The student becomes the master.


Now that I’ve done my community service.

I always said if America got to the point where we had a president of other than white descendent that I would never do that thing where I refuse to even entertain the idea that people who look like me could be jerks, well that day happened last Tuesday and I also think I can probably ice skate in hell.

Black people we need to talk. I am not excusing the total racist, vile crap that has come out since Prop 8. That’s not right.

BUT…70% of black people voting yes on a prejudice law. Now I understand that we are not magical or special or fantastical, but god damn are we stupid?

 Progressive leaders in the black civil right’s movement came out against Prop 8, Alice Huffman President of the NAACP in California (who I hope is able to remain President throughout this, because the Christian and conservative black press i.e. LA Sentinel has her in it’s sights, in the bad way) and James Rucker of Color of Change.

Unfortunately though Christianity has made many others in the black community lose their damn minds.

As a history lesson, just throwing this out there:

Remember slavery, well owing to slavery we black people were forced to be Xtians.

Owing to Christianity certain people felt completely justified in us keeping us in the status of slaves.

Do black people remember the Christian right? Yeah the group of people that made many members of the black community, especially in the less monied classes, suffer for the past eight years. That’s who sponsored this measure.

People who hate black people.

People who if there is a heaven and if they are working the door aren’t going to let us in.

Do you know a big supporter of Prop on 8 was the Mormon Church? A church that black people couldn’t even be members of until 1978.

There is no excuse for this. None at all. I am getting a little tired of the Xtian church and I’m getting a little tired of black people who justify their homophobia using this vile institution as an excuse. I guess the thing that boggles my mind is that Xtians as a whole don’t even like black people. All the right wing hate groups use Christianity as one of their cornerstones. 

The skinheads, the KKK, the Republican party….

Why are blacks so beholden to an institution that we had to create our own versions of because the root version didn’t even let us through the door?

The only reason African-Americans joined the church hundreds of years ago was to get out of slavery and then they closed that clause in 1667, but yet and still we are still worshiping their god.

“In 1667 Virginia declared that a person could be both Christian and enslaved, there by discouraging slaves from converting solely to gain freedom.” (The Color Complex: The Politics of Skin Color Among African-Americans, 1992)

After 1667 why would any black person continue to be Xtian!!!

I love black people. You know I do, but 70% goddamn. That is a little crazy and while some people try to dispute that number in LA. I’m going to say as a person that has been around black people in LA (I can’t talk about the whole country) but in LA that homophobia is in the black community and it’s pretty much viewed as ok. I’m going to say that in general, it’s viewed as a little bit more ok than in other communities and even among the educated.

I’m not going to scapegoat poor black people on this. While in LA there are a lot of poor black people there are also a lot of educated yuppie straight black people that are openly homophobic in non-mixed company.

I remember I was in a party in downtown LA and I ran into an educated black woman. I found her a bit annoying because she was like, “I went to NYU, what school did you go to?” I was like, damn is this a social thing or a job interview. Somewhere in this conversation same sex marriage came up and this was WAY before Prop 8 was even dreamed of and she started telling me how it was wrong and a sin and blah, blah…and I asked her what business is it of hers what people do and she started talking about god and I just stopped talking to her. I was also not invited back to any of their social gatherings. I have accepted that I will never be part of any little social groups that does brunch on Sunday.  I will have to wear my Manolos around my apartment.

That’s just one personal anecdote, but I have plenty and the reason this homophobia is viewed as ok is because of the church.

Black people we need to do better. There is nothing godly about being a prejudice asshole and the Xtian’s god doesn’t like you anyway.

As we are no longer are slaves that have to eat chitlins to survive we no longer should be slaves to the Christian church. Stop being a tool and stop eating that unhealthful food too while you’re at it.

Here’s another link to a black person who also think this is completely crazy:

Field Negro’s Proposition Hate

by Browne Molyneux

27 thoughts on “The student becomes the master.

  1. I love your post, especially since my ancestors also had Christianity and Catholicism forced unto them by “the man”. From my personal experience I have come to realize something about the catholic church and some of the people who attend on a regular basis… they’re old, grumpy and unhappy at the world they live in. They think that just because they’re older they know better then the younger folk and their words are law. They’re nothing but a bunch of hypocrites and I can honestly say that because I’ve seen it my very eyes. Don’t get me wrong, I respect my elders but sometimes the stuff that comes out of their mouths is just absurd. They even contradict themselves even further when they complain about the Gov not giving undocumented immigrants rights or a way to legal residence, yet they condemn “los jotos” for going against what God and the bible say.

  2. I’m curious about the other 30% of Blacks that voted no on Prop 8. The LA times put out an LA County map of all the precincts, and then also give a table of the breakdown by Cities. Because I was bored last night, I added my own column to this table: Median Household Income. What they don’t entirely say in these LA Times reports or expert based blogs nor what pollster really bother to ask… which is what other queer activist & writers of color (e.g Lorde, Moraga, Anzaldúa) have been saying for years…the overlooking of class & race on the issues.

    The avg. median income for those cities/municipalities that shot down Prop 8 was $90,000 (from that list, excluding LA/Long Beach for better statistical variation). This is two times the avg. median income for the state. For the Yes, it was around $55,000. I dont want to get all statistical, but there are several outliers in the “YES” which make the income higher than it is.

