Friday, November 14, 2008

on progress

since i'm still not ready to vomit out all of the obama analysis i'm holding inside in any coherent or useful way, here's a little note on progress.

i was reading an opinion piece in the times today that attempted to capture some of the responses to the upsetting anti-lgbtq ballot initiatives that passed on election night in four states.

of course, many people in the lgbtq community are outraged that their civil rights (the right to marry, and in some cases, to adopt while in a civil union/domestic partnership) are still being so explicitly denied, especially in the wake of this huge progressive victory with obeezy.

but the piece exposed some dangerous analysis and comparisons:

"It wasn’t that she [Jeanne Rizzo, a married white lesbian] begrudged Obama his victory. It was just that his historic triumph made the insult to her community all the more painful. An awful thought came to her that night: Now we’re the designated cultural outcasts. “It’s almost like we’re the last group you can be openly bigoted about,” she told me."

it's important to understand the analysis that informs this point of view. this idea that with the election of a black president, racism is no longer a formidable obstacle. or that somehow, the term "cultural outcasts" suddenly applies to a single group.

it's absolutely unproductive in every way to attempt to compare oppressions. people who belong to the lgbtq community experience structural oppression in a way that is distinct from the way that people of color experience it. it is not more or less, but different. the other important thing to take away from this is the obsolete nature of single-identity analysis. no one is merely gay, or simply black, just a woman, or only middle class. people have complex identities that leave them privileged and oppressed in different ways. take for instance the wealthy black gay male, who is at once privileged by his maleness and class status but oppressed by a racist and heterosexist culture...

just saying.

perhaps progress isn't so simple a thing to quantify, what with all the two steps forward, one step back rhythm we have going these days.

maybe that old adage is spot-on, and a loss for any segment of humanity means a loss for all.

"no one is free when others are oppressed."
-author unknown


No comments: