Inequality is Dead. Long Live Inequality.

Since election night, I have been feeling deeply disappointed and somewhat conflicted. There was a part of me, not the part that believes the System we are all part of is beyond repair and voting is meaningless, but a more hopeful part of me that wanted to vote for the man who clearly was going to be the first black president of America. I want to be able to say I took part in history, that in a tiny way I helped shift things for the better…but that’s simply not the case. Putting aside all my disagreements with Obama’s ideas and policies and intentions and the disappointments they will inevitably bring to our country, I want to focus on a great disappointment happening right now that makes the election of a black president so bitter-sweet.

Numerous news sources have since reported that it was black voters who overwhelmingly voted to ban gay marriage. In fact, according to The Washington Post, seven in ten black voters in California who voted for Obama, voted for Proposition 8 to ban gay marriage.

And Barack Obama, ever the centrist, or should that be equivocator, claimed Proposition 8 was divisive, yet does not support gay marriage.

Add to this the 53% of Latino voters who were against Proposition 8 and gay marriage didn’t stand a chance in California.1

In 2004, I had the good fortune to hear Coretta Scott King speak, and she stood up in front of a crowd of about a thousand people and demanded we fight for the rights of gays everywhere. Mrs. King saw the connections and made clear that the struggle never ends, but her views are not shared by other leaders of the Civil Rights movement, past and present.

The California chapter of the NAACP opposed Proposition 8 and the Sacramento chapter was so divided it did not even vote on the issue.2

The formidable Civil Rights activist Fred Shuttlesworth has also adamantly refused to even consider that gays should have rights and in recent years has done all he can to defeat any legislation to protect the rights of gays in Cincinnati, Ohio.

So, as much as I would like, I cannot fully participate in the celebration of the election of a black president. After all that has happened in America, to finally reach this point should be the greatest victory; instead, as Mrs. King told us that day four years ago, the struggle goes on. And on and on. Maybe one day, we’ll all understand at the same time that we all deserve the same rights and privileges and forgo the sad habit of forgetting where we once were and who still resides there.

  1. Karl Vick and Ashley Surdin. WashingtonPost.com, Friday, November 7, 2008. []
  2. Susan Ferriss. McClatchy Newspapers. November 7, 2208. Freep.com []

Tree Smith lives in Ohio and is a poet searching for her activist voice. She's nearly always pissed off about the state of the world but is really nice once you get to know her. She can be reached at: Tree201@aol.com. Read other articles by Tree, or visit Tree's website.

4 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. amos said on November 10th, 2008 at 8:28am #

    Good article, Tree.

  2. George Thompson said on November 10th, 2008 at 9:54am #

    Blacks and Latinos are disproportionately devout in their religious practices. That means they take the scripture very seriously and many times literally. The Bible speaks against homosexuality many times, particularly in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Blacks, mostly Christians, and Latinos, most Catholics, will not jeopardize what they consider their heavenly salvation just for the rights of gays. Gays are still considered an aberration and, therefore, their rights do not have to be protected or respected.

    This is what religions do to people. They allow other people to manipulate you to further their own agenda. Whatever happened to the separation of church and state? There is no such thing in this country. What we have is tantamount to a theocracy. People have a right to believe whatever they want, until it infringes on the personal rights of others and that is exactly what Christianity and Catholicism do to gays.

    How dare Catholics vote againsts rights for gays when their religion has become the butt of jokes for the pedophile priests they protected for decades? And black people have plenty of gay people in our community too, many of whom are on the down low and still in the closet because they are afraid of losing friends and family support.

    It is the height of hypocrisy for anyone to tell other people how to lead their lives, whether it’s being pro-life or anti-gay. None of us has a right to moralize when we have all fallen so short of perfection and human harmony. These religions were forced on blacks and Latinos by Europeans and we should patently reject them and revisit our own culture and heritage before our minds, and many times our bodies, were enslaved for white profit. No one can awaken you but you.

  3. Tree said on November 10th, 2008 at 12:03pm #

    All good points, George. Especially your last sentence.
    Religions may do this to people, and I’m not supporter of religion, but people do this to people. Sadly, if they didn’t have religion to hide behind it would be something else.

  4. Carol said on November 10th, 2008 at 1:00pm #

    Re: “and Latinos, most Catholics, will not jeopardize what they consider their heavenly salvation just for the rights of gays.”

    Stop making generalizations. 53% is not an overwhelming number, and at best shows tepid support for Prop 8.

    47% of Latinos voted against the measure. You need to start looking at people as individuals and not as one unit. And stop creating a false construct of gays versus minorities. Newsflash: there are non-white gay people.

    In fact, that blindness is what helped doom the No on 8 campaign. If you want to win an election in CA, you have to target everybody and treat everybody as mainstream. Because in CA everybody is mainstream. You can’t ignore Latinos or treat them as The Other and still expect to win. The Yes on 8 campaign understood that and ran ads in English and in Spanish and did not make ethnicity an issue.