    Let’s pick two cities and compare. Huntington Park..Population Size 8,000 (voters 5,000)…it passed 60% to 40%. Median Household income: 36,000. Calabasas (Pop size 9,9000 / Voters 9,000). Yes 34% No 66%. Median Household Income: $119,000.
    Lancaster, a city that is 49% white & and household income of 49,000, had the largest margin of passing 8 (Yes 68% to 32%). Lancaster isn’t exactly Mayberry now, and that income can be misleading. Once you start breaking it down by income per capita, you start seeing the issue of class/economics. Reminds me of all the poor white folk in Bakersfield/Kern County who asked me,”how does she feel about abortion and ‘gay’ marriage,” when I canvassed for an Assembly race in 2004.

    I go back to my point, who is the other 30% of Blacks that voted No.

  3. Random Hero,

    It’s difficult, because of racism to call out our elders, because you know any criticism that you say is going to be taken by people who hate us and turned into ammo, not to bring about a greater understanding, but to just cement stereotypical views that people have of our respective groups.

    But you know its time. It’s time to rise up against the church. It’s time to rise up against ignorance. The people who want to use the constructive criticisms and hard questions we ask “our” people well they are ignorant assholes who would find something anyway. As I’ve always said you can’t behave your way out of racism, we also can’t “never say anything negative” that needs to be said out of fear of some racist using it. They’ve got plenty of stuff to use and if they can’t find it, they’ll just make it up.

    I think the human community needs to be healed. I know older members of our communities are never going to forget about racism. The whole moving this movement to class and the 3% of people with wealth against everyone (to touch a little on Metro_Vaquero was saying about look at the money in regards to who voted yes) else is an argument that they are never going to buy, so it’s up to us the younger people who look like them to talk to them in a real way.

    A white gay guy is never going to be able to go up to a 67 year old Alabama retired janitor on a pension in Watts who goes to church every Sunday and be able to convince him of anything.

    And we can’t just leave those people in the clutches of these exploiting minister types. Every time they throw us out we just need to come back.

    I don’t see anyway to get rid of homophobia (or sexism) in the black community without figuring out a way to cut the ties the black community feels with the Christian Church.

    The black community in LA should ask the church, “What have you done for me lately?”

    Maybe this is an impossible goal, but I don’t see being able to get rid of the scourge of homophobia without at the very least taking away some of the power that the church has in our communities.

    I also think the church is in part responsible for keeping black people in some parts poor. I really believe that there is a vested interest in the more monied members of the black community to keep certain segments of the black community poor and ignorant. But it’s like this in every community. I believe all of America is like this. The game is rigged so everyone can’t make it. It is truly in general a class game. Racism, sexism and homophobia or simply symptoms. We won’t get rid of any of those things until we get rid of the corporate machine’s power in our lives.

    And I’m sorry as of late I don’t see these churches these black churches in LA doing all that much to help the black people who need help. The single mothers, the gang bangers, the homeless, the drug addicts, in general to me those people seem to be ostracized. It’s just filled with these old people and their grandkids who give 10% every Sunday in the hopes that life will get better when they die or it’s filled with a bunch of middle class people who are showing off.

    I have to say obviously I’m not a regular church goer, but I’ve worked for places that dealt with churches and I’m going by what I saw and for the large part I didn’t like it and I don’t like the things that come out of the mouths of people who tend to regular go to church.


  4. Sho nuff on everything you said. There’s a vested interest (economic) interest in having churches in these areas. Quite profitable (e.g. cheap) to pick up a space in a strip mall and open up a church in certain parts of the city.

    Somebody pointed out in Curbed LA in reading the same LA times map/dataset.. “its the areas with more culture” that voted it down. Then they wonder why the cause was lost.

  5. the funny thing that everything you said can also apply to some of the Mexican families I see going to church. I’ve also noticed that because they go to church, they think they have the right to criticize anything without anyone nay saying them. That’s why when they come around MY HOUSE all they hear is Slayer hahaha

  6. Thanks Browne for this and the previous post.

    As I’ve indicated to you offline (disclosure: some of this is copy-pasted from my own side of a previous discussion), the whole thing is really super complex, and this discussion honors and reflects that.

    It’s often so easy to just react, to just fall into traps, and to forget that we and others are all much more complex than an ignorant opinion or lazy thought process or an error in judgment or a lapse in critical thinking. I’ve been thinking about how when we react ignorantly, thoughtlessly, to these kind of divide-and-conquer ignorance traps, we allow them to flatten out our complexities as humans into two-dimensional constructs. We do it ourselves in reacting. Like, in reacting from an angry, emotional place, a lazy place, a racist place, I ape the mainstream media lies despite my awareness of their tactics and lies, play into it, and in the process, I flatten myself into this cardboard simplicity. I become one of those lame protest signs, just a simplistic message scribbled on a flat piece of cardboard.

    And I guess that’s the point of how oppression works most insidiously–it doesn’t just flatten us, and we don’t just flatten each other–we flatten our selves, we ourselves cheat ourselves out of our full potential of human complexity and being, and then we walk around like these flat two-dimensional cardboard cutouts beating up other cardboard cutouts who have also flattened themselves out into this ideological construct or that one.

    I like all of what you’ve had to say about this, especially about the need for coalition building. That is something that I’ve been discussing elsewhere with others, what that means and looks like exactly, how to carry it out, how to make it happen for reals, in spite of ideological barriers. Like, how so much of that happens not so much knocking on people’s doors etc., but in everyday life, when, say, a straight person becomes good friends with a gay person, and then that friend becomes part of the straight person’s family events, barbecues, general life, etc—people in the family might still be homophobic, but now things have shifted, just by the gay person’s presence in everyday life and awareness. And little changes occur, gradually, sometimes imperceptible shifts. And it maybe takes a longass time and struggle and sometimes confrontations and sometimes really hard times etc. But that is where I think most of the real, hard work of coalition building happens at a truly grassroots, everyday level—the hard work of developing those real friendships, interacting, hanging out, loving, being family, every day, across ideologically divided lines.

