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The Persuasive Pundit: The Shame Blame Game

The Persuasive Pundit: The Shame Blame Game

Prop. 8 and its aftermath...It’s not about the pulling of all of the black references out of the books -- MLK -- slavery -- interracial marriage, bus boycotts and Bayard Rustin... This is about, among other things, the invisibility of black folks in the gay community at large.

It’s not about the pulling of all of the black references out of the books -- MLK -- slavery -- interracial marriage, bus boycotts and Bayard Rustin.

It’s not about the shaming and pointing out of the unfortunate ills of our community--prisons, wedlock, and drug addiction -- that often stem from a long, painful and complicated history of oppression and institutionalized racism.

It’s not about the implication of the favor that was done for the black community by voting for Barack Obama and so in turn the black community should be expected to have returned the favor.

It’s not about the your community -- your people -- your children…

It’s not just about the 70 percent of black folks who voted yes on proposition hate…

This is about -- how in the world in an issue-based campaign; the black community was not at all targeted -- or a part of the visual tapestry of the No on 8 campaign in an election year when everyone and their mama knew that black folks would be coming out to vote.

This is also about, the invisibility of black folks in the gay community at large -- unless it’s about the growing number of HIV infection in our community.

This is quite personally about the 11th hour phone call -- six days before the election saying, “We realize that we don’t have any black lesbians in our No on 8 PSA campaign -- do you know anyone who can throw something together?”

This is also about how we as a community can actually learn from the Obama campaign -- who, even though he’s black and suspected that black folks would support him -- still went grassroots and walked into the churches, the barber shops, the housing projects and as many diverse neighborhoods as possible to educate, allies themselves and spread his campaign’s message.

This is also quite possibly, most importantly, about a bigger picture of a lost opportunity for the entire gay community to unite across racial, religious and socio-economic backgrounds.

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How unfortunate that justice is turning in on itself and stooping to shame an entire group of people instead of talking with, listening to and possibly educating. I’m over the blaming of black folk for 8 passing. I’m over it. I’ve read more bigotry cloaked in quotes of MLK than I can shake a stick at. As an out gay black woman -- many of us have been sending our support, money, time and energy out to support and further the cause -- these blanketed statements about the black community are alienating, divisive and counter productive.

It’s devastating to me that 8 passed. It’s simply awful. But further separating the gay community doesn’t work. Targeting black folks- is not going to work. Shaming us with hurtful statistics about wedlock is not going to do it. Generalizing us is not going to do the trick. MLK quotes aren’t going to make it happen. Chastising black people who are gay and their allies isn’t going to do anything either. And not acknowledging the 30 percent who voted No on 8 is not going to make a damn bit of this any better.

But maybe, just maybe, inviting black gay folks and their allies to get involved and not at the last minute or as an ‘oops we forgot to include you’ strategy may do some good.

It may also be helpful to go with some black folks or support some black folks as they go into the black communities to talk about the humanity of the issue -- leaving all of that slavery and bus talk alone.

Oh and what may actually get us somewhere would be supporting and acknowledging the black gay folks who are involved and lending some help when they need it. And finally, and this one I actually stole from the civil rights movement -- so don’t quote me on it but -- love and not venom, blame or shame may be the one that actually wins here folks.

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Gloria Bigelow