Sunday, November 09, 2008

Fuck Dan Savage

Barack Obama’s win, the passing of Prop 8… and white gay racism

(This is a very long post. Just so you know, you've reached the end of it after you hit the Millie Jackson video, which is past the Wanda Sykes clip.)

      I realized a while ago that my strength and my weakness as a writer (indeed, as a human being) is that I process shit emotionally first. A deep, internal well of turbulent emotion is where I reflexively drop music, film, politics, everything, before I run it (still dripping) through intellectual circuitry to map out analysis, to arrive at conclusions. I didn’t want to do that this historic week. I wanted to balance the scales of viscera and thoughtfulness before putting word to monitor to internet. Unfortunately, as I type this I am running on high-grade fury. I apologize in advance if I ramble a bit, circling around a point a few times before finding my intellectual parking space.
      I want to address three topics in this post: the election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States and the first black man to hold that office, California voting to approve the anti-gay / anti gay marriage ballot proposal Prop 8, and the bat-shit crazy, nakedly racist, ill-informed but unsurprising reaction of so many gay white men and their vituperative leaders in blaming California’s incredibly small (and rapidly shrinking) African American population for the state’s passing of Prop 8.
      First, Obama. I voted for him but not because I have faith that he can shore up the crumbling empire. The doubt has nothing to do with Obama’s enviable intelligence, wit, education & knowledge (those two are not synonymous), charm & grace. (I love that he so easily revives and carries forth an old-school, distinctly black male elegance. I know the memo states that he’s “post-black” and “post- race.” Eh... He’s on that vintage-but-not-trite-or-corny Negro tip. He knows that; he cultivates it. He is only a “new” manifestation to those who are ahistorical and / or glean their info on Blackness and Black maleness from mainstream media.) No, my doubt stems from the nagging suspicion that, in terms of economic health and sustainability, we may be too far gone for mere “salvaging,” that we need a whole new system of thought, practice and being. “Change” that is deep, systemic, visionary and radical in ways that Obama is not interested in and is not about. (Click here to read brother Mumia’s take on Obama’s run and presidency.) Ron Paul was someone for whom I seriously considered voting when he was in the running. Feeling, as I do, that the two-party system is not doing us any favors, I would have cast a protest vote for McKinney this time (though I’m not wholly thrilled with her either), but for purely selfish psychological reasons I cast my vote not so much for Obama but against McCain / Palin. Although I knew California would go Obama and I could tip my ballot to McKinney without fear of enabling a McCain victory, it was necessary on a purely personal level to use my vote to refute the racism, anti-immigrant sentiment, Islamophobia, homophobia, and all-around nastiness & spiritual indecency stoked by the Republican candidate and his chosen running mate.
      The Republicans and their vitriolic Fox News handmaidens tapped into a fount of American bigotry that is fed by many horrifying streams and turned Obama (in the eyes of their faithful) into a walking quilt of anti-American terrorism, fag-sympathizing, immigrant supporting, lazy-niggers-breathing up-all-the-white-man’s-air-while-bumping-fists, simmering Muslim terrorism, socialism and communism. (Damn, are Google and Wikipedia no longer working?) In shorthand, he was the OG American boogeyman: The scary nigger. With an uppity Black wife.
      But there has been a shift in the American psyche. The Republicans didn’t know that. They were banking on the white folks who are still snagged several evolutionary rungs back. And let’s be clear: the numbers of those folks are not insubstantial. The fact that for most of the campaign cycle the presidential race was even as close as it was is absolutely disgusting and is still a cape of shame hanging on this country’s shoulders. Because despite two-steps-forward, it was still very much about race in this race. (Click this link for a news article on what Palin’s rabble-rousing has wrought.)