    Another thing that concerns me is the sense that some of these other issues about our communities–which are separate issues that the media (and then fools like me) have conflated–are lost in the larger defensive discussion that then has to take place in response. It sucks, and I feel like shit for having contributed to that flattening of the discussion, because there are so many nuances and complexities involved in these issues that get steamrolled by ignorant discourse like that which has taken place around all this. But I appreciate how you have done an extensive critique of the racism of this “70%” narrative, and then followed it up with this post which doesn’t shy away from looking inward at our communities, at the reality of that 70%, and the separate issue of internal oppressions that we direct toward each other along other lines.

    It is important to not let this issue get lost in all the noise. Not just because of Prop 8, but because it underlies the election of Obama and other, broader, related issues. The complexities of how Prop 8 and the Obama presidency are linked speak to these other issues that need to stay at the forefront. It’s hard to articulate it but I think the connection between Obama and Prop 8 that I’m trying to get at, and what my half-baked initial reaction to the passage of Prop 8 gestured at but in a thoughtless, fucked up, reactionary way, was this idea of, like, “one oppression at a time,” versus an insistent awareness of how they are all intertwined and interlocking, and therefore, must all be addressed at the same time, together. Like, this fallacy of, first let’s focus on knocking down the racial barrier, next the sex barrier, then the class barrier, etc. It just doesn’t work like that.

    I think your targeting of the church is right on. For me, it’s also one of those funky complexities, though—like, how much do we really want to shit on people’s sources of comfort, especially the oppressed? How do we question and challenge the church without shitting on it? I have no sympathy with any church. And I don’t hesitate to challenge or question it. But, it seems like one of those things that requires a lot of tact, compassion, and understanding, in dealing with, especially if we are seeking to develop real coalitions. (In some ways this gets into deeper questions of metaphysical experience and needs that are beyond this. Ideologies of all kinds exploit the basic elements of our human experience—whether it be our instincts to form and be part of social groups and families, our need to feel productive, our need to feel loving connections, our need to feel a connection to larger realities beyond our everyday, individual, physical experience, or other needs. For all of these, there is some ideology waiting to step in and pervert the need away from healthy expression and exploration, and instead, toward propping up somebody else’s power at the expense of our own.)

    I don’t have any answers. I do have a story that describes a set of experiences, and maybe points to some questions, and to the complexities of how our ideas and experiences are formed/malformed/informed:

    The Saturday before the election, my friend and I were driving south on Vermont to attend a talk at the Southern California Library by Mayra Sirias of La Red de Mujeres Contra Violencia, a feminist activist from Nicaragua. USC was having a football game that day, so there was tons of traffic. As we neared the intersection of Vermont and Exposition, we began to notice all these Yes on 8 signs waving around, on all four corners. The people waving them around were Latinas/os. Some of the signs were church-oriented, and some said stuff like “Free Speech, Yes on 8!” which we couldn’t really figure out. Free speech? Anyway, at the talk at the library, there were a lot of members of Incite-LA, the local activist feminist group—I think they were actually responsible for bringing Sirias to LA and organizing the talk. At one point, several members were talking about the difficulties of developing coalition work in LA, even among different activist organizations. The discussion was very interesting, touching on issues of how oppressions are interlinked, and one member brought up the Latino Yes on 8 activists out on the street that day, pointing out the complexities involved when our own communities often oppress ourselves internally like this. Sirias addressed this by focusing on the church and how it always targets those who are already the most oppressed—the poor and people of color—and how it works to keep them oppressed. But she also described how the broad women’s rights coalition that she has worked to develop in Nicaragua has taken years of hard work, lots of discussion and patience, and a willingness to engage people and meet them where they are at ideologically, including church folks, and even the police. (It wasn’t some Pollyanish idealism that we can change the cops or something, or that we want to make them part of our coalition—just a very realistic awareness that there are sometimes some small, key gains that can be made by engaging them rather than just automatically dismissing or taking on a combative stance.)

    Afterward, we went to eat at a restaurant on Slauson in Baldwin Hills. Along the way, we noticed the sense of excitement everywhere. You could feel it. Everywhere, people were selling Obama t-shirts on the sidewalks and stuff like that. Anyway at the restaurant—which is in a fairly upscale area (Baldwin Hills is pretty fancy)—at the table next to us, were two Black couples. So, they were talking about their church—I couldn’t tell if they’d just come from church or something, but it was clear that they were Christians from their conversation. They were also talking about investments, playing the stock market, stuff like that. The point is I got the clear impression of upper middle- or upper class Christians. They were also talking about the elections, mainly about Obama. No mention of Prop 8. Anyway, at one point, one of the guys started talking about Israel and Obama’s support for it. He pointed out that Israel is a tiny little strip of land, surrounded by all these massive countries, and yet somehow, it’s been able to survive. His argument for why? Not because the US continues to arm and fund Israel, including with nuclear weapons. Not because the US government, media, and people, continue to turn a blind eye to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and to the brutal oppression of the Palestinian people. No, it’s because Israel is “God’s country.” And therefore, it must remain undivided, one state.

