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Prop 8 and the Race Factor

Updated

At Thursday’s Proposition 8 protest, there were some reports of racial taunts and the N-word, including some aimed at African-American same-sex couples who were part of the demonstration.

This report comes from writer Rod McCullom: “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. Geoffrey was called the n-word at least twice.”

“The verbal harassment follows a steady stream of racist comments left on this blog and many others across the gay virtual community. At least a dozen racist comments have been removed  from this blog since Tuesday, such as, “Thank you Black people for denying gay people the same rights that you deserve and have.”

In The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates challenges the notion that the heavy turnout of African Americans were the key to the passage of Proposition 8. (Even Jon Stewart referred to the claim on “The Daily Show” on Thursday, below.)

“Yesterday, I tried to outline a humanistic case against the whole “Teh blackz did us in!” argument. I also linked some math. Now we have better math. The basic idea is that you need black folks to have been about 10 percent of all votes cast on Prop 8 to make a difference. Black folks are one of the smallest minorities in California, making up about six percent of the total electorate, which numbers at about 17 million. At 6 percent, black folks are worth about a million or so votes. There were just over ten million votes cast on Prop. 8. For blacks to cast ten percent of those you would need a turnout of 90 percent in the black community. Lemme repeat that–90 percent. It’s possible, I guess. I leave it to you to weigh the odds.

“I’m still embarrassed by the fact that 70 percent of those who did vote, voted yes. It means we have serious work to do. But I’m seeing a makings of a disreputable trend to turn a problem into a black problem. We use disproportion as a crutch–what’s important is that blacks are disproportionately poor, not that there are large numbers of white poor people. Ditto for homophobia. What’s important isn’t the large minority of whites, and the influential majority (barely) of Latinos who passed Prop 8, but the roughly 5 percent of the California electorate who voted for it.”

I’ve heard disappointed same-sex marriage supporters made the same race argument, but I have faith it will be quickly tamped down by leaders in the No on 8 movement. As Coates spells out, but it goes down the precarious road of identity politics where no one wins. Again, watch my “video of the day” post from John Duran.

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