Prop. 8 and thinking before we write

More

Yesterday, I tried to outline a humanistic case against the whole "Teh blackz did us in!" argument. I also linked some math. Now we have better math. The basic idea is that you need black folks to have been about 10 percent of all votes cast on Prop 8 to make a difference. Black folks are one of the smallest minorities in California, making up about six percent of the total electorate, which numbers at about 17 million. At 6 percent, black folks are worth about a million or so votes. There were just over ten million votes cast on Prop. 8. For blacks to cast ten percent of those you would need a turnout of 90 percent in the black community. Lemme repeat that--90 percent. It's possible, I guess. I leave it to you to weigh the odds.

I'm still embarrassed by the fact that 70 percent of those who did vote, voted yes. It means we have serious work to do. But I'm seeing a makings of a disreputable trend to turn a problem into a black problem. We use disproportion as a crutch--what's important is that blacks are disproportionately poor, not that there are large numbers of white poor people. Ditto for homophobia. What's important isn't the large minority of whites, and the influential majority (barely) of Latinos who passed Prop 8, but the roughly 5 percent of the California electorate who voted for it.

Something is very very wrong with that. The anger is justified, expected, and human. But it's not how we're going to fix this.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle. More

Born in 1975, the product of two beautiful parents. Raised in West Baltimore -- not quite The Wire, but sometimes ill all the same. Studied at the Mecca for some years in the mid-'90s. Emerged with a purpose, if not a degree. Slowly migrated up the East Coast with a baby and my beloved, until I reached the shores of Harlem. Wrote some stuff along the way.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Why Do Men Assume They're So Great?

Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, authors of this month's Atlantic cover story, sit down with Hanna Rosin to discuss the power of confidence and how self doubt holds women back. 


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Where Time Comes From

The clocks that coordinate your cellphone, GPS, and more

Video

Computer Vision Syndrome and You

Save your eyes. Take breaks.

Video

What Happens in 60 Seconds

Quantifying human activity around the world

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

From This Author

Just In