Black Friendly When We Need You

A guest post by Renee

[Note from Jill: Renee sent this to be guest posted more than a week ago. It’s my fault it’s going up late, and I apologize].

You know between the MRA infestation and the blame it on the blacks thing in reference to Prop 8, I have done some thinking. What these two incidents have done is confirm something that I have actually believed for quite some time; blacks are used for the sake of convenience.

When other so-called justice programs needs us, they remind us of the ways in which we are marginalized and attempt to point out that their exclusion is the same. You know what I’m talking about, the “it’s just like Rosa Parks line.” This often makes me want to ask, really are you sure? It seems that white people have a history of knowing what blacks go thorough on a daily basis when it is convenient for them to admit the ways in which they discriminate against POC. When they want something from us, like a vote on a bill, organizing help, or even a gopher to make coffee they suddenly are so understanding of what blacks are dealing with.

The rest of the time we get told about how equal the world is; yes the wonderful post racial world that we have been informed that we are all living in. With the election of Obama we have even been flatly told that we have no excuses left for being at the bottom of the race and class hierarchy. White people have been decent enough to put aside their racial hatred and therefore blacks should just buck up and deal with the high level of incarceration, bad schools, inequity in employment, etc and etc., It’s socially unacceptable to say nigger today, as that is the mark of a bigot; however the other ways in which blacks are disenfranchised are socially deemed a figment of our collective imaginations.

It seems it does not matter what the social movement is, as long as it is represented by white people, POC are ignored until needed. If you look at the advertising campaigns, or organizing patterns for gay rights, fat phobia, animal rights, and feminism, all have a tendency to ignore POC. Our specific interests within the movements are ignored in order to present a white image to the world. Somehow the idea that whites are facing discrimination is supposed to make the world stand up and take notice, yet the idea that blacks may be dealing with multiple areas of stigmatizations at the same time is unimportant.

Los Angeles resident A. Ronald says he and his boyfriend, who are both black, were carrying NO ON PROP 8 signs and still subjected to racial abuse.

Three older men accosted my friend and shouted, “Black people did this, I hope you people are happy!” A young lesbian couple with mohawks and Obama buttons joined the shouting and said there were “very disappointed with black people” and “how could we” after the Obama victory. This was stupid for them to single us out because we were carrying those blue NO ON PROP 8 signs! I pointed that out and the one of the older men said it didn’t matter because “most black people hated gays” and he was “wrong” to think we had compassion. That was the most insulting thing I had ever heard. I guess he never thought we were gay.

We are not to expected to get upset when feminists, or the GLBT community displays racism because of course white women and white homosexuals are uniquely oppressed. It is their needs that the world should pay attention to because white people weren’t born to suffer. It’s no accident that the Rosa Parks line always comes out of the mouth of a white person. What could possibly be worse in the world than being treated like a nigger? What the hell good is white privilege if you are treated like a person of colour and that is the message these so-called liberal social justice movements send to the world.

Geoffrey, a student at UCLA, joined the massive protest outside the Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Westwood. Geoffrey was called the n-word at least twice.

It was like being at a klan rally except the klansmen were wearing Abercrombie polos and Birkenstocks. YOU NIGGER, one man shouted at men. If your people want to call me a FAGGOT, I will call you a nigger. Someone else said same thing to me on the next block near the temple…me and my friend were walking, he is also gay but Korean, and a young WeHo clone said after last night the niggers better not come to West Hollywood if they knew what was BEST for them.

As I am watching the backlash from the GLBT community regarding PROP 8, I am filled with so much anger and sadness. Where is the angst for the white voters who supported PROP 8? The GLBT community spent no time in black churches, community centres or neighbourhoods and yet they expected to be supported. You cannot call upon us for convenience sake, and then shove us back into the closet (yes intentional choice of words) when we are no longer needed.

A gay black man or woman irregardless of race is still gay and some white members have turned this into a hostile movement for them. Where is the sense of community in this? What these organizers fail to realize is that they have precious little connection with POC to begin with, and if they begin with the racist taunts they will alienate the few supporters that they already have. This is a time when they need to be reaching out to POC to make a bridge that they never attempted to build in the first place, and yet descending into racial politics is the route that has been chosen. This is a myopic policy that will only serve to push gay rights even further back.

Social justice movements need coalitions across lines to be successful in any way. When we look back at the civil rights movement of the 60’s what is notable is that whites and blacks protested together. The Jewish community was a huge part of getting blacks the rights we so desperately needed and deserved.

The lesson to take from this is that by creating a broader base it creates the issues as a human issue rather than an issue a small minority of the population. Showing humanity will cause others to react in kind, and until the GLBT community realizes that it takes an army of concerned citizens, and not a single flag bearer to make change, they will continue to have marriage ceremonies that have no legal basis.

Only through recognizing the common humanity of others can we ever hope to live in a true and just society, and until we can recognize the human rights of the person standing next to us we have no hope of achieving any kind of peaceful and loving social cohesion.

H/T Pam’s Houseblend

Author: has written 5289 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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67 Responses

  1. czar2004
    czar2004 November 17, 2008 at 3:49 pm |

    While the African-American vote on this issue was disappointing, I am even more disappointed in those that resort to hate in addressing the issue.

  2. ephraim
    ephraim November 17, 2008 at 4:51 pm |

    I’m in totally agreement with you on everything except this:
    “The GLBT community spent no time in black churches, community centres or neighbourhoods and yet they expected to be supported.”

    I believe the glb(t) movement expected to be supported because they were on the side of justice and civil rights, not because they had a large advertising budget or made some sort of tit-for-tat deal with communities of color. Obviously queer folks are no match for the mormon church financially, and it would have taken a hell of a lot of campaigning to combat the lies being spread by the yes on 8 campaign (which explicitly targeted black churches). That’s exactly why minority rights should never be up for a popular vote in the first place.

  3. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe November 17, 2008 at 5:34 pm |

    This is a time when they need to be reaching out to POC to make a bridge that they never attempted to build in the first place, and yet descending into racial politics is the route that has been chosen.

    In other words, they have to beg for their rights? And if POC don’t feel like granting them, well, that’s OK because of all the shit POC have to put up with?

    Sorry. You can spin this as hard as you want, but the majority-black vote for Prop 8 was a major cop-out.