    Listening to him, I was reminded of my recent disappointment a few days before, reading Raymond Roker’s blog (which I usually really like otherwise), in a post in which he expresses his support for Israel as a black Jew. He compares Israel and its new democracy to “a younger America (by about 170 years)” (you know, back in 1838, when the American “settlers” were wiping out the native people who were already here, stealing their land, and putting other enslaved humans to work on it). Roker’s analysis is complex, but he nevertheless staunchly insists on support for Israel and, more importantly, on an intact Israel. He makes an argument for a kind of “progressive” Zionism, but given the situation of the Palestinians, while Roker may not be taking the hardline right position of AIPAC, as he notes, this is nevertheless sort of like expressing a “progressive” imperialism, or a “progressive” colonization.

    Again, it comes down to this complicated intersection of class, race, religious ideology, and the imperialist economic ideology of capitalism.

    Church, race, class, imperialism.

    Just a couple of anecdotes—the logical fallacy is to draw broader conclusions from them (a mistake which I made, and which I think many of us tend to make). But the questions they raise are important, including, perhaps most importantly for me: How do we approach such a complex matrix of oppressions and issues?

    I don’t know. I think it begins with a recognition that we will have to do it together, across all these ideological dividing lines that many of us maybe would rather not even bother with, let alone cross. But I do know that the way NOT to approach it is to flatten it all out with knee-jerk, reactionary responses, which, despite observing all this complexity, is what I did initially.

    And what that reminded me of was another key thing in all this: That most of us, most of the time, are operating from a similarly reactionary place within our own various ideological “reality tunnel” traps, so that’s important to always remember and keep in mind too—not just to keep on our own critical thinking toes and thus avoid flattening ourselves out, but to not fall into the trap of participating in helping others flatten themselves out.

    In other words, what this kind of work involves is developing a sharp, critical thinking process that, while critical and unafraid to challenge others, also maintains an insistent awareness, recognition, and honoring of the complexity of others, even when their own ideological beliefs and positions don’t recognize or honor that complexity in themselves. Because we are often doing the same to ourselves. If we weren’t, all of these power structures would have toppled a long time ago.

  7. Kualyque your comment was a post in itself. Sidenote you need to share info about the Southern California Library I would have been interested in going to that event. That place is rad.

    “how much do we really want to shit on people’s sources of comfort, especially the oppressed?” you.

    That is such a hard question. That is the hardest question.

    The church is a place of comfort and if I were to go to black area and talk to the masses there is no way I would come at them with the “The church hates you.” Yeah I would be thinking it, but I know that isn’t how it works. I don’t even know if I would be the right person to go there. I’m black, but at this point I’m an interloper. I know how I am. I think the thing is for progressives is that alot of times we’re like the marines we go in there, we “fix” the problem and then leave a bunch of dead bodies. If we truly want to get our people (Latino and African-American) out of the clutches of the church we have to go in there, outreach and stay. We can’t go in there and turn people’s world’s upside down and then offer no alternative.

    If I’m serious I may have to move to Compton. It has to be about us being them and listening, not a we go in there as a job. It has to be like moving in to take care of your sick mother. That’s the kind of thing it has to be.

    I truly believe that I could convince people to leave the church, but I don’t know what to do after that. I wouldn’t want to go in there and do anything without a real game plan. I mean I know what I would want to do provide real jobs, art and education, but I don’t have those kinds of resources.

    The church is filling something and we have to help them fill that with something else that is positive and not hateful. This will take a long time. This may take ten or twenty years, but to me it has to be about giving them something better than taking away. I don’t want to take away anything I want to give them the hope for something better. I think also it’s about us listening to them and creating a bond that is a combination new and old and still respectful. I think they do sort of have that it’s called Agape, but those new agey Christian organizations are usually really, really middle class and just not something that more economically deprived members of our groups would be into. And I personally have always felt they were a little phony.

    “In other words, what this kind of work involves is developing a sharp, critical thinking process that, while critical and unafraid to challenge others, also maintains an insistent awareness, recognition, and honoring of the complexity of others, even when their own ideological beliefs and positions don’t recognize or honor that complexity in themselves. Because we are often doing the same to ourselves. If we weren’t, all of these power structures would have toppled a long time ago.” you

    Yeah. It’s like. I don’t want to be part of the problem. I don’t want to go in there (or rather have someone else go in there) and create my own messed up system that’s exploiting them the same way as the church and force my own agenda onto them and I can’t even offer them something cool like an after life with cheese cake and a cloud condo.

    You know the church was probably initially some kind of dogooder and then it just went horribly wrong once that person realized, “Hey I can make these people do anything, cool.”


  8. So you’re partaking of the 70% as well? You have joiners in the form of the BBC. Seems like African American Californians are the pariahs du jour, even being touted as essential for the win, I quote, “Their votes were pivotal on the issue.” It’s official, it’s International.

    In strange irony the African American vote became the most important voters on this issue by simple repetition. Nothing said of the vast majority of White, religious votes being the prime numbers allowing this to pass, or the thousands more Hispanic votes vs. African American votes. Perennial scapegoats for sure…

    Seems weird you’ve swallowed the pill.

  9. Putting the whole Religious evil influence aside (And I DO agree with all that’s being said here, by the way) for one minute to point out another factor. I don’t know if anyone’s touched on this yet (I may have missed it among all these lengthy discussions- my apologies)
    But there’s is also the human factor to consider here whereby certain groups distinguished by certain social and behavioral values ( this applies to ANY ethnic group btw) may be characterized by a very strong, over-compensating “Machismo” ethic often manifesting into homophobia towards gays, and even disfunction within gay individuals themselves, inner conflict, denial & self hatred, “closet” behavior,etc. We’re all familiar with the origins of terms like “on the down-low”, acts of “gay-bashing”, African men with AIDS who believe they that raping an infant girl will cure them, Homosexuals in Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America being exiled and even murdered by their communities for being gay. My point here is that these are not necessarily all symptoms of religion & church twisting people’s minds & souls. There is also some of man’s own inner evil at work here. I’m sure that there are plenty of non-religious people who fear/hate gays too. Let’s spread the blame everywhere it needs to be.

