Michael Robinson, one of the Dallas organizers behind the LGBT racial inclusivity group GetEqual NOW, has said that after Prop 8 passed a lot of gays blamed the black community for the loss even though No on 8 organizers didn’t approach the black community until a mere 5 days before the vote. Indeed, looking at the HRC’s video campaign for New York marriage equality, you get the sense that gay organizations still do a poor job reaching out to people of color. Out of the HRC’s 35 celebrity endorsements (way to connect with the common man) a whopping four come from African-Americans (Whoopi Goldberg, Russell Simmons, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, and Bill T. Jones), two from Asian-Americans (Lucy Lui and David Chang) and one from a Hispanic (Daphne Rubin-Vega).
So considering that Tavis Smiley, one of America’s biggest African-American radio personalities, just stated his belief that marriage is between a man and a woman, it’s nice that Jeff Girard, a gay activist currently filming his life as he lives in his SUV, took the time to get Smiley’s radio co-host Cornel West and civil rights activist Carl Dix on record stating their support for marriage equality. West added that the civil rights movement and queer rights movement have a lot to learn from each other and that each group should not get into a game of “our suffering is worse than your suffering.”
Of course, West and Dix don’t exactly represent the everyman either, nor are they apart from controversy. Apart from being Smiley’s co-host in their radio show “Smiley & West”, West is also a Princeton University professor, an author, civil rights actvist, and prominent member of the Democratic Socialists of America. He has called the U.S. a “racist patriarchal” nation where “white supremacy” continues to define everyday life for “degraded and oppressed people hungry for identity, meaning, and self-worth.”
Carl Dix, the national spokesperson for the Revolutionary Communist Party, has said “the development of capitalism in the U.S. is a history of the most savage oppression of the Black, Native American, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Hawaiian, Asian, and other oppressed peoples.” He also called George W. Bush “a Christian Fascist.”
But their political views aside, getting black intellectual, spiritual, and social leaders to speak out in favor of marriage equality would continue to break down the false idea of marriage equality being purely a rich, white person’s issue. It would also begin the much needed dialogue about how marriage equality can strengthen black communities in terms of health, religion, family, and voting power. The black Christian community operates as a part of the larger Christian faith. We as a movement should learn more about their convictions in liberation theology in order to speak to a larger segment of religious America about the Bible’s teachings on helping the oppressed.
Even gay black New York documentary filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris has seen the necessity of putting African-American marriage equality support on film. So why has the HRC campaign not included more people of color, actual LGBTs, or lower-income, everyday people in their campaign? Most of their YouTube videos have celebrities yammering on to the same music about “equality and commitment”—not particularly inspiring. Yes, it’s nice having white celebrities supporting us, but has watching them inspired you to call a New York senator? No? Then what makes us think it’ll inspire anyone who doesn’t even read gay blogs to give a flip either?