Friday, November 9, 2012

Now That It's All Over

I am so very glad that this election is over.  And I am very glad that President Obama was re-elected, marriage equality prevailed in all four contests, and that our House and Senate are more diverse than ever.  But there are a couple of things that happened that night that made me quite sad.  First, I discovered that I was "unfriended" by three conservative friends on Facebook, and this was before I'd said anything about the election results.  Second, I found out that students at my undergrad expressed their dismay at Obama's re-election by surrounding the campus' Minority Student Union house, while hurling firecrackers, bottles and racial epithets at the students inside of the house.

What makes me sad about these reactions to Obama's re-election is that I know that if the situations were reversed, I, nor the students in the MSU house, would have reacted similarly.  It was an election.  Yes, I am a strong supporter of Obama, and with good reason.  But, I would not have started dismissing my conservative friends or hurling invectives at them, if Romney had prevailed.  There's no point to that.  The nation will survive any one leader at the helm.  It has since it's founding, and even at its lowest point, during the Civil War.

I find it so fascinating that Obama's ascension has inflamed such passions from his political opponents, passions that I find deeper than those that George W. Bush experienced, and he has some passionate political opponents.  I've wondered if what Obama represents, a  "new America," is at the heart of the enmity.  If you look at the coalition of Americans that voted for Obama this year, you would find an extremely diverse group of folks.  For years, I've been asking why it seems that the various minority groups are consistently on the other side of the aisle from white conservatives?  What is it about conservative positions that so many find untenable?  Too often, the answers given, if the question is even addressed, is a mish-mash of a desire for "socialism," not "understanding" America, or simply a desire to take "hand outs."  Those are stupid answers, and they avoid the substance of the question. 

Until the GOP can actually answer that question, then it will continue to find itself on the losing end of general elections.  There are real paths that the GOP could take to begin selling, in an honest way, its ideas to racial, ethnic and sexual minorities.  It isn't as though Romney didn't get ANY minority votes; he did.  So, perhaps instead of getting mad and calling names, and saying that your political opponents are "idiots," "un-American," "moochers," "takers" or whatever mean thing that comes to mind, maybe, just maybe, it's time to sort out what could appeal to the people who don't support the GOP agenda and build on that.  Unfortunately, that will take a great deal of work, and if the end goal is to return to the "golden age" of the late 1950s, then the GOP will have lost, before it's even begun.  And "un-friending" liberal friends seems like an admission that there is an unwillingness even to ask why we have differences.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

On Civil Rights Voting

Having already cast my ballot for Barack Obama (again, and this time in Virginia, as opposed to DC, where my one additional vote will have more weight, I couldn't help but think of the sadness I felt on Election night '08 with the Prop 8 debacle in California.  So here we are, four years later, and four states (Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington) have ballot initiatives related to civil marriage equality.  Of course, I want marriage equality to prevail tonight (with Minnesota not amending its state constitution to deny the possibility of marriage equality, and the other states seeking to bolster the legislative victories in their states), but Maryland stands out for me.

One of the false memes that has developed is the notion that Black folks are super, extra especially homophobic, in comparison with the broader public.  It simply isn't true.  Homophobia is an equal opportunity problem.  Now considering that Maryland has the largest Black population of the states with marriage equality on the ballot, and considering that Maryland's Black population is electorally influential, I think that a vote in favor of marriage equality in the Old Line State would be a significant blow to that meme about Blacks and the GLBT community.  I am more than confident that President Obama's embrace of marriage equality, and the Democratic Party's embrace have helped move the needle on broader GLBT acceptance, especially within the Black community.

Yet with all of those positives, I find it quite sad that many within the Black community remain quite comfortable with the notion of putting a demographic group's civil rights on the ballot.  I don't need to remind anyone of just how far civil rights for Blacks would have gone, if they'd been put on the ballot in the states with legal segregation.  But I think that it is important to remind folks of just how that would have felt to those fighting for racial equality.  It would have sucked during those election nights, waiting for the returns to come in, wondering if this time might be the time that equality prevails.