      For me, a vote for Obama – along with my voting no on Prop 8 – was a pointed vote against the fear-mongering tactics employed by McCain’s and Palin’s campaign. Those tactics emboldened folks still holding hard to their racism. Those same tactics also emboldened the bigotry that not only drove Prop 8 but that has also found soil and sprouted in the white-centric, queer so-called-community’s racist backlash to the fucked-up passing of Prop 8. All that shit – the homophobia, the immigrant bashing, the marrow-deep anti-Black sentiment, the Muslim bashing, the demonizing of Rev. Wright – is fundamentally connected. It is fear & loathing of “other,” fear of possibility, fear of creating a cultural / political / religious center that is not solely and rigidly flag-waving, Christian, white, hetero – and, to be truthful, seriously moneyed. (One of the most tragically hilarious aspects of the campaign was watching economically disenfranchised, struggling white folk spew rightwing talking-point nonsense about Obama wanting to commandeer their hard-earned money and assets, and then freely pass out the bounty to “the undeserving.” It was like being time-warped back to high school where the in-crowd would have their desperate-to-belong flunkies carry out their dirty work with the unspoken and never-to-be-fulfilled promise of cool-kid inclusion.)
     But I’ve gone off on a tangent. My point in voting for Obama, as I said, was to use the ballot box as my own small way of “renouncing” the exploiting and fanning of prejudice for political gain. That was also my reason for voting no on Prop 8. On a personal level, I have no horse in that particular race. I have no desire to get married, to turkey baste any children into existence, or to own an annoying little yapping dog. But it was clear from the start that Prop 8 wasn’t really about protecting the sanctity of marriage. It was gateway bigotry, a gauntlet thrown down by those who are terrified of the evolution of a collective spirit and consciousness. It was homophobic, plain and simple. Because if the Mormon Church, Negro church (some of whose leaders, it should be pointed out, did publicly denounce Prop 8), and Catholic Church really cared about protecting marriage, they’d have spent the staggering amount of money raised to promote the anti-gay initiative ($38 million according to the Nov. 5 Wall Street Journal) on creating and promoting initiatives that address the issues which really tear at marriage, especially in this dire economic moment – lack of healthcare, extending unemployment benefits and broadening the terms of qualification, something to at least try to ensure that the billions and billions of tax-payer dollars recently sent to Wall Street will actually trickle down to folks losing homes and small businesses. It is unspeakably obscene that with American food banks stretched precariously thin, struggling to feed the thousands of families newly added to their throngs of clients, this country’s religious fundamentalists would channel money into creating a second- class citizenry rather than assist folks who are truly hurting.
      About a month or so ago, I noticed that the media was beating a very disturbing drum. They were whipping the hysteria that the increased participation of Black folks in this year’s presidential election, the robust registration and expected record-breaking Negro voter turnout, bode ill for those favoring gay marriage. I blogged about it on September 21st (click the link here.) It’s been pretty amazing since then to watch fools dance to a tune that was clearly orchestrated a while ago. Following the disappointing returns on Prop 8, the white gay-ghettos of the blogosphere were like KKK rallies much of last week. In comments sections of heavily trafficked and influential gay blogs like Towleroad, Queerty and Datalounge (among countless others), there has been 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. Here’s a sample typical of the comments that were being posted. It was actually left by a self-identified white gay man on Rod2.0 (a fantastic, must-read politics & culture blog catering to Negro homosexuals):

“We lost California because of two massive groups, Blacks and Mormons. I would have thought that Latinos, especially coming from societies with machismo and Catholicism built into them, would have voted been worse. However it was n*ggers, yes that’s right I said it, n*ggers who voted for Obama on one hand and then on the same godd*mned ballot voted to erase a fundamental human right for an entire class of citizens. The day every black person in America is singing “free at last”, is the very same day that millions of ignorant homophobic Obama voting n*ggers vote to keep gays as third class citizens.”

On the same day that the comment immediately above was posted to Rod's site, Rod himself blogged the following excerpts from emails he'd received from his readers:

Geoffrey, a student at UCLA and regular Rod 2.0 reader, joined the massive protest outside the Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Westwood [On Nov. 6th]. Geoffrey was called the n-word at least twice.

      "It was like being at a klan rally except the klansmen were wearing Abercrombie polos and Birkenstocks. YOU NIGGER, one man shouted... If your people want to call me a FAGGOT, I will call you a nigger. Someone else said same thing to me on the next block near the and my friend were walking, he is also gay but Korean, and a young WeHo clone said after last night the niggers better not come to West Hollywood if they knew what was BEST for them."

Los Angeles resident and Rod 2.0 reader A. Ronald says he and his boyfriend, who are both black, were carrying NO ON PROP 8 signs and still subjected to racial abuse.

      "Three older men accosted my friend and shouted, "Black people did this, I hope you people are happy!" A young lesbian couple with mohawks and Obama buttons joined the shouting and said there were "very disappointed with black people" and "how could we" after the Obama victory. This was stupid for them to single us out because we were carrying those blue NO ON PROP 8 signs! I pointed that out and the one of the older men said it didn't matter because "most black people hated gays" and he was "wrong" to think we had compassion. That was the most insulting thing I had ever heard. I guess he never thought we were gay."

      The racism, white supremacy and white entitlement that are never far beneath the surface in the “queer community” have all been released like hell hounds. The thing is, none of that racism and willful ignorance of fact is news to gays and lesbians of color. It’s been infuriating and debilitating to read but only in the way that confirmation of what you already know to be true can sometimes still knock you on your ass. It’s what happens when ghosts are given form.
      Controversy in the queer blogosphere was stirred when popular gay sex columnist Dan Savage posted a column blaming Black folk for the “Yes on 8” victory, all but absolving white homophobia and citing a poll that even on the surface was hugely suspect – none of which stopped it from being referenced all over the media, from traditional outlets to the blogosphere. In the column linked here, Savage writes:

“African American voters in California voted overwhelmingly for Prop 8, writing anti-gay discrimination into California’s constitution and banning same-sex marriage in that state. Seventy percent of African American voters approved Prop 8, according to exit polls, compared to 53% of Latino voters, 49% of white voters, 49% of Asian voters.

“I’m not sure what to do with this. I’m thrilled that we’ve just elected our first African-American president. I wept last night. I wept reading the papers this morning. But I can’t help but feeling hurt that the love and support aren’t mutual.

