 at 2:16 am |

    ENDA was a half measure, but a positive one. Prop 8 was a negative measure. I don’t accept a facile analogy between the two, although in a perfect world we wouldn’t have to even recognize a superficial scenario because we’d have a unified big tent.

  27. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan November 10, 2008 at 2:37 am |

    Isabel: Sweet. Especially liked those last 2 paragraphs. :)

  28. Pinko Punko
    Pinko Punko November 10, 2008 at 2:49 am |

    Yeah, p- I agree that some of the defenses of ENDA were ridiculous in the “hush hush, just wait your turn” way. They were terrible. Incremental progress is disappointing, all the more so when it is defended as such with “wait your turn.” I think, though, that ENDA passing would have been a better benefit to society than Prop 8 passing. I am just saddened by the step backwards. And the exposure of the simmering everything else underneath. A lot of things seem like they are ready to blow, and it seems like Prop 8 won’t be the only step back. If exposure helps with the disinfectant of sunlight, then eventually airing these issues will be a good thing, but it is gonna get worse before it gets better.

  29. Pinko Punko
    Pinko Punko November 10, 2008 at 3:12 am |

    Sullivan is such a f*cking cobag. Yeah, you have certainly reminded me of this. I do think no one would have been able to satisfactorily advanced a pragmatic argument on ENDA, even if it felt like reality. In this case admitting the reality or perceived reality is certainly depressing and/or humiliating to transpersons and trans-allies. Such a damned no win situation.

  30. alicepaul
    alicepaul November 10, 2008 at 3:27 am |

    Isabel – I like your comment.

    To explain more what I meant w/ regard to sexism and Jews – I’m a Jewish woman, and my particular Jewish community is very leftist-social justice-oriented, though I realize this does not characterize all Jews by any means. But, there is a tradition for many American Jews, throughout the 20th century, to align with labor rights, civil rights, and feminism. (You seem to know your history, so I’m sure you are familiar with this.) But, yes, I am frustrated when Latinos or other Persecuted Group X is sexist.

    I think you bring up a good point about the nuances and subtleties beneath “all of us are oppressed.” It is a complex situation. At the same time, and I think my main argument here, is that it is understandable to be sad, dismayed, and downright angry when one group “throws another one under the bus.” (IMO, that expression is way overused to the point of being annoying now, but until a new phrase is invented, there it is).

    It seems that a lot of feminist bloggers feel this way *selectively* by expressing disappointment towards lesbians and gays during the ENDA fiasco, but not to Blacks for Prop 8.

    Am I missing something?

  31. An Alabamian in Texas
    An Alabamian in Texas November 10, 2008 at 7:00 am |

    Exit Poll- a random inquiry of people’s voting positions at a physical location (according to the CNN website every third and fifth person).

    Therefore this 70% rating is only accurate for the people that were asked. Which according to many of the rebuttals listed on the Racialicious site would be drawn from about 2250 people; 1411 of which are white and 224 of which are black. This means that the 70% that is outraging people is about 157 voters.

    This becomes really racist when you insist that 157 black people represent the millions that live in California.

  32. Thomas
    Thomas November 10, 2008 at 11:19 am |

    Piny, I’m not from California. I’m a New Yorker. I’m not disgusted with Prop 8 for regional reasons. I’m angry and sad for policy reasons.

  33. ananke
    ananke November 10, 2008 at 11:26 am |

    I’ve heard that Obama is sending part of his campaign team to Georgia to help out the democratic side in the run-off congressional election and with the well-oiled ground game his campaigners and volunteers were famous for, I am optimistic about the outcome. This might be a good time for the CA Obama team to identify those amongst themselves who feel as strongly about PropHate as they did about Obama and shift the direction but keep the Obama machine momentum. (Onion news has a hysterically funny election aftermath clip of the Obama obsessives lives being direction-less now he’s won and waiting for their next liberal cause to give their lives meaning again- so why can’t LGBT be that liberal cause?)

    I’m sad for California on this, and many of Californians must be sad for themselves, but y’all are gunning for the right side of history here and it is only a matter of time before the overwhelming majority of America sees sense on this GLBT. However, that day may come a lot quicker if someone sets up a phone banking/canvassing system to keep the issue on the front burner and to get out the vote next time. As an east coaster, I would sign up for the phone bank thing in a heartbeat.

  34. Bloix
    Bloix November 10, 2008 at 11:34 am |

    Eight years ago, in 2000, California voters passed Prop 22, which barred gay marriage, by a margin of 62% to 38%. Last May the California Supreme Court ruled that Prop 22 violated the California Constitution, and so this time, with Prop 8, the opponents of gay marriage put the exact same words on the ballot but as a constitutional amendment. This time the measure passed by only 52% to 48% – a swing of ten percent in eight years. That’s a phenomenally fast change in social attitudes.

    Prop 8 is a disappointment, not a catastrophe. Attitudes will continue to evolve in the right direction. Meanwhile California has a very strong civil union law. If equality-in-marriage supporters do the work, in four years a ballot measure to rescind Prop 8 will most likely pass.

  35. AnonymousCoward
    AnonymousCoward November 10, 2008 at 11:35 am |

    A sample size of 224 for a population of 1.1 million voters gives you a margin of error of +/- 6 or so. So, without systemic error, the members of that group went for the proposition somewhere between 64% and 76%.

    General principles of statistics don’t become racist when discussing race. No one is suggesting that all black people voted against Prop 8 based on this exit polling, just that black people as a demographic voted against Prop 8 to a disproportionately large degree, especially for a group of people theoretically in the Democratic coalition.

  36. Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » The Brilliant Piny Weighs In On Blaming Black Voters for Prop 8

    […] I recommend her whole post. […]

  37. William
    William November 10, 2008 at 1:27 pm |

    I think the biggest contributor to blaming the African American vote for prop 8 is how we conceptualize these kinds of issues. No matter how sophisticated, well informed, progressive, or sensitive someone is there is a tendency to think in binary, especially when you’re passionate about something. With Prop 8 we’re talking about a civil rights issue. That gets us riled up. After all, who could be against civil rights? Before long we’re thinking in “us vs them” terms. We imagine everyone who is in favor of prop 8 to be drinking buddies with Sean Hannity. We assume that people we like will agree with us, that people we have favorable impressions of will be against prop 8. Thats doubly true of people we perceive to have faced similar oppression to the kinds of oppression prop 8 represents.

    Then the votes come down and the cognitive dissonance starts and we end up with two options: either accept that we were wrong and that the world is far more complicated than we would like to believe, or force the data into an existing narrative. Suddenly black voters are othered. They came out in record numbers to vote for Obama, they voted disproportionately in favor of Prop 8, this is their fault. Not the African Americans we know (of course) but those other African Americans we fantasize exist. The ones who fit our stereotypes, the ones we’ve had bad experiences with in the past the ones we cross the street to avoid (not because they’re black, of course, but because….well…its for some other reason). If the African American community isn’t a good enough container for our rage we can find someone else to blame (53% of latinos voted for Prop 8….theres a lot of them in California) or seek out more alien sources on which to vent (I heard Mormons wear magic underwear…).

    Its ugly, but its what people do. Its easier than actually asking oneself why the African American community seems to be disproportionately homophobic; we might get into other discussions involved the word “disproportionate” and thats just dangerous. If we dig deeply enough we might even begin to question this whole “voting on the human rights of others” thing, and where might that lead?

    Besides, if we look at the numbers too long we might have to consider the fact that 50% of people in California don’t think homosexuals are worthy of basic civil rights. And what would that say about the whole “look how far we’ve come” narrative?

  38. Lidon
    Lidon November 10, 2008 at 1:53 pm |

    Pretty much everyone is hypocritical, and I don’t see anything wrong with pointing out hypocrisies when they slap you in the face. It IS hypocritical to be oppressed and then to turn around and oppress others, I don’t see why that should be tip-toed around. People are generally hypocritcal creatures! But it would be wrong to blame one group as well. I’d blame religion but really, beyond that I blame ignorance and fear which use religion to justify prejudice. But it’s okay, we’re still moving forward!