That is precisely what the GLBT community is going through right now, and it fucking sucks. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Will Being Gay in Uganda Lead to Execution or Imprisonment? XIV

Even though the "Kill the Gays" bill is still roaming about the Ugandan legislature, I was all smiles when I heard that there was a series of gay pride events there in the very recent past.  Even in the face of hate, there is nothing like non-violent protest, and simply being willing to be out.  I wish all of the participants the best, and I hope that they will all remain safe.  "The Advocate" has a great series of images from the events.  Here is the link.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Funny How Freedom of Religion Works

I found it completely hilarious that the GOP in Louisiana, in their effort to dismantle the public school system there, decided to use the scheme of vouchers to transfer money from public schools to private religious schools.  Mind you, their definition of a religious school is a "Christian" school.  Needless to say, once Muslim schools in Louisiana sought to take advantage of the program, folks in the GOP balked.  Please feel free to laugh at the Louisiana GOP accordingly.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Somewhere, Bayard Rustin Is Smiling

I cannot believe that I am able to write that the NAACP has come out in support of civil marriage equality.  I am confident that this move is a direct result of the POTUS having come out for marriage equality.  But I also think it's extremely important to remember that Julian Bond, the former Chair of the NAACP, was a strong supporter of marriage equality years ago.  I had an opportunity to thank him personally at an Equality Virginia event, where he served as keynote speaker (I reminded him of our previous meeting where we talked about having gone to men's colleges, and he ribbed me a little for not selecting Morehouse, where one of my cousins, and Bond, attended) years ago.  I also think it's important to thank Bayard Rustin for being bold enough to be an out gay man, back then.  Rustin was the one who saw the natural link from the Civil Rights Movement to Gay Liberation, and Rustin, by being both Black and gay was the physical embodiment of that natural link (too many across the board seem to forget that there are Black folks in the GLBT community).  He would be proud of his old organization. 

Once again, I am sure that there will be some interesting sermons and discussions among Black folks on this Sunday.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Thank You, Mr. President

Perhaps I am still in a state of shock.  If anyone had asked me 5 years ago whether or not we would have a Black President in my lifetime, I would have said "I doubt it," or I would have said that "I think a White woman would get it long before a Black man (the idea of this country electing a Black woman President, is still one that I cannot envision, sadly)."  But if someone had asked me whether or not we would have a sitting President come out in favor of marriage equality (civil marriage equality), I would have said that "I would likely be a much older man, when something like that would happen." 

It was my mother who sent me a text letting me know that President Obama had come out for marriage equality, and she ended the text with a character created smile.  I was on the train returning from a business trip to Washington, when that text reached me, and I looked at it for about a minute, before I responded with, "Seriously?"  When I received her affirming second message, I fully admit that I started to tear up.  I sent a text to my cousin, who recently got engaged to his partner, letting him know this new development.  He responded back almost immediately, letting me know that he'd just heard.  I sat back in my seat, looked out onto the Virginia countryside streaming by, and just smiled.  And to be honest, it was even more profound for me that the nation's first Black President was the one to do it.  Even if he doesn't win re-election, nothing will change the fact that a sitting President came out for marriage equality.

It's been a week since this happened, and it's been fascinating watching the various reactions.  The typical "hateration" came from all of the typical corners.  However, I have to admit that I wanted to know how folks within the American Black church community would take Obama's announcement.  I fully admit to enjoying the prospect of that community trying to reconcile its love for the President with its antipathy (for the most part; there are several liberal Black church communities around the nation) for all things GLBT.  Mother's Day must have been an interesting day for sermons.  I'll also add that I think I recognize how Black folks must have felt when Sen. Kennedy called Coretta Scott King, when her husband was in prison, and when President Johnson expressed publicly why he pushed for the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.  Those were moments when a minority felt that those in real power actually had its back.  That is precisely how it felt to me, and I am sure many, many others, last Wednesday.

Now, I've certainly not been a shrinking violet, when it came to expressing my issues with President Obama and his dealings on GLBT issues.  I've noticed that some of Obama's true opponents have worked hard to dismiss this move as one of cynical politics, but it doesn't matter.  Coming out for marriage equality is a real act of political bravery, and I appreciate it more than he could ever know.  But, I hope Obama doesn't think that with this historic move he won't be pushed to do still more.  The "Defense" of Marriage Act is still a blight on the American landscape, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act still needs to be signed into law, just to name two things that will help to move this country forward.

But for what President Obama did a week ago, all I have to say is THANK YOU!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

"Wait, My Hero is an Atheist?"

