NOW can we talk about Queerness and Racism?

So. Yeah. I am still stunned at how quickly the election seemed to be over last night, how soon McCain conceded–8:45pm Pacific Time–and I am still mightily relieved that the Republican/NeoCon/Religious Right has lost its stranglehold on the federal government. Perhaps now we can, as a nation, make our way towards being seen as rational, impartial, and committed to human rights rather than to making the world over in our image. Science may once again be used as a valuable resource for deciding domestic environmental policy and our global environmental stance, rather than censored, distorted, or simply thrown out when it does not agree with our ideological views. Hopefully, some sort of solution can be found to the grave mess we have made in the Middle East. And with some very good luck, we can stop blaming the economically and socially disadvantaged for conditions they were born into and offer them viable assistance in rebuilding their relationships to their own cultures, and, where necessary, rebuilding those cultures themselves.

One can hope that sanity will creep back into the American consciousness, until we again have a grasp on empirical reality that actually takes into account empirical consequences.

One thing though: yeah. Proposition 8. I have so much to say on this subject that I cannot hope to put it all in this post, and may have to sit and ruminate before I tackle various aspects of the question of how we handle its passing as a community of queers. Yes, I am talking to a specific “we” at the moment, although it also includes non-queer allies who voted No and/or who contributed time and money to the effort to help California citizens understand that writing discrimination into the state constitution is not what a freedom-loving population wants to do. Where to start?

Well, first I think one fire in particular needs to be put out, and it needs to be put out now, loudly and firmly, by anyone with a sense of history and justice. Case-in-point: over at the Daily Kos, d edmonds is demanding that “we talk about Race and Homophobia”, but as you might imagine, “we” is turning out to be a bunch of white folks deciding that it is time to bring the African American community to task for its role in passing Proposition 8.

OK. If “we” is to be white men, then what “we” need to be focusing on is the following: America’s overarching homophobia in that is continually and viciously fed by the Religious Right, which is overwhelmingly white; the millions of dollars that were pumped into the Yes on 8 campaign by the Church of Latter Day Saints, aka the Mormons, a church that is overwhelmingly white; the fact that the African American population of California currently hovers around 7%–far, far too small to have made the decisive difference in this vote; the fact that, according to the numbers, hundreds of thousands of white voters must have voted both for Obama and in favor of banning non-heteronormative marriage, so that the onus of “hypocrisy” leans at least as heavily on whites as it does on anyone else; and last but not in the least, um, least, Anglo-European culture’s long history of cultural imperialism, which is overwhelmingly responsible for the world-wide propagation of conservative Christian or crypto-Christian social mores–through brutal violence when necessary.

Do I need to say more? I realize that a paragraph cannot really stand in for an argument, but is any of the above actually controversial? Blaming a small portion of the population for accepting the values of the dominant culture seems disingenuous to me, like asking someone to conform enough to their environment that s/he is not living under the threat of constant physical and psychological violence, and then castigating her/him after s/he does so very, very well. Rock, hard place. Can you see how this might look to someone who is harassed daily on the basis of their presumed race?

I do want to add this, though: the only way that white folks can “help” with fighting homophobia in African American communities is to reach out to African-American queers in a way that does not silence them, does not ignore them, and does not try to erase their experiences or identifications. What “we” must do is listen to them, while working to clean our own house. If you need me to name the multiple obvious ways in which the queer mainstream is itself already (and still) racist, in ways that have little to do with the passage or defeat of Proposition 8, I’ll do it.

Right now, though, we need to settle the fuck down and stop fingering racial “others” as responsible for this horrible moment in California’s political history. One could say quite accurately that Proposition 8 passed on a wave of white religious conservative capital. “We” have spent a number of centuries trying to Christianize the world, and “our” people worked very hard to extend that tradition in the past few months. Guess what? It worked here. Is there such a thing as cultural karma?


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