Thursday, November 20, 2008

More Prop 8 Bullet Points

I am engaging in the discussion on Prop 8 featured here, here, and here because I don't want to copy and paste comments and I don't know of any other way to get everyone's attention.

::waving frantically from the blogaround crowd to be heard::

And just like identitycrisis and T, right now I can only think about this issue in bullet points:


I wrote that this happens through challenging and conversation, but really how do people come to change their minds about these things? When did /what would it take for you to change your mind about a certain group or type of people?

I have no idea. In planning a black women in the civil rights movement workshop and I was sent back to square one when my ED (Executive Director) reminded me that no one likes to admit when they are oppressed and the young women may not take well to being told so. How do you change someone's mind? When did my mind change? When I was pushed to the wall. But I was lucky--young girls getting pushed to the wall are losing their lives. Sorry....that is for another post....


Did anyone notice that the President-Elect does not support same-sex marriage? (I know it's too soon to start criticizing, so I'll tread lightly.) I watched his speech at the DNC at an ...and marriage for all event. When he mentioned something about all couples being able to see their loved ones in the hospital, the crowd erupted in cheers. I was thinking "did they hear him say he supported same-sex marriage, because I didn't." The VP-Elect explicitly stated in the VP debate that the ticket did not support same-sex marriage. So I'm wondering how they got a pass but the average black and Latino voter was supposed to take a stand for human rights. Reporters were acting suprised that people could vote for Obama and Prop 8. Really?
Not my most proud Obama moment. I saw that too. And I was honestly shocked with Biden stated so explicitely that they did not favor gay marriage. I want to think there are political reasons for this but I think I am giving the Os too much credit. Their support for civil unions in lieu of gay marriage may have a religious edge to it. And this leads me to the meat of my issue with Prop 8, the organizing around it (both for and against), and the Blame the Coloreds rhetoric that followed.....


I saw a sign that says "Marriage is a human right not a heterosexual privilege." Is that true? Is this a legal matter? Is this a religious matter? Is this a moral matter? As a person who has a different moral and/or religious belief than another person what is my legal obligation to that person as a citizen of the United States and a human being? What is my legal obligation to vote for or against something that is in contra to my religious and/or moral obligations?


First of, Jasmyne Cannick said it better than I could (sorry for the link, I couldn't find the original LA Times link):
The way I see it, the white gay community is banging its head against the glass ceiling of a room called equality, believing that a breakthrough on marriage will bestow on it parity with heterosexuals. But the right to marry does nothing to address the problems faced by both black gays and black straights. Does someone who is homeless or suffering from HIV but has no healthcare, or newly out of prison and unemployed, really benefit from the right to marry someone of the same sex?

With all of the issues that black and Latina/o communities are dealing with (our women getting killed on the daily, mothers and fathers deported and separated from their children in ICE raids on the daily, our sons funnelled into the prison industrial complex-gang complex-drug complex on the daily, gentrification, public schools getting shat on by indifferent politicians) when and why did marriage become the issue we should fight for?

::pause for disclaimer::

I am absolutely ambivalent about marriage. And as a gender conforming woman who is sexually attracted primarily to men, I have sexual privilege. For this, and a variety of other reasons, I absolutely support gay marriage.

But I have yet to meet anyone--gay, straight or otherwise--who can convince me WHY it is a civil right. And I am perfectly willing to be convinced. On the surface, Loving v. Virginia (1967) doesn't appear to be a civil rights case. Only when you place the matter of black-white marriage in the context of black men being lynched for the illusory crime of white female rape while white men remained unpunished for the same, in the context of black men and women fighting against a system of segregation whose purpose was not to separate the races but to ensure that EVERY SINGLE CONTACT between the races placed people of color in a subordinate position to whites, only when you flip it and consider how race following the mother means that the entire system of racial prejudice (for all brown, red, yellow people) was based on related system of gender oppression--well, now you can begin to see how black-white marriage would not just be a nice thing to have but an actual dig at the system.

Show me that. And I don't mean show me that because I can't find it for myself. Sure I can. But show me that because you need my help. Because you don't assume that because I'm young, black, Puerto Rican and female that I somehow feel your oppression and will respond. Because you--white gay mainstream community--understand that, even though I may have a homophobia ism, your WHITE PRIVILEGE is an ism as well. Show me how you are fighting it. Show me that you understand that there is no justifiable reason for me--mainstream black and Latina/o community--to trust YOU--mainstream white gay community--anymore than there is a reason for me--Kismet--to trust you--white women. Show me because we could use your help making changes in our communities of color--which, by the way, include many, many, many gay and lesbian people of color--and because you want us to build together.

Show me because you understand that we could go back and forth with Oppression Olympics all day but that only helps...well it doesn't help us. Show me because you know how to organize.