  4. denelian
    denelian November 17, 2008 at 5:47 pm |

    i grant that i totally don’t understand why ANYONE would oppose gay marriage. or rather, why anyone WOULD care if gay people got married. wtf? its completely confusing to me, and i am as pissed off about prop 8 passing as anyone can be.

    but… and here, this is hard… i THINK i can see why A)many black people were against gay marriage and B) why gay people are so mad at black people. i am not sure of these ideas, and i would LOVE to have someone prove me wrong.

    but – it seems to me that “gay” is the new “nigger”. the lowest people on the totem pole are now GLBT. which means that black people are NOT the lowest. and a good chunk of the ills in our country derive from a fucked up form of classism, where its ok the be low as LONG AS THERE IS SOMEONE LOWER. and the prop 8 situation gave a “lower”. not right, however you look at it, but in context it makes a macabre sort of sense.
    and then on the other hand, you have gay people, who were just told with a vote that THEY are now OFFICIAL lower on the social totem pole than black people.

    does this make sense of the reactions? its ugly, possible the ugliest thing that could happen politically. and it was skillfully manipulated by various churches. fuck the churches. listen to Wanda.
    i don’t look at this forum every day. so, if someone wants to discuss it here, please make your post and then email me (denelian at yahoo). i am willing to learn, willing to help, willing to be told i am wrong and how. i don’t know how to fix it, but i WANT TO. so… let me know what i can do.

  5. Nanette
    Nanette November 17, 2008 at 5:53 pm |

    denalian – Oy. I think probably you would benefit from a reading of Renee’s other post. That might help put your comment into some context.

  6. Tom
    Tom November 17, 2008 at 5:58 pm |

    Having 51% of whites vote against Prop 8 isn’t exactly something to brag about. It’s just short of a coin flip.

    Fobbing the blame off on 10% of California’s population is a particularly disgraceful way of ignoring the deeply ingrained homophobia which still exists in much of the white community.

  7. Thomas
    Thomas November 17, 2008 at 6:21 pm |

    You know what I think is racist? Treating black people as a monolith. Nobody treats white people as a monolith. White people are analyzed by all sorts of demographics. When we talk about how white people voted, there’s a lot of discussion of religious affiliation and observance, age, education and income. Because everyone knows that white people are not all the same and don’t have all the same views. Nobody thinks that a cranky grandad and practicing Catholic from Riverside has the same views as a purple-haired college-age vegan pagan in the Bay Area, even if they’re both white. So if we’re going to talk about how black folks, asian folks, latin@s, or any other racial group voted, we should be willing to engage on nuance in the same way — as Jill did above, BTW.

  8. Devonian
    Devonian November 17, 2008 at 6:26 pm |

    “But I don’t have a lot of yelling at old people that they somehow had an obligation to vote against Prop 8. ”
    That’s probably because old people (like the religious), were a group expected to support Prop 8.

  9. jen*
    jen* November 17, 2008 at 6:32 pm |

    seriously? gay = the new n*****? not quite.

    without getting into the ‘olympics’ [though I’m SO tempted sometimes], the realities of the situation are quite plain. I am, sadly, not surprised that the stats on black Cali voters have made folks jump on this bandwagon against black people [even though it was mainly white people who carried the vote]. I agree with Renee – the sincerity about being allied with black people was never there in the first place, and now that it’s convenient to do so, black people will once again be treated poorly because of the color of their skin. [And white people will get a pass for the same reason.]

  10. sarah
    sarah November 17, 2008 at 6:33 pm |

    I think in anything that discusses voter blocs, there will be some assumptions made and everyone’s treated as a monolith. Yes, people speak about the white vote, the black vote, the female vote, the Christian vote. And EVERYONE is lumped into categories. There is no gay Jewish hippie voting bloc. And even if there was, it would be making assumptions and treating all the gay Jewish hippies as if they all thought the same thing. There is no way to make sense of statistics except to lump people together. Unless someone can come up with a better way…?

    I think the idea that Prop 8 passed due to the POC vote is preposterous. You could say that about any number of voter blocs– white, older voters, men, women, etc. The “fault” falls on everyone’s shoulders who voted no– white, black, or purple.

  11. Nanette
    Nanette November 17, 2008 at 6:35 pm |

    Devonian:

    That’s probably because old people (like the religious), were a group expected to support Prop 8.

    You may not realize this but you’ve eliminated black folks from both the old AND the religious groups and just put them into a group apparently just labeled “black”.

  12. exholt
    exholt November 17, 2008 at 6:44 pm |

    but – it seems to me that “gay” is the new “nigger”. the lowest people on the totem pole are now GLBT. which means that black people are NOT the lowest. and a good chunk of the ills in our country derive from a fucked up form of classism, where its ok the be low as LONG AS THERE IS SOMEONE LOWER.

    I take it you’ve never lived in and around Northern Ohio or been to White dominated areas even on the coasts such as South Boston where I’ve heard racial epithets tossed at African-Americans and other POC with the same vehement hatred as homophobic epithets against anyone perceived as GBLT by White teens and adults….and I witnessed/experienced this less than 15 years ago……

    http://teresawymore.wordpress.com/2008/11/12/do-obamas-children-deserve-better-than-yours/

    Also, having someone purporting to fight for Queer and Civil Rights making blog posts like the one above does not help….especially when she displays much White privilege and a seeming lack of awareness of how it is reminiscent of “Who do the African-Americans/[insert POC] think they are to believe they have the right to send their children to private schools as upper/upper-middle class White folks?!!” mentality common among Whites who felt private schools were “too good” for the non-White folks.

  13. Midori
    Midori November 17, 2008 at 7:14 pm |

    I agree with Renee – the sincerity about being allied with black people was never there in the first place, and now that it’s convenient to do so, black people will once again be treated poorly because of the color of their skin.

    Isn’t this still lumping POC into a bloc, just for a different rhetorical purpose?

    To say that the GLBT community didn’t do a good job reaching out to this bloc is still referring to them as such. It’s also putting a heavy load on GLBT people to imply this level of dishonesty from all because a portion are freaking out. I’m curious about where the line gets drawn. At what point are we a group of people and at what points are we all individuals? Admittedly, when all we hear about is the “so-and-so” vote, it gets hard to tell.

  14. Rockit
    Rockit November 17, 2008 at 8:16 pm |

    What I found shocking about the backlash was the hypocrisy with which self-righteous Prop 8 No-ers declared: “Well we supported Obama”, as if they were somehow granting a favour to POC across the country by voting with their own interests. And as Renee said above, anyone who participates in this plainly racist narrative is basically shooting themselves in the foot by alienating a large swathe of the population which they’re going to need in the future if they ever want to reverse this.

  15. Fatemeh
    Fatemeh November 17, 2008 at 11:27 pm |

    Renee, this is a great post. A great fucking post.

  16. Banisteriopsis
    Banisteriopsis November 17, 2008 at 11:56 pm |

    Out of the total voters the black voting public was… what, 8% of the turnout? What they’re angry about isn’t even fucking true. It’s appalling.

