Black People & Prop 8

Friday, November 7, 2008

Count me among those letdown by the number of my people that voted for Prop 8 in California. As I keep saying on message boards and the like, deciding civil rights by majority vote always equals bad for minorities.  This was a terrible precedent to set regardless of where you stand on the issue.  It really wasn't that long ago that it was against the law for black people to own homes, get loans, marry outside of the race, etc.  Is it really that big of a stretch to think that people in, I don't know, Alabama, might be able to successfully pass laws to remove those rights from our people?   I think that is something for everyone to go back to the electoral map for Obama and then stop and think about.

That said, was this really all our fault?  I found it hard to believe from the get go that the number of black people in California would really be large enough to completely swing the issue in one direction or another.   A closer look at the numbers appears to support my position.  In a fantastic breakdown over at the Daily Kos, Shannika lays out the facts.  It is a bit long, but well worth the read.  There a number of telling stats in there.

First, black people only represent about 6.2% of the population of California. As she states, "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."  We also have to keep in mind that quite a few of the black people in California can not or did not vote and all of them did not vote for this Proposition.

Even bigger was this: "However, we do know that there are, so far, 10,325,615 total votes on Proposition 8, nearly 80,000 less than the total votes for the main event. For Black people to have been 10% of that vote, they would have had to cast 1,032,561 votes on the measure, whether for or against. In other words, Black Californians would have had to both had an electoral turnout at the polls of almost 90% AND have all voted on Proposition 8 (i.e, NONE could have been amongst the 80,000 who just skipped the Proposition on the ballot) to reach that number of votes." I, like others, find it very hard to believe that 90% of all black people voted in California. As the author noted, it just doesn't happen.

There are more stats and analysis in her post.  The bottom line is that while the disproportionate number of black people voting against the Prop 8 is troubling, it is pretty safe to say that is not the reason it passed.

CNN's role in scapegoating black people here can not go unnoticed.

Beyond that, there is the whole view of black people and gays.  I think I'll leave that discussion to Raving Black Lunatic and Ta-Nehesi Coates.  My view is that general problems that all black people have with homosexuality is tied in with our religious beliefs.

I believe in separation of church and state, so religion does not have much impact on how I vote. Obviously, a lot of other people don't see things that way, but does that really make them homophobic?  I've been wrestling with that for a couple of days, but don't want to go down that road until I can speak somewhat intelligently on the matter.