“I do know this, though: I’m done pretending that the handful of racist gay white men out there— and they’re out there, and I think they’re scum — are a bigger problem for African Americans, gay and straight, than the huge numbers of homophobic African Americans are for gay Americans, whatever their color.

“This will get my name scratched of the invite list of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which is famous for its anti-racist-training seminars, but whatever.

“Finally, I’m searching for some exit poll data from California. I’ll eat my shorts if gay and lesbian voters went for McCain at anything approaching the rate that black voters went for Prop 8.”

      Unfortunately, Savage was not alone in propagating the horribly off-kilter data from CNN's ineptly done poll. (Dig how he drapes himself in anticipated victimhood and martyrdom – “This will get my name scratched of the invite list of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which is famous for its anti-racist-training seminars, but whatever.” – while also taking a none-too-subliminal dig at the notion of race sensitivity training.) Headlines of newspapers across the country boasted the same misinformation Savage was pumping:

“Black voters helped ban gay marriage in California” - Detroit Free Press

“Latin and Black Voters Instrumental to the Success of Proposition 8” - Associated Press

“Most of California’s Black Voters Backed Gay Marriage Ban”Washington Post

“Black, Latino voters helped Prop. 8 pass” - LA Daily News

“Black voters in Broward overwhelmingly supported amendment banning gay marriage”Broward Politics

“Black and Latino voters critical to same-sex marriage ban’s success”San Jose Mercury News

“Exit poll: Black voters back Calif. marriage ban”San Francisco Chronicle

“Black voters helped Prop. 8 passage”The Sacramento Bee

      Luckily, some black folks (who else was gonna do it?) rolled up their sleeves and seriously examined the CNN poll that was being bandied about. The first and most important rebuttal to really blow up was from Shanikka on her blog Maat’s Feather, which was picked up by DailyKOS and exploded across the net. I, and countless other people, posted her detailed breakdown of exactly why the CNN poll being referenced was so crucially “off” onto countless other blogs and sites. It caused some people (gay and straight) to pause and reconsider the scapegoating of Black folk, while others dug in their heels and refused to budge. Below, in italics (the bold highlights are also bold in her original post), is just part of what Shanikka wrote. Even though this is only an excerpt, it’s long and thickly marbled with statistics so grab a glass of juice and some almonds. And although it’s long, it’s not boring. Also keep in mind that this was first posted Nov. 7:

This diary [blog post – EH] is organized around the myths that necessarily underlie the scurrilous claim that “Black people are to blame.”

Factually Unsupported Myth # 1: CNN's 10% Black exit poll sample accurately reflects the actual distribution of voters on Proposition 8.

Each and every argument I've read since Proposition 8 passed that lays blame on Black people --- whether only [as] the worst of the haters or even primarily -- for the passage of Proposition 8 starts with CNN's exit poll statistics about Proposition 8 at its foundation. Yet anyone who knows anything about the demographics of the State of California - or anyone who spent ½ as much time looking up actual data as ranting all over the free world about what "Black people" did "to gay people" (as if those groups are wholly separate, telling you a lot about the racism that underlies the argument) would know that 10% simply defies reality, unless a million or so Black folks snuck into the state just before the election so they could say they cast their vote for Barack Obama on sunny California shores.

But even if you are not like me, not an actual resident of the state and willing to do my homework before spouting off, it did not take any study to figure out what was the problem. Indeed, if you read CNN's own explanation of its exit polling/projection process, it is clear that CNN makes no claim that the distribution of folks which it exit polled about Proposition 8 was necessarily reflective of the actual racial percentages of the California electorate who voted, not even in those places that CNN actually exit-polled in. From CNN's own website about its methodology:

      “The process of projecting races begins by creating a sample of precincts. The precincts are selected by random chance, like a lottery, and every precinct in the state has an equal chance to be in the sample. They are not bellwether precincts or "key" precincts. Each one does not mirror the vote in a state but the sample collectively does.

      The first indication of the vote comes from the exit polls conducted by EMR. On the day of the election, EMR interviewers stand outside of precincts in a given state. They count the people coming out after they have voted and are instructed to interview every third person or every fifth person, for example, throughout the voting day. The rate of selection depends on the number of voters expected at the polling place that day. They do this from the time the polling place opens until shortly before it closes.”

What's missing from this picture?

CNN has left us without a critical piece of information necessary to establish the validity of its sampling on Proposition 8: precisely where the network exit polled in California. It simply says that “the aggregate sample is accurate” but has not provided the key piece of information necessary to actually prove it.

This matters for a reason. Specifically, in a state where different demographic populations are reasonably-evenly spread throughout a state, which does not also have dramatic divergences in political ideology which depend on where you live within the state, CNN's methodology might permit it to make a truly accurate statement about the percentage of voters in total who voted on a measure state-wide.

That, however, is not an accurate description of the state of California, as anyone who lives here knows.

