Prop 8: The Rush To Blame The Brown People (Updated with more links)

I don’t have time to compose a post, but I want to post some links.

I can’t resist quoting Darkrose at Pam’s House Blend: Blame the Brown People = Recipe for Failure

There’s no question that homophobia is a problem in the black community, especially the churchgoing segment of said community. And even though I understand why Obama (and all of the other serious Democratic candidates) weaseled on marriage equality, that doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed in him for not taking a strong stand against 8.

At the same time, I’m frustrated and angry by the rush to pin this defeat on African Americans. It wasn’t a black group that put Prop 8 on the ballot, and paid the signature-gatherers and bankrolled the ads. Nor is it fair to say that Obama’s have-it-both-ways position meant that black voters were going to march sheeplike to the polls and vote as Obama dictated.

Writing off an entire race as hopelessly unenlightened isn’t going to help; in fact, a lot of the rhetoric I’ve seen in the left blogosphere tonight is only going to serve to reinforce the idea that “gay” = “white”, and that the gay community only notices people of color when there’s a comparison to the Civil Rights Movement to be made. And the Blame the Brown People push leaves those of us who are queer people of color marginalized by both of our communities.

And, in no particular order:

Edited to add more links:

  • Ta-Nehisi: For The Record
  • Womanist Musings: Black Friendly When We Need You
  • Trans Group Blog: People of color are not to blame for California passing proposition 8
  • Daily Kos: Facts Belie the Scapegoating of Black People for Proposition 8
  • Obsidian Wings: Prop 8 And The Black Vote
  • Angry Black Woman: If A=B and B=C but C is not equal to A, then… WTF?
  • Pushback: Prop 8 and Black Blame: Are We Done Yet?
  • What Tami Said: Black homophobia and putting the blame for Prop 8 where it belongs
  • Dissenting Justice: Black Californians and Proposition 8: Is White Gay Anger Justifiable?
  • Pandagon: The N-bomb is dropped on black passersby at Prop 8 protests
  • The Moderate Voice: Stop Scapegoating Black People for Proposition 8
  • Jasmyne Cannick.com: No-on-8′s White Bias
    (I strongly disagree with much of Jasmyne’s post, but I’m linking it because there are some great critiques of her post in the comments section.)
  • This entry posted in Link farms, Race, racism and related issues, Same-Sex Marriage. Bookmark the permalink. 

    75 Responses to Prop 8: The Rush To Blame The Brown People (Updated with more links)

    1. 1
      Myca says:

      Also Sebastian over at Obsidian Wings did the math and figured out that even if African Americans had voted on Prop 8 in precisely the same proportions as white folks, it still would have passed.

      —Myca

    2. 2
      Mithras Invicti says:

      even if African Americans had voted on Prop 8 in precisely the same proportions as white folks, it still would have passed.

      That is true. It was black and Latino voters who worked together to take away gay and lesbian people’s so-called “civil liberties.” Barack Obama certainly is the candidate of unity and change! Of course, it’s not individual members of the African-American and Latino communities who are responsible for this result. It’s racist to point out the fact that religious leaders in those communities lied about the effects of not passing Prop 8.

      Clearly, LGBT leaders should have tried harder to have an honest dialogue with people who were willing to peddle the most dishonest assertions about them. And as Amp implies, the ultimate blame lies squarely on the gay and lesbian community for pushing for something more than a separate but equal institution, civil unions. If you want to be treated the same as everyone else, you have to make sure everyone else is okay with it first. And if homophobia only gets worse in some racial minority groups, that’s gay people’s fault, too.

    3. 3
      Mandolin says:

      Mithras, could you maybe remember that there are plenty of people who are gay and non-white? Thanks.

    4. 4
      OutcrazyOphelia says:

      Nonsense Mandolin, non-white homosexuals do not exist. Furthermore, there was no need at all to target non-whites with the anti prop 8 message. I mean just because the prop 8 people focused on communities of color and targeted those churches is no indication that targeting messages towards the communities you want to affect is in any way useful.

    5. 5
      Mithras Invicti says:

      Mandolin-
      I haven’t forgotten them. They’re special people, who are able to be ineffective in not one, but two different communities.

      It’s like liberal evangelical Christians. They were trounced by conservatives within their religious institutions and unable to stop the religious right from supporting Republicans, so naturally they blamed … Democrats for being too secular!

    6. 6
      joe says:

      I’m not sure if this is racism or not, but I am sure that it’s news. The Democrats coalition has both gay/lesbian people and black people in it. (There are of course lots of people that are both) The fact that one part of the coalition voted against the interests of another is news. They opposed it in larger percentage then the rest of the population. If you’re not part of the Democrats coalition it’s also a nice potential wedge issue.

    7. 7
      PG says:

      I don’t think this is a race problem so much as a problem with parts of the Democratic coalition being willing to screw over other parts. See, e.g., the gay-baiting ads that a large national union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, put out against Sen. McConnell.

    8. 8
      Sailorman says:

      I should have posted this in this thread:

      If _____ as a group voted against gay rights, then I think that group on average did a shitty thing. they should be ashamed, they should question their devotion to liberalism, and they should acknowledge that they did real damage to civil rights. If ______ was a group which had a civil rights agenda, be it disenfranchised voters, family-law-focused MRAs, anti-Guantanamo activists, certain minority groups, elder law folks, or anything else, then ______ should be extra embarrassed and (in my mind) _____’s behavior was extra shitty.