  39. Isabel
    Isabel November 10, 2008 at 3:18 pm |

    It seems that a lot of feminist bloggers feel this way *selectively* by expressing disappointment towards lesbians and gays during the ENDA fiasco, but not to Blacks for Prop 8.
    I don’t want to put words in anyone’s mouth, but for me specifically, again, it comes down to the fact that the ENDA fiasco was in large part the work of GLB activists, whereas talking about blacks and prop 8 is talking about an entire community of individuals who may or may not self-identify as activists or as committed to social justice. So for example, the blatant sexism of Stokely Carmichael, black head of the SNCC in the 60s, is disappointing to me because I don’t think you can commit to one form of social activism while dismissing another. Moreover, once you have self-identified as someone committed to social justice, that implies you have done some thinking about issues of oppression and discrimination, and I would like to think that thinking about any form of social justice eventually leads to thinking about all forms of social justice (though clearly history has shown us this is not the case).

    However, not everyone has spent a lot of time thinking about this, and no, I don’t really expect members of an oppressed group to have thought about this more than members of the ruling class. Again, I think a good counterexample is extent of sexism seen among women, whether it’s the blatant gender rigidity of Caitlin Flanagan or your more low-key internalized fare of, for example, teen girls calling each other sluts.

    I appreciate your clarification, alicepaul, about Jews, and you are right that frequently segments of the Jewish population have aligned themselves with social justice movements. But your example about Latinos points to my overall issue with what you are saying, which is that you (and others on this thread and elsewhere) are still viewing groups through their relationship to the ruling class, and that is not necessarily how they view themselves. Again, I have never heard anyone express shock that women can be racist, or for that matter poor whites. Why? I suspect (though I could be wrong) it is because people tend to be well aware of the history of white racism in this country, and its overwhelming pervasiveness, so that the images conjured by the word “racist” are broad and reflect that reality. But there doesn’t exist in most people’s minds a matching image of, say, Latino sexism. Latinos are seen in this example not as an extremely diverse group that exists predominantly outside of the United States in many different countries, each with their own history, traditions, culture, and gender norms, but as a group defined by the fact that they are not members of the dominant class in this country. From that perspective, yes, it is disappointing that they don’t automatically align with other non-dominant groups, but the expectation that they would exists ONLY from that perspective; when you shift the focus to the communities themselves, that expectation disappears.

    And look–sometimes I fall prey to this too. I have definitely been in situations where I’ve heard a woman, or a Hispanic person, or whatever express some discriminatory view and had a gut reaction of, “but you’re ___! how could you think that?” But I don’t think this is a legitimate way to approach the situation, and I think that doing so lets white people off the hook because it’s basically saying, oh, well, you get a pass because who could ever expect you to examine your own privilege, since you’re just swimming in it? But everyone else, wtf, y’all!

  40. warren
    warren November 10, 2008 at 9:20 pm |

    What the frig????? The “gays” had a bad campaign?? Where the f**k where all you straight allies?
    There aren’t enough of us “gays’ to hit critical mass…..we’ll never have our equal rights if supposed straight allies don’t do anything,….Don’t forget straight allies (I know many helped a lot) your kids are growing up in a country where it is ok to vote away the civil rights of a small group of people.

    COME ON STRAIGHT PEOPLE…give us a break…it’s your discriminatory world too now.

  41. Lauren
    Lauren November 10, 2008 at 11:48 pm |

    The whole narrative is about erasure, forgetting that women and people of color are gay, marking gayness as a white dude thing. Thanks, Dan Savage, for making this policy, this tragedy, about white dudes again.

  42. Lauren
    Lauren November 10, 2008 at 11:49 pm |

    Savage and everyone else.