In California, virtually all of this state's Black folks live in just 9 of the state's 58 counties:

Alameda County (13.7% Black)
Sacramento County (10.5% Black)
Los Angeles County (9.6% Black)
Contra Costa County (9.5% Black)
San Joaquin County (8.0% Black)
San Francisco County (7.2% Black - although this number has plummeted and will plummet more after redevelopment of the last "Black neighborhood", Hunters' Point)
Riverside County (6.6% Black)
Kern County (6.3% Black)
San Diego County (5.5% Black).

The vast majority of the counties in this state have a percentage of Black residents of between 1 and 2% (and several have far have less than 1%).

When you know that about California, you know that CNN's “random selection of precinct” method doesn't seem to make a lot of sense if what you're trying to do is actually know what Black voters are doing at the polls.

Frankly, in a state whose political leanings of the state are quite red / conservative except for a few pockets of population (which state unleashed Ronald Reagan on the nation again? Any guesses?), choosing precincts to exit poll “by random selection”, and then selecting targets by simply counting either 1 out of 3 or 1 out of 5 - with no attempt to ensure that you are getting an accurate correlate by race -- is a recipe for statistical disaster if what you are trying to do is make a claim about not only how many Black people actually voted, but what those Black voters did, or did not do, on a particular matter.

(In this case, the disaster has in fact occurred and unleashed hateful anti-Black rhetoric from white gay bloggers and others that is going to set the cause of gay people back a long fucking time in the Black community if it doesn't get in check.)

Finally, when was the last time you heard of an exit poll that measured voters by mail? In another state and in another election, not including votes by mail might not matter so much. But in California? In this election? It is a huge omission of data since an estimated 4,000,000 voters in California are registered as "permanent absentee voters." It is estimated by the No on 8 Campaign that 3,000,000 absentee votes were cast in California for Tuesday's election. We are not even going to discuss early voters, since I cannot find a statistic on them right now other than to note that a lot of California voters cast their votes before Election Day. So who knows how those two groups cast their votes on Proposition 8, their racial makeup, or anything else?

I don't. Neither do you.

Factually Unsupported Myth #2: There were enough Black people in California to have created, all by themselves, the 510,000 margin (as of tonight) of passage for Proposition 8.

(Yesterday [Nov. 6 – EH], the measure was winning in the AM by only 400,000 and last night by 504,000 votes. Today's numbers indicate that as absentee ballots continue to be counted the “Yes” votes are outstripping the “No” ones. Sadly. Depressingly.)

Let's now discuss the bottom line fact from which all of the seemingly never-ending “Black voters are the reason Proposition 8 passed” must necessarily flow: the number of Black voters in California. Exactly how many Black voters are there in California? Let's try and find out.

This is the math part.

As of the 2000 census, 6.7% of California's population was Black… However, the more up-to-date ACS estimates indicate that in 2006, only approximately 2.26 million Black people lived in the state. Just 6.2% of the entire state's population.

(This, attentive people will note, is far, far, below our national presence of around 13%.)

I’m going to repeat this for those who are twisting in the wind and keep repeating the false idea of a 10% Black electorate statistic like an emotional life raft in their grief over Proposition 8.

There are only 2.26 million Black people in the entire State of California. We are just 6.2% of the entire population in this state.

Black people are the smallest minority in California other than Native Americans and Pacific Islanders, which come in at just under 7/10ths of 1% and 3/10ths of 1% respectively.

(We used to have lots more Black folks here -- as is evident in even the difference between the 2000 Census and 2006 ACS data, but there has been a reverse migration of African-Americans out of California for the past 15 years or so, the bulk of which has been in the past 5 years. We are the only demographic in California whose population estimates are going down, not up, each year. Rapidly going down, at that, due to the economic difficulties that poor and working class people have had surviving in this state since the dot-com boom. Unfortunately, it's just going to get worse thanks to the California foreclosure crisis, which has devastated Black and Latino communities throughout the state, but it is too early to know new numbers just yet; the 2010 census will be telling.)

It is here that I note for the record that, in contrast to the 6.2% of California that is Black, non-Hispanic whites constitute 43.1% of the California population, Latinos 35.9% and Asians, 12.4%. (There is a 1.2% overlap, mostly between Blacks and Latinos since of course there are a bunch of Latino Black people although you'd never know it sometimes listening to the rhetoric.)

That means:

There are 7 times as many white people in California as Blacks.

There are nearly 6 times as many Latino people in California as Blacks.

And there are double the number of Asian people as Blacks.

Be sure to keep these numbers in mind when thinking about CA registered voters, and Proposition 8.

For the purposes of trying to set the record straight here on DailyKOS and elsewhere on Proposition 8, even though the Black population has declined between 2006 and 2008 and the 2010 Census will almost certainly show it is no longer accurate, let's use the 2.26 million figure for the purposes of the rest of this diary.

Factually Unsupported Myth #3: All Black people in California are old enough to vote.

It seems obvious, but at times when folks are writing diaries blaming “Black people” or “Blacks” or “Black women”, without any qualification, for Proposition 8 - even though 1/3 of us voted against it by CNN’s own poll – and when folks make choice comments such as ‘Dad, I'm no longer a nigger lover!’ (which earned my only troll rating of the entire two days), I guess it needs to be said: Black folks are not hatched fully grown. And, as we all know, in this country until one is 18 years old, one cannot vote.