      Sometimes–usually–certain groups of minorities are blamed for shit because they’re minorities, and folks are looking to blame minorities for something. But sometimes, the blame is appropriate. I think that the above general statement is correct, and IF it applies to “brown people,” as you put it… well, then I think they ought to get blamed and yelled at just like anyone else.

    9. 9
      Mandolin says:

      OK. Let’s put it this way:

      1) The majority of black people (most of them probably heterosexual) voted in favor of prop 8. That is sad and shameful, particularly because of black people’s history with civil rights in this country.

      2) It is incorrect to blame the passage of prop 8 on black voters. White voters put it on the ballot; white voters funded it; white voters provided the majority needed for it to pass.

      3) It’s fine and peachy to discuss homophobia in the black community and what can be done about it. It is not fine and peachy to blame black voters disproportionately for the measure’s passing.

      4) So, fine, talk about the role of black voters in passing prop 8, but talk about it in ways that are factually accurate, and non-stupid. Given that you, like me, are an atheist, may I suggest that you consider looking at the subject primarily in terms of doctrinaire religion.

      5) Profit.

    10. 10
      Renee says:

      WOW the racism that this vote has revealed in the GLBT community disgusts me to no end. First of all, what should be noted is that many of those black voters that voted yes on 8 did so for religious reasons, so why do they have a separate category? Why are they not filed under christian? I’ll tell you why because despite the election of a black president race is still a defining characteristic.

      I would also like to point out that the gay rights movement has always been a movement run and represented by whites. It is guilty of many of the same faults as feminism in terms of the erasure of POC. You cannot call on us when you want our support and daily act like we are invisible. Not only are there black gay people but many black straight people also worked to get this defeated. and this blame the black routine is disrespectful to them and further serves to widen the chasm of distrust and hate. If you want equality you have to prove it in all facets, not just when it suits your purposes.

    11. 11
      Sailorman says:

      Mandolin Writes:
      November 7th, 2008 at 9:38 am

      OK. Let’s put it this way:

      1) The majority of black people (most of them probably heterosexual) voted in favor of prop 8. That is sad and shameful, particularly because of black people’s history with civil rights in this country.

      2) It is incorrect to blame the passage of prop 8 on black voters. White voters put it on the ballot; white voters funded it; white voters provided the majority needed for it to pass.

      OK.

      3) It’s fine and peachy to discuss homophobia in the black community and what can be done about it. It is not fine and peachy to blame black voters disproportionately for the measure’s passing.

      Also OK.

      4) So, fine, talk about the role of black voters in passing prop 8, but talk about it in ways that are factually accurate, and non-stupid. Given that you, like me, are an atheist, may I suggest that you consider looking at the subject primarily in terms of doctrinaire religion.

      Also OK. But I need to ask whether you are saying that my post was factually inaccurate and stupid…? Because I tried to write it pretty darn carefully, and I don’t think it is.

      5) Profit.

      ?

    12. 12
      Mithras Invicti says:

      I think that the above general statement is correct, and IF it applies to “brown people,” as you put it… well, then I think they ought to get blamed and yelled at just like anyone else.

      Come on, sailorman, come on! You talk as if the 70% of African-Americans and the 53% of Latinos who went into the voting booth and voted yes on 8 were personally responsible for their actions. Sure, they did it, and sure, their pastors and preachers told them to, but you can’t blame “brown people” for believing lies or acting on prejudice. It’s all white gay people’s fault. Black and Latino voters have no way to know the truth unless someone tells them. Do you expect them to think for themselves? Pffft.

    13. 13
      PG says:

      5) is probably a South Park joke, though I still think I did that one better on the whole “And how do you think registering ‘Mickey Mouse’ as a first-time voter will lead to VOTER fraud? 1. Register Mickey Mouse. 2. ??? 3. Steal the election!”

      Black people, like white people and brown people and yellow people and purple people, did not vote for Prop. 8 BECAUSE they’re black, but because of other factors. Therefore it makes more sense to categorize people’s voting by those other factors.

    14. 14
      Mandolin says:

      “But I need to ask whether you are saying that my post was factually inaccurate and stupid…? ”

      Nope. Was talking about the people who’ve made the argument rather than asked the question, such as no on prop 8, and some of the people to whom Amp or Renee linked (or who were quoted in those links).

    15. 15
      joe says:

      First of all, what should be noted is that many of those black voters that voted yes on 8 did so for religious reasons, so why do they have a separate category?

      Because a greater percentage of black people than white people voted for it. I agree with Madolin though, Black people aren’t wholly responsible for Prop – 8 passing. But if more black people had voted against it I really doubt anyone here would be complaining that they were unfairly credited for the passage.

    16. 16
      PG says:

      joe,

      Because a greater percentage of black people than white people voted for it.

      But do a greater percentage of black Californians than white Californians identify with religious traditions that are hostile to same-sex marriage? If so, it’s still not about race; it’s about religion. Certain religions cause hostility to same-sex marriage; race merely correlates to some degree with certain religions.

    17. 17
      Sailorman says:

      First of all, what should be noted is that many of those black voters that voted yes on 8 did so for religious reasons, so why do they have a separate category?

      It is usually best to use the most specific and most descriptive category. Ideally, we can identify a characteristic so that having the characteristic or not means we can predict results. That characteristic may or may not be “race,” subject to the caveat below.

      The caveat is that race, of course, does not literally affect political views. Belief does, and culture does, but genetics don’t. So for any non-medical issues like this, “race” is merely being used as a proxy for something like “participating in or adopting the beliefs of the culture or cultures which are linked to that race.”

      Edit: just saw mithral’s comment.