  10. Salty,

    I totally understand your stance and I get completely where you are coming for. I in no way am saying that seven percent equals the reason, but I am saying this is a good opportunity to do some critical analysis of an aspect of some individuals in a community.

    The Christian Community and many black people are members of that community.

    It’s unfortunate that people are so racist that ethnic minorities can’t talk about issues of homophobia and sexism in their communities without it implying some defect or stereotype, but I can’t worry about that.

    See to me in general the reason I have had a problem about the obsession with the African-Americans voting in large part for Prop 8 in the mainstream media is because of the following:

    1. No random stories about black people.
    2. No equal representation with white people in regards to positive press.
    3. Blogs that never ever talk about race, except to say something bad or derogatory.

    And for people like that they have no right to even pretend to be objective in talking about African-American issues, but in this forum at LA Eastside I think it’s a safe environment and that we have in general been fair and have reached out wide enough that we get to do a critical analysis of the Latino and African-American communities.

    And I welcome criticism if you think this is bullshit (which you do) feel free to say so.

    Now if I was a black person that never ever talked about black people or black issues and this was the first thing I posted on the topic after being an invisible negro for the vast majority of the time, then yeah I would be guilty of swallowing the pill.

    But I don’t think I am.

    But I have to say Salty, even though you are taking exception of the stance that I am making. Your comments on my prior post about punching someone in the throat and this comment accusing me of swallowing the pill, well I have to say I think that’s pretty awesome and I offer you the figurative black love incense.

    Don’t burn those all in one place 😉


  11. Al,

    I know the religion angle I have taken is extreme, but for Americans Christianity is very strong and very influential and while this is challenged in the white community it goes unchallenged in the ethnic community and your examples in regards to Africa and Asia, those are pretty crazy my friend. There are a lot of stereotypes of the individual countries in Africa, me being half Nigerian I can tell you from what I know lots of things that get over here are way batshit crazy…you got freaky rural people in every culture…sorry freaky rural people, I didn’t mean that in an offensive way.

    Now black America has been in America for the most part over 200 years, in some case 300 plus years. And America’s dysfunction is it’s puritanical ways and since the black community is part of the American community well you see where I’m going with this.

    I really can’t see any other cause for this homophobia in white and black people. Black and white people don’t even know what they are exactly for the most part (I mean they have been here so long that whatever they were before is pretty much irrelevant, if you sort of kind of think you are Scottish or Egyptian, because you saw a movie and you don’t really know the language and your family has been here 200 years are you really what you were or what you are?) They do have a culture. They are American. That’s a great culture, except the hardcore Christian part (which is the part that helps keeps racism and homophobia alive). The average black and white person are shockingly very similar. They’ve been sharing this country for the last 200 years, so how can they not be the same.

    The Civil Rights movement was great, but Christian based movements are conservative and repressive even the ones that try to be open they always have some judgmental moral angle. Every time I’ve tried to do the liberal church thing I end up having to not go anymore and I don’t think I’m that outrageous.

    African-Americans and White Americans its problem with gay culture are pretty rooted in this country. This country’s obsession with Jesus Christ.

    I know it’s offensive to say. I know this is hard conversation, but someone has to start it.

    I would bet anyone a million dollars that homophobia in America has to do 90% with Christian US based church and the other 10% is some other religion though I’m not sure how I would go about proving that or collecting money.

    I know it sounds kind of unfair, but I don’t think religion is the same thing as being black or gay. Religion is a choice and now it’s taking what it does and trying to run people’s lives so now they need to be stopped. What’s next? They did Prop 8. What’s next? Stoning single mothers?


  12. “3. Blogs that never ever talk about race, except to say something bad or derogatory.”

    Ugh, this is what bothers me the most. It’s like suddenly everyone is an expert on the Black community.

  13. And truly this conversation is already happening, so I think we should give people a sort of intelligent place to discuss it. The internet is huge. If people google the Prop 8 thing I would much rather for them to get to this site or Field Negro or Racialicious than them to end up at LA Curbed.

    I am totally ok with being wrong on this and being challenged on this. Maybe Al is right, maybe it is something other than the church, Maybe Salty is right, but I’m confident enough in the readers on this site and the bloggers on this site to have a dialogue with people regarding this topic and having it in a real way that isn’t demonizing to people owing to their biological make up.

  14. Browne-

    I never really commented on the substance of your post which I think was worthy of it, so allow me my two cents…

    I feel your focus on the root cause of intorance, Religion, is perhaps a touch misplaced. America is rife with all sorts of religious factions owing to it’s status as religious haven from it’s inception. This has it’s drawbacks as well as bonuses. Foremost, America is a bastion of religious thought unfettered from the influence of government that would normally favor one faction above another to elevate that faction to power, Theocracy. On the other hand, the lack of primacy between any faction creates infighting and furthered factionism which plainly makes people crazy. We are a cesspool of religious idiocy that breeds any number of ridiculous creeds from Scientology to Shakers. America is awash in religousness, for better or worse.