  43. ephraim
    ephraim November 11, 2008 at 12:45 am |

    in response to the supposedly “special minority group bonding” that’s supposedly being missed somewhere. my feeling is that it’s not an expectation that black communities would “naturally” support gay rights just because they’re both oppressed groups. but, it has more to do with the very conceptual similarities in the kinds of rights at stake here and the kinds of rights at stake for black communities in the mid 20th century civil rights movement. it’s about separate but ‘equal’ and miscegenation laws. obviously the context is very different, and it’s not a one-to-one direct analogy, but the concept is the same, and i think any denial of that is either homophobia or oppression olympics.

  44. bluestockingsrs
    bluestockingsrs November 11, 2008 at 1:24 am |

    Yeah, I am a little tired of the Monday morning quarterbacking on the campaign front, but since I was just co-chair of my county’s local campaign and worked against Prop 8 since the day after I married my spouse (June 21st) I am pissed that it took the passage of damn thing to get people up off their asses and do something in large numbers.

    My county had 70% turnout of voters and 71% of those that voted voted No on 8. Now 8 years ago, this county defeated Prop 22 with 59% of vote. We knew that if we did NO local campaign that number would repeat itself, but we also knew that we had to offset in the inland county in votes.

    The state campaign focused too much on undecided voters and failed to energize its base. We did both and we were successful.

  45. woland
    woland November 11, 2008 at 2:03 am |

    I’m dismayed too, both by the racism and by the blame that’s been directed at the No campaign and the gay community in general. Why blame the person who’s just been stabbed in the gut for not fighting back hard enough? Blame the bigots of all races who campaigned and voted for the disgusting thing. If there are lessons to be learned from the failure, learn them, but do it without attacking the victim.

    I suspect, too, that many of the activists – gay and straight – who could have been working to defeat the proposition were campaigning for Obama. I hope he shows more leadership than he has to date on this issue, keeps his promise to repeal DOMA, and gets rid of DADT. It’s time for the political leaders who have benefited from the work of the LGBTQ community and our allies to finally come out and say that writing anti-gay marriage amendments into constitutions is wrong. Enough. No more forgiving the Donny McClurkin incidents or tolerating the tepid opposition to 8 that came from so many politicians.

  46. transgenmom
    transgenmom November 11, 2008 at 6:13 am |

    It is bigotry, this idea that black people have some special spiritual obligation to recognize the basic rights of others because small groups of certain others have occasionally done the same for them, even when it was not in their immediate self-interest. It is bigotry, the idea that those people should know better when most people don’t.
    Hopefully more people realize this because of this.

    And the thing is that I am sure that the black people who voted against this weren’t too happy with Obama. They were probably like Jesse Jackson and had serious issues with the fact that he was raised by white socially liberal people. Obama was never the black cultural candidate. Culturally he has more in common with the stereotypical gay person.

  47. Cecca
    Cecca November 11, 2008 at 10:16 am |

    Every time I see someone surprised at the percentage of black voters who supposedly voted for Prop 8 (I say “supposedly” because one exit poll does not an adequate measure make), I have to wonder if that person has any familiarity with the African-American community at all. Blacks in this country are overwhelmingly religious. Not all of us, but a great deal. Blacks tend to be fiscally liberal because we’re so over-represented in the lower class, but socially conservative because of the prevalence of the conservative Christian viewpoint. Combine that with Yes on 8’s fearmongering, and No on 8 would have needed to do a lot of minority church outreach to woo black voters. This isn’t rocket science. This is just something I know from having grown up black in this country for the past 21 years. It’s also something any decent campaign manager should have known and worked with.

  48. meagan dixon
    meagan dixon November 11, 2008 at 1:20 pm |

    Our history is littered with the denials of basic human rights – and people fighting to achieve them. Most notably for me is the woman’s suffrage movement, and the ratification of the 19th Amendment to include women in the right to vote – an amendment I thank God for every election day. For it’s only been 88 years now that women have been able to vote – and there are people alive today who remember when they could not. Women fought for and won their right to vote in the War of Roses – members of Congress and supporters of suffrage wore yellow roses to show their support, and the opposition wore red roses to show theirs. I would like to take a note from those brave women’s hands.

