This So-Called Post-Post-Racial Life

November 4, 2009

Cranberry Homophobia

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — pprscribe @ 5:59 pm


"Cranberries in fudge." villoks,

Good point: Now that marriage equity has been repealed in Maine, will we see the same vitriol against segments of the Maine population as we saw against Black Californians (actually, all Black folks) following Proposition 8? Will Dan Savage write about feeling betrayed by small town and rural voters in Maine, who apparently voted overwhelmingly in support of Question 1?  Will he write,

I do know this, though: I’m done pretending that the handful of racist cranberry- and lobster-hating gay white men out there—and they’re out there, and I think they’re scum—are a bigger problem for African Americans Maine residents, gay and straight [and cranberry- or lobster-loving], than the huge numbers of homophobic African Americans cranberry and lobster lovers are for gay Americans, whatever their color [or juice/seafood preferences]… [Original quote here]

Probably not.

At the time of Prop 8 I read lobster-crates full of incredibly racist, stunningly naive, or just plain ignorant commentary about Blacks and marriage equity and responded around blogland until I was cranberry-red in the face and utterly depressed. Eventually I quit reading and quit commenting, concluding that folks just needed to vent and that they were just (unfortunately) using Black folks as a temporary whipping group.

But I am not so sure. It is my belief that that racism never goes away and never will go away. That may be an unpopular and pessimistic view, but it is one that I hold. I do not think there will ever be a “cure” for racism, resulting in its eradication forever. There may be vaccines for uninfected young people. There may be treatments that put the scourge in remission. But it will always be there—virulent as ever in those who refuse treatment, ready to newly infect others with mutated strains, and powerfully rebounding in those who thought they were over it for good.

The fight, then, to manage racism generally and anti-Black racism specifically is an on-going struggle. As is and will be the fight against homophobia. The building and maintenance of ally relationships will have ups and downs. And probably more of the latter than the former. There will be steps forward* as well as steps—like Question 1—back.

But the way forward when we find our chins deep in the cranberry bog is to pick ourselves up, dry ourselves off, and start all over again. (Without pointing fingers at others absent the benefit of facts and context.)

*And there’s at least this look on the bright side from the world of the Chicago Cubs.


  1. Gosh, image a public vote on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Civil Rights issues ( Gay Marriage in a Civil Rights Issue) should NEVER be taken to the ignorant folks that populate the cities of this great American, In God We Trust, country.

    Comment by b. — November 5, 2009 @ 12:08 am

  2. I thought the black backlash on Prop 8 was a big mistake from gay rights activists. Certainly it showed a simplistic view of the black community and myriad factors that influenced the vote. You make a poignant point here regarding no vitriol directed at rural white men for voting against marriage equity. Did you see this piece on marriage by Melissa Harris-Lacewell.

    Comment by Nordette — November 7, 2009 @ 1:30 am

  3. Excellent point! But the mostly white Mainers are seen as individuals, right? They won’t be judged as a group, as a voting bloc. Nope, they’re seen as just ordinary folks, each practicing their individual right to vote according to individual beliefs and values, right? Yeah. My daughter’s girlfriend is from Maine, so they was an extra ouch factor.

    But, as my daughter would say, things like the Prop* fallout are just what The Man wants. Divide and Conquer. As long as the current power structures keep folks fighting, voting against, and finger-pointing among themselves, well, folks are expending their energies on that instead of coming together to address the real problems, and the current power structures stay safely intact. Sigh.

    On the plus side, There’s WA state. I’m not seeing too much on the national news about it — we just passed Referendum 71 by popular vote, aka the “Everything But Marriage” act. Our governor gave rights to same-sex couples that were legally the same as marriage, just without the name. It also included opposite-gender partnerships where one partner is over 62. Anyway, religious groups went nuts, distributed petitions through churches (you know, those tax-exempt organizations, supposed to be separate from State), got enough signatures to get it on the ballot to allow the majority to VOTE on the civil rights of a minority group. Yeah.

    It’s been a mess. The signatures were sketchy. They won’t release the names of signatories even though WA has a public disclosure law (voted into being in the 70s) that should compel it.

    Regardless … it passed. We’re apparently the first state in the nation that has put these rights into effect by POPULAR VOTE. It wasn’t a large margin, but it passed. In spite of our own bloc of voters –just like those voters in Maine– voting against it.

    It’s a step. I’m sick about Maine, as I was about Prop 8, but I’m really happy about Washington.

    Comment by more cowbell — November 7, 2009 @ 4:18 pm

  4. MC, I have seen very little about Washington, but now you have got me curious. I have never thought that a popular vote strategy was they way to go over things like this. And maybe it is because of my age or something, but I do not see anything wrong with an incremental, chipping-away strategy. But it is difficult to voice this without being shouted down that you are accepting “concessions.” I am just not sure about the “all or nothing” approach. I think what is more important is *momentum* and I think that might be better achieved with steady though small steps.

    Agree 100% about divide and conquer. That whole mess after Prop 8 was such a huge distraction.

    Comment by pprscribe — November 7, 2009 @ 4:34 pm

  5. b. you are right. We never would have made progress in all sorts of arenas if the decision had been left up to popular vote.

    Nordette, I had not seen that Harris-Lacewell piece. Thanks. I agree with you about the backlash against Black folks. It is like More Cowbell says: others are often allowed to be thought wrong, foolish, bigoted, etc as individuals.

    Comment by pprscribe — November 7, 2009 @ 4:37 pm

  6. i actually do not agree with popular vote as a way to deal with civil rights. The idea of the majority getting to decide whether a minority group should have civil rights … goodlord, I still can’t even believe that’s legal.

    Our governor passed the law some time back, but the religious right imploded and through the churches got enough “signatures” (there were questions on the validity of all sigs) to force it to the ballot as a way of repealing it.

    Like i said, this is apparently the first time in history that it WORKED, that it PASSED with a vote. So I’m ecstatic that it passed, but I am very concerned that it sets a precedent, that it normalizes the idea of the majority being able to decide on the rights of others. I would rather see it as a given, rights are rights … no one should ever get to decide on that for someone else.

    Comment by more cowbell — November 8, 2009 @ 3:44 pm

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