  17. denelian
    denelian November 18, 2008 at 12:30 am |

    i apparently said what i was trying to say badly. i am glad i actually came back to this forum today, instead of waiting.

    i wasn’t speaking of oppression, i was speaking of PERCIEVED SOCIAL CLASS. i wasn’t trying to say that GLBT are now more oppressed than black people were/are, i was trying to articulate what i am seeing, in that it appears that many people have a perception that socially, gay people are of a lower class than black people. it’s an ingrained part of current american society – another example is all of the people who call themselves “middle class” who are actually LOWER CLASS but think they are middle class because there are people they can see who are less well off than they are.

    that is all i was trying to address. that need in people (as masses, not individuals) to see other people who are less well off than they are.

    i appologize for stating what i was trying state badly. i am not sure that i have explained it well NOW. i am trying to articulate something that is A)very complex B)something most people don’t want examine and C)something that gets me jumped everytime i bring it up.

    Jill; kyriarchy, yes! that is very close to what i am thinking about. a shifting social “pyramid”. i will read more about (there is obviously a lot that i am not getting on a first read…)

    exholt; i am not White. one of my favorite thing about topics like these is that no matter what i say, the first assumption is always that i am white. i live in columbus, i have seen/heard the shouting. i have had it directed at me. again, i appologize for not properly articulating what i was trying to say. i DEFINITLY wasn’t trying to say ANTHING along the lines “who do “those people” thing they are”. at all. and i’m not sure how you saw that. can you please explain how you got that, so i can avoid that pitfall in the future?

  18. whocares
    whocares November 18, 2008 at 2:07 am |

    Even if you’re writing a post about racism, it doesn’t give you the right to other LGBT people.

    A gay black man or woman

    Actually, no, men are gays, women are lesbians. It’s sexist to asume that the term, usually used to refer to men, automatically includes women. But everything sounds better with a smidge of lesbophobia.

    This is a myopic policy

    What’s up with that? I’ve been seeing this around a lot lately. Is my wearing glasses somehow turns me into a racist? Are these magic glasses? Or are all slurs ok as long as they are not racist slurs?

    I don’t see a point in this finger pointing, POC are homophobic, LGBT are racist, while accusing each other of Oppression Olympics and at the same time dying to prove, “Yes, I’m the most oppressed! Me wins!”

  19. Butch Fatale
    Butch Fatale November 18, 2008 at 10:12 am |

    Devonian: I’m confused about how the religious were expected to support prop 8 when so many synagogues held No On 8 phone banks. When you say “religious” do you mean “conservative Christian”?

    I agree with you Renee, except that I’m not holding my breath for the majority of the US to get behind my rights before I actually achieve them. I always thought the role of the courts in ruling on the constitutionality of laws was pretty clear. It’s really disheartening to see so many folks in social movements talk about courts as if they’re not supposed to have any power. In this case, it’s just another way that the people behind the Prop 8 campaign lied and are continuing to lie.

  20. Butch Fatale
    Butch Fatale November 18, 2008 at 10:20 am |

    I don’t think I really said everything I wanted to in that last comment.

    I absolutely cannot believe the stories I have been hearing and reading about white queers’ behavior and hate speech the last couple of weeks. I find it totally sickening and it’s an embarrassment. Except that I kind of can believe it, which is even worse. The mainstream gay rights movement (which generally doesn’t include much for the Bs and Ts, including this time around), has a history of epically failing to do coalition building or to figure out how to talk to people like they’re not stupid. It makes me crazy. I’d like to think this will spur the usual suspects to get their acts together, but I’m not sure that they can be counted on to connect the dots and correct their behavior.

  21. andrea
    andrea November 18, 2008 at 10:26 am |

    Denelian is right that there is a pattern and practice in this country of hazing the group that is lower than you on the totem pole. Sadly, it’s how our country absorbs people into the melting pot. It’s how you prove your American-ness.

    When the Irish came to America they were considered a separate, lesser race. They were called everything imaginable, they were even denied basic civil rights. But they were still higher up than POC, and some of their racism was a response to that.

    Fast forward. We’ve seen it happen with immigrant groups throughout our history. At one time it was Germans. Then the Germans were deemed acceptable, but the Southern European groups were despised. Then the South Americans, and on and on.

    Our advocacy for civil rights cannot be quid pro quo. That is wrong. The first step for the gay community is to support our gay black brothers and sisters instead of marginalizing them further by hurling accusations. Then we begin outreach to the larger black community. We need to educate people that gays are not protected under the law in all but a handful of places. There is a common misconception that gays are protected under employment laws, for example, but that is not true. Gays are not included in Title VII (race, sex, national origin, marital status, disability and age are). I’ve heard many people say so what, gays can in essence “pass.” That’s bogus and I don’t think we want to get into pissing matches over whose situation is worse. There are hideous aspects to racism and homophobia – some of the issues we face are the same, some are different. But the dialogue can’t be just about us.

    The black community did not “cause” the passage of prop 8. BUT – I think it’s equally wrong to pretend that levels of homophobia are not high in the black community. (As they are among certain segments of white people. Evangelicals for example.) Studies on attitudes toward gays confirm this. DENIAL won’t help anyone. It just leads to absurdity like people being “on the down low.”

    One thing I heard on liberal talk radio after the election were scores of people calling to say that gay people are not similarly oppressed and they were offended by the suggestion that gays are denied civil rights; marriage is not a civil right; being gay is against the Bible. It’s important to call this out as bullshit whenever and wherever we hear it. That is why Obama is so courageous: he goes into churches and talks about gay rights. He gets zero benefit from doing this (and scant applause). It’s one thing to talk to gay media, and quite another to have the guts to talk about us to audiences that do not want to hear it. That is leadership.

    So, we must treat all people with dignity and respect. But we can’t treat everyone like eggshells either and I will no longer do so. That’s why I support respectfully targeting the Mormons and anyone else who is oppressing us.

  22. Renee
    Renee November 18, 2008 at 11:49 am |

    but – it seems to me that “gay” is the new “nigger”. the lowest people on the totem pole are now GLBT.

    On a post about coalition building and why it is necessary to examine privilege when it comes to assigning blame, this is the shit I get to read. You know I’m about to say some really honest shit. If you are gay and you walk down the street does anyone know for certain that you are gay? Well??? Guess what no matter where I go my blackness is available for all to see. I cannot hide it, I cannot blend in and I cannot pretend for one moment that it does not exist.

    Color is what got my ancestors kidnapped, raped, beaten, sold away from their families, and treated like animals. Color is what keeps POC at the bottom of the race and class hierarchy.

    Had the GLBTQI community acknowledged it’s own racial prejudices perhaps there would be a coalition in place today. More often than not, that community is represented by whiteness and yet it claims to be about social justice. This is no different than the ways in which feminism has ignored and silenced the voices of WOC. You cannot other us at every turn and then expect lap dog service. Either we matter or we don’t. The whole blame the blacks meme has its very foundation in racism.

    One final thought saying that the world should feel bad because now you are being treated like blacks is racist. You might as well call the next black person you see nigger, because you are saying the same thing.