    For complete article go here

  49. Mel
    Mel November 11, 2008 at 4:17 pm |

    The individual anecdotes are very sad and hurtful, absolutely, but I wish people would stop quoting the goddamn CNN exit poll to justify generalizing beyond individual anecdotes to decide those people represent whole communities. That exit poll has a vast margin of error and absolutely NO guarantee of being representative of California as a whole–in fact, it’s very unlikely that it is. Looking at their Colorado exit poll, I KNOW it’s unrepresentative of Colorado’s voting demographics (the CO sample includes no Latinos and no one under 30, both large chunks of the voting populace), and I see no reason to think the CA poll — done with the same methodology — is any better.

    Are some black people homophobic? Yes. But we have NO REAL EVIDENCE to think that it’s more common than in any other demographic group.

  50. Mel
    Mel November 11, 2008 at 4:24 pm |

    Incidentally, Anonymous Coward, that margin of error only applies if the sample was selected evenly and randomly across the entire state. It wasn’t–several precincts were selected randomly, and there is no guarantee that those precincts demographically represented the state as a whole. Then the sample was selected randomly from within those precincts. That should raise the margin of error quite a bit.

    There’s some good discussion of exit poll issues at

  51. V
    V November 11, 2008 at 8:26 pm |

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned Bayard Rustin, and his lifelong soulsearching about having to choose one identity and civil rights struggle (the black civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s) over another (his homosexuality and the emergent gay rights movement and consciousness). As it was, he remained a key strategist but always behind the scenes, just in case he should be publicly outed… His story — and why he made the choices he did — are still painfully relevant today.

    We should be building bridges right now, not burning them. The African-American community was a key constituency in the Prop 8 fight — something the YES side recognized and acted on with extremely effective church-based organizing — while the NO folks either failed to see it or naively took for granted that they’d be allies…which is condescending and racist in itself…

  52. NancyP
    NancyP November 11, 2008 at 11:24 pm |

    Pointing fingers is a useless and harmful exercise. A long-term outreach strategy is needed, from white gays to black gays, from black gays to their family members (potential allies) and later, communities, from gay-affirming black ministers to gay-rejecting black ministers. Furthermore, white gays need to familiarize themselves with basic facts about the black experience – item one being the fact that “the black church” is a much more important social organisation than white churches. Plus, white gays need to be willing to help black political and charitable initiatives. Be a friend to make a friend.

    We also need some loud-mouthed LDS (Mormon) and Catholic parents to publicly ream out their churches for meddling.

  53. Sarah
    Sarah November 12, 2008 at 11:34 am |

    Thank you Warren!

  54. Lidon
    Lidon November 19, 2008 at 8:09 pm |

    V: “…while the NO folks either failed to see it or naively took for granted that they’d be allies…which is condescending and racist in itself…”

    Well, if the gay community expected me, as a woman, to be able to relate with them and to vote no on Prop 8, I wouldn’t find that sexist. Being that homophobia is inherently sexist, one would hope that I would get a clue and be able to relate with second class status in some way or another. I wouldn’t toss around the word “racist” too often, it gets watered down and loses meaning. That context you mentioned refers to *experience* as a result of race (or minority status), not simply *race* itself.

    And call me naive, but I would be surprised if the gay community voted against civil rights for other groups. And I would call that hypocritical.

    And white Christians are hypocritical too! All Christians that judge everything that moves are hypocritical. And you don’t have to be on the highest pedestal to be a hypocrite, that would just make you an even bigger one.

    Although I think all of this is beside the point, and we should be focusing our energies to reach out to everyone, ultimately. I’m calling a spade a spade, but I’m not going to convince others of hypocrisy. It’s a pointless argument.

Comments are closed.

The commenting period has expired for this post. If you wish to re-open the discussion, please do so in the latest Open Thread.