Prop 8, the Left coast and Lefty Politics
While we were partying in the streets for the election of Barack Obama, Prop 8 in California passed by a small margin of support. There has been a firestorm of reporting, blogging, and reflection on the role that African-Americans played in the passage of prop 8. While I could weigh in on this, I simply won’t. Instead, I’ll point you to a post by Kai Wright on the Root that summarizes the debate and the prospects for the future of organizing around measures like prop 8.
In many ways, folks have been shocked that voting for Left or progressive politics doesn’t necessarily mean that you support social justice or equality for all. I can’t help but think that we have assumed for far too long that coming from a certain background, speaking a certain tongue, wearing certain buttons inherently connects our struggles for justice. In reality, a social justice orientation is taught one, a lived one, a challenging one. If we are not forever questioning our oppressions and our own privileges I’ve come to believe we are playing party or ideological politics, not engaging in politics of change and justice. Our inability to see our connectedness and divergences in our struggles have ended up making justice for “just us.”
I’ve been glad to see folks driven to action surrounding this regressive action of Prop 8 and I hope it is overturned. But I am most hopeful that we as activists, scholars, and everyday people take intersectionality and our linked fate to heart. This is not a single identity issue, this is not just about same-sex marriage, this is about the rights of people. The attempts to circumscribe rights of any people, is an affront to the rights of all people. In the same ways that I’m glad to see folks rallying against Prop 8, I wonder what our country would look like if I we consistently rallied against these neo-states rights campaigns. Whether Prop 187, Prop 209, or Prop 2, we see the same attempt to limit rights and opportunity under the guise of political choice. Only when we stand collectively will we see the power of the people in living the message of Dr. King in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”