  23. andrea
    andrea November 18, 2008 at 12:32 pm |

    Well Renee, that’s the crux of the argument that being gay can never compare to being black. I’m not comparing the two. It is not about making the world cry for us or who gets to be a bigger victim. I don’t want your pity. What I want is full civil rights and equality for everyone.

    What you seem to be saying is that you don’t believe or care about discrimination based on sexuality. That is your right. If you’re against gay marriage, then say so. Put your cards on the table.

    I sue people every day for race discrimination. Gay people call me sometimes and ask for help. I can’t help them, because discrimination against gays is legal.

    You say people who are gay can just slide by in life without acknowledging our sexuality. That’s offensive to me. Should people who are white enough to pass simply pretend to be white? No way!

    According to you, we can’t always be identified as gay while walking down the street. (Which assumes of course that we can’t show affection like you would with your husband) Therefore, the way to avoid problems is to…pretend we’re straight?

    Never mention our lovers lest we be denied promotions, fired, kicked out of church, denied insurance benefits, socially mocked?

    Never touch our significant others in public, lest someone take offense, tell you to leave, express their disgust, call the police, hurl epithets, physically assault you or in extreme cases, brutally murder someone like Matthew Shepherd? Do you think this stuff doesn’t happen?

    What should gay teens do? Just shut up about their sexuality so the bullies won’t attack them? What about the young man in Florida who was killed? He should have just hid out while he was still in high school, and left the matter of love firmly in the closet where gay love belongs?

    Should we acquiesce in the movement to ban adoptions by gays because we aren’t morally able to raise children? That’s the law in good old Alabama. Should we agree not to seek custody of children who are born to our partners in the event of divorce or death? Do you believe in Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell? Should gay men and women be able to bring their foreign partners to the US like you can?

    So those are the issues. I don’t care if it offends you that we seek full rights and benefits under the law. We will win this struggle.

  24. Jack
    Jack November 18, 2008 at 12:45 pm |

    @Renee – a million thank yous for this post. Much needed and I’m glad to see it up on Feministe.

    @whocares – damn, you really had to search hard to find things to criticize in Renee’s post, huh? Was it really necessary to find some emptily PC ways to tear it down?

    @ephraim:

    I believe the glb(t) movement expected to be supported because they were on the side of justice and civil rights, not because they had a large advertising budget or made some sort of tit-for-tat deal with communities of color.

    and @Bitter Scribe:

    In other words, they have to beg for their rights? And if POC don’t feel like granting them, well, that’s OK because of all the shit POC have to put up with?

    Uh, no. I think you’re really missing Renee’s point here. Of course we would love everyone to give each other justice and civil rights just because that’s the right thing to do. Unfortunately, that’s not how the world works, hence oppression. And therefore, community organizers and activists and campaigns like No On Prop 8 do a lot of hard work to do outreach to people who aren’t already on board and convince them that, yes, people should be given their civil rights. That outreach needed to be targeted at all sorts of communities, and it was notably absent from communities of color. This is not a justification for anyone voting for Proposition 8; rather, it’s pointing out that while the No On Prop 8 campaign clearly understood the need to outreach and change minds, they also failed to engage communities of color. For queers of color like me, this is unsurprising, because the mainstream GLB(t) community has consistently failed to engage and support us – and we’re supposedly part of their community!

    Just as homophobia in communities of color is inexcusable, racism in GLB(t) communities of color is inexcusable. And just as when POC voted for Prop 8, they were voting to hurt other POC, white GLB(t) are hurting other members of their supposed community when they’re expressing their anger about Prop 8 via racism. And where do we queer people of color end up in the midst of all of this? Doubly attacked, doubly ignored, doubly silenced, while white queers vent their racism at us.

    Oh, and please, folks, let’s stop acting like racism and homophobia function in the same way and like “gay is the new black,” as I read on a sign at one of the Prop 8 protests this past weekend. Racism and homophobia are both really fucking bad. But as a queer person of color let me tell you that they feel very different and affect my life in very different ways.

  25. Renee
    Renee November 18, 2008 at 12:48 pm |

    @Andrea don’t put words in my mouth to hide your privilege. I have zero tolerance for your bigotry. As a single individual standing on a corner next to me the one that would be targeted for abuse would be me because my color is visible. No one is saying that homophobia is right. What I am simply stating is that you cannot continue to perpetuate oppression while at the same time screaming that you are the victim of it. Putting a white face on a social justice movement and then claiming to be about equality is exactly why POC reject the so-called inclusivity of this movement. Had POC seen people that look like them that they could culturally identify with perhaps there would not be the perception that this only effects white people.

    Of course you don’t care if it offends me. The GLBTQI community has made it clear that it does not care whether or not it offends. But I should point out that if you want support you should treat people like they have the same human value. I am far from a homophobe having spoken in favour of gay rights and continuing to do so in spite of the racism that is hurled at my community, but you however wear your white sheet with pride.

  26. Jack
    Jack November 18, 2008 at 12:50 pm |

    @andrea: um WTF? I have absolutely NO idea where you got half of the shit you just accused Renee of believing. Really.

    “What you seem to be saying is that you don’t believe or care about discrimination based on sexuality. That is your right. If you’re against gay marriage, then say so. Put your cards on the table.”

    Can you please point out what Renee wrote that would indicate this? Or did you simply read what you wanted to into her post because she wasn’t just happily giving the mainstream GLB(t) community a pass on their racism?

  27. Jack
    Jack November 18, 2008 at 12:54 pm |

    @Renee: “The GLBTQI community has made it clear that it does not care whether or not it offends.”

    I am gonna say that I’m put off by a statement like that. Just like we can’t put all POC into a monolith we also can’t put all people in the “GLBTQI” community into a monolith. I mean, there are plenty of queer and trans people of color and white people who don’t parrot racist b.s. who are part of that larger “community,” if you can call it that. So saying something like that is inaccurate and unnecessary.

  28. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl November 18, 2008 at 1:04 pm |

    Renee: “What I am simply stating is that you cannot continue to perpetuate oppression while at the same time screaming that you are the victim of it.”

    And that’s what a lot of other people are saying too.

  29. Lauren
    Lauren November 18, 2008 at 1:09 pm |

    Renee, I take it that whenever you write for Feministe and get responses like this you’re on the right track.

    RE the black vote on Prop 8: Ta-Nehisi Coates keeps making the point that in general black people as a voting bloc aren’t traditionally liberal, they just see Republicans as a more racist party (I can’t find the link because of the search enging at The Atlantic — will research).

    Moreover, Nate Silver (election stats guru) did the math and thinks that older voters were what passed Prop 8, not any race-based set.