Of the 2.26 million Black people living in the glorious state of California, just around 700,000 (691,313 of them in 2003, the last number I could find) are under the age of 18, going by the census data. Deducting those Black people leaves only 1.56 million Black adults in the state. [That’s] the maximum number of eligible voters taking into account no other factors, if every last one of us Black folk in California were registered voters.

(Those of you who have looked at these numbers and know that Proposition 8 lost by 510,000 votes know why I'm taking what will be 5+ hours to write this diary, since you can already see where we’re heading numerically even if we stopped here. This diary is not intended to educate you, because your racism doesn't cloud your judgment or common sense. This diary is for those other folks.)

Alas, not all of those 1.56 million Black folks can vote.

      Click here to get the rest of her entry as she further breaks down just why the "Blame the niggers" howl is so very off-key and off-point. It is illuminating. A Cliff’s Notes version of Shanikka’s exhaustive breakdown was provided on the Rod2.0 site by the poster kevjack, who wrote:

1) This [70%] number comes from *one* exit poll of 224 black voters.

2) Of the hundreds of polls done on Prop 8, not a single one showed black support above 50%.

3) Exit polls are notoriously unreliable because the sampling procedure is flawed. These are the same polls that predicted that Kerry would win in 2004.

4) I think we need to discuss the issues of race and sexuality separate from this “black people hate gay people” garbage. As I said, people believe this 70/30 stuff because it is a number that validates what they believe.

5) Why isn’t anybody talking about the hundreds of polls that showed black support for Prop 8 was *below* 50%, and very close to other ethnic and racial groups? Because those polls don't support the hypothesis that black people have a “homophobia problem”. I think we need to discuss the issue of homophobia in the black community, but not because of a flawed poll.

      What especially infuriates me, your humble blogger, is the way nobody in the “proper” media questioned or checked the glaringly obvious problems with the CNN poll. From the start, it was clear that the number of the total black population of California was being used interchangeably with registered and likely voters. Even my mathematically challenged ass, allergic to any math symbols other than those for addition and subtraction, was asking, “Wait a minute. In these numbers being tossed about on the Negro electorate, are y’all factoring in babies, school children, inmates, parolees who can’t vote, and unregistered voters?” For real? But that only underscores the fact that when it comes to covering black folk, the media (mainstream and so-called alternative) are reliably sloppy, reliably unchecked on the ways in which their own racial biases and preconceptions shape the news. And it’s quite telling that when white religious fanatics speak and vote their bigotry, they are specifically identified by their religion (Mormon) or are otherwise individualized (Pat Robertson; the Phelps clan) to set them apart from “normal” or larger whiteness. Negroes are not granted that same leeway.
      I don’t want this post to be seen as me letting Black folks off the hook for homophobia. The modern black church is quite often inexcusably shameful on a host of contemporary social concerns, gay & lesbian issues being one of them. The modern church is not the same place that birthed people like Fannie Lou Hamer. While there are black religious institutions that are progressive and visionary, the hideous (on every level) mega-churches are often helmed by backwards thinking charlatans who prove the theory that a lot of Negroes don’t know how to exist without a massa. White conservatives (who historically and contemporarily have been at best indifferent toward and at worst actively detrimental to issues concerning black folk) pour money into the coffers of these churches and then have leashed & deluded Negro foot soldiers do their reactionary bidding.

      While so many (too many) white queers have spent the last several days bashing all black folk as monolithic homophobic Neanderthals, four things are worth noting. 1) The No On 8 groups did a shitty job getting their message out to various minority groups whose votes hung in the balance and who collectively might have swung the vote a different way if they’d been approached in the first place. Click this link to read one example of how they shrugged off the responsibility of campaigning in communities of color. (And not just black neighborhoods.) By contrast, the Yes On 8 folks rolled out well beyond their natural constituencies, networking with all sorts of folks, being sure to create imagery and to reference cultural signifiers in multiple languages that would play with Black, Latino and Asian voters. Yeah, they lied their lying asses off… but they also did the ground work that No On 8 simply did not. 2) White gay men saying they feel betrayed because they voted for Obama and the niggers voted for Prop 8 need to do better. This was not a quid pro quo situation. You didn't vote for Obama as a favor to black folks. You did it because he was the candidate most likely to serve your interests and who was most in line with your politics and your hopes for the future. 3) Prop 8 was created, funded and overwhelmingly passed by the overwhelming support of white people. 4) The following items are of special note: The nation’s two most progressive governors on gay issues are African Americans Deval Patrick (Massachusetts) and David Paterson (New York). Iconic civil rights figures like Julian Bond and the late Coretta Scott King have been outspoken in their support of gay & lesbian rights. The Congressional Black Caucus is perhaps the most powerful and consistently pro-gay and lesbian political block in Washington. Samuel Jackson, Magic Johnson and Wanda Sykes all made No on 8 public service announcements. Sixty-six year-old James Shelby, president of the Greater Sacramento Urban League, which came out against Prop 8, was quoted as saying, “I’m a Christian man. But I’m also president of the Urban League, and the Urban League has always been a civil rights group. That’s what this organization was founded on.” He said he and his group wouldn’t “wave a flag and see how it blows” on the issue of gay marriage. “The law says that they have the right. I think that the courts are ultimately going to be the ones to prevail on this.”
      Wrapping it up: In his controversial, shit-starting column, Savage quipped, “I’m searching for some exit poll data from California. I’ll eat my shorts if gay and lesbian voters went for McCain at anything approaching the rate that black voters went for Prop 8.” I’m not sure which rate he’s referring to; the one grounded in fact, or the hysterical whine of distortion that he’s helped put out. But as it turns out, according to the gay Republican organization Log Cabin Republicans, gays & lesbians did vote in unprecedented numbers for McCain. In a press email sent out on November 6th, the organization’s president, Patrick Sammon, wrote:

Losing hurts. There’s no way to sugarcoat it. We’re disappointed Sen. McCain lost. We’re heartbroken Proposition 8 seems to have passed in California along with anti-marriage amendments in Florida and Arizona & a gay adoption ban in Arkansas. And we’re sorry to see several Log Cabin allies lose their re-election campaign. But there is some good news from the election and there’s an opportunity for Log Cabin members to help build a new Republican majority.

Exit polls show Sen. John McCain received at least 1.3 million votes from gay and lesbian Americans—more than any other Republican Presidential candidate has ever received. He garnered 27% of the LGBT vote, an increase from 19% support for President Bush four years ago.”

      I won't even get into the cluster-fuck of Log Cabin homo logic and delusion. I will say that Savage is the Sarah Palin of white gay “activists,” riling up the angry, racist, poorly informed, “disenfranchised” troops by tossing off easily refuted bullshit as his platform talking points and having his frothing audience (I’ve dubbed them the Savage Palinites) take the race-baited baton and run with it. What we end up with is the admitted homophobia of the African American community analyzed and contextualized through the filter of white homo arrogance and racism.

Jesus, take the wheel.

      But this is the part of the show where I surrender any and all efforts to be thoughtful and measured, where I just give in to my Detroit background (It’s so cold in the D…) and pull out a Youtube clip I searched out just for Savage and his boys… Yo, is it true you can see Russia from West Hollywood?

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Anonymous said...

as always, amazing commentary. thank you for a speaking words to power. that's what I mean.

Catherine said...

Although I'm certain you, and I'm sure at least some of your readers have already done so, I too have forwarded a copy of this important and enlightening post to Dan Savage. I hope he gets the message.

AbouMack said...

Dan Savage let his judgmental position get to his head which is why he made this truly vile statement. He has no sense of proportion or number, and makes absurd qualitative comparisons between oppressions. It is an insult and shows flawed perception to even compare them. I will stop reading his column starting now.

Anonymous said...

Massively great column, E. Love your points about mail-in voting's role in exit polling.

Ernest Hardy said...

Thanks for the feedback anon, Catherine, Mehammed, and Donnell. Just wanted to clarify that the point about mail-in ballots was actually part of the excerpt from Shanikka's "Maat’s Feather" blog.


summer of sam said...

generally, i just read your work and appreciate it without actually saying so. but this time, i'm compelled to thank you for your (always) incisive commentary. so, many thanks from blackgaymidwesterner who, despite the scapegoating, wishes she was in southern california because the temperature in chi city just dropped like mother nature finally remembered it was november.

Unknown said...

everyone (yes everyone!) needs to read this. incredibly insightful.

Anonymous said...

All that quick to judge nigger calling energy is what has been there all along on the tips of those individual white gay activists' tongues. I just hope each one examines their soul when they go back to their usual "we are the world of gayness (as long as I control it)" schtick.

substitute said...

I tried to post before but Google hates openID.

Thank you again. This piece cut through tons of bullshit all at once, and I'm recommending that everyone read it.


Caro said...

Ernest, ranting is sometimes good for the soul, especially when backed with FACTS. Great post, I'll be riffing on it soonest.

It's making me think a lot about how, in a way, it's salutary to have the return of the repressed -- exposing the ugly stitches of how we've achieved a tenuous "togetherness" that in truth holds deep reserves of distrust, ignorance about each other and kneejerk "blame the Other" responses instead of doing the work.

Lois L. said...

I got back from GOTV back east to hear that same news about the minority vote causing Prop 8 to pass. I'm embarrassed to admit I didn't even question it - even though it was unfathomable to me - until I read your post. Thank you for your service. Sending it far and wide.
But does this mean I have to stop demonizing Mormons too?

K. Simmonds said...


Do you know what you just said? This excerpt is so real--it's unreal reading it:

"While there are black religious institutions that are progressive and visionary, the hideous (on every level) mega-churches are often helmed by backwards thinking charlatans who prove the theory that a lot of Negroes don’t know how to exist without a massa. White conservatives (who historically and contemporarily have been at best indifferent toward and at worst actively detrimental to issues concerning black folk) pour money into the coffers of these churches and then have leashed & deluded Negro foot soldiers do their reactionary bidding."