      [shrug] sure, they’re responsible, so are we all. But describing them by skin color may or not may be the correct thing to do. It may be more accurate to say “california ___ists” (religion) or ‘residents of ____’ (location) or something else.

      While it is obviously sometimes appropriate to categorize people’s actions based on race, doing so is both overused and misused. It also runs the risk of promoting a link between skin color and thought process, which is obviously bunk. So it’s probably best to avoid it if there is another suitable option. Or to tie in to the real link.

      e.g. “most of the followers of SomeChurch voted against the bill; most people of SomeRace in California are members of SomeChurch, and the result was that most people of SomeRace voted against the bill.”

      This format lets the reader understand that it’s not just a factor of race, but of percentages. then you can make better comparisons:

      “most of the followers of OtherChurch also voted against the bill; but most people of OtherRace in California are NOT members of OtherChurch, and the result was that most people of OtherRace did NOT vote against the bill.”

      This formulation, for example, might let you look at it in a different way.

    18. 18
      Ampersand says:

      Come on, sailorman, come on! You talk as if the 70% of African-Americans and the 53% of Latinos who went into the voting booth and voted yes on 8 were personally responsible for their actions. Sure, they did it, and sure, their pastors and preachers told them to, but you can’t blame “brown people” for believing lies or acting on prejudice. It’s all white gay people’s fault. Black and Latino voters have no way to know the truth unless someone tells them. Do you expect them to think for themselves? Pffft.

      Mithras, disagreement is okay, but this tone of sarcasm and mockery is not useful. If you want to have a serious, respectful disagreement, that’ll be okay; but if you continue posting with this sort of sneering, mocking tone, you’ll be asked to leave.

      (I’d hate to do that, because I have tons of respect for you and the work you’ve done to help elect Obama, but I will.)

    19. 19
      Mithras Invicti says:

      if you continue posting with this sort of sneering, mocking tone, you’ll be asked to leave.

      Fine. It’s ludicrous and slightly racist to say that it’s white gay people’s fault for the way 70% of blacks and 53% of Latinos voted. Judging someone on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin means judging them by how they treat people who are vulnerable, and in this instance the black and Latino voters of California failed miserably.

      If you want to argue that white LGBT leaders can do a better job, that’s great. But they didn’t make anyone vote against the civil rights of their fellow citizens. Responsibility for that falls squarely on the leaders in the African-American and Latino communities who whipped up hate and fear of gay people, and on the members of those communities who allowed themselves to be guided by that hate and fear.

      And yeah, I volunteered for Obama. Worked my ass off for him from March through the close of the polls on election day. You know what? Barack Obama stood by and let prop 8 pass. He didn’t lift a finger in the last days of the campaign to stop it, even though 94% of African-Americans and 74% of Latinos in California voted for him. Could he have stopped it? I don’t know, but I sure as hell wish he tried. But in the end, he’s not to blame for its passage. The people who voted for it are.

    20. 20
      PG says:

      It is usually best to use the most specific and most descriptive category.

      No, it’s usually best to use the category that has the closest causational link. Blackness doesn’t cause people to be hostile to gay rights; being an adherent of certain churches does. Your African genes won’t tell you to vote for Prop. 8, but your homophobic pastor will. I’m skeptical of this “black culture” claim because I find it implausible that you believe the “pretty fly for a white guy” types who love black pop culture are disproportionately likely to vote for Prop. 8.

    21. 21
      marmalade says:

      If the queer community voted overwhelmingly for a measure to mistreat some other opressed group I would be equally appalled. Say, for example, voting to round up illegal immigrants and ship them out of the country. I would’t try to attibute it to genetics, clubbing culture, relatively high education levels, or anything else. It would simply be indefensible. And so would a majority vote from the mainstream culture.

      However – although it’s not just – we often have higher expectations of fairness from people who are also oppressed.

    22. 22
      OutcrazyOphelia says:

      If you want to argue that white LGBT leaders can do a better job, that’s great. But they didn’t make anyone vote against the civil rights of their fellow citizens. Responsibility for that falls squarely on the leaders in the African-American and Latino communities who whipped up hate and fear of gay people, and on the members of those communities who allowed themselves to be guided by that hate and fear.

      I don’t believe anyone said that the LGBT leaders made anyone vote for Prop 8. The point was that if we’re going to go around impotently tossing around blame, then perhaps one may want to look at the way the campaign against prop 8 was run. When Mormons ran a more inclusive campaign–that’s a bit problematic. And considering that Prop 8 just barely passed, one wonders why there wasn’t more targeting of minority communities that everyone knew would be turning out in this election. It’s not so much the blame game as assessing what could be done differently in the future. It’s difficult to take the blame as anything but race baiting when the campaign wasn’t directed in the black or latino direction and now that the measure has passed, suddenly they’re the center of attention and entirely to blame. In order to lay blame with blacks you’d have to forget about the 40% of white voters that voted for it, or the number of voters that didn’t vote for or against the proposition at all, or the fact that age, education, and income were better determinants of whether or not you would vote for the measure than race alone, or the fact that these statistics are based on exit polls alone. I’m not hearing blame centered on voters older than 29, or voters who didn’t attend college. Anyone who voted for the proposition is responsible for its passing, yet it seems that the blame is being focused by race, not on homophobia and misunderstanding. Not at fear mongering and hate rhetoric, but at races for falling into the same trap that all of the people who voted for prop 8 fell into. There’s really no defense to this kind of logic.

    23. 23
      PG says:

      Barack Obama stood by and let prop 8 pass. He didn’t lift a finger in the last days of the campaign to stop it, even though 94% of African-Americans and 74% of Latinos in California voted for him. Could he have stopped it? I don’t know, but I sure as hell wish he tried. But in the end, he’s not to blame for its passage. The people who voted for it are.

