Friday, February 01, 2008

Black Gay Bloggers on Obama

I meant to do this a while back but, you know, things happen. But even as the turn of events in this presidential primary season have made me more bullish on my support for Barack Obama, I am often guided by people in the blogosphere and one of the myriad of factors that I take under consideration is what black gay bloggers that I respect are saying about Obama - Even those who have yet or do not plan to endorse him.

As Super Tuesday approaches, I wanted to give you a run down of some of the most thoughtful posts I have seen out there.


In a January 8th post well-known poet and writer Reggie Harris seems a bit amazed about the giddiness he's felt ever since Obama won the Iowa caucuses. Even if Clinton, by then, had won New Hampshire. "Obviously I need a cold compress and a little lie down," he writes, "But still, I'm sorry, I can't contain myself. In point of fact, even with Hillary's win in New Hampshire, I remain, well....kinda giddy! I've already had the dream of loading all our nieces and nephews into the car and heading to DC on January 20, 2009, to be there in person when History is made..." (full post here).

The giddy bug also bit activist Kenyon Farrow the next day. He writes "My cynicism is somewhat on hold, and I am trying real hard to show some restraint and not run out and get one of those 'Barack The Vote' hoodies I saw for sale. Maybe that’s what’s different here–elections as commodity, politicians as celebrity. But I am joining my homie The Black Snob and am allowing myself to get caught up. Fuck it!" (full post here).

A few days later, as Clinton and Obama began to trade barbs on the issue of race, Farrow takes the Clinton camp to task for pushing Bob Johnson, the founder of BET, to defend Clinton on her cred. "As black as the Clintons think they are," writes Farrow, "they are white enough to not realize how many Black people actually despise Bob Johnson."

Farrow says that he understands that not every black person will back Obama but takes Johnson and other black leaders who came to Clinton's defense to task for doing it without criticizing her campaign's actions. "I said a few posts ago this election was going to help expose the tensions of the civil rights old guard as they fall out of favor," Farrow concludes, "not because Black people are more conservative, but because they are now too entrenched in the machine to be effective as agitators. And their tacit support of the Clintons against a Black candidate generally more progressive than either Bill or Hillary, is quite telling" (full post here).

Farrow offers further thoughts on the spat on race here, in the wake of Obama's victory in South Carolina.

Oh, and you might remember that little dust-up that happened over an OpEd piece in The Advocate by Jasmyne Cannick ("Gays First, Then Illegals") in the Spring of 2006. Yes, I was one of the people who signed a letter in response to that OpEd piece.

What might surprise you, though, is that I have actually had a few cordial exchanges with Jasmyne over the years and, while I wasn't necessarily looking for specific commentary regarding last night's debate and the issue on immigration over on her blog, the 2006 dust-up has been on my mind as the Democratic candidates have tackled the issue in recent days.

So, in some ways it didn't surprise me to find that Jasmyne had reacted to the Democratic candidates' comments on immigration last night.

I don't expect Jasmyne, and many other African-Americans, or Americans for that matter, to be as immigrant-friendly as I am. But even if I sometimes wonder if I am falling for oratory over substance on the immigration issue and, by doing so, I am papering over some of the real tension that exists out there, I am still amazed that Obama is willing to stand up for immigrants.

In any case, you might be surprised by Jasmyne's comments reacting to the debate:

"For me the war isn’t against the immigrants," she says, "if I lived in the conditions many of them managed to escape, I’d be trying to get over here too…just keeping it real. I think our beef is with the employers that take advantage of the immigrants and in the process displace African-American workers" (she admits that her views have changed over time and that a particular experience involving the ex-Greys' Anatomy star Isaiah Washington had to do with it, full post here).

Michael at Bloggernista (who also blogs at Bilerico) joins Jasmyne as one of the most supportive black gay bloggers for Obama. He has a nifty compendium of the speeches that Obama has given in which he has mentioned the gay community.

Similarly Ron at Mad Professah urges people to donate to the Obama camp.

Finally A Wicked Woman has endorsed Obama because, well, John Edwards is gone.


John K. also takes on the immigration issue from a different angle and says "I think it's too soon to write off Latino support for Obama everywhere, even if some places - California and Texas, say - prove tougher than others - like New Jersey and Connecticut" (full post here).

I put John under this heading because I don't think he has outright come out in support of Obama even if he seems to be leaning Obama (I might be wrong).

This might be why he might still be on the fence: "None of my correspondents seem in the least worried about Obama's rhetoric--beyond the brilliant speeches, and his victory speech in South Carolina was one of the best I've ever heard him give--or his policies, whatever they may be, they don't seem troubled by his overt use of Republican discourse or ideological and policy vagueness, they don't think that Republican smear machine, coupled with the establishment media (I'm always trying to find the right name for these folks), will wring and wrack him in the same way that it did Gore and Kerry" (full post

In a January 28th post on his blog, which is also featured in the new Washington Post online site The Root, journalist and writer Kai Wright says "For all their high jinks, the Clintons are not responsible for injecting race into the campaign; they just rudely forced everyone to acknowledge it."

