Despite questionable exit polling data, the mainstream media and its gay counterparts continue to blame black voters for the recent passage of Prop 8 in California—escalating tensions, prompting scuffles and racial epithets at street rallies as well as thousands of mean-spirited comments across the gay virtual community. While gay activists begin to debate the strategy executed by No on Prop 8, the obvious question arises: How much outreach was done to the black community?
I followed ‘No on 8′ through Andrew Sullivan’s blog. I clicked on every ad that he posted. I never saw ONE that was pointed towards the Black community. If ‘No on 8′ was serious about trying to address the Black community, they couldn’t come out with an ad with Black gay folks who wanted to get married? With Black gay folks who wanted to be married and had children? California’s a huge state, and they couldn’t find 2 Black homosexuals and 2 Black lesbians with children who could have made an ad?
No on 8's lack of outreach to black voters is the subject of a much-debated Los Angeles Times op-ed by Jasmyne Cannick. "No on 8's White Bias" was the newspaper's third most popular story emailed yesterday. Cannick says she "wasn't inspired to encourage black people to vote against the proposition."
The white gay community never successfully communicated to blacks why it should matter to us above everything else—not just to me as a lesbian but to blacks generally. 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 health care, or newly out of prison and unemployed, really benefit from the right to marry someone of the same sex.
Then there was the poorly conceived campaign strategy. Opponents of Proposition 8 relied on an outdated civil rights model, engaging the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People to help win black support on the issue of gay marriage. This happened despite the warnings of black lesbians and gays that it wouldn't work. ... Putting nearly a quarter of a million dollars into an outdated civil rights group that has very little influence on the black vote—at least when it comes to gay issues—will never work.
Likewise, holding the occasional town-hall meeting in Leimert Park—the one part of the black community where they now feel safe thanks to gentrification—to tell black people how to vote on something gay isn't effective outreach either.
Cannick's position on marriage may be different than yours or mine. But the fact remains there was very little outreach done to the black community that is now being blamed for its loss. There were no black gay or lesbian faces in the television campaign—the initial wave did not feature gay couples and the later spots that did were almost all vanilla. Black celebrities such as Mary J. Blige could have raised awareness in Inglewood or Compton and free news coverage ... but were deployed to pricey fundraisers in Beverly Hills. Few affirmative black clergy were recruited. Black celebs such as Danity Kane, Golden Brooks and Samuel L Jackson were buried in commercial rotation. The Magic Johnson robo-call urging blacks to vote NO was deployed only 48 hours before the election. Black gay bloggers—such as yours truly—were never contacted by No on 8, never included in any strategy, and, took it upon ourselves to raise money for the campaign.
Since the loss, the hurricane of racial finger-pointing, has outraged the entire black virtual community. Ernest Hardy, the influential LA Weekly and Flaunt film critic and author of Blood Beats Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, describes the "gay-ghettos of the blogosphere" as digital "KKK rallies" featuring "relentless, scaldingly racist recrimination and charges that Black folks are the most homophobic in America, the most backward, stupid and ignorant, undeserving even of the right to vote; the word 'nigger' has been freely bandied about on many of those sites, with 'moderators' absent at the wheel."
To be fair, there is more than enough blame to go around. If anyone deserves special recognition for pushing the meme of blaming black voters, and refusing to recognize the lack of outreach to our community, that would be revisionist gay conservative and racial fetishist Andrew Sullivan, whom many progressive and gay bloggers insist upon viewing as their assignment editor. Sullivan once famously wrote "brothers were welcome." We never realized how much.
UPDATE Jasmyne Cannick uploads the No on 8 commercials
Did You Read ...
N-Word Hurled at Blacks During Prop 8 Protest [R20]
OMG The Gays Are Trying To Get Gangsta With It [Cannick]
Prop. 8 Protesters Target Mormon Temple [LAT]
N-Bomb Is Dropped on Black Passerby [PHB]
WeHo Marriage Rally Attracts "Noah's Arc" Stars [R20]
"Yes We Can" to "YES on 8": Blacks Overwhelmingly Approve Prop 8 [R20]
Anti-Gay, Black Pastors Use Children for Prop 8 [R20]
Blige, Etheridge Raise $3.9M for No on Prop 8 [R20]
"Noah's Arc" Cast Urges "No" on Proposition 8 [R20]
"Noah's Arc" Actor Doug Spearman, Black Ministers Urge "NO" on Prop 8 [R20]
SCLC Leader Criticizes Anti-Gay, Black Pastors [R20]