      While I am disappointed that Obama would not stand up for same-sex marriage as a fundamental right (just as I was disappointed campaigning for Mark Warner for gov of VA in 2001, when he answered charges that he supported SSM not with “Yes, and you should too” but with “No, of course not”), let’s be fair: he stated his opposition to Prop. 8, for which he got grief from the pro-8 folks, and released a statement when the Yes folks lied about his position.

      He did no less against Prop. 8 than he did against ballot initiatives to ban affirmative action in Nebraska and Colorado, or to declare the fertilized egg a legal person in Colorado. They were state-level decisions and the federal presidential candidates didn’t involve themselves much.

    24. 24
      Mithras Invicti says:

      I was curious about this assertion from myca:

      Sebastian over at Obsidian Wings did the math and figured out that even if African Americans had voted on Prop 8 in precisely the same proportions as white folks, it still would have passed.

      So I went back and checked Sebastian Holsclaw’s math, and it turns out he assumed that the black vote was proportionate to the black population of California, 6.7%, when exit polls show it was 10%.

      I ran the numbers myself, and discovered that African-American voters were the largest single block in favor of prop 8. They would have passed the measure even if Latinos had voted the same way as whites and Asians (that is, 2% against). If blacks had voted like whites or Asians, prop 8 would have failed. But African-Americans voted 70-30 in favor, so it passed.

    25. 25
      murphy says:

      Does anyone else feel like this discussion is really a scathing verdict on the whole discipline of political science? I mean… that’s what pollsters do — collect data, divide it up by random criteria like ‘did you decide to vote in October or June?’, and try to say something coherent and unique about it. Then everybody else comes in and tries to decipher it to decide what to do next time.

      The 70-30 spread was news for a bunch of reasons: 1) the story of the election was increased African American turnout and how it would affect results, 2) African Americans trend Democratic and people believe (wrongly) that Democrats support gays, 3) pre-election polls had Prop 8 passing by a much lower rate among African Americans, 4) the shady tactics of the Yes crowd to target African Americans and suggest that Obama supported the measure, and 5) it was a very big and noticeable spread.

      I also think there are a bunch of lessons we can learn from the results. Namely: the LGBTQI community needs to focus some outreach on the African American community the next time an initiative like this comes up. The lessons are not that African Americans stripped gay marriage rights away or that they ‘owe us one’ because we voted overwhelmingly for Obama.

      But, to the queer community’s credit, I actually don’t see too much of those two sentiments being expressed past some initial emotional responses that should probably have been sat on until sobriety kicked in. And I’d also venture to say that most queers are plenty good at spreading the blame around on this one: Mormons, Christians, 65+…. ourselves… everyone’s getting a taste.

    26. 26
      PG says:

      There’s a Latino contributor to CNN.com who is blaming his ethnic group. Does anyone know if the No on 8 folks ran Spanish ads in Spanish-language media? If we failed to do this, while the Yes folks were blizzarding this media with their disinformation, then we screwed up.

    27. 27
      Ampersand says:

      I saw one Spanish-language “no on 8″ commercial, featuring the cast of “Ugly Betty.” (They filmed the commercial twice, one in Spanish and once in English.) I don’t know if there were others, although I certainly hope there were.

    28. 28
      Sebastian says:

      My assumptions were based on 52% Yes votes and I tried to analyze it both at the population norm level and the 10% turn out level. Near the 10% level it seemed possible that the black vote was decisive.

      It turns out that the actual vote was 52.5%. So in a strict sense the black vote on this issue isn’t what tipped it over even at 10% of the electorate.

      I think that isn’t a super-productive focus anyway. I think one thing this really highlights is that it might not be a myth that in their own community it can be super tough to be a black gay person. Tougher on average than to be a white gay person in his or her own community. And that really sucks.

    29. 29
      Daisy Bond says:

      Comment redacted by author. (I reread what I was responding to and thought better of it.)

    30. 30
      Mithras Invicti says:

      Sebastian-

      It turns out that the actual vote was 52.5%. So in a strict sense the black vote on this issue isn’t what tipped it over even at 10% of the electorate.

      Can you please show your work? Because I am getting different results. If African-Americans were 10% of all 10.4 million voters, and they voted yes by a 40% margin, that’s a net of more than 400,000 yes votes from black voters. (No other ethnic group had as large a net effect, either way.) The total margin of yes votes over no votes was 492,830. I thought your original assertion was that if blacks had voted the same way as whites and Asians (2% margin for no), the proposition still would have passed. It wouldn’t have.

    31. 31
      Sailorman says:

      Huh. I thought that blacks voted for prop 8 at a rate of 70%, didn’t they?
      And didn’t nonblacks vote for Prop 8 at 48%? (I have also seen numbers that suggest the proper split is 69%-pro for blacks, and 49%-pro for nonblacks. I don’t know what is right.)

      So that’s a differential of either 22%, or 24%, between those two arbitrarily defined populations.

      So:

      If black voters were 1.4 million strong, then the “extra” votes against Prop 8 are represented by
      [(70%-48%) * 1400000] = [22% * 1,400,000] = 308,000
      and for a 24% differential, it is
      [(69%-45%) * 1400000] = [24% * 1,400,000] = 336,000

      Either way, it doesn’t seem to match the voting differential.

