Friday, November 07, 2008

Washing Their hands

The images were, and continue to be moving, even days after the election. A black mom sitting on the floor of her church, overcome with emotion as her little daughter touches her face. Jesse Jackson, standing alone in the crowd at Grant Park, tears streaming down his face. Mobs of young people, white, black and everything in between, dancing with joy.

A significant portion of white America voted for the other guy, but it is undeniable that millions of white people have stood shoulder to shoulder with blacks in the struggle for "a more perfect Union", millions of people of all colours worked for this day, and millions celebrated together in victory. This election was about far more than electing a black man to be President. It was also a referendum on a certain way of governing, and on the direction of this country. But the colour of the candidates had every potential to override the substance of the debate, and we showed, at last, that we could work together to get past colour.
Only, something went wrong in California. A group even more hated and despised than blacks were handed a bitter repudiation, as California amended its constitution to enshrine the idea that they are less than human. And blacks, even as they voted overwhelmingly for Obama, also voted overwhelmingly to kick that other group in the teeth. Over 70% of the Black vote went in favor of Proposition 8. In the midst of the celebration of their triumph, one has to wonder if it occurred to these people that they have simply handed off the role of nigger to another group of human beings.

I have spoken with a number of black people about this: colleagues, fellow school parents, friends. I have listened to their rationalizations on the radio. It is clear that the directive to vote for Prop. 8 came from the pulpit, from the very churches where blacks have gone for generations to exorcise their torment. What is remarkable is the lack of questioning with which they marched to the polls to vote for this piece of hate, and the utter blindness to the similarities between their own story and the story of this even more hated group.

The airwaves are full of retrospectives on this election. The debates over what to do about Prop. 8 are all about raising more money, organizing better, reaching out to conservatives to show them that gay people pose no threat, etc. Yet there is no voice with the courage to tell us the truth that stares us in the face: if the black vote had just been 50:50, that would have been enough to block Prop. 8.

It is time for the progressive and enlightened conservative community to turn to their brothers and sisters in the black community and say "We worked with you to get to this day, and it is time you close ranks with other oppressed people. Gays are the only group left that society thinks it is OK to oppress. You can't abandon them now."

It is time for us to go to Washington to revoke the tax exempt status of every black church that incited its parishioners to vote for Prop. 8. If Progressives don't apply the same rules to these churches as they are trying to apply to white churches that have been promoting Republican causes, then they, and we, are all hypocrites. It is time to get ALL of the preachers out of the business of making law, regardless of their colour or creed.


Blogger giveagirlabreak said...

"It is time to get ALL of the preachers out of the business of making law"

I love the way you stated that. Could not have said it better myself.

May 07, 2009 3:07 PM  

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