Wednesday, March 27, 2013

It is Time for the Black Community to Learn from the LGBT Community

My view on gay marriage is no secret. Last year, I explained why I do not support same sex marriage. I may write a more comprehensive part 2 to that article. Then again, maybe this will be my last article regarding this topic.

After the President publicly supported same sex marriage around election time, all of the sudden the American sheeple are prepared to discard thousands of years of human history to embrace what is trendy and cool for the moment. I don't care if I'm the last man standing in the blogosphere. I will never, ever support same sex marriage. I'm sure that the thought police will call me "closed minded", "a bigot" or even worst. I'm sure that they will threaten me like they did the last time. Frankly, I don't give a damn. I will not remain silent.

Anyway, that's not even the point of this article. In an interesting piece by Keli Goff on the Root entitled Gay Marriage Coverage: A Media Shut Out?, Ms. Goff raised some interesting questions. She asked:

"Quick question: Who is the latest Democratic senator to come out in support of affirmative action?

OK, another question: Who is the latest Republican senator to come out in support of affirmative action?

How about this one: Do any Republican senators support affirmative action?

Last question: Do you know the answer to any of the above questions?

Chances are you don't. Most of us don't. But I bet you know that Republican Sen. Rob Portman now supports same-sex marriage, spurred by his love and compassion for his openly gay son. I bet you also know that 10 Democratic senators oppose gay marriage.

The reason you know both of these facts is that same-sex marriage has become the mainstream media's civil rights cause célèbre --even though it ultimately affects just under 4 percent of the population. To be clear, this population deserves rights and protections regardless of how few of them there may be, but not at the expense of other groups.

Though I have sensed a disparity in civil rights coverage for months in print, online and on television, I only recently tried multiple online searches to see if I was being paranoid.

I wasn't.

A search of "Affirmative action before the Supreme Court" produced just over 100 million results. (This number came up whether I tried including the year 2013 or used parentheses.) "Voting rights before the Supreme Court" netted more than 400 million results. But "Gay marriage before the Supreme Court" produced article after article after TV clip after TV clip, with just over 800 million results. "Same sex marriage before the Supreme Court" produced even more: just under 900 million results.

I have been baffled by the fact that while the Supreme Court's upcoming rulings on voting rights and affirmative action were relegated to a couple of days of nonintensive media coverage, coverage of the court's upcoming rulings on same-sex marriage has been treated as the second coming of the Brown v. Board of Education case, which literally changed America for all Americans, as opposed to the second coming of Loving v. Virginia, which the gay-marriage case more closely resembles, and which ultimately changed the lives of some Americans: those pursuing interracial relationships."
Ms. Goffi is baffled. I am not. Many Negroes let the media define what is important. The media tells them to support gay marriage. So what do they do? Support gay marriage. Now, my misguided brethren are all up in arms, waving their rainbow flags, tweeting their butts off in support of same sex marriage. Yet, many of those same people do not have a damn thing to say about affirmative action and voting rights. If African Americans do not prioritize affirmative action and voting rights, how can we expect others to do so?!!?

Although I don't support LGBT community's position on same sex marriage, I admire their organizing skills and their commitment to their cause. I just have one question. Why isn't the African American community as organized, as passionate and as successful as the LGBT community?

The LGBT community successfully pressured Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama to publicly support same sex marriage. Through traditional media, social media and public pressure, they transformed American culture. They replaced the phrases "homosexual marriage" and "same sex marriage" with the more palatable phrase "marriage equality". They pushed their opponents into the margins of society by calling them "bigots". On the other hand, they rewarded those who adopted their view by describing them as "evolved". Through such powerful propaganda, they convinced the public to parrot their phraseology and champion their cause.

What was once considered an abnormality is now widely accepted. Like alchemists turning lead into gold, LGBT activists morphed a common sense, moral issue into a "civil rights issue." Despite the fact that same sex marriage is clearly contrary to everything in the Bible, LGBT activists persuaded some prominent African American preachers to appear in political ads supporting same sex marriage in Maryland. Everyday, like grotesque mushrooms sprouting out a lawn, another opportunistic politician miraculously comes out in favor of gay marriage. Activists even recruited my man Yoda from Star Wars to support gay marriage. Yesterday, my Facebook news feed was been bombarded and blanketed with photos like the one used for this article. When I saw that Yoda photo on social media, I thought to myself, "Give me a freaking break." However, I also reflected on the sheer brilliance of their social media campaign. As I write this blog post, the New York Times reports that the Supreme Court is poised to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. In sum, LGBT activists have hustle, and I can't knock it.