      And either way, even if it DID exceed the voting differential, it is ridiculous to “blame” blacks for the results of the bill. Sure, you can blame people for their VOTE as in “that was a shitty vote, dude,” but their vote are only a teeny tiny part of the overall result. Why not blame the young adults? (just a guess, but I would venture damn good odds that there were well over 400,000 voting-eligible, liberal, anti-8, 18-30 year old Californians who didn’t vote. Or all the other, way-over-400,000-strong, people who didn’t vote at all? Why not blame them?)

    32. 32
      Mithras Invicti says:

      Sailorman-
      The difficulty is due to rounding error. If you multiply out the exit poll numbers, it’s very hard to nail down exactly what the net black “yes” vote was – it’s somewhere between 414,000 and 524,000 votes, by my calculation. Proposition 8 passed by 492,830 votes, which is within that range.

      Even if you had exit polls with tenths, it just begs the question of how accurate those polls are. I guess all I can say for sure is it’s possible that the overwhelming black yes vote was decisive.

    33. 33
      Ampersand says:

      Just another data point:

    34. 34
      Renee says:

      Those of you that are intent on blaming blacks are dong a disservice to the GLBT community. Does it not occur to you that GLBT organizers had a role to play by not reaching out to the black churches, or canvassing heavily in black neighborhoods. How about reaching out to the black community before a vote was needed. You cannot ignore a group of people and then turn around in anger when they reject you.
      Now is not the time for recriminations now is the time to build a more solid base so that next time the vote will come out in affirmation of love. If you continue to attack blacks all you are assuring is that next time the vote will turn out the same.

    35. 35
      Bjartmarr says:

      I’m having a hard time thinking of anything less productive than doing math to find out whether the black vote “tipped the scales” or not. Really, what do you intend to prove with these calculations? That homophobia within the black community is somehow more or less troubling because of how the numbers worked out on this ballot measure?

    36. 36
      Bjartmarr says:

      Renee:

      You cannot ignore a group of people and then turn around in anger when they reject you.

      It sounds a whole lot like you’re saying that black people’s obligation to support gay people’s rights is contingent on gay people paying attention to black people. Is that what you’re saying? I really hope it’s not.

      Black people should support gay people’s rights not because of some crazy tit-for-tat scheme, but because IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO.

      And no, it doesn’t make sense to blame black people as a whole for their voting patterns. But it sure as hell does make sense to blame 70% of them.

      The LA Times printed an absolutely disgusting letter today, including the line:

      As a black male, I can tell you that the reason the African American community voted for Proposition 8 had less to do with religion and more to do with a sense of resentment toward the gay community and the California Supreme Court for attempting to equate one’s bedroom activities with the color of one’s skin.

      Anybody who votes to take away another group’s civil rights based on “a sense of resentment” due to something that members of the other group have done, is extra-despicable in my book.

    37. 37
      Joe says:

      Renee Writes:
      November 7th, 2008 at 4:57 pm

      Those of you that are intent on blaming blacks are dong a disservice to the GLBT community. Does it not occur to you that GLBT organizers had a role to play by not reaching out to the black churches, or canvassing heavily in black neighborhoods.

      Good point Renee, it’s more the fault of GLBT that people voted to take their rights away.

    38. 38
      Mithras Invicti says:

      it’s more the fault of GLBT that people voted to take their rights away.

      I believe that’s where I came in. Good night, all.

    39. 39
      Charles S says:

      Joe,

      No, it is the fault of the specific individuals who ran the No on 8 campaign, who decided not to do significant outreach to the black and latino communities, who decided not to do targeted GOTV operations, who decided to blow their entire huge budget on advertisements, etc. There does seem to be pretty broad agreement that the No on 8 campaign was not well run and made bad strategic and tactical decisions. If they had run a better campaign, they would have won.

      Mithras,

      On the exit poll calculations, you can’t use exit polls to calculate the percentage of the voting populace that was black. Exit polls aren’t intended to be used for that purpose, so they don’t sample in a way that gives any degree of confidence that the 10% number is accurate. Even if it were accurate, the uncertainty on it would make 10% not statistically significantly different from 6.4%.

      On the issue of blaming black people as a class, it is even more stupid and offensive than blaming Mormon people as a class. Individuals who are black and individuals who are mormon voted yes on 8. Individuals who are white and individuals who are atheists voted yes on 8. Individuals who belong to each of those categories voted no on 8. Blaming the mormon church as an institution makes sense (and is so much more convenient than blaming the Catholic Church as an institution, since anti-mormon bigotry is much more socially acceptable than anti-Catholic bigotry), but blaming Black People as an institution doesn’t make any sense, because Black People isn’t an institution.

      The individual voters who voted yes on 8 are to blame. The categories they belong to are not to blame. The individuals who share a category with someone who voted yes on 8 are not to blame simply because they share a category. Only a bigot would make that mistake.

      I don’t think anyone posting here is meaningfully less pissed off at people who voted for 8 than you are. My question is why are you pissed off at the 30% of blacks who voted no on 8? Likewise, why are you more pissed off at the 70% of black voters who voted yes than you are at the 48% of white voters who voted yes?

    40. 40
      hf says:

      I’m with Bjartmarr. The numbers you cite mainly tell me we should reverse this as soon as we can put it on the ballot again. (A discussion of exactly why so many African-Americans follow what seems like a blatantly false interpretation of “Saint” Paul might hold some interest. But as a white non-Christian, I don’t have much to contribute.)

    41. 41
      Ampersand says:

      Blaming the mormon church as an institution makes sense (and is so much more convenient than blaming the Catholic Church as an institution, since anti-mormon bigotry is much more socially acceptable than anti-Catholic bigotry)

      Aside from being more convenient, might it also in this instance be more correct? My impression is that the contributions of the Mormon Church to the Yes on 8 fight outstripped that of the Catholic Church. But if my impression is mistaken, let me know.