    The point you made that I think is least helpful is attempting to tie poor, oppressed people to control by religion. I’m not saying you’re wrong, but that might be the least convincing or helpful tact to take in regards to winning minds and hearts. To tell someone their religion/church is wrong and they are duped for believing in it might be the easiest way to turn people off to your message that I can think of. The message is the key and I think most people (call me hopeful) can see the reason of accepting the basic premise that people are simply born with inherent qualities. It might be the most acceptable notion to take. After all, God don’t make mistakes. A message like that goes a long way to helping people understand that gays can no more help being gay any more than I can help being straight. Actually, I’ve used that a lot and it works.

    To convince people of their God-given condition, Gay, Straight, Black, Brown or otherwise makes common ground. Trying to convince people that that they’ve been infected by Religion will only get you crazy stares. I may not be an expert in Black American society, but my gut tells me that telling people their church is full of shit will likely tank.

    You noted that the political and religious atmosphere has changed in the last few decades where people tended to tie their movements together. I don’t think that method would work now but the ethos of respecting other’s traditions will help if you are trying to mend fences.

  15. I’m looking at the regional voting numbers from last week’s elections for the City of Los Angeles, and I find it sad that more voters on the Westside voted against Prop 8 than voters did on the Eastside.

  16. Salty,

    I totally agree. You don’t have to be an expert on the black community. The human community pretty much all works the same way.

    You don’t go to someone and tell them that what the believe in is exploiting them. That would go horribly wrong. I am just presenting the problem and stating why it’s a problem and then going this needs to be the objective. Now how to get to that objective that would take alot of organizing that is beyond my skillset.

    Yes possibly the God is in everyone might work, but you know when I talk to people who have problems with others they just don’t seem to be buying that line of thought.

    I don’t know. I just don’t want to trick people, but tricking people seems to be what works. I want people to be honest with me, so I try to be honest with people in what I think. But you know I remember I had this Professor and he was from China. He was very cool. He was a diplomats son and had this exciting life, he had lived in France and the UK and partied in the 30s with movie stars (he pretty much spent the whole class talking about how cool he was back in the day) and he told me the problem with Americans are that Americans treat you how they want to be treated, but in Buddhism you are suppose to treat people how THEY want to be treated. It sounds a little different, but it’s worlds apart.

    He also said Americans were barbarians, but I just ignored that part…lol…

    I try to remember that and I also know sometimes I can’t do that, so sometimes I just don’t go around people, because sometimes I have a problem that I so badly want to tell people the truth that I don’t care how it comes out, because I think “Well it’s ok, because it’s true.” But you know sometimes being truthful isn’t always being right or even helpful.

    So I do think the end game should be this sort of respect for people’s traditions, but respect for each person’s individuality, but how to get there is the hard part.

    But I think there needs to be that other side, because as of now there is no other side in regards to the ethnic community and the church. Everyone so afraid to break people that no one even gives people an option of entertaining the idea that this could be wrong.

    I’m always going to be on the left, but maybe someone will go, “This is a good idea, maybe I will will bring it to the middle.” There can be no center if there is only a right, the extreme left has to exist to bring balance to people’s lives. I feel that everyone has there place. My place is probably not to go down to Compton and go, “You’re crazy. You need to leave this scary church.”


  17. AL, there’s also some disparities in income between those geographic blocs, which very few are acknowledging (if any). The “black/brown voted for obama but deny civil rights” tagline is much sexier I suppose.

    Those areas are also voter rich, compare Calabasas with a population of 9,500…and like 9,000 came out to vote… meaning a sizable 18+ eligible voter population. The median income is well over $100,000…not surprisingly they shot down Prop 8. Look at Maywood or Cudahy, a similar sized city in population…but not the ratio of voters to overall population. The median income is 36,000…but I’m damn straight you have a lot of 20,000’s etc,

    As pointed throughout this excellent post, there’s several ways to look at it. As a structuralist, I like to look at the economics/class aspect of things, but it all goes together.

  18. I agree that the freedom of religious thought in America has given rise to a healthy culture of spiritual expression, including but not limited to wackos and Scientologists. But I would not forget the central role that the black churches (and mainstream liberal Protestants) were a huge force behind the 1950s – 1960s civil rights movement. So it does go both ways.

    It’s tough when the religious people go against the grain, and the pain that causes is real. But there have been times when it was not that way. It’s been a very long time, however. Thanks to Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

    The Prop 8 demos have been largely focused on the Mormon, and now the Catholic churches. Not religion, but these particular organizations, so as to point out their specific agendas and to paint them as evil. It might work. Reasonable people can be persuaded sometimes. There are also many smaller churches that support the cause of gay marriage.

    Because I am a total cynic, I don’t think the rejection of all religion is likely, and in fact I think it might be more dangerous. People need something or someone to think for them. Sorry, but it’s true, and I am not limiting this to the church going folks. We are a superstitious bunch, us humans, and its easy, outside of a reliable structure, to become murderous freaks.

    Take people’s rock away and I think they would go beserk. Really, like killing and stuff. Not link they don’t already do some of that, but it would be worse.

    In my experience, what makes most people “get it” is by knowing people affected by the issue. The “outing” so popular in the 1990s was very helpful to make many people realize that they do know gay people. And unlike racial issues, there are gay people in every race and class. More people need to be encouraged to make themselves visible. That effort has been strongly underway for many years, and the gay marriage movement is evidence of that. We are just not there yet.

  19. I was watching American Dad online today. And I noticed on cartoons such as Family Guy and American Dad the portrayal of gay people and it wasn’t good.

    I think gay people need their version of the Cosby Show.

    But you know maybe it’s TV. I think getting rid of corporate TV, corporate movies and religion, maybe religion can without the corporate forces behind it.

    Ok all of this aside.

    What I think really. What I would really want to do in a major way if I didn’t think it would put me on some list (or move me up the list) would be to get rid of capitalism for the poor through middle class (because as we’ve seen socialism is already the system used to protect the rich).

