Critical Thinking for the Advancement of Colored People
Tuesday April 25th 2017

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White Privilege gives Gay Marriage the whiteness it needs to become a social norm: Can Blackness become a social norm using the Gay strategy?

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Rachel Dolezal, the former NAACP leader from Spokane, Wash., who resigned after it came to light that she was falsely presenting herself as black has repeatedly said she identifies comfortably as black. There is an ongoing uproar behind Dolezal’s admission of identity-fondness of the black body, but also an oversight of Bruce Jenner as Katlyn Jenner. An economic attack on Dolezal has continued, much like the structural violence against black Americans. If it’s okay for Katlyn Jenner to identify as a female, they why are society-change makers upset about Ms. Dolezal’s blackness? Is there an underlying strategy black Americans need to use to build equity?  To pick and choose what social justice theoretically looks like on an individual basis will bring us (black America) back to white only drinking fountains.

By Don Allen, Publisher

(Editorial)…Members of the LGBTIQ communities across the United States and their supporters worldwide are now a major part of history since gay marriage is declared legal across the US in historic Supreme Court ruling.  The legal ruling, 5-4 in Obergefell v Hodges, justices determine right to marriage equality is protected under constitution in decision hailed as ‘victory of love.’  If it the process of law could determine the legal victory for gay marriage, then how come with over 99 years of segregation (1865-1965), and 50 years of so-called “freedom,” (1964-2015), Black Americans still find it next to impossible to obtain equity and fair participation in the American Dream?  Why are social, legal and moral bankruptcies still present when talking about the advancement of black Americans in America, and how did gay rights, slip past civil rights in meaning?

First, then, let’s quickly recap that strategy. In a remarkably short period of time, gay marriage advocates have convinced millions of Americans that gay marriage is just the same as straight marriage. Gays thus deserve the right to marry because gay marriage will do nothing to damage or alter that revered institution. Put differently, the definition of marriage can be expanded without any negative consequences for society.

In 20-years, gay marriage will not be a big deal. Gay marriage will become a social norm meaning it has cut into the social culture of the United States and is accepted, but at the same time we must argue what of the Black American and his civil rights? Will there ever come a time when fairness, equity and the belief all men and women are created equal will be applied across cultures and black people?

Black Americans remain less likely than white Americans to support same-sex marriage, as has been the case for several years. But with the recent success and support by those in the black community for gay rights, one might argue the GBLT community might pitch in and support Black Americans in the generational fight or equity…one might think. This is not the case. Rather than positioning civil rights against gay rights or pitting blacks against gays, there must be middle ground where Black Americans can achieve the same level of success using the courts, social movements and the billions of dollars Black Americans control in the United States to make headway into the realm of the American Dream.

Supporters of same-sex marriage love to make analogies to the African American Civil Rights Movement. Analogies are rhetorical devices that require careful scrutiny. While I do not find the attempt to connect bans on gay marriage to miscegenation laws persuasive, nevertheless there is nothing inherently wrong in trying to find parallels between these two social movements. In that spirit, let me offer my own reflections on what we can learn by comparing them.

Leaders in the GBLT movement have been hesitant to publically support anything in the areas of civil rights, but have clung to the claim that civil rights are no different gay rights, and that slavery is some how equivalent to the ungodly shadow cast upon gays by the denial of gay marriage, which some know are separate and unequal. According to Newsmax, the head of an organization of African-American pastors said on Saturday that Christians must oppose the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling through civil disobedience because “you do something to get arrested to call attention to the injustice.” Rev. Bill Owens, president of the Coalition of African-American Pastors (CAAP), said in an interview, “They got it wrong in the Dred Scott case,” referring to the 1857 court ruling that blacks were property and not American citizens. “The Supreme Court doesn’t always get it right. This is one time they really got it wrong,” said Rev. Owens.

The blind spot in Rev. Owens argument that some might see is that religion, especially Christianity gets it wrong to; especially when dealing with the mindsets of the black church…many things go unsaid.

Rather than beginning with a description of the Civil Rights movement and then looking for similarities to gay rights, my arguments goes in the opposite direction. That is, I begin with the extraordinary success of gay marriage advocacy and then ask what the Civil Rights movement would have looked like if it had followed the gay rights strategy.

If the argument of sameness works for gay rights, could it have worked for Civil Rights? Imagine the following “alternative history.” It is the early sixties, and while it should be obvious to everyone that all human beings are the same in every important respect, racism is alive and well. The white political leaders most sympathetic to the plight of African Americans decide to make the case for this moral sameness by arguing that black people are really white. “Look past their skin,” they say, “and you will find that they are just as white as we are.” This argument is so effective that the discourse about race in America changes nearly overnight. Anyone who wants to talk about the distinctiveness of African American culture is accused of racism. Even black leaders who want to draw attention to black history and its unique challenges and achievements are shut down. There is no black pride movement, no discussion of the particularity of black culture, and no effort to find room in public discourse to reflect on the uniqueness of black life in America. Blacks continue to have their own history and culture, but those differences cannot be named, analyzed, and celebrated. For the purposes of social justice, blacks have become white.

Civil rights, of course, were not won in that fashion, and it is a good thing, too. White America had to learn to recognize not just black rights but also black lives, including their views on American history and their contributions to American culture. Blacks did not win civil rights because they are really white, and they did not have to give up their blackness to become full members of the American experience. Moral sameness did not eclipse historical and cultural differences.

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