      Apart from that, I wholeheartedly agree with your entire comment.

    42. 42
      PG says:

      The Mormon Church certainly seems to have been out and proud about their work for Prop. 8.

      But I prefer the sentiments expressed by the No on 8 folks in their email tonight:

      “This has been an incredibly difficult week for Californians who are disappointed in the passage of Proposition 8, which takes away the right to marry for same-sex couples in our state. We feel a profound sense of disappointment in this defeat, but know that in order to move forward we must continue to stand together as one community in order to secure full equality in California.

      “In working to defeat Prop 8, a profound coalition banded together to fight for equality. Faith leaders, labor, teachers, civil rights leaders and communities of color, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, public officials, local school boards and city councils, parents, corporate law firms and bar associations, businesses, and people from all walks of life joined together to stand up against discrimination. We must build on this coalition in order to achieve equal rights for all Californians.

      “We achieve nothing if we isolate the people who did not stand with us in this fight. We only further divide our state if we attempt to blame people of faith, African American voters, rural communities and others for this loss. We know people of all faiths, races and backgrounds stand with us in our fight to end discrimination, and will continue to do so. Now more than ever it is critical that we work together and respect our differences that make us a diverse and unique society. Only with that understanding will we achieve justice and equality for all.”

    43. 43
      Charles S says:

      PG,

      I liked that email a lot too, and was glad they sent it.

      Amp,

      I don’t know. For some reason, no one has set up a web site devoted to listing every Catholic who contributed to the Yes on 8 campaign.

      The Knights of Columbus (a Catholic organization) gave $1 million to Yes on 8. The Catholic Church defrocked a priest who came out in opposition to 8. Those are the first 2 things I found through a google search, I’m sure they did plenty more. And plenty of evangelical groups did as much or more.

    44. 44
      Renee says:

      it’s more the fault of GLBT that people voted to take their rights away.

      That was not my intent. What I am trying to say is that if you have a movement that is one dimensional which the GLBTQI is then you suffer the consequce of not have a wide base of support when you need one. Why should they not be held accountable for not take an intersectional approach to their politicking the same way that we have held feminists responsible. Race and sexuality intersect and always putting a white face on GLBTQI politics means that you don’t have a committed base of POC because of silencing and invisibility.
      It is white privilege that has cost the GLBTQI the support of black by running a movement that only targeted specific bodies. By not presenting homosexuality as something that is universal rather than race specific it has encouraged the idea that blacks are not gay, and that this is just some weird white freak show. It has encouraged IGNORANCE.
      The best way to challenge or at least stem the tide of falsehood and lies is interaction. Through actively engaging with the black community, having figures in place we could relate to the possibility would at least have existed of gaining more allies for the struggle.
      You cannot shove blacks into a proverbial closet to retain power over a movement and then expect to pull them out of your black pocket when needed. It simply does not work that way. So great was the desire to privilege whiteness the idea of coalition building was not even attempted.

    45. 45
      joe says:

      Renee, thanks for the clarification. I’m sorry for my snarky comment.

    46. 46
      Dori says:

      Mithras,

      This is a pretty complete takedown of the 10% exit poll myth as well as a few other factually unsupported myths re: California’s black voting population and prop 8.

    47. 47
      Sailorman says:

      Renee, it sounds like you’re trying reeeeally hard to get anti-gay-rights POC out from any possible sort of acceptance of responsibility for their bigotry and bias–if they have it, as not everyone does. But you’re not only trying to escape any responsibility, you’re trying to blame the gay rights advocates.

      what the fuck?

      you say it’s like feminism. OK, then. So, then, you would be saying that it would be female privilege if a feminist failed to educate a group of non-feminists sufficiently, and therefore failed to get their support. Right? Oh wait, that would be bullshit. It would be bullshit because we all know that bias, bigotry, and hatred are not the fault of third parties.

      And you KNOW this. I know you do.

      If people were blaming the black members of the GLBT community for “not doing their part” then your argument would make sense. Certainly there’s been plenty written on the issues of racism and minority exclusion in the GLBT community. But nobody is saying that now: we are commenting on the bias, bigotry, and hatred of the NON-members of that group. The NON-GBLT people. And in that context your argument amounts to saying “well, it’s your fault, folks, because you didn’t educate them enough.”

      No way in hell do you get to blame someone else’s bias, hatred, and bigotry on “white privilege.”

    48. 48
      Bjartmarr says:

      Thanks for the clarification, Renee. That makes more sense than your previous post.

    49. 49
      Sarah says:

      I have to say, I’m with Sailorman here. I’m all for learning from mistakes, but I think it’s unfair to blame white privilege for a really crushing defeat of marriage equality. Anti-gay marriage amendments have passed in 30 states. We’re 0 for 30. CA was a particularly crushing blow because it took away rights that 18k gay couples (including myself) had already enjoyed. These 30 states didn’t pass the amendments because they were annoyed at the LGBTQ movement’s lack of intersectionality, they passed the amendments because they don’t believe LGBTQ people deserve the same rights as straight folks.

      I’m hearing a lot of people blaming the LGBTQ people today, and I’d appreciate a little solidarity for the fact that our rights have been stripped away. We’re in mourning. Frankly, I think some people need to examine their straight privilege.

    50. Pingback: If A=B and B=C but C is not equal to A, then… WTF? « The Angry Black Woman

    51. 50
      Mandolin says:

      Okay. I’m not really sure where the blame idea is coming from, except insomuch as it was framed that way by Pam Spaulding if I recall correctly. I think Pam is in an excellent position, as a homosexual woman of color, to talk about the ways in which she feels both communities have marginalized her. I repeat here that she says *both* communities have marginalized her. People seem to be really misinterpreting her post in the nastiest possible ways — have y’all even read the whole thing? I suggest you do.

      My take:

      1) of course LGBTIQ folks are not to blame for the despicable bigotry of prop 8′s passing. Pam suggests that, next time, more outreach to the black community might help change the outcome. Would it? I don’t know. But a suggestion about tactics is not the same thing as blame, and it’s really disingenuous to condense them.

      2) I’ll say it again. It’s disturbing that a minority group with severe experience of discrimination on the basis of marriage rights supported proposition 8 at a rate of 70%. However, like Charles, I think it’s strange and probably indicative of the social structure that props up white supremacy that people find it easier to be mad at the 70% of black voters who were dicks on election day than the much larger group of 48% of white voters who were dicks on election day.

    52. 51
      Mandolin says:

      Oh. We’ve already discussed the way the focus on race here is masking another demographic trend — the overwhelming religious support of prop 8. Has anyone run socioeconomic figures? Are we seeing black voters in support of prop 8 because poor voters were in support of prop 8?

    53. 52
      Mandolin says:

      Also, I have got to quote ABW here, because I was trying to figure out how to make this point, but she did it so much more beautifully:

      The margin by which Prop 8 passed was pretty slim, true, which means that every person who voted for it made a difference. And the AfAm vote might’ve carried the day if it had been oriented the other way, true. But the proportion of Californians aged 65 and older who voted yes was pretty high too (and also much larger than the pop of AfAms), and Jacobs isn’t excoriating old people. Ditto middle-class Californians, people who didn’t finish college, Mormons (and the Mormon church poured millions into getting Prop 8 passed, which probably had even more impact than that 7% of voters ever could), and probably a number of other demographic breakdown groups. So does Jacobs point the finger mainly at black people?

      It seems to be because Barack Obama identifies as black. Jacobs notes that LGBTQ voters supported Obama, and therefore he expected black voters to support No on Prop 8. But what does one have to do with the other? Jacobs seems to think the vote should have been a simple tit-for-tat on the sole basis of identity: if LGBTQs support AfAms, then AfAms should support LGBTQs, Q.E.D. But does Jacobs not realize the black guy never supported gay marriage in the first place? (Though he did also oppose Prop 8, note.) By voting for Obama, all those LGBTQ voters in essence supported a candidate who will make their struggle for marriage equality harder. (Granted, there was no better choice that had a chance.) So what did Jacobs expect? His whole “but we voted for you!!” reasoning makes no sense.

      At least, it doesn’t until you realize that Jacobs’ rage is based on several erroneous assumptions. First, the notion that black people voted for Obama because he was black, not because they agreed with his policies. Also, the idea that white people who voted for Obama did so solely due to some kind of mass upwelling of white guilt — a kind of one-time “sorry ’bout that whole oppression thing” gesture.

      [emphasis added]

    54. 53
      Sarah says:

      Mandolin: If you look at the CNN breakdown, those who make under $30k/year and those who make over $150k/year opposed the proposition. It was those in the middle who supported it.

      And by the way, I wasn’t responding to Pam, who I think is really reasonable, I was responding to Renee, who said:

      It is white privilege that has cost the GLBTQI the support of black by running a movement that only targeted specific bodies. By not presenting homosexuality as something that is universal rather than race specific it has encouraged the idea that blacks are not gay, and that this is just some weird white freak show. It has encouraged IGNORANCE.

      Of course there is more the LGBTQ community can do to combat ignorance and homophobia, but I think it’s unfair to say we “encouraged” it. I feel so beat up by this vote and it’s been a tough pill to swallow to see such little solidarity on the blogs today.

    55. 54
      Daisy Bond says:

      Re: Renee at #44 and Sailorman at #47 — I’m reminded of a trope I see around the blogosphere. Obviously activism is immeasurably important, but anyone remember the whole “it’s not my job to educate you” thing…?

      No On 8 should be blamed if they ran a bad, racist campaign, but it’s not the job of queer folks to educate straight, cisgender people, just like it’s not the job of people of color to educate white people about their privilege — rather, it’s everyone’s job to be a decent person and support justice and educate themselves, because that’s the right thing to do.

      On the other hand, it’s very true that LGBT organizations too often present a white face and marginalize queer people of color, and it’s true that the movement hasn’t properly included people of color, queer and otherwise. They are at fault for that, and white queers like myself are at fault for whatever role we’ve played in that. Just like non-queer folks, whatever their race, are at fault for whatever role they play in perpetuating the bigotry against LGBT people.

    56. 55
      Mandolin says:

      OK, Sarah. I understand what you’re saying now. Sorry I misunderstood — and I’m very sorry, of course, about prop 8. I’ve been crying about it, too, but it didn’t dissolve my marriage, and I can only imagine what you’re going through.

    57. 56
      Renee says:

      @Dasiy Bond

      It may not be your job to educate but it is your job to have an inclusive movement which you do not. The face of the GBTQI community is white. Most organizations are white run. How exactly do expect people of color to to have solidarity when it looks for all intent and purposes like just another movement more than willing to exclude us for the sake of furthering white privilege?

      The same way as feminists only addressed the needs of white women, is the same way that GLBTQI are intent on privileging whiteness. Look around the media and tell me even in the limited representation that there is how many POC do you see? Invisibility is the cause of this.