    I think capitalism with the compliment of religion as a controlling device is what causes racism, sexism and homophobia and the way to get rid of all of these things is to go to the root cause and to show people there is another way.

    I think with capitalism you’re always going to have a scapegoat, because that is the way the system works best if everyone is divided into their own little group. Capitalism needs an exploitable workforce, religion is a very good training ground to just going with the program.

    People only need religion because they have been beated too death owing to capitalism and imperialism. You didn’t have someone trying to repo your house you wouldn’t be calling out to God or any imaginary being at the end of the night, you would be having a good time with your friends that are here on earth right now.

    I think this was the problem of the women’s movement and the civil right’s movement. It doesn’t make me happy to see a black woman CEO, Condeleeza Rice doesn’t make me happy. She makes me sad. It was about having those two groups in the game of exploitation as the end goal.

    I don’t like that end goal. I don’t feel anyone should have the right to exploit anyone.

    I would have liked the end goal to be get rid of hurting the poor and stopping this helping the rich at all cost, not we’ll let some of you in the game of helping the rich and hurting the poor.

    I think MLK and Malcolm X at the end were thinking on that level. They had gotten beyond race. Both of the groups that had brought them to the point were getting annoyed that they had grown into seeing that class was the true problem. I think that’s why they got killed. Civil Right’s and wanting to participate in helping the rich and having your own rep in there, well that fine the country is fine with that, but real change. A fight for the poor overseas, erasing the lines of division (not culture mind you just division) between races and genders and sexual orientation well that’s something the people in charge don’t want to see happen. You can get killed for thinking on that level in a serious way or even worse laughed at and pointed at and told your irrelevant.

    Why is Ralph Nader a joke now? And why is Fox News suddenly concerend with the feelings of African-Americans.

    I think the ultimate civil rights movement will have to be the one where the poor and working class and middle classes are no longer exploited so that one guy can get paid.

  20. Maybe this is a discussion for another post, but capitalism is not alone in fostering racism and oppression. I was in East Germany several times in the 80s and in the Soviet Union in 1984 and it was far worse there than here. In a centralized system there is no way to challenge those in power. Everyone is considered “uppity.”

  21. Bert,

    What do you think causes racism? Me personally I can’t believe it’s just about people being mean. That’s too easy. It’s got to be some other reason other than just hate. Hate is the fantasy excuse for the bad things that people do.

    Racism, sexism and homophobia to me has its root causes in money. It all comes down to money.

    Maybe I have too much faith in humanity, but I don’t think people in general are assholes, I think there are just some people who use people on those few people are assholes.

    I bet this issue right now that we’re talking about has to do with someone’s money.

    The war in Iraq someone’s money.

    The fight to keep people legal slaves, someone’s money.

    The reason for slavery, someone’s money.

    The way everyone keeps this money thing going, god. God and religion and country and nationalism and all this bs is what keeps this going.

    I want a better reason. Give me one, I’m serious.

    See the problem is Bert. No one really wants homophobia, racism or sexism to die. That would cause a deep reflection into the true cause of all of this. No one wants to swallow the red pill.


  22. Sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t have a clear answer for what causes racism and related bigotries.

    If you look at racism for what it is, an affinity for people like oneself and a disdain for people other than oneself, it’s possible that we could fault heterosexuality itself (or less radically, tribalism) because all people of a certain race are related in a close or a distant way.

    But the class argument does come closer to a reason for it, because one could argue that the actual friction is class based and NOT race based. And that further, racism per se is actually created and used by powerful people to divide the populace to maintain control.

    All I was trying to say before is that in my experience within “socialist” structures, there is a lot of lip service paid to equality, but they actually made less progress toward the goal because of the “elephant in the room,” the unchecked consolidation of all power into unaccountable hands of a small few.

    Yes, money. But what’s behind money? Power. Control of resources and ownership of land. Same in any political system.

    The reflexive critique of capitalism has a long and dignified history, but it smack of laziness to me. Not to defend capitalism, but I can’t believe that it does not share the same defects of all other social organizing systems. It’s a defect in human function.

    But you are not as cynical as me; you don’t think most people are assholes. Most of the people I choose to associate with are not, but most of the people I encounter in the world are.

  23. re: religion

    I don’t think we’d all kill each other without religion. That’s the same argument they use for the state (police, etc.). I think all the poor people on the bottom of the pyramid would probably kill all the rich people on top, yes. So that’s why these institutions are in place. And then they self-justify.

    But anyway it doesn’t matter, I’m thinking at this point, even if we got rid of the church, that in itself wouldn’t make much difference, because we’ve all been trained to be good little Judgy McJudgersons regardless of how progressive or whatever we think we are. We all operate like we’re in church anyway, even the anarchists and other leftists. Judging. Feeling all superior to others. Condemning others to eternal damnation cuz they eat pork, or they’re not “down” enough, or they’re threatening in some way, or not perfect enough politically in some way or another. Oh, and splitting—you know, that great little trick we learned growing up as Catholics where a person is either totally good, or totally bad, but can’t be both at various points or even simultaneously. I think a lot of that comes from centuries of Catholic colonization. Do everything right like you’re supposed to, and you go to heaven. Fuck up, and it’s straight to hell for you—unless you feel guilty and shamed enough and do enough penance according to the priest’s/boss’s/random authority figure’s arbitrary definition of penance. Even those of us who totally reject the church, this is how we keep each other and ourselves in check like we’re in church, whether we are or not.