If we can get this--really get this--and figure ways to reach out to churches, together we can make a world of difference.

Thanks for taking the time to let the juices flow and for, ahem, letting us drink.


Anonymous said...

thank you, thank you for this truth. how can white gay people demonize black people for passing Prop 8 when there's not enough black registered voters in the entire state of California to turn that vote around?? this black-bashing has to stop. they need to look somewhere else to express their frustration. Cali is not just San Fran and L.A., baby. but i guess black-bashing is the easy out...

Unknown said...

I've been trying to blog about this for a while, but have been having trouble because I start to get LIVID every time, and I want to be Mr Cool as shit like our New Presideezie...Thanks for going all Detroit on these fools, Ernest. Very well said.

Maybe like Barack and Rahm Emmanuel, we can play "Good Blog/Bad Blog," trading off who gets to be calm and who pulls out the can of whip ass...

Anonymous said...

It fascinates and disturbs me on so many levels; First, I was appalled at the numbers. As a Brooklyn Boy living in LA, I had to adjust to the “visual” segregation in this state. Now I’m saddened to see the numbers. I thought they were just hiding my Negroid Brothers and Sisters. It’s obvious the numbers of available Black voters are extremely low.

Secondly, The mainstream Caucasoid gay community, constantly neglect to create multi-cultural coalitions. It’s impossible to establish camaraderie for a cause with non-existent relationships. Allowing for a few token situations the settings in most gay environments are typically segregated.

Thirdly, I witnessed a stronger campaign from the YES on 8 organizers. The NO on 8 organizers never fully took off. I didn’t see ya’ll. Incidentally, before you get at me, I still proudly post my NO on 8 sign on my front lawn, I donated, I signed, and I got married. Otherwise the only reference I had to this issue was the constant rotation of misleading YES ads. One in particular, ends with a sweet pre-pubescent, wide-eyed, Latina girl slightly cocking her head with obvious vulnerability. It implies somehow I could snap her neck with my fundamental rights. I also witnessed invariable placements of ads on sites like myspace. Irony is to watch vouguing clips tagged with these ads. Willie Ninja would be gagging!

I understand the unfortunate support the YES on 8 constituents received from the religious right. However, back in the day, (referring to the civil rights movement as is often done), shit was done with mimeograph sheets, and knocking on strangers doors where you might get your ass kicked. Was it really an all- encompassing grass roots movement? Attention and education to the proposition wasn’t always available. We were invisible. One needs to step out of their core group in order to be fully effective. In not doing so, creates this bubble environment where we deal only with like-minded people. Caught up in agreements over brunch doesn’t reach the ill advised. I say this for all of us; Occasionally, we must step out of our circles.

Fourth… When the hell did our Negroid Peeps get so much “electoral juice”? I had no idea your vote actually mattered that much. Aware of this information we should propose an infinite number of propositions that would benefit an otherwise neglected group.

Yo, this is my Brother Ernest’ soapbox. (E- I love the shit out of your incisive and provocative writing) Let me wrap this shit up.

When I moved to Cali, I was presumptuous to think it was full of yoga lovin’, granola eatin’, and nouveau hippies of all colors. Shit, I had that on my old block in Harlem and before (gentrification) that in the LES. I discovered that it ain’t yoga but many of these individuals are bent up for different reasons. The fear of the Brown man and woman is the biggest one. I observe as people create this façade of selective tolerance. I’ll tolerate Juan as long as he does my lawn and stays outside… I’ll tolerate Leroy because he has a uniform on… I’ll tolerate Darryl ‘cause he has a big dick. When the fuck are we going to get passed all this shit?

By the by, I did not attend any rallies after the election. I’m an angry Puerto Rican, if I heard the n word once, I would have beat some dumb motherfuckers ass and taken my white husband home.

Thank you for your time.

Anonymous said...

This is the article I've been waiting for. Thank you, Ernest. I don't know of anyone else who has the perspective, focus, and skill to bring this issue to light in the way that you have.

It's amazing how quickly and broadly the story of the polling numbers was propagated. I've been posting on some LDS sights in Utah, where the Mormon church is taking a lot of heat. More than a few of them are saying, "don't blame us, blame the blacks in your state!"

This is a story that needs some major media exposure, at the very least an op/ed piece. I would like to see the L.A. Times run some version of this article. They kept the black / prop 8 story above the fold for at least a couple of days.

I do think, or at least hope, that the racism that has so long been woven into the gay subculture may be diminishing. That is my optimism, that the younger generation is dropping some of that baggage in both the gay community and the country at large.

Anonymous said...

Never underestimate the gross power of the media, like the growing CNN empire, and really anyone with influence for that matter, who blindly, faithfully, and unmindfully "pays attention" and with the wave of their magical, influential hand, sway the popular, social and political imagination.

However, also don't forget that emotions are high right now and people are angry. Working together is always a better option. People make mistakes, so let the guilty be heard. And I do expect to hear from them (Mr. Savage, CNN, others) - just as I expected to hear from W Bush when his mistakes became so clear to all.