I burst out laughing when I saw an article showing that Rep. Paul Ryan is now rejecting, rejecting, the Objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand.  I wrote a post months ago that included video clips of an interview that Rand gave to the late Mike Wallace, and in that interview, Rand was quite explicit in explaining the tenets of Objectivism.  Classically, Ryan likely understood exactly what he wanted to understand about Rand's philosophy, with regard to the fallacy of the government assisting the least among us, while ignoring those aspects of Objectivism that he didn't like, or didn't understand.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

An Old Fashioned Update

This is the first time I've actually been on my blog, since my last post on 4 March.  Four days after that post, I lost my grandmother, and I admit fully that I wanted to take time to mourn.  As I've mentioned on this blog in the past, I moved back to my hometown both to reduce my expenses as I've worked on my consultancy, as well as to help my family with the care of my grandmother.  I think I also mentioned on this blog that my grandmother was my inspiration for studying American history generally, and African American history particularly. 

I'll be writing new posts again real soon.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Good News Weekend for Out Black Gay Folks, Past and Present

After a rather trying week (a long story that I don't want to go into), I was glad to find a couple of things in the news that made me smile.  The first was an article about the Chester County (PA) Historical Society honoring Bayard Rustin in his centennial year with an exhibit highlighting Rustin's "local roots" (he was born in West Chester, PA).  The second was a Washington Post column by Jonathan Capehart explaining precisely why the Gay Right Movement and the Civil Rights Movement are related.  In many ways, Rustin represents exactly how the two movements are linked, whether folks like it or not.  He was a Black man dealing with the legal imposition of second class citizenship, while simultaneously dealing with the homophobia that was within the Civil Rights Movement.  For me, that fact lends even more credence to Capehart's column, as the new marriage equality state of Maryland faces a potential ballot initiative, and many Black pastors in the state (among others, of course) are poised to seek marriage equality's repeal.  Should marriage equality not survive the ballot initiative, it will be in part because a strong contingent within the Black community will have voted to deny a different class of people civil rights. 

How ironic, and how sad?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Finally, A Real Investigation?

When President Obama mentioned, during the SOTU, that he was calling on the Justice Department to investigate the actual causes of the "08 crash, I was both glad and skeptical.  Obviously, this was a political move by the President coming into his re-election campaign, but it was going to be one that actually makes sense (and one that should have been done, in my opinion, back in late '09/early '10).  However, I remember yelling to the television, "what about the proposed settlement that the government and the banks have been squabbling over?" 

Well, it looks like I am closer to having an answer now.  "Rolling Stone's" Matt Taibbi has been a real hero of mine, with regard to his reporting so extensively on this issue, and I just finished reading his latest post that actually addresses my concerns from Obama's move on this issue.  And like Taibbi, I am encouraged by what is being reported (h/t, Taibbi) about the narrowed scope of the potential settlement (only focusing on foreclosure fraud like robo-signing), and the fact that the banks will not get a free pass on their actions leading up to the '08 crash.

I know that there is a general sense on the right that it was poor and undeserving minorities getting loans from banks forced by the Community Reinvestment Act to lend to those folks (still not true, by the way) that "caused" our economic meltdown, but I am glad that we will have people like the New York AG Schneiderman looking directly at the the folks on Wall Street as the real culprits. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Trying to Envision Solutions

Those who've read this blog know that I LOVE cities.  I love the energy, the noise, the conveniences, and even some of the grit (though not too much).  I love that more cities are seeing more investment and growth in their historic and commercial cores.  I particularly 24/7 cities, where there is always some solid amount of activity anytime one ventures out.

I was fascinated by an article in Slate that I read regarding Detroit, a city that has experienced incredible decline in the last several decades.  With the re-emergence of the American auto industry, people have been talking up "Detroit," but this article focused on a documentary that posits whether or not the real Detroit is a harbinger of things to come for the U.S., as we adjust to the new realities of the global marketplace.

As I watched the video clip (which I will include below), I was reminded of the things I saw when I traveled to New Orleans following the Katrina related flooding.  It's clear that Detroit, like New Orleans, needs some real comprehensive city planning.  Perhaps, Detroit could become a re-imagined city with a smaller footprint.  I think that it can be a great potential laboratory, and jobs could be created in a variety of areas as those experiments are tried and tested.  Perhaps Detroit needs a well managed overhauling, and one that the people of the city supports, as did the auto companies that have made such a comeback.

A Belated Happy New Year

Once again, I am glad to see the back of another rather tough year, and my usual optimism about the possibilities in this new year has returned.  I have to admit that I've been surprised by my neglect, if you will, of my blog, and I definitely thought hard of just copying my old posts and shutting things down.  But that's not happening today, and that's because a couple of long time readers have been nudging me not to close shop.  That nudging reminded me that I'd not taken many opportunities to say "thank you" to the small community that has read my random thoughts and perspectives over the years.  I appreciate you more than you know (including those with whom I disagree).