I write this essay as a direct response to all of the drama surrounding the belief, statistically factually proven or not, that the black folks in our great state of California overwhelmingly voted for Prop 8.
While there is much confusion on everyone’s part regarding Prop 8, black folk took a whole lot of heat and once again where made to seem more homophobic than any other groups in question. Even though I have severely mixed feelings regarding marriage for anybody, I would like to offer my view on what I think went down and continues to keep us afraid, confused and somewhat apathetic regarding this issue.
Scapegoating is very popular these days. Sound bites and shots of passionate individuals from the pulpit is not nearly enough information to base an opinion. I am convinced that someone will suggest, and I will accept, being the poster boy for pointing out why this is a civil rights issue and why it is similar and different than the civil rights movement of the 60’s.
My problems with all of this is that like most issues, I understand and see the potential for greatness and misunderstanding in all arenas.
As an African American living in this society, I understand and have witnessed first hand the inequities and incredible opportunities that exist within our culture. It is clear that so much is available and yet who gets to decide who gets what and how much of it ?
Once again, it is an issue of power.
Black folks know on a cellular level what it means to be denied and have to survive and develop self-love in a culture that is dominant, dismissive, and oppressive. Having lived through the things that my parents endured, it is not a very exciting proposition to even suggest that their offspring endure any hardship.
In other words, we fought, died and marched to make changes so that you wouldn’t have to or at the very least not have to endure what we did.
Why look for trouble? Take your place at the table, it’s been paid for tenfold.
Yes, gays and lesbians are or should be extremely grateful and humbled by the work done by previous generations and it is not enough.
While appreciation should be the norm, the next evolution involves taking things even further. It is with this spirit of love and refusal to back down that we now pick up the baton of activism and carry on.
If you, as an elder, are keenly aware of the results of demanding more (rocking the boat) and understand it can and has lead to death, you would definitely have reservations regarding any one you care about being visible and vocal to a very powerful group.