Mistakes are what progression is made of. Who will admit and who will not? Time will tell. A lesson unlearned is the worst mistake of all.

Anonymous said...

Prop 8 clearly stated on the ballot:


People knew exactly what they were doing when they voted yes to eliminate gay people's CIVIL RIGHT to marry.

Anonymous said...

There's fire in these words!...And you lit the flame under their asses...

Anonymous said...

Yes, thank you for this so much! I've been in a fury over what I've seen this past week. Reading this eased some of my tension. Greatly appreciated and incredibly well thought out, sir.

Ron Buckmire said...

I'm sure you saw that Dan Savage has posted your cartoon image at SLOG and is giving a gay white male read on the image.

Thankfully, when he was on COLBERT REPORT he "checked himself" and was carefully doing nothing to increase Black/gay tensions but instead mentioned how "old people" were a bigger reason for Prop 8's passing.

But the meme is out there that Black people were responsible for Prop 8 passing and IT WILL NOT DIE. The LA TIMES had an op-ed which said exactly that yesterday, even though their own reporting and data shows that statement is false.

The reason why the meme refuses to die is rooted in white racism and a knee-jerk reaction of many many people to believe that Black people are homophobic, IMHO.

Cool post!

Anonymous said...

Ernest, I came to your blog via Rod's. Brilliant break down of the situation. Racist scapegoating on the blogs is worse enough, but hearing people actually drop the 'n' bomb was the last straw. I wish some gay Miss Ann would try that in Chicago...I'm gonna leave it at that.

People of color did not have a seat at the table. Grassroots outreach was not done. Besides a Youtube video of actor Doug Spearman, and Samuel Jackson's narration, where were the people of color spots and specifically lgbt POC?

Just got an email from a friend and hope to see your talk in Chicago today.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! I just came across your blog--this is such an important post-thank you for getting it out so soon.

Anonymous said...

This post kicked some righteous ass! Damn! I've never made it to your site, and this is the first post that I have read on the whole Prop 8 (yes, I shut all the shit out - couldn't handle it). I think its the last. What the hell else is there to say?

ted said...

I came here via a blog comment (on Towleroad, no less) and an email from a professional academic organization.

I agree wholeheartedly that the No on 8 campaign did a terrible job of reaching the African-American community. They did a much better job with Latinos, though not good enough, despite the "Ugly Betty" ads.

And I agree there's been a lot of unfair scapegoating on the passage of Prop 8. (But I do not think scapegoating is inherently racist.) However, I think that the response to the scapegoating of blacks has been as unfair as the original crime. Suddenly, Towleroad and Queerty commenters are racists, Dan Savage is a racist, and anyone who expresses anger that other minorities don't get the gay struggle is a racist. I just spent the last hour and a half looking for slurs on the sites you mentioned above and I couldn't find anything. I found a lot of debate about racism in the gay community and homophobia in the black community. A lot of it was really good debate; some of it was stupid, but very little of it would even rise to the level of racism, unless one thinks that every bit of ignorance about cultural difference rises to the level of racism. It's quite possible the offending comments were deleted, but this would mean that the moderators are doing their jobs.

And your four points are exactly right. But I don't think that scapegoating Dan Savage for an angry scapegoating column does anyone any good.

Ernest Hardy said...

Thanks for checking out my blog, Ted. If you did not find racist comments on the blogs you mentioned, it means either you didn't dig far back OR (as you said) the moderators are doing their jobs. Finally. Because in the days immediately following the passage of Prop 8, the sites you mentioned (along with many others) were most certainly filled with endless racist comments from readers. And I am not talking about simple (if exhausting) ignorance of cultural differences. I'm not someone who reflexively cries racism at every flare-up or misunderstanding, and I think the thoughtless issuing of the charge (by idiots like Detroit's fallen mayor Kilpatrick) really hurts cases where the charge is true... as it is in the case of what was found throughout the blogosphere last week and earlier this week.

Anonymous said...

That was powerful, thank you so much for taking the time to tell it like it is in the real world. The pure hatred and flurry of racial slurs I have been reading on gay blogs is sadder than any loss of Prop 8.

Anonymous said...

I loved your commentary here--and Dan Savage is a fucking, masturbates-in-print moron. I, unfortunately share the same city with him.

Anonymous said...

Whoa. This is an amazing post. (Speaking of color, though, reading a post that long in green-on-black ain't easy for anyone over 45.)

Dan Savage's response is completely consistent with his usual politics. You can rest assured that any gay man who earns a following in the mainstream media has a broad streak of conservatism that makes the pundits feel like their rear ends are safe around him.

Andrew Sullivan is another example. Indeed, almost 10 years ago the man who lent the Bell Curve credibility through his role as editor of The New Republic, was marketing his own book proposal on race and intelligence.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. People everywhere act like racist gays that are so IGNORANT that they assume that ever black person is the same ( like the people that assume all gays are pedophiles) are justified. They never mention that over half of openly gay people in CA just sat at home on election day. It is wrong to blame others for your own problems. God Bless You for realizing this
Man fed up with racism after Prop 8