He also argues that
by trying to make the issue of race irrelevant in order to be electable, Obama has chosen to avoid complex debates about race in America: "To reach for the future Obama envisions, he must ultimately reject the racial exceptionalism he’s been granted. If he does not, he will stand as the crowning achievement of a 'colorblind' America, in which the success of a few obscures the degradation of millions—and lets everybody off the hook on creating equality."

Wright also worries about what this means if Obama is elected president: "Obama has sold his racial transcendence as proof of the American dream, and that may just make him our first black president. The question for black America is what he will do with the power he gains from shedding his skin. If he continues to avoid unpleasant questions about race, we're in deep trouble."

But ultimately, Wright also sees potential: "In his King Day speech, Obama did point out the structural racism that circumscribes too many black lives. Here's hoping that kind of talk continues. If he uses his transcendence to prod America into a long overdue examination of these structures, he could change the course of history"
(full post here).

On a similar tip, over at Pam's House Blend, Pam is sick of hearing about the "post-racial" election and also wonders is there is a wider discussion on the issue of race that is not being held (full post here).

In addition, in a separate post, Pam addresses some of her mixed feelings about Obama's usage of the word "gay" in his speeches and the times where he has been endorsed or campaigned with anti-gay religious leaders:

I am of two minds of this -- I am grateful that Barack Obama, whose campaign has needed to atone for the triangulation strategy of courting blacks by tossing gays under the bus with the appearance of homophobic "ex-gay" advocate Donnie McClurkin at a gospel concert. He has made public statements distancing himself from this flap and reiterated support for LGBT equality (sans full marriage equality, of course, something none of the top tier have supported).

However, I am disheartened by the burden Obama has been saddled with, as a person of color, to be the sole party delivering today's message. Addressing bigotry in any community that has suffered oppression at the hands of the majority can, and must be done, particularly in a year where we have both a woman and a black man with a credible chance of winning the nomination and making it to the White House.

That we cannot discuss the matter of homophobia or anti-Semitism in the black community bluntly is everyone's problem. This burden and legacy of fomenting bigotry out of fear and ignorance is borne by all of us. If no one takes responsibility, we all fail. And we're failing -- look at how easily gender bias and racial overtones have surfaced over and over in the campaign so far. It's almost reflexive to "go there," the toxicity and effectiveness of stirring those sentiments has been part of the political process by both parties for so long that they are addicted to it (full post here).

Over at The Huffington Post, Rod McCullom, who blogs at Rod2.0 and also writes for several publications including The Advocate (see this related April 2007 cover story), argues that, in endorsing Obama, Senator Ted Kennedy invoked the civil rights legacy of the wrong Kennedy family member.

"John F. Kennedy was a cold warrior," McCullom writes, "a hawk and an interventionist who escalated Dwight Eisenhower's Vietnam mini-series. Sure he inspired the youth and optimism, but if he ran today, as a Democrat, JFK would be hanging out with Sam Nunn or (shudder) Joe Lieberman."

McCullom challenges views that there is an extensive JFK civil rights legacy - despite proposing a landmark civil rights bill in 1963 - and says that Bobby Kennedy might have been a better figure to compare to Obama. "Not that any comparison is necessary," he ends (full post here).

Larry D. Lyons, II takes a look at the imagery that Obama uses on his campaign website as well as other imagery including the Obama Girl here and here.

Then there is Bernie who has made a decision on his vote but not necessarily on which candidate. "I’ve said little [on the election] because I have already made up my mind. I’m voting for a Democrat, and it really doesn’t matter who it is" he says and ads "What does matter is that we not weaken the party with a fractious campaign. Whoever comes out on top needs everyone behind him/her so that we win the White House. What does matter is that the next president articulates a vision to get us out of this mess and reinforces the basic constitutional provisions that will guarantee we never again experience the coup d’etat we’ve been living under. The next president must repair the damage done to our national reputation overseas and never again make a unilateral decision to make us the aggressor in an international conflict" (full post here).

And an update on Latino bloggers I have mentioned before:
Weird, above are some of the blogs I read from the queer black blogosphere who have expressed themselves on the presidential election and not one has necessarily come out strongly on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

But, among the Latino bloggers that I know, Emanuel Xavier and Miss Wild Thing both went for Hillary (here and here, respectively).

I did get confirmation tonight, as I had heard, that actor Wilson Cruz is definitely an Obama Guy. He just left a message here.

1 comment:

TheWickedWoman said...

Hi Andres,

Thanks for the mention. I just wanted to clarify, however, that I coincidentally decided to support Obama a full two days (*cough*) before Edwards dropped out of the race. OK, so two days isn't a whole lot of time, but I did so thinking that Edwards would make it to the convention even if I supported Obama.

Honestly, it was the Kennedy endorsement that finally tipped me over. I'd been very impressed by Obama's oratory skills and his ability to inspire. However, when Teddy and Caroline Kennedy came out with their wholehearted endorsement, chills went down my spine and tears came to my eyes. That was all she wrote. My hope and faith were piqued and I became an Obama supporter.

If you're interested, I wrote about my conversion in the article Time to hope. I have a feeling I wasn't the only one who had a "come to Jesus" moment that day.