  30. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl November 18, 2008 at 1:13 pm |

    “If you are gay and you walk down the street does anyone know for certain that you are gay? Well??? ”

    You might be upset, Renee, but this is bullshit, and if you don’t know this, then you really aren’t qualified to claim you aren’t a “homophobe”. You seem to be suggesting that since we are already comfortable with the closet, we should be satisfied with it. No civil rights for you, closet fag!

    … and one wonders why so many queers assimilate.

    Maybe this thread should be “Queer friendly, when we need you.”

    It really could play either way.

  31. Lauren
    Lauren November 18, 2008 at 1:14 pm |

    @Renee: “The GLBTQI community has made it clear that it does not care whether or not it offends.”

    I am gonna say that I’m put off by a statement like that. Just like we can’t put all POC into a monolith we also can’t put all people in the “GLBTQI” community into a monolith. I mean, there are plenty of queer and trans people of color and white people who don’t parrot racist b.s. who are part of that larger “community,” if you can call it that. So saying something like that is inaccurate and unnecessary.

    Agreed, Jack. At the same time, I think what Renee was getting at is the taking advantage of white privilege that she was highlighting in the story, i.e. the “faggot v. nigger” exchange, which is really fucking awful. Nevertheless, I am totally with you on resisting the urge to lump wide swaths of people and their politics into a box that is easily labeled. All of these overlapping issues are much more complicated than that.

  32. Renee
    Renee November 18, 2008 at 1:24 pm |

    @Jack and Lauren

    What I am saying is that I see the erasure of POC within the community the same way that I see it in feminism. If I had said that feminism had a history of racism or continues to be racist, how much ire would it have arisen? To me it seems unnecessay to say no not all people are racist, it should be the assumed default however this does not detract from the fact that there are some very systemic issues at play. If it is not about you, you don’t need to make it about you. Of course not every single person in the GLBTQI community is racist however when its organizers and message are routinely white or aimed at whiteness how do you expect to address it without addressing it to the community as a whole.

  33. Jack
    Jack November 18, 2008 at 1:25 pm |

    @Renee: “If you are gay and you walk down the street does anyone know for certain that you are gay? Well??? Guess what no matter where I go my blackness is available for all to see. I cannot hide it, I cannot blend in and I cannot pretend for one moment that it does not exist. ”

    Oh. Well I didn’t see this before I wrote my earlier responses. Guess what – wherever I go, yes, people assume that I am gay. My sexuality and gender identity is available for all to see. I cannot hide it, I cannot blend in and I cannot pretend for one moment that it does not exist. And frankly, living where I do, that makes me more afraid than my brown skin does, which is also available for all to see. I am far more frequently afraid for my personal safety because of my visible queerness and genderqueerness than I am because of the color of my skin.

    Now, I understand part of the point you’re trying to make here – that all people who do not have skin privilege are identifiable on sight in a way that not all LGBT people are, and that affects how discrimination functions differently against those two (often overlapping) groups.

    But really? Many, many, many queer and trans people don’t benefit from being able to pass under the radar of homophobia and transphobia. And like people of color who can pass, those who do often escape that discrimination only at great self-sacrifice and while living with that nervous fear that they might be found out. So please – I get why you’re angry here and I get part of the point you’re trying to make, but don’t belittle the experiences of queer and trans people, many of whom do not have the “benefit,” if you can call it that, of passing.

  34. Renee
    Renee November 18, 2008 at 1:36 pm |

    @Jack

    point taken. I clearly need to disengage and re-center. The idea of “passing” is complex and clearly I did belittle and other. I apologize. In my anger over racism I clearly neglected the cisgender privilege I have.

  35. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl November 18, 2008 at 1:40 pm |

    Renee: conversely, the queer community in the US has a long history of being one of the most inclusive and most sensitive to audience – even when compared to other minority groups/communities. That has been my experience for twenty years. It has been far more inclusive than feminism ever has been. I’m not sure that seeing people’s anger over Prop 8 is the same things as a movement “aimed at whiteness”. Last time I checked, the queer movement was pretty solidly aimed at queerness.

    Part of the anger stems from this history of inclusivity: if we can get it in regards to the civil rights of other minorities, why is it hard for other minorities to view us as equal citizens? I don’t for a second believe that Prop 8 got the votes that it did solely because of the African American vote. I do, however, find the continued and documented efforts of the African American church and community to promote hatred and bigotry, to enshrine it in state constitutions, to be deeply disturbing. There is no excuse for it. None.

  36. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan November 18, 2008 at 1:46 pm |

    I’m on-board with a fair amount of Renee’s post, but the “passing” thing really seems ridiculous to write about in a feminist space. You know who else stands out in a crowd? Women. (Of all colors.) ‘Cause they can’t “pass” either. And I think we all know who gets picked on when it’s a woman in a crowd of guys. So it’s not like the inability to lie about your identity to survive is uniquely POC stuff.

    (And of course, what Jack et al said, re queer people’s ability to pass.)

    So really, that part kind of cheapened the argument for me, which seemed like it was only trying to say “don’t be racist, even if you’re gay!” but got bogged down in bits of its own straight privilege at the same time…

  37. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan November 18, 2008 at 1:47 pm |

    Oh, just saw Renee’s response. Please excuse my continuing criticism.

  38. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl November 18, 2008 at 1:48 pm |

    For clarity: I live in the US South. Due to my morning shuttle commute, I’ve had to listen to conservative black talk shows for the last four years (the drivers think the content is “thought provoking’). The hatred and homophobia is beyond palpable. I realize that this is anecdotal, but it deeply affects my views on the current issues.

  39. Renee
    Renee November 18, 2008 at 2:10 pm |

    @Q Girl

    Part of the anger stems from this history of inclusivity: if we can get it in regards to the civil rights of other minorities, why is it hard for other minorities to view us as equal citizens?

    No you don’t get a free pass or a cookie on racism just because you think the community is more open than another. For further discussion I offer this.

  40. ephraim
    ephraim November 18, 2008 at 2:31 pm |

    i think in all these discussions there’s a lot of confusion between racism and homophobia as broad and general social tools of oppression, and the very specific act of (not) supporting the legal rights of another minority group. the law does not handle nuance well. legal status is not the ground on which an understanding of how the subtle differences between various forms of oppression feel in people’s complicated, lived daily realities will come. but legal status is still important and impacts people’s lives, and can make living under oppression and fighting against it so much easier or harder.

  41. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl November 18, 2008 at 2:42 pm |

    No, of course there shouldn’t be a pass on racism. Anger at the black community, in this circumstance, is warranted. Racism because of that anger is not acceptable.

  42. Nanette
    Nanette November 18, 2008 at 2:56 pm |

    Anger at the black community, in this circumstance, is warranted.

    Even bothering to address statements such as this, after all that has been said above and elsewhere?

    Pointless.

  43. octogalore
    octogalore November 18, 2008 at 3:06 pm |

    Renee – so many good points. Yeah, easier to cast blame (re Prop 8) than to really study the demographics and outreach efforts. Also interesting wrt the “no excuses left” statement upon Obama’s victory. Um, no. Obama didn’t have the socioeconomic obstacles (or, not all of them) of many blacks. And, representation is important, not onesies and twosies, for any group to really make a dent in those obstacles.

    At the same time, to be honest, Renee, I think you’re treating whites like a monolith in ways the post is saying we shouldn’t treat blacks or gay people. Are all white people pure opportunists, only understanding of black struggles when it helps them? Do all white people claim the world is postracial, as did Bennett? Are all feminist racist? Granted, feminism has not been sufficiently inclusive, but there are WOC feminists and there are also white feminists who don’t marginalize WOC.

    There probably isn’t anyone who can’t do better, but by putting all behavior in one category, people who are doing the work or whose general tendency is not to marginalize may feel there’s nothing they can do that will be acceptable, they are doomed to “not get it.” If I didn’t have a fairly wide social circle socioeconomically and with regard to race, I might feel based on this description that I was doomed to fail miserably, and this might cut down on my motivation to even try, if my efforts would necessarily be ignorant and laughable. As it is, I’m conscious of having a big comprehension gap in these areas, but at least aware that there are things I can do to improve in that way.

    My point here is not to mollify the feelings of poor oppressed white feminists, obviously the rule of “if it doesn’t apply to you…” applies generally. But if we treat any group as a monolith, we’re not doing what you suggest in the final paragraph: recognizing the common humanity of others.

  44. Radfem
    Radfem November 18, 2008 at 3:13 pm |

    You know what I think is racist? Treating black people as a monolith. Nobody treats white people as a monolith. White people are analyzed by all sorts of demographics. When we talk about how white people voted, there’s a lot of discussion of religious affiliation and observance, age, education and income. Because everyone knows that white people are not all the same and don’t have all the same views. Nobody thinks that a cranky grandad and practicing Catholic from Riverside has the same views as a purple-haired college-age vegan pagan in the Bay Area, even if they’re both white. So if we’re going to talk about how black folks, asian folks, latin@s, or any other racial group voted, we should be willing to engage on nuance in the same way — as Jill did above, BTW.

    I agree though we do have purple-haired college-aged vegan pagans in Riverside. In fact I know one.

    I’m surprised at all the comments I’ve read on blogs about the assumption that African-Americans would automatically vote against Prop. 8 and I think that relates back to what Renee and others have said about spending time in churches, community centers (which often are churches), local businesses and other places in African-American communities because if this had indeed been done, I bet that there would have been much more money and effort spent (and remember No on 8 by the last week had at least financial parity with the Yes side) because yes, there’s homophobia among African-Americans like other racial categories. Because the people who opposed 8 would have known that voter registration was way up in those neighborhoods due to massive drives by organizations including the NAACP chapters and that homophobia is definitely an issue (though not the only issue that was a deciding factor in the vote to support it).

    Lots of mobilization to get the vote out including transporting elderly and/or disabled voters to the polls. These things point towards a higher voter turnout in these communities.

    And another thing, if you want a good idea of what’s going on with homophobia in the Black, Asian-American and/or Latino communities, incidentally, there are members of these communities who are gays and lesbians as I’m sure you know. They can tell you what they face inside their own communities because they live in them. And if there was great coalition building in the gay and lesbian communities that’s inclusive of gays and lesbians who are not White, then I don’t think the results among African-American voters on 8 would have been as surprising as they appeared to be. The fact that so many White gay and lesbian voters were shocked by the African-American votes says that more bridge building needs to be done there as well.

  45. Jack
    Jack November 18, 2008 at 3:14 pm |

    @Q Grrl:

    Anger at the black community, in this circumstance, is warranted.

    As is anger at the white community, right? Since the number (not percentage) of white people who voted for Prop 8 is actually greater than the number of people of color who voted for it, right?

    This is the thing. Why is the Black community (and sometimes the Latino community) being singled out so badly here, especially by white people?

    conversely, the queer community in the US has a long history of being one of the most inclusive and most sensitive to audience – even when compared to other minority groups/communities …

    Part of the anger stems from this history of inclusivity: if we can get it in regards to the civil rights of other minorities, why is it hard for other minorities to view us as equal citizens?

    Really? I don’t know. I do know that in my time living in a larger queer community in the US, I’ve seen a lot of racism and far too many incidents wherein the issues and concerns of queer and trans people of color are ignored, minimized, or subjugated to the issues and concerns of white queer and trans people. One of my first experiences working in the LGBT community was working as a community liaison between the William Way LGBT Center and LGBT communities of color in Philadelphia, trying to bridge the sizable gap between those communities and heal the tensions and wounds and distrust that had developed. I’ve been witness to many instances of racism and classism perpetrated by white queers against queer people of color, especially youth, and that racism and classism doesn’t look any different from that of straight whites. Many would argue that the disproportionate focus on gay marriage is part and parcel of that pattern. I really don’t think that the white LGBT community needs to go patting itself on the back for “getting it” when there are many examples of how it doesn’t get it – including the current discourse around Prop 8 and race, in which some fairly profound evidence of not getting it has surfaced in ugly, violent ways.

    find the continued and documented efforts of the African American church and community to promote hatred and bigotry, to enshrine it in state constitutions, to be deeply disturbing…

    Due to my morning shuttle commute, I’ve had to listen to conservative black talk shows for the last four years (the drivers think the content is “thought provoking’). The hatred and homophobia is beyond palpable.

    The same exact things can be said about white churches, white conservative communities, and white conservative talk shows. And guess what – the white versions of all of those elements that you’re calling out in the Black community have more money, more resources, and more social capital with which to push their homophobic agendas than the Black versions – see the Mormons on Prop 8, and for Christ’s sake (heh) see the Roman Catholic Church. So why, exactly, are you singling out the Black community? Do you have beef with homophobes, conservatives, and the Christian radical right, or with Black people?

  46. octogalore
    octogalore November 18, 2008 at 3:24 pm |

    Agree with Nanette #46. Just one anecdote — I was talking to my trainer yesterday, who voted for Prop 8 and is black, and another trainer who voted for Prop 8 and is white. They said they didn’t want to prevent anyone from exercising their right to marry, but that Prop 8 meant gay marriage was going to be taught in schools. They both have kids and believe, like Obama, that marriage is between a man and a woman (note: I do not agree with them on this, and personally have no problem with marriage being taught in schools without any gender qualifications). As it happens, Prop 8 has nothing to do with teaching marriage in schools. That was not sufficiently clarified in the PR efforts, whereas the Yes on 8 PR efforts did suggest that otherwise.

  47. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl November 18, 2008 at 3:26 pm |

    Jack: I’ve been speaking out against white fundamentalists and white Christians for twenty years now. When the concerted efforts of the black church align themselves with the politics of white fundamentalists and white Christians, groups that they rarely align with, then I speak out also.

  48. Radfem
    Radfem November 18, 2008 at 3:35 pm |

    Actually, the Yes on 8 did a lot more than suggest in their ads. In fact, they focused much more on schools being forced to teach gay marriage and churches being forced to perform marriages which were against their religion than they did on actual same-sex marriage itself.

  49. octogalore
    octogalore November 18, 2008 at 3:48 pm |

    Radfem — thanks for clarifying. I thought that was probably the case, but was so disgusted by the Yes on 8 propaganda that I tuned much of it out and didn’t listen carefully enough to know whether it was suggested or stated explicitly. In either case, apparently not enough was done to counter that.

  50. Nanette
    Nanette November 18, 2008 at 4:47 pm |

    In my area, at least, No on Prop8 forces were very badly outspent and out organized. For weeks leading to the election there were endless pro Prop8 commercials on my TV, day in and day out, every network channel, at least 2 an hour (it seemed like… I don’t watch that much TV but whenever I turned it on, there was a commercial). All of them talking about teaching gay marriage in schools or taking away the rights of the religious and their leaders to speak, or making it illegal for them to speak out against gays and who knows what else.

    It wasn’t until a couple of weeks before the election that I saw my first No commercial and that one was just basically in response to the Yes ones – “Prop 8 has nothing to do with schools” is about all it said. Not once did I see a commercial stating anything like that a Yes vote was a vote not to just change a law but a vote to change the state constitution and to enshrine discrimination in the constitution – which might have reached some people on a different level, I dunno. Also, it’s possible that I just missed those ones but, again in this area, which is fairly red, the No effort was just… inadequate, compared to all the Yes stuff.

    I don’t know why this is.

    I am very sad that the vote went the way it did and although I believe the state SC will overturn it, I think there are definitely lessons to be learned (other than blaming this or that group… even the Mormons, who were the main backers of the initiative) and much work to be done to work *with* various groups and cultures to effect change.

  51. Radfem
    Radfem November 18, 2008 at 5:26 pm |

    I actually saw more emphasis on anti-8 in the beginning (though not much just in comparison) than pro-8. But I think the campaign picked a strategy that’s proven to be successful and focusing on the last month especially the last couple of weeks before the election to keep it fresh on voters’ minds when they go to the polls. Particularly those who are voting based on the arguments of “protect the churches” or “protect the children” advertising strategies.

    There was very little to no anti-8 money spent out here. Maybe my county was written off b/c after all, it was the second highest county in terms of pro-8 votes and it borders #1 and #3.

    It was coming because when they gathered signatures for Prop. 4, they were circulating on banning same-sex marriages in tandem and my county was a source of many signatures.

  52. Angel H.
    Angel H. November 18, 2008 at 7:48 pm |

    Renee: conversely, the queer community in the US has a long history of being one of the most inclusive and most sensitive to audience – even when compared to other minority groups/communities. That has been my experience for twenty years. It has been far more inclusive than feminism ever has been.

    Bullshit.Bullshit.Bullshit.BULLSHIT!!!!!

    Jack: I’ve been speaking out against white fundamentalists and white Christians for twenty years now.

    Cookies are on the table at the right. kthnxby

  53. Cranky at LGB racism and transhate
    Cranky at LGB racism and transhate November 18, 2008 at 10:21 pm |

    “Renee: conversely, the queer community in the US has a long history of being one of the most inclusive and most sensitive to audience – even when compared to other minority groups/communities. That has been my experience for twenty years. It has been far more inclusive than feminism ever has been.”

    Can I have some of what you are smoking? Because you must be on some heavy drugs to believe this.

    But what in the world would a Latina trans woman know?

    Then again, anybody who pisses Q Grrl off is probably doing something right. Your White Privilege Cookies will be FedExed to you immediately, Q Grrl.

  54. Jennifer
    Jennifer November 19, 2008 at 10:21 am |

    Is the black race still carrying the homophobia banner based on an exit poll that polled less than 200 self-identified black voters? Yes? Okay, just checking.

    *sigh*

  55. Jennifer
    Jennifer November 19, 2008 at 10:31 am |

    One other thing:

    The black community did not “cause” the passage of prop 8. BUT – I think it’s equally wrong to pretend that levels of homophobia are not high in the black community. (As they are among certain segments of white people. Evangelicals for example.)

    How come whites get broken up to “certain segments” but blacks are lumped together in one big-ass group? Did it ever occur to anyone that certain groups of blacks may have voted for this in larger groups? Obviously, my stories are not facts and I don’t know every black voters in CA, but it’s not lost on me that I don’t know anybody who didn’t vote “no” to Prop 8. And the bulk of my Cali friends are in groups that are stereotypically homophobic – Caribbeans and Catholics (with a good dose of Irish on the side). Not even their parents voted yes, unless they were lied to. So maybe it was older blacks, or blacks with southern roots that migrated to CA, or something like that, but it sure is funny how the white vote can be put in little groups, but the black vote is just that – the black vote. Even Latinos are getting the benefit of doubt when it comes to age.

  56. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl November 19, 2008 at 11:33 am |

    “Is the black race still carrying the homophobia banner based on an exit poll that polled less than 200 self-identified black voters? Yes? Okay, just checking. ”

    No, Jennifer, but thanks for reaching:

    http://www.pamshouseblend.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=984

  57. Radfem
    Radfem November 19, 2008 at 1:57 pm |

    I am very sad that the vote went the way it did and although I believe the state SC will overturn it, I think there are definitely lessons to be learned (other than blaming this or that group… even the Mormons, who were the main backers of the initiative) and much work to be done to work *with* various groups and cultures to effect change.

    The Yes on 8 must think so too because they’re already calling for recalls against any of the state supremes who vote to overturn it. I’m wondering how it stacks up with the 14th Amendment and the issue of whether it falls under a constitutional amendment or a constitutional revision, which must meet a stricter burden to pass.

    Prop. 8 heads to court.

  58. Radfem
    Radfem November 19, 2008 at 2:02 pm |

    My last comment disappeared so I’ll try again…

    I am very sad that the vote went the way it did and although I believe the state SC will overturn it, I think there are definitely lessons to be learned (other than blaming this or that group… even the Mormons, who were the main backers of the initiative) and much work to be done to work *with* various groups and cultures to effect change.

    I think it has some chance of being overturned on either the 14th Amendment or on whether or not it’s a constitutional amendment or a revision which require different criteria and standards to be met before passing.

    At any rate, the Yes on 8 side has already threatened recalls on any justice that votes in support of overturning 8.

    Prop. 8 is off to the courts.

