19 May 2012

Going Gay For Race

It turns out that skin color is more important than morals, at least for some:

A Public Policy Polling survey found 27 percent of black voters believe same-sex marriage should be legal, up from 20 percent in a poll conducted on May 6, three days before Obama announced his support. And 59 percent say they are opposed to gay marriage, down from 63 percent in the previous poll, which was taken before the North Carolina primary.
On May 8, voters approved a state amendment, defining marriage between a man and a woman as the only legal union. North Carolina law had already banned same-sex marriage, but the passage of the amendment means civil unions and possibly other types of domestic partnerships will no longer be legally recognized.
And yet, the poll found that 55 percent of African Americans now say same-sex couples should be allowed either to marry or form civil unions — an 11-point jump from the May 6 poll; 39 percent say there should be no legal recognition for gay couples in North Carolina, down from a majority, or 51 percent, in the pre-primary poll.
So, blacks are apparently becoming more tolerant of gay marriage. This is an interesting shift since blacks tend to be extremely conservative when it comes to these sort of social matters.  This shift, then, indicates that blacks are rather tribal, and are thus willing to change their morality in order to justify their support for someone who shares their skin color.

Incidentally, I attend a predominately black church (long story; don’t ask).  We have class on Thursday night, and the subject of class was politics.  The (black) teacher is very conservative, and is not a fan of Barack Obama.  However, all the other black people in the class are dyed-in-the-wool Democrats. Not liberals, mind you, but Democrats.  In fact, if you talk about policies, blacks sound rather conservative. But if you talk actual voting patterns, blacks become rather liberal.

Anyhow, it was during this class that one of the students said that, and I quote, “whenever I vote, I just vote straight Democrat,” thus confirming the suspicions of conservative white people and reinforcing the polling statistics on the matter.  (For what it’s worth, this horrified the [black] teacher.)

 Another student argued that Christians should stand against all immoral matters, and shouldn’t single out one issue—in this case, gay marriage—as the deciding factor. He went on to say that if we couldn’t vote for anyone who had any sort of immoral stance on anything, then we wouldn’t be able to vote at all.  The conclusion he drew was that, pragmatically speaking, it’s okay to vote for someone even if their stance on something is decidedly immoral.  This is, of course, nothing more than an especially active rationalization hamster working overtime to reconcile the contradiction between needing to support “family values” and needing to support people of one’s race.  And, in the end, race won out.

Anyhow, these anecdotes simply confirm my point that blacks are rather tribal when it comes to politics and, I suspect, other matters as well.  Thus, the sudden shift in support for gay marriage among black folk is nothing more than tribalism being rationalized by an especially healthy rationalization hamster.  The moral of the story is that talking politics with black people is generally a waste of time because they already have their tribes and there isn’t anything you can say to change that.


  1. If by tribal you mean that blacks are smart enough to realize that united we stand and divide we fall, then yes blacks are very tribal. Just like anyone else who wants to succeed. I am a black male who agrees with a lot of conservative principles but still tends to vote democratic (although not for Obama, not yet). The reason being that conservatives just don't like us. All I have to do is listen to all the coded messages that are sent out during a republican primary to confirm that belief. Just like your framing of black unity as being tribal is a subtle coded racist message. Because tribal unit is considered to be of less integrity compared to other forms of unity. If blacks were indeed tribal then they would support any black republican candidate who challenges a white democratic candidate. Instead blacks vote for whomever they believe support the best interest of blacks. That is exactly the same as every other voting group. Blacks do not necessarily fear what conservatives will do to them, but rather what conservatives might allow to happen to them. Its hard to support someone who would let harm (not necessarily physical) come to you because they think less of you. The manoshpere and the conservative blogoshpere tolerate quite a bit of subtle (and sometimes overt) racist comments and rarely does any well-meaning conservative stand up and chastise those comments. That alone would justify my democratic vote.

    As to gay marriage, it is less about being tribal and more about being sensitive to the issue of human rights. The decline in opposition to gay marriage reflects the framing of the gay marriage issue in terms of civil rights. For example, pro-choicer exploit that sensitivity when dealing with the black community by framing the abortion issue in terms of a woman's civil rights. And it works. As a teen I initially considered myself pro-choice because I was opposed to the notion of rich old white men dictating what could be done to someone else's body. Blacks do not support homosexuality or homosexual marriage, they are just afraid of state sanctioned prejudice. Additionally, gays tend to vote democratic, and the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

    Blacks do what they do in the voting booth because they have a healthy and well-founded fear of conservative white power.

  2. Tribal is the default state of all humans. Only Western Europeans and only for the briefest time and only the elitest among them and their imitators, have been actively anti-tribal, and there's no telling how long that will last. (Not much longer I suspect.) It's not so much an argument for or against blacks as it is a very obvious argument against democracy.

  3. @Steve- thanks for getting the point of the post. I've written before on why I don't vote, so suffice it to say that I'm not fond of democracy. Mostly because all voters are short-sighted tribalists who have no concern for rule of law, property rights, or long-term consequences.