Prop 8 and blaming the blacks

I'm sorry, but this really pisses me off. The problem with getting good numbers is that they invariably take time to come in. In the meantime, people are happy to run off and trumpet their half-cocked theories--unchallenged--to anyone who's listening. I've tried to be measured and sensitive on this. But frankly, the scapegoating of black people for the failure passage of Prop 8 has been a travesty. Anyone who doubts that needs to read this report. A few of the conclusions are as follows.

1.) The 70 percent figure for black support of Prop 8 is wildly overblown, and in conflict with all the other polling done. The study concludes that 58 percent is a more likely number. To put that in context, the study also concludes that 59 percent of Latinos supported prop 8. That isn't one-up-manship--it just means we were about the same.

2.) Black people almost certainly did not account for 10 percent of the voters on Prop 8, they accounted for seven percent

3.) 58 percent is still higher than the 52 percent for the state, as a whole, but that difference is almost entirely accounted for by the fact that no ethnic group in California is as religiously devout as (as measured by church attendance) African-Americans.

4.) Among those who attended church weekly, African-Americans were support for Prop 8 was lower than amongst any other ethnic group.

The faultiness of exit polling is well known. But when it comes to blacks, we believe the worse and ask questions, uhm, like never.

Look, my fight is clear. Homophobia is bad for my community. I support gay marriage because I believe it is a moral imperative, and the marker of a just society. I support it because, as a black man, I have seen first-hand the value of all kinds of family. In other words, it's in my interest. It's in my son's interest. It's a part of a world, that I hope to live in. But frankly, I have no use for people--gay, straight, white, red, rich, poor--who feel like black people "owe them." I have no use for people who like to trot out their history of supporting "black causes." I have no use for people who want to compare gay racism with black homophobia. With friends like those...

There are people in my business who took to the highest hills to decry the betrayal of black Californians, and to this day, are giddily noting that blacks sunk marriage equality in California, who foist the failure of marriage equality on seven percent of the electorate . I will not speculate on their motives. But let's see how loudly they address this study. Let's see how much ink we see spilled revisiting those assumptions. Or will it be on to the next calamity, where the blacks--or the Arabs, or the Latinos--can be trotted out and blamed for the failings of others. For the failings of us all.

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.

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