Some members of the Black community are taking issue with the praise being heaped upon President Obama this week in what has been called a civil rights victory.
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writer Eugene Kane offered an opinion piece about how members of his online community were outraged at what some believe to be a misappropriation of the term “civil rights.” Kane explains:
It’s being hailed – and denounced – as a major civil rights statement by Obama certain to be an issue in the upcoming presidential election.
Clearly, some African-Americans in Milwaukee and across the nation reject that comparison. For these black people, being gay isn’t like being black.
They insist gay people aren’t discriminated against in the workplace or in education like African-Americans. Although all minority populations – black, Asian, Hispanic, etc. – have gay people, many are white men and women.
For some black people, being a white male in this society represents the height of racial privilege, whether you’re gay or not.
Kane closes his article with an appeal to the community:
After all, when gay couples are featured in The New York Times’ marriage page each Sunday and national TV programs have openly gay news people and actors on camera, it’s clear more and more doors are opening.
Maybe it’s time to get used to it.
In her new film The New Black, Filmmaker Yoruba Richen set out to investigate the histories of both the Black civil rights movement and the LGBTQ civil rights movement, and explains how the two movements run parallel in an article on BlackEnterprise.com, saying:
“The film specifically looks at homophobia in the Black church, and how the Christian right has exploited this phenomenon that exists in order to promote an anti-gay political agenda…”
So what do you think? Does calling marriage rights “civil rights” minimize the struggles that Black Americans experienced when fighting for their freedom, their right to vote, and many other civil and human rights?
Or is the technical term “civil rights” one that applies equally to all legal rights?
Finally, what do you think of Richen’s theory that the Christian right is exploiting homophobia in the Black church for their own political gain?
AP Photo/Jae C Hong