  59. Dawud
    Dawud November 19, 2008 at 3:21 pm |

    Very nice. I recently wrote about this same topic, but some a slightly different angle.
    http://www.illumemagazine.org/magazine/publish/unconventional_perspective/Blacks_Cali_s_Gay_Marriage_Ban.php

  60. Sailorman
    Sailorman November 19, 2008 at 5:20 pm |

    We can look at ourselves as lumps. We can all talk about whites and blacks and gays and straights and religious and elderly and anyone else as (often overlapping) blocks of people, like a big Venn diagram. We can assign the good/bad deeds of a person to the rest of the folks in whatever groups the person was in.

    Or we can look at ourselves as individuals.

    Both methods are valuable and both of them make sense in a lot of situations.

    But what makes no sense is to attempt to combine them, so an individual is compared against a group, or so a group’s purported average position is assigned to an individual. Why is that always where we end up?

  61. Jenny
    Jenny November 19, 2008 at 7:42 pm |

    Pam, the gay movement is not a true social justice movement, they redefine “social justice” to exclude everything and everyone but the affluent, elitist gays. They care NOTHING about poverty, joblessness, lack of access to health care, substandard education. For goodness sake, they took a quarter million from PG&E, the same ones who ripped off the poor and struggling, and then ridiculed them, the same ones who poisoned groundwater with chromium 6, causing untold numbers of people and their children to get cancer. They weren’t out of the know, they simply didn’t care. The no on prop 8 folks in SF agreed to not support prop 10, which would have broken up PG&E’s monopoly.

    Please wake up, these people include slumlords, they ethnically cleanse blacks from their neighborhoods, they’ve been doing it for a long time. They simply do not care about anything other than pleasing themselves.

    Most of the no on 8 bigwigs are the same Log Cabin types that have supported lousy candidates that pushed policies that hurt poor people, but also gays an lesbians, merely so those same LCRs could get bigger tax cuts and insider deals. Where was all that ideological purity then? No protests, no blacklist, no calling hypocritical elitist right wing gays and lesbians on what they were guilty of. They didn’t care, they don’t care now, never will.

    I’ve been waiting for one of them to ask Ellen Degeneres or Melissa Etheridge why they did not donate one penny to the Obama campaign. I decided to check on opensecrets.org since they were beating their chests as though they were martyrs, who were betrayed. Check for yourselves, not one dime to Obama’s campaign, nor to any other democrats for years.

    All we’re seeing is the reality behind the mask, they are hollow, and selfish people, who would sell others out for spending money.

  62. NancyP
    NancyP November 19, 2008 at 9:13 pm |

    In the majority (white) culture,”white” is unmarked, whereas “black” is a marked status. Similarly, “man” is unmarked, “woman” is marked; “heterosexual / straight” is unmarked, “LGBTQI membership” is marked. The “standard” person is a heterosexual white man. All others have to be defined by additional qualifiers. The unconscious tendency for the white man is to see a white male universe of customers, voters, etc. White women tend to think “white man” when imagining an unnamed professional, customer, voter, and certainly tend to think “white men and women” as the “standard” average American. Of course, this is perfectly idiotic from a marketing standpoint, where sex, age, race, income, education, region of the USA, urban v suburban v exurban v rural, and so on are used to define precise demographics and tests are done to see which approaches work the best for each group, which single approach works best for a given region (all demographics), etc.

    I do think that “out of sight is out of mind” for predominantly white leadership of any organization, unless there is a SOP (standard operating procedure) of reviewing the situation to see which groups have not been addressed in the optimal way for that group. It may not be conscious racism, ie, actively keeping someone out, but rather the oblivious attitude of the majority, not remembering to invite someone in.

    The No on 8 campaign may have been more oblivious than actively racist, and it was too bad that they didn’t take a close look at how the big dogs do it – subcommittees for each demographic, tasked with identifying the optimal message and the optimal means of communication to their assigned demographic. Obama ran a great campaign with a lot of power assigned to local-level operatives for all demographics, who after all know their community better than the campaign chairpeople.

    The racist dimwits who blamed blacks for the passage of 8 are obscuring the real problem and the solutions – No on 8 missed the boat in not planning from day 1 to reach individual demographics with a demographic-specific message. They needed to identify and recruit a group of black LGBTs (and Mexican, Filipino, Chinese, etc) to design and deliver the message in their cities. Early ads in “ethnic” newspapers (assuming the newspapers would allow), listing facts and correcting misconceptions about gay civil marriage, could have inoculated some of the population of readers against the nonsensical claims of Yes on 8 supporters.

    For example, for demographics with a high percentage of Roman Catholics (Hispanic, Filipino, other): “Yes, your priest and your child’s parochial school religion teacher will still be able to speak out against gay marriage. No, the priest won’t have to perform a gay marriage, nor will any clergy or church of any denomination be so obliged. Catholic priests don’t marry divorced people. If Catholic couples with a divorced spouse go to City Hall and sign a government document in front of witnesses and the government employee (license clerk), they are considered married by the government for medical care decisions, legal liability for debt, tax, inheritance, paternity of any infant born to the wife, and so on. The priest still turns them away at the Communion rail, and he will be able to turn away gay couples (or anyone else) as well.”

    The usual LGBT organizations and many LGBT political volunteers have done a relatively weak and incomplete job on supporting non-gay issues and establishing firm ties with race/ethnicity-specific organizations and low-income-specific organizations. This is something easily remedied on an individual basis. Show up at an MLKJr day or an anti-police-brutality rally, wearing an item of rainbow gear or a button. Coordinate a “back to school” supplies drive at work as part of a city wide drive to provide supplies to kids from poor families. Stuff envelopes or do some other tedious office task for an urban civic organization or charity, or for a non-white city or state-level politician that you support. Just show up and help. (Note: do NOT offer opinions on how to do even minor operational stuff until you’ve been around the organization for a while. It is usually seen as patronizing for a newbie to do so, even if you don’t mean it that way. )

  63. Scott
    Scott November 21, 2008 at 3:15 am |

    I completely agree with everyone that blaming the passage of prop 8 on “black people” is completely absurd, and the use of n—r is appalling, additionally Nancy makes a great point about the fact that white queers have not done outreach to communities of color. However, at the same time I’m left wondering how we would feel if the situation was reversed and white queers were telling straight black people that they what they really needed to do is make their political issues matter to queer white people and to do this they should really spend some time not working on just their issues but working on queer issues instead?
    Seems to me that a lot of people would be calling whoever said that a racist….

    I guess what I mean is that, while I’m all for an anti-racist queer movement, why do we expect white queers to be anti-racist allies, but don’t feel like its necessary to expect POC to be queer allies?
    In our denouncing the ridiculous “black people did this” statements, let’s not forget to ask our progressive and radical black (supposed) allies why they didn’t come through for us more when we needed them?
    There’s a difference between making racist generalizations and holding people accountable. If we want to make an actively anti-racist queer movement we need to demand an ACTIVELY anti-homophobic politics out of our straight POC allies.

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