Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Real Lesson Around Prop 8

Dear brothers and sisters of the GLBTQ community, allies and families and all interested in justice,

If any of you are drawn to the statistics of African Americans voting for Prop 8, I'm asking you for a little of your time. I'm feeling a lot of discomfort at an all-too-easy pat and catchy analysis of Prop 8 presently thrown around by pundits and by people being interviewed, (beware of the reporter with leading questions because they love this one) about the irony in Black people voting yes on Prop 8. Agreed, it's a neat little package. But it is too pat, and too off the mark. It is a racialized package. Not useful.

Check out DisGrasian "Blaming the Black Voter." The statistics about Black voters are useless for determining why Prop 8 passed. The Black vote did not carry Prop 8. The statistics on racial ethnic demographics are only useful to underscore the work that needs to be done in each and every one of our own communities.

The demographic which voted in Prop 8, is a religious/belief system/upbringing demographic. That's how it breaks down. It goes across every cultural and racial lines and is in every family and friendship circle. We must look at it that way. It points to the work which must be done in ALL our communities across racial and cultural lines. All of us are from families who grew up with frightful moral, religious attitudes regarding same sex marriage, and Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender ways of life. All of us belong to communities where a lot of work must be done. It's a situation where "the opposition" is very likely to be someone in our own family, church, at work, our friend. It's personal.

In other words, this is the time to educate, network, bridge and mobilize. It's about the work to make people understand this is a justice issue, a human rights issue beyond one's belief systems, upbringing and church doctrine. It's not a struggle where we can target the segregated South, for example. To lean too heavily on the irony of the statistics of the African American vote does not get at the work which has to be done -- especially the scope of the work, the intimate personal nature of the work for each and every racial, ethnic demographic. One would wish it could be as easy as targeting an ethnic group, or a region. Nope. We have to talk to Uncle Joe and mom and Pastor Smith and our best friend. Using the statistics game is not a useful strategy. This time, math and statistics will divide us.

I have to say at this point that I have learned from my Lesbian sisters who are people of color that there is so much work which must be done in both their communities, so many conversations which must happen. The double oppression they experience is real and I can't help feeling that the "how wrong it is that the African American community in CA don't understand the irony" must be feeling really uncomfortable for every Gay, Lesbian, Trans, Bi and straight person of color for many layered reasons. I know I feel uncomfortable. That's why I must say something because I would hope with the hard work ahead of us (I am concerned about the abuse of the initiative process to bring down hard won successes in Oregon, for example), that we get on point and not get off track. Racializing is off track. It is a (subconscious) strategy to distract us from the uncomfortable work of having to have that talk with favorite Aunt Em and around the water fountain with our own colleagues, with our best friend and the pastor. Eyes on the prize and let's get prepared for reporters with leading questions. Said with love, Misa

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"from Outside the Belly" was also known as "TBAsian" from 2008-2010. Thank you for reading.

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Eugene, Oregon
I am a citizen of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. I am a Nikkei descendant sansei (third generation);retired teacher, involved in the Winnemem tribal responsibility to Water, Salmon, and our belief that the Sacred is our Teacher. Working locally for human rights and supporting youth leadership.