      I say again, for any social justice movement to be effective it needs a broad base. The civil rights movement was successful because whites and blacks marched together. Blacks need to be convinced that this is about our shared humanity and that can only be achieved if we are not invisible in the community.

    58. 57
      Daisy Bond says:

      Renee — you’re absolutely right. My only point is that discrimination is wrong even if white LGBT community is racist.It would be wrong to support racism even if much of the straight black community is heterosexist, right? Supporting equality is the right thing to do, period. The only people we should blame for discrimination are the people who did the discriminating. If someone does something racist, it’s not a person of color’s fault (or a POC organization’s fault) for not educating them enough. If a group of people support heterosexism, it’s not lesbian, gay and bisexual people’s fault for not educating them enough.

      LGBT organizations are at fault for being racist and exclusionary, and conservative religious organizations are at fault for being heterosexist and cissexist. By all means hold LGBT organizations accountable for their racism and privilege. I just feel like you’re doing more than that and actually blaming them for other people’s straight privilege. I apologize in advance if I’m misreading you — that’s just how it sounds to me.

    59. 58
      Daisy Bond says:

      And by the way, just to make it clear, I think it’s ridiculous to blame the Prop 8 victory on people of color. I blame all the voters who supported it (most of whom were white) and conservative Christians.

    60. Pingback: Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » “If you call me a faggot, I will call you a nigger”

    61. 59
      Renee says:

      @Daisy I am in no way saying that homophobia is right. I find it abhorrent. I simply believe that when we look at PROP 8 and what happened it needs to be about more than blame the blacks. Clearly there is an issue and we should be looking at what it is and how to rectify it, not spreading more hatred through racism.

    62. 60
      Daisy Bond says:

      Renee,

      I simply believe that when we look at PROP 8 and what happened it needs to be about more than blame the blacks. Clearly there is an issue and we should be looking at what it is and how to rectify it, not spreading more hatred through racism.

      Yes, I very adamantly agree — I hope I didn’t seem to be saying otherwise. And as I said over at your place, I really didn’t have an accurate picture of the level of racist hatred being perpetuated by white queer people. I’m shocked and disgusted by it.

    63. Hi. Thanks for the citation to my blog. I linked back to yours. Keep up the analysis.

      http://dissentingjustice.blogspot.com/2008/11/black-californians-and-proposition-8-is.html

    64. 62
      meloukhia says:

      Amp, thanks for this broad spectrum of links on this issue. I am still reeling in awe that the reaction to the vote has gone down the way it has (and, speaking of fingerpointing, I can’t help but look at the media’s coverage, which seems specifically designed to make this a Big Deal).

    65. 63
      Darkrose says:

      PG@26: The Spanish-language ads were released less than 2 weeks before the election. Volunteers for No on 8 have reported that heavily Latino neighborhoods were left off phone bank lists because there were no Spanish-speaking volunteers. At least one Latina lesbian activist had to make her own publicity materials, because there were none in Spanish.

      The No on 8 people did an amazing job in many respects, but I believe they really did drop the ball when it came to outreach in communities of color–and I fear that to a large extent, those communities were written off before the fight even started.

    66. 64
      Darkrose says:

      Shanikka’s Kos Diary breaks down the numbers, and shows why a single poll of 2,240 people should not be taken as the last word on the California vote.

    67. 65
      murphy says:

      I’m surprised more people aren’t discussing how crass the Yes on Prop 8 campaign was in their outreach to communities of color. They spread lies about churches losing tax exempt status, they used Obama’s words to imply that he supported Prop 8, and they basically told parents their kids would turn gay if Prop 8 failed. Despite these despicable tactics, however, progressives have started to hold Yes on Prop 8 up as an example — progressives have said they were “smart,” that they managed to access the “demographic gold mine” of Californians of color, that they were the true “coalition builders”.

      I don’t think their campaign was smart. I think it was dishonest, I think it was vastly better funded, and I think it appealed to the worst parts of people. The No on Prop 8 crowd has a lot to learn, but I’m not going to be looking to the Yes on Prop 8 campaign for any answers.

    68. 66
      Charles S says:

      I think it was dishonest, I think it was vastly better funded, and I think it appealed to the worst parts of people.

      I completely agree with the first and third statement, but no on 8 outraised yes on 8 by $2 million.

    69. Pingback: A short treatise on religious rhetoric « blog@

    70. 67
      murphy says:

      Thanks Charles, you’re right about that. I probably just got some forward during the campaign and thought it was true. Well shoot, we can’t even buy equality.

    71. 68
      PG says:

      Darkrose, thanks for that information — it does sound like Yes on 8 did a better job at reaching minorities. I wish No on 8 had made a clearer point of saying that it is bullshit to claim that Prop. 8 would “preserve traditional marriage.” I wish they had run an ad showing a marriage like mine — interracial, inter-religious (and thus in my culture “inter-caste”), roughly gender-equal, not made for the purpose of reproduction; traditional in absolutely no sense except that it happens to have one man and one woman — and asking why we still leave the barrier of sex up when we have knocked down the others. I still have my sex-traditional marriage no matter how many non-sex-traditional marriages — including ones that might be quite traditional in being intra-racial, intra-religious, intra-caste, gender role distinguished, intending to reproduce — other people have.

    72. Pingback: An open letter to white activists, re: Proposition 8 « The random musings of a 1973 Original

    73. Pingback: Prop 8 & Race & Obama & The South

    74. Pingback: Same Sex Marriage and Prop. 8 « Political Science 1 Course Blog - Fall 2008