Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The People vs. Bishop Harry Jackson

I read an article online at The Washington Post today about anti-gay activist, Bishop Harry Jackson, from Maryland. I have to admit I did not fully understand Jackson's argument against marriage equality until this article; and now that I know, it sounds even more absurd. Bishop Jackson's basic premise is that passing marriage equality will force the Black family into extinction. Of all the arguments one could propose, that registers right around letting people marry goats. What I would say about this argument in the company of close friends is probably not appropriate for an articulate, academically-based response so I will leave that behind closed doors. I will, however, like to challenge Bishop Jackson on the facts. His argument, while valid in his mind, has no merit in reality.

"If you redefine marriage, you have to redefine family. You'd have to redefine parenting. I'm looking at the extinction of marriage. And black culture is in a free fall." Really Bishop Jackson? Gay people are causing the extinction of marriage? How you forget your history, Sir. The disillusionment of the black family dates back to slavery. Slaves were brought to shore and then ripped from their immediate family, unrecognized as people so the thought of them marrying was obviously unheard of. The men were emasculated by slave owners who made them watch as they raped their "wives"; the children were stolen from parents and bred. The whole idea of gender and sexuality in the black community was an institution defined by slave owners. When black slaves were finally freed, the established roles of men and women were drastically skewed from what we might call normal today. Even in the period after the Great Depression, the institution of marriage and the idea of divorce centered mainly around financial interests.

Whether you call it marginalization, institutional hegemony, or cultural shifts, the Black family was endangered long before the gays came along. Black people are not getting married because we've stopped focusing on each other and started focusing on ourselves, the "get mine" mentality. Our grandmothers are in their 30s instead of in their 50s or 60s, teenage pregnancy rates are rising while access to family planning and contraception is dwindling. Black men are being taught that "pimping" and "Ballin" is the new fad; who needs to settle down and have one wife when you can have all the hoes that you want? When the hit songs have lyrics like, "I wish I could f**k every girl in the world", and "Have a baby by me, be a millionaire", the finger should clearly be pointing inward.

Gay people didn't do that, black people did. Black people go out and support the indecency that degrades our women, black people flock to read "The Down Low" but never ask themselves what institutions are set in place to make these men not be comfortable with coming out.

"I don't know of anybody black who says, 'I hate gay people'. But you overlap that -- homosexuality and gay marriage -- with broken families, and we don't know how to put it back together." I'll tell you how, Bishop Jackson. Increase child support laws and penalties, improve sex education in inner-city schools, start supporting more shows like "The Cosby's" and less shows like "House of Payne". Use some of the money you're raising for discrimination and hold couples counseling and relationship outreach. Support women's health and access to contraception. Get the young men in your congregation to understand that it's not cool to get three women pregnant at the same time, no matter what Lil' Wayne says.

And most important of all, let the gays get married so the gay, black families, who hang by a thread of law, will have some validity. They will be able to teach their children the importance of a loving, committed relationship. Perhaps the number of Black men who are stepping out on their wives, for other men, will decrease.

Allow gay people to adopt so that underprivileged children, whom most gays end up adopting, will grow up in loving families with two parents. Your concern is centered around the erosion of the Black family and yet your campaign is based on breaking up Black families. Yes, Bishop Jackson, there are gay black people. The whole idea that approving marriage equality will contribute to the deterioration of the black family is laughable. Perhaps your time would be better spent on a campaign to ban divorce.

You can find the article on Bishop Jackson's righteous campaign here:

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