Monday, May 16, 2011

Divided, We Fall

Team Inequality is positively thrilled when people of color are opposed to equality for LGBT people. Take the National Organization for [Hetero] Marriage (NOM), for instance. NOM's Brian Brown boasts:

"More good news: A new Marist poll released yesterday shows the majority of New Yorkers oppose gay marriage, 53% to 46%; and it is New Yorkers of color who are leading the way, since 63% of them oppose gay marriage.

Plus, the poll shows 76% of New York Republicans think marriage should be only between one man and one woman."

Hey, you know what else about Republicans? Before President Obama posted his long form, 58% of Republicans doubted or outright denied that our first African-American President was born in the US.

Anyone else wondering what the Venn diagram looks like of those who oppose same-sex marriage who also doubt President Obama legitimately holds the office he was elected to? I suspect the answer to that would be "a lot."

So forgive me for being suspicious of the motives of the predominately white "marriage defense" movement's newfound alliance with "the New Yorkers of color." For, as Nezua so eloquently put it at Shakesville regarding the birth certificate fiasco:

"That shout, that demand to show papers, that insistence that you duck your eyes, it hisses You can even become President, but you still are not White. Which means you are not really the President. Don't go dreaming that somehow you are now more powerful than me, darkie."

To borrow from Critical Race Theorist Derrick Bell, whites aren't going to support anti-racist ideologies that may threaten white social status.

So while the white-dominated anti-gay movement paints an image of themselves skipping hand-in-hand with leading people of color through the daffodils in order to "save marriage" on the backs of the queers, where exactly was Team Anti-Gay when they and/or their Republican buds were reinforcing the racist notion that a black man didn't deserve his position in the political hierarchy?

And, where do these white Republicans and anti-gay folks come down on anti-discrimination laws, racial profiling, our unfair criminal justice system, deterioting and unfunded public infrastructures, and the state of public schools? What did they think or say about anti-gay Bryan Fischer's eliminationist rant against Native Americans? What does Team Anti-Gay say about the nostalgic Southerners who hold "secession balls" and pretend it's still 1860?

Let me take a gander:


Heterosexual conservative white people who don't give a rat's ass about social justice have the luxury, the relative privilege, of their opposition to same-sex marriage being Their One Big Political Cause. After all, it's easy to blame a demonized group, rather than millionaire capitalists, for the troubles of society, even though it is in, reality, an issue that, win or lose, is of no actual consequence to them.

Yet, as if on cue, the NOM anti-gay commenters, when hearing that they are politically-allied with some people of color, began ridiculously hyperventilating over their newfound alliances. For, apparently, some white people think that Having Black Allies automatically makes one right about oppression-related stuff. Take "John Noe," a frequent commenter, who opines:

"I hope we get footage of this wonderfull[sic] rally [against same-sex marriage in New York]. Imagine Americans from all races getting together to defend the institution from the SSM radicals hell bent on destroying it.

If Senator and Reverend Diaz gets blacks, hispanics, and whites together this can make a difference. The liberal Democrats think they have the people of color in the bag. But a unity across racial lines will get attention."

But...why don't Asian-Americans get to join the United Colors of Bigotry?

Seriously though, I am continually amazed at how, whenever people of color express anti-LGBT views, organizations like NOM and their supporters seem to think it gives their side an extra-special dose of moral credibility and righteousness. Leaning conservative on many social and fiscal issues, many of the white people within the predominately-white anti-LGBT movement are often found opposing policies and programs that would support, say, African-American communities, Hispanic communities, and immigrants.

The white-dominated LGBT movement is far from perfect on racial issues and there's a lot of white privilege denial happening in some circles, but I also read a lot of anti-gay conservative blogs, and well, let's just say I'd love to see, say, the (white, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, conservative) Playful Walrus have a little public conversation about race, white privilege, "illegal aliens" (check out his screed!), and bootstraps(!) with his new "marriage defender" BFFs of color.

White heterosexual, cis-gender, anti-LGBT Christians are some of the most privileged people in the US as their identity is codified by racism, heterosexism, and Christian privilege as what it means to be a Real American. Sure, there are intersections of oppression with respect to class and ableism and body size. But, through this group's silence (at best) and participation (at worst) in perpetuating social injustices, they use the same-sex marriage issue as a wedge to divide minority groups, alienate LGBT people of color, and preserve their own privileges.

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