People waited in line for days outside in the cold weather in order hear oral arguments for the two same sex marriage cases. When arguments were heard, there was a large crowd outside of the court house. That's dedication. That's commitment. That's a story that cannot be ignored by the corporate media.

On the other hand, I don't see the same level of commitment and organization in the black community. Affirmative action and Section 5 of Voting Rights Act are in jeopardy. Both tools enabled African Americans to advance as people. Affirmative action is a natural extension of the Brown v. the Board of Education legacy. It opened the doors of higher education and helped to increase the size of the black middle class. It helped many black people to become doctors, lawyers, judges, engineers, scientists, teachers, business people and other types of professionals. If it was not for affirmative action, I would not be a lawyer today.

The Voting Rights Act is just as essential. If it was not for the Voting Rights Act, Jim Crow and segregation would still exist. There would be no black mayors, no black city council people, no black U.S. representatives and no black senators. Barack Obama definitely would not be in the White House. Obviously, the Voting Rights Act and affirmative action have a much greater impact on African Americans than same sex marriage.

Yet, we did not wait in line for days to hear arguments in Fisher v. The University of Texas and Shelby County v. Holder. Our young people would rather wait in a line for the new Air Jordans or the latest iPhone than wait in line to hear cases that have a direct impact on their future. It is a damn shame. Where is our sense of urgency? The crowd outside of the court for the Fisher case was not nearly as large as it should have been. I am sure that the crowd for the Shelby case was not as large as the crowds for the Proposition 8 and the DOMA cases. Unfortunately, we have become apathetic and complacent. Many of us believe that we have made it to the Promised Land and that civil rights movement is a relic of the past. Some of us have actually started to believe that America is a "post-racial society".

States around this country are enacting laws designed to suppress black voters. For example, as reported on the Huffington Post,

Civil rights advocates say a new voter ID law signed by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) on Tuesday will creating more hurdles to voting.

“Rather than address the real issues Virginians have faced at the polls on Election Day, such as waiting in line for 6 to 7 hours to vote, the Governor decided to impose unwarranted restrictions that will only further exacerbate existing problems,” said Marcia Johnson-Blanco, co-director of the Voting Rights Project at the Lawyers’ Committee. “This law will inflict undue burdens on the very communities we should be encouraging to participate in our democracy – students, communities of color and poor persons.”

The Justice Department has to sign off on the law before it goes into effect. But that could change if the Supreme Court strikes down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires states like Virginia with a history of racial discrimination to have their voting laws and procedures approved by either the DOJ or a panel of federal judges in D.C.

Equally as important, the United States Supreme Court recently agreed to hear another affirmative action case. As reported in the Washington Post,

The Supreme Court decided Monday to take a second case concerning affirmative action in university admissions, agreeing to review a lower court’s decision that said Michigan’s ban on the use of race in college acceptance decisions was unconstitutional.

A bitterly divided U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit struck down the ban in 2012, six years after it was approved by 58 percent of the state’s voters. It is similar to constitutional amendments in several other states, including California and Florida.

The high court accepted Michigan’s appeal of the 6th Circuit opinion and will hear the case in the term that begins in October. The case will be heard by just eight justices; the court noted that Justice Elena Kagan recused herself.
The court earlier this term considered a challenge to the admissions process at the University of Texas, which considers race as one factor in choosing part of its freshman class. The justices heard oral arguments in that case in October and have not issued a decision.

Some had thought the court might hold the Michigan case until it rendered the Texas ruling, but the cases present different issues for the court. Michigan’s is a constitutional amendment forbidding the use of race. Texas contends that its use of race in limited circumstances is sanctioned by the Supreme Court’s recognition that universities have an interest in building diverse student populations.

A bare majority of the Michigan appeals court ruled that the ban on race-conscious admission decisions “reorders the political process in Michigan to place special burdens on minority interests” and thus violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection for all races.

Circuit Judge R. Guy Cole Jr., writing for the majority, said Michigan’s Proposal 2 “eliminated the consideration of ‘race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin’ in individualized admissions decisions, modifying policies in place for nearly a half-century.”
Why aren't black intellectuals, activists, and media forcing the media to cover these important matters? There has been some coverage, but not nearly enough. When the Michigan affirmative action case is heard, thousands upon thousands of African Americans should be rallying in front the Supreme Court. As the LGBT movement has done, we must develop more persuasive messaging. We cannot allow affirmative action to be defined as "reverse discrimination" or a "quota" system. We cannot allow the Voting Rights Act to be defined as "a racial entitlement". We must do better.   

The LGBT movement adopted its strategies and messaging from the civil rights movement. Now, it is our turn to learn from the LGBT movement.

This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.

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