    And that’s because it’s not really about the church, it’s really about ideology, any ideology. Ideology is the underlying trap. Religion is just another set of ideologies, a particular articulation of ideology. And the most powerful ideology today, of course, is the ideology/religion of capitalism/imperialism. That is our real religion. That is the real church. I don’t think that’s a lazy critique, that’s just looking realistically at how power has accumulated itself around particular ideologies and beliefs over the last 600 years or so. It could as easily have used other ideologies, and in fact, it has, at various points. Like communism, for example. Or colonialism. But capitalism is just what we are looking at here, just to give it a name. More precisely I guess would be, neocapitalism and neocolonialism.

    But anyway that’s another reason why I think it wouldn’t matter if we got rid of the Church church, because that church is just another front, just a tool, of the real, underlying church of domination: Enslavement to ideology in any and all forms, which allows some to wield great power over others.

    So…since it’s really about ideology in general, it won’t even matter if we get rid of capitalism, either. (though it would be a start, maybe, in the sense at the very least that it’s important to identify the particulars of a given situation.)

    Ideology, of all kinds, of any kind, is the real source of the problem. I think we can learn to use ideologies as tools—not get attached to them, or identify with them, but instead learn to shuttle between them and deploy them, tactically—but as long as we cling to the need for belief systems, we’re fucked, because we will always seek meaning outside ourselves with which to identify (ideologies of various kinds), instead of realizing that we make meaning ourselves, we ourselves and our lives are the source of meaning.

    The good news is that while I do think the need for a sense of meaning is inherent, the need for belief systems is *not* inherent—we don’t inherently need to believe in anything, nor do we need to believe in someone else to think for us or tell us what to think, or otherwise we’ll go crazy and become murderous. Instead, we are trained to believe that we inherently need someone else to think for us or tell us what to think, and trained to fear the false (crazy, murderous) consequences of not developing and maintaining a Belief system. The irony is that all that potential for craziness and murderousness is actually unleashed more by ideological training than by anything else—in fact, ideology counts on those elements in our nature in order to function. It targets and exploits and amplifies them, and we all fall prey to these tactics, all of us, in our own ways.

    Because once we have a set of beliefs (often deeply ingrained and unconscious) to cling to, well then, we have to defend it right? Because that’s who we are, we become our beliefs. And it’s not changing, dammit, because then that would mean that something’s wrong with our beliefs, but more importantly, that something’s wrong with *us*–cuz, remember, we are our beliefs. That’s why anything that threatens or challenges it is no good. Because it threatens not just a belief, but our very selves. That’s why we’ll die for a belief. Or kill for it. And they know this.

    So, just use this same formula and you can plug in whatever ideologies you want and bingo, you’ve got a bunch of people who can be manipulated to do whatever you want them to. Racism, Mormonism, Imperialism, Capitalism, Colonialism, Communism, Anarchism (yes I said it). I’ve seen people of all of these belief systems acting like assholes, myself included, and I don’t think it’s because we are inherently assholes, I think it’s because we are imperfect creatures, but when we allow ourselves to be trained into this or that belief system, then we lose the ability to discern between healthy behavior and thought, and unhealthy behavior and thought, because we are too busy defending whatever beliefs form our sense of who we are to spend any time REALLY learning and understanding who we are. Defending our beliefs becomes our primary concern, then, rather than the creation of meaning that results from a fully engaged navigation of all the mishmash of imperfections beauty ugliness emotions etc that is the result of a truly rich experience of living. As a result, we often act against our best interests and those of our communities, because we have ceased to be fluid and open to experience and change—the prerequisites for understanding, growth, and effective communication and connection with others. Instead, we construct ourselves as rigid and closed off, and always ready to fight anything or anyone that threatens “us” (i.e., our beliefs). Thus the appearance of assholeness.

    But, this also means that if we can be trained to adhere to this or that belief system, then we can re-train ourselves a different way, too—a way that rejects all belief systems. And that means that there are escape routes, and there’s room for mistakes, room for change, room for growth, room for meaning. Everything else is a form of nihilism–belief itself is a form of nihilism, because it posits meaning as something outside ourselves.

  24. Browne,
    I don’t have a real answer about what causes Racism either, but I have my own personal theories about possibilities. I like to watch Discovery Channel and Animal Planet.
    On there you see the animals (Meerkats for example) how they live & survive in packs or groups within their habitat; their laws, their practices, their hiearchies and their ultimate quest for survival. Assuming that everything on our planet falls within a (God’s?) plan, we may surmise that some of these (if not all) fundamental and primal instincts must also apply be inherent within humans (we’re higher order animals on this planet too, right?) Although we seem to have the fortunate ability to sublimate the worse of these traits from time to time. One common practice I observed was the tendency of these packs to efficiently isolate, segregate-even attack & kill any members seen as different, weak, injured, or simply inadequate to the group leader’s standards. These laws appear to be essential to their laws for survival. These practices become much more intense when overall conditions get “tough” for these little tribes. Translated to humans, put ourselves in a crowded room, do we not tend to zero in on the poor fellow who may not dress, act or speak
    as well as we may imagine and whisper or think it among ourselves? In most people it’s almost an involuntary act (my theory of a primal predisposition to be an asshole) Our worse human tendency is; Instead of waiting to get to know what a person is really like, we use some made-up social, educational, and economic class standard to base our judgement in order to accept or condemn an individual. Even worse, is doing this to ENTIRE GROUPS of people.
    There’s a lot more to it, don’t get me started, but I just wanted to throw this in without getting too verbose. This is stuff better discussed all night over coffee somewhere, but hey, here we are.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *