Myths That Never Die

Houston is having a very interesting mayoral race. One major candidate is a straight black male. Another is a white gay woman. Here's an interesting article on the race, with a really unfortunate citation:


The dynamics of the mayoral runoff echo California's Proposition 8 vote in 2008, where black voters formed an unusual alliance with conservatives to approve a measure that banned same-sex marriage, said Richard Murray, a University of Houston political scientist.

"You don't have many cases where you have an older straight, black male supported by conservatives matched up against a younger white female who happens to be gay, and is backed by non-establishment sources," Murray said. "Normally, you see progressive whites allied with African-Americans. This is exposing the same fault line we saw nationally in Prop 8."

This claim is demonstrably wrong. When it was first debunked, it pissed me off because I knew no amount of science, no amount of reporting would ever make it go away. This isn't about better information or better science. It's about narrative and where we, as black people, fit. Much like, say, the down-low, this one is hear to stay. On some level you want to be angry at the people who introduced this into the water-supply. But how can you be, really? "Black people are a problem," is as old as America. Sometimes it's hard to ever imagine it going away.

As an aside, here's some reporting I did for how the Prop 8 lies took hold.

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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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