At T's spot, Paris commented:

I think one of the issues that I'm concerned with regarding Prop. 8 is why we didn't hear anything about it before Election Day. If the homosexual community wanted to ensure that Prop. 8 did not pass, then why wasn't there more educating their local residents about this law, and rallying and marching before hand. I'm wondering if they were too 'lax and thought there was no way "the state that allows gay marriage will now vote against it."

And identitycrisis mentioned this as well:

How do we teach our children not to even start drawing those lines of division? I read somewhere that people in the No on 8 campaign were told not to go to polling places in churches and schools. How then does the message get to those places that are so critical in shaping people's minds and hearts?

I don't OWE you my vote. I give you my vote (at least in theory, as I am not a California resident) because I understand that all oppression is connected and that my own freedom relies on your being free too. And I understand that making marriage a heterosexual-only institution only feeds into homophobic tendencies already latent in our culture. And if you think I owe you my vote you are playing not into any offended civil rights solidarity you think you and I may have--you are playing into your own white privilege which is what pisses me off most. You must press everyone, all races, all classes, all religions to believe the same way. You must engage with them. Recognizing oppression and privilege isn't automatic, and it is a daily--hourly!--battle to not fall back int the boxes and roles society has set out for us. You want to get stuff done--then get in my face and get stuff done. THAT'S how emancipation occured, that's how Jim Crow fell, hell, that is how Obama got elected.


Now, I can say of sort of understand the sentiment. It sucks to think that just because I'm one religions or one sexual preference or one [insert descriptive adjective here] that I'm oppressing everyone who isn't like me
This is a recent revelation for me--Judeo-Christian religions and their practice are a privilege. I never would have thought of it that way before. I am still unpacking how to speak on that much less how to think. But you tell someone you don't believe in God and 4 times out of 5 you will get into a big debate because the other person does. You tell someone that you practice Wicca and 3 times out of 5 you lose a friend. You try to engage someone on Regla Ocha, Candomble, Santeria or any other variation of the Afro-Atlantic Yoruba religion, and you may be called a member of a cult, told you worship Satan, or simply not taken seriously.

I've been in settings where people bowed their head to say grace--without asking anyone around the table if they were comfortable with that. I've been pressured to say prayers over food when no one knew whether I was Catholic, Muslim or a santera. I've been invited to more churches than I can count and in difficult situations have had a Christian God THRUST in my direction as justification for this difficult time, or that difficult time. I've been asked for prayers--but you don't know who I am praying to. I've seen my Muslim friends have to justify in various conversations why they supposedly don't believe in God. I am currently in an online book group and when the discussion turned to religion it was immediately couched in terms of God, the Old Testament, the New Testament, Job, etc. On an African diaspora piece of literature, among similarly diasporic women, not one considered--yet--couching the religious analysis in terms of Ibo, Islam, Ocha, or even to throw in some of Zora's voodoo and hoodoo.

The point is not whether or not I am Catholic, Protestant, or pagan. I simply point the assumption behind what people in this Judeo-Christian country do without thinking. It is absolutely engrained in us. Just like heterosexuality is. Just like gender conformity--act like a lady! bossy black b*tch!--is. Just like whiteness = political, economic, and social power is. And it can feel just as oppressive as the others if you are even remotely not of the same faith, even if you are questioning, or skeptical. How could you not believe in God/Jesus? The question is posed to us in a million ways every day, even if it is not being asked in those terms.

So--again--I am leery when we say that Judeo-Christian marriage is a civil right. Because now, not only are we back to why I should care about that over attrition rates in schools, but why is it a civil right to play right back into a system of religious privilege? Why isn't it a civil right to have a civil union with a partner and NOT be married? And...unfortunately...if we make it an issue in the context of Judeo-Christian marriage, then don't we have to recognize that churches do actually have the right to say what they want about marriage? Don't we then have towork on organizing not at the state level but at the parish level (which should have been going on all along, but I already spoke on that)?

I have no intelligent conclusion for all of these thoughts. So I will leave it at that.


T said...

1. I love when people respond to my blogs with new blogs. Makes me feel important.

2. I really wish my Pastor from Broadview Baptist (or any of my Pastors really) were bloggers. I feel like they'd give straightforward, this is how I feel and I don't have to sugarcoat it reasons. I've become very timid with my religious opinions. I used to be a lot more open.

And even though, it's good to hear all sides of the story and most of us are young and open minded, I just want one person to speak (in writing, on a blog) very passionately for one side of the debate. I know my old Pastor's could do that and do it well.

Contrary to popular belief, most black churches [that I've been to] are not homophobic. They're on some "if I don't like it, I don't like, that don't mean that I'm hating" type stuff.

And yes, I can't wait for the coffer table/dinner table/dessert table discussions. :)

ThummyB said...

**runs into the room and shouts**

"I can't wait to see/talk to you guys!"

**runs out to re-read Kismet's post at least two more times b4 she can respond.**