Saturday, November 29, 2008

Exploding the Myth of the Black Vote and Prop 8

Hendrick Hertzberg gets it right in The New Yorker, exploding the myth that the black vote put Prop 8 over the top (and hopefully ending the scapegoating) and putting the responsibly squarely where a lot of it should be: our own weak campaign:

Some conservative commentators, who didn’t have much else to gloat about, dwelt lingeringly on what they evidently regarded as the upside of the huge, Obama-sparked African-American turnout. “It was the black vote that voted down gay marriage,” Bill O’Reilly, of Fox News, insisted triumphantly—and, it turns out, wrongly. If exit polling is to be believed, seventy per cent of California’s African-American voters did indeed vote yes on Prop. 8, as did upward of eighty per cent of Republicans, conservatives, white evangelicals, and weekly churchgoers. But the initiative would have passed, barely, even if not a single African-American had shown up at the polls.

Still, this was a fight that should have been won, and after the initial shock—which tempted a few gay and lesbian voices to blame blacks for what O’Reilly credited them with—California’s gay activists and their straight allies, judging from their online postmortems, have begun to direct more criticism at themselves than at their opponents. They were complacent.

Of course, even with the myth exploded, there is still enormous work to be done on battling homophobia in the African-American community, which had many blacks voting for Prop 8. Charles M. Blow offers some of his thoughts as to reasons why, and ways to combat it, in his NY Times column. I'm not sure I agree with all of his reasoning, or his strategies, but it's certainly worth a look.