As we get closer to Election Tuesday, I feel it is important that we take a closer look at the appearance of civil rights issues and Blacks’ involvement in diversity and multiculturalism. First, not every issue is a civil rights issue. It is offensive and repugnant to take modern issues of discomfort and file them under the banner of civil rights and the issues faced by Blacks during the 1950s and 60s. Anyone who frames the modern struggles of “underrepresented groups” as civil rights issues is suffering from advanced disillusionment about civil rights in America. During the civil rights movement, Blacks were discriminated against and denied their rights as citizens based on race, the outward display of their ethnicity. They were denied the right to vote, stay in hotels, and have access to other public facilities such as restrooms, theatres, parks, and busses. These were determined to be the basic institutions of civic participation. This is no longer the case.
To frame gay and immigrant rights under the same framework of the adversity and barriers to justice faced by Blacks is ignorant at best. I, for one, do not recall marriage as some inalienable, fundamental right that is promised to people under the umbrella of “humanness.” Is marriage something that people can aspire to, or see as important to their happiness or way of life? Sure. Does that make it a fundamental right? Absolutely not. To be fundamental requires that marriage be a necessity or essential part of one’s being. Clearly this is not the case. People forego marriage for many reasons, and more and more people are doing so everyday. To say that marriage is fundamental is to suggest that one cannot possibly live a fulfilled life without it; as if God’s purpose or direction will be lost without the state’s recognition of your love to another individual. To protect people to fall in love with whoever they want is a dubious claim at best. Protecting the fickle and unpredictable nature of people’s emotions and feelings of attachment towards others is a not a right. People fall in and out of love everyday; there is no “falling” it out and of Blackness. Until single and homosexual people are denied their right to vote, go to the movies, beaten violently in the streets for trying to use public restrooms, and kept out of jobs and adequate housing, I’m going to pass on marriage as a fundamental right. Choose to love whoever you wish if that’s the doctrine you subscribe to, just don’t look for others to justify and validate your love, and then get upset when they don’t.
BUT this speaks to a much bigger problem in the Black community and how we vote and perceive our interests in America. Blacks have become so desperate to see their conditions improve and our interests served that we now prostitute our values and interests to other groups without any promise of reciprocity. Why do Blacks think that if we help other minorities and disadvantaged groups that our conditions will ultimately improve? Did we not learn anything from W.E.B. DuBois and A. Philip Randolph who attempted to “work” with sympathetic white liberals, Jews, and communists during the early stages of the NAACP and the civil rights movement, only to have those groups abandon Black causes when they were no longer popular or profitable? This pattern of behavior is one of the biggest mistakes that Blacks make at the ballot and in our everyday lives.
What am I saying? Diversity and Multiculturalism does not mean Black! Voting for diversity does not increase our chances of socioeconomic success. International students and immigrants, legal and illegal, increasingly gain access to resources under the umbrella of diversity. Thus, voting for a more diverse and multicultural America does not mean that they are talking about you. We once thought affirmative action was going to be our aid but the facts show that the greatest benefactor of affirmative action isn’t Blacks at all. Let’s not get the issues confused and be manipulated by desperation. The movement to diversify and expand citizenship rights, workers rights, and marriage rights does not speak to the bottom line of the socioeconomic problems that are plaguing Black communities. Diversity in the workplace? Increased access to worker’s rights for illegal immigrants? Black people, you have to have a job in order to fall under the umbrella of worker’s rights! Why would you vote for greater access to work for someone else before working to create jobs for yourselves? If we are so quick to lend our services and claims to the civil rights movements to other groups, at what point do we expect a fair exchange? Are other groups coming to the aid and speaking to the issues that plague Black communities? Are they supporting legislation that targets the Black community specifically? If not, as usual, we are getting the short end of the stick.
With a lame duck President on Black issues, neither political party speaking to the values and interests of the Black community during the election as they are with women, Hispanics, and gays, it is no time for us to panic and continue to prostitute Black interests to the highest bidder in hopes that by increasingly promoting diversity and multiculturalism, the racial and social equality is going to trickle down. We cannot keep getting tricked into believing that every issue is a civil rights issue, and thus, Blacks should remember the 1950s and 60s and relate every struggle back to the adversity we faced due to racism. Every issue is not a Black issue. Let’s not sell our values and interests to other groups hoping that they will take care of us.
Adding more people to the party doesn’t mean you’re going to get the same slice of the pie…