CNN, The Black Church and Gay Marriage: 5 Things I’d Like to Ask

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After reading a peculiar article about the black church on CNN this morning, I admittedly had a moment of pause.  The article seems to imply that the lack of support for gay marriage within the black church is not only unsubstantiated, but further undermined because the bible being quoted is the same book used to justify the institution of slavery.  As a proponent of gay marriage myself (I have no problem with it), I was admittedly disappointed by the CNN depiction of the black church as a haven of unsophisticated dimwits who need to move to the 21st century.

This led me to consider five questions I’d like to ask both CNN and the liberal Democratic establishment as it pertains to the issue of gay marriage:

1)      Do you think that Black people work for you?

Ever since the Democrats backed African Americans on the issue of civil rights, some have behaved as if we owe them a lifetime of gratitude.  Our issues are swept to the side, and we only get a voice if we express concern over gay rights, the environment, immigration and all the other things that liberals care about.  Even some of our most prominent civil rights leaders end up bringing issues to the black community that lead listeners to give them the side eye:  “Why is Rev/Dr/Pastor (fill in the blank) talking about immigration and the environment, but never discussing poverty, racism and mass incarceration?”  While certain black public figures may work for the Democrats, the rest of the community does not.  There isn’t enough money to pay off everyone.

2)      Why aren’t you making the same critique of white Christians?

The notion that African Americans are somehow psychologically diseased for disagreeing with a popular liberal viewpoint gives one serious cause for concern.  Ostracizing the black church and its members in this way implies that African Americans are not the “cool kids,” and should give in to political peer pressure.  All the while, I’ve barely heard a peep about white Christians who read from the same bible.   There are white people who oppose gay marriage too.

3)      Slavery?  Did you really have to go there?  

Let’s be clear:  Gay is NOT the new black and black will never be the old gay.

Making reference to slavery as a way to convince members of the black church to support gay marriage is about the foulest, most distasteful type of persuasion known to man.  Slavery is the emotional trump card, and the thing that lies in “don’t even go there” territory.  I would never ask a Jewish man to support Affirmative Action because “black opportunities are being slaughtered like Jews in a furnace.”  Homosexuals being disallowed to marry is not, in any way, equivalent to an institution that led to the murder, castration, beating, rape, torture and enslavement of a group of people for over 400 years.  Let’s get that one untwisted right now.

4)      Do black people seem ignorant to you?

Liberal paternalism can be a worse form of racism than even the Republicans can dish out.   There are some who get angry at black Americans for having views that differ from the liberal establishment, as if they are in dire need of additional enlightenment.  Perhaps one day others will realize that the “good lawud’ endowed all of us with a similar number of brain cells and that black people aren’t wrong for being different.

5)      Can this debate be handled with civility and mutual respect?

While one can appreciate the efforts of Team Obama to convince African Americans in the church to abandon their beliefs, the reality is that the persuasion process is probably going to take some time.  I am consistently fascinated with the psychological aerobics that take place when the Obama Administration makes an announcement that is not in the interest of African Americans (such as the appointment of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court in spite of her racially-discriminatory hiring record).  I am even more impressed by the amount of effort spent to convince black folks that the decision was good for them, when all indicators say that it was not.

The fact is that there are some decisions that will be made that aren’t going to make everyone happy. In the case of gay marriage, all Americans aren’t going to be on-board.   It’s OK to have a dissenting opinion, even if you’re black, CNN needs to respect that.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

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