Our Intv w/ Michael Eric Dyson: Are We Clinging to Shotguns & Religion When it comes to Same Sex Marriage

Ever since President Obama came out and says he supports same-sex marriage it’s been interesting and somewhat amusing observing all the hoopla, uproar and call to arms by those who stand in opposition. It’s been interesting watching all the Biblical cherry picking of quotes and hypocritical behavior by many who have declared Obama’s stance as some sort of gauntlet in the sand and the start of sort of holy war on the institution of marriage..

In the interview linked below to our syndicated Hard Knock Radio show, I talk with Professor and ordained minister Michael Eric Dyson about many of the issues surrounding this debate..Dyson got himself in this firestorm last week, when he called those who were intolerant to same-sex marriage ‘sexual rednecks’. he questioned how is it that those who have been oppresses and still find themselves oppressed can turn around and oppress others?  You can peep our engaging discussion  HERE

As you peep the interview, here’s some food for thought….

What’s been fascinating over the past week is seeing how folks have been jumping out the woodwork claiming same sex marriage is gonna damage the institution of marriage. With divorce rates skyrocketing as much as 75% in some communities and reality show after reality show offering marriage as some sort of game show prize to be discarded at the slightest whim, one might argue, war was declared a long time ago and it had very little to do with same-sex marriages. But let’s not digress.

The issue is not a real concern for marriage, because if it was we would’ve been marching in the streets long ago trying to set clear examples of how to stay married and keep the institution uplifted. We would’ve been celebrated and upholding those who have healthy and long marriages as models to emulate, instead we highlight and placate everything that is opposition to loving relationships. The upset isn’t about marriage being destroyed its about folks holding on to homophobia and intolerance and for many that’s a hard truth to swallow.

Many have tried to frame this discussion as if it’s the Black community against the LGBT community which they depict as white. What many have refused to acknowledge is that the gay community has a pretty sizeable number of Black folks and other people of color, many of who have and continue to either helping lead or right there on front line fighting to put an end to injustice. Folks wanna erase the contributions and leadership of James Baldwin, Bayard Rustin, Lorraine Hansberry, Langston Hughes,  Marsha P Johnson just to name a few. Folks wanna act like we don’t have current day leaders and activists who are also a part of the LGBT  community like Keith Boykin, Dr Adreanna Clay of SF State or Aids activist Phil Wilson.

What’s also been most amusing, is watching all those people who laughed and scoffed at conservative leaning voters back in 08 accusing them of being bitter and ‘clinging to shotguns or religion’. .We chided those voters for being ‘unenlightened’ and outdated in their thinking. We said their refusal to ‘open up’ has resulted in them being close minded, xenophobic, racist and intolerant..We told them it was high time they evolve and step into the 21st Century. Today we have many who were once mocked their conservative counter-parts, literally running to the closet and grabbing their own shotguns as they cling to religion as justification for expressing their own intolerance.

Many in this group wanna now conveniently fall back on ‘tradition’ and talk about the ways things have been for  3000 years and why we shouldn’t change.  Meanwhile these same folks seem to have no problem letting go of centuries old traditions cloaked in religious practices like slavery, women being deemed subservient or property and sacrificial rituals to name a few all of which have been pushed to the wayside because they been deemed ‘oppressive’, impractical or archaic.

Once upon a time in some cultures, marriage meant giving up some cows and property in the form of a dowry. There was a time marriage was arranged, you had no say so who your mate was. It wasn’t too long ago  within some religions you could take on more than one mate in your marriage. Still in other traditions you had to be virgin in order to be ‘properly’ married. It used to be you got married to procreate.. We could go on and on listing what it meant to be married and in each case folks and sometimes the church itself got together and redefined things. It didn’t matter if it was a centuries old tradition. You heard people say we had to evolve.

Today we go to down to City Hall which all of us straight, gay, Black, Brown white etc.. pay with our tax dollars and get a marriage license from the state. In other words we don’t have to go through any ‘religious ceremony’ or a church. I seen folks get married on beaches, in nightclubs  and at barbeques, all far cries from what many have deemed traditional.

Some of us have gone to weddings where folks are taking sacred vows and switching up the words.  How many times have we seen women scratch out the part where it says ‘You’ll obey your husband?  Tradition be damned. Religion be damned.. As I heard one bride say .. ‘this ain’t 200 AD it’s 1993 it’s equal partnership time.. I ain’t obeying no one but God’. People laughed and applauded as she went on to complete her wedding.

No one including the pastor got bent out of shape about her switching up those vows and changing tradition. No one tripped that she had been living with her husband for 5 years prior to getting married and no one tripped that she had multiple sex partners prior to meeting her husband. No one told her that God who she said she would obey, might’ve wanted her wanted follow those vows where she obeys her husband..And everyone held their tongue about her other ‘transgressions’ after all its a new day and age and those pesky religious rules get bent all the time when it suits our individual or collective purpose. They get bent all the time except when it comes to same-sex marriage..

Many of were told to not get upset w/ Obama for being silent on Troy Davis, he had to do what was political expedient

What has also stood out to me during this same-sex drama is all the glaring political MIS-POSTURING.. What do I mean by that? Well it wasn’t too long ago that folks who opposed President Obama on any number of issues like;  mass deportations, warrantless wiretaps, the resigning of the Patriot Act, his deafening silence on cases involving the police killing of Oscar Grant and the execution of Troy Davis, him giving money to build more prisons, his continued drone strikes in countries like Pakistan and Somalia where innocent families have been killed, his seeming indifference to the plight of poor folks as he constantly over-compromises or outright saddles up with multinational corporate interests, big Pharma, the telecoms, Goldman Sachs, and Monsanto to name a few, were rebuffed and often ridiculed by those now crying foul about this same-sex marriage endorsement..

If I go through my Facebook posts, twitter timelines or blog message boards, there were quite a few of these folks who would give lectures to anyone pushing the president to address issues specific to the Black or Brown community. The rationale usually broke down this way;  ‘President Obama is not the President for Black people, Brown people or one political persuasion ...President Obama is President for all people’  Folks opposing Obama were often chided and told; They ‘need to see the bigger picture and not focus on one or two issues’ and support the President’.

Many would staunchly point out that the President had enough opposition from the Tea Party and far right extremist forces and by behaving ‘emotionally‘ they were fueling the fire for his enemies..Folks opposing Obama on such important issues which adversely impact us day in and day out were essentially told to be quiet, because the President was ‘playing chess’ and executing shrewd political gamesmanship. We were told that Obama had to be politically wise in order to win over certain voters. Now that this same sex marriage endorsement is on the front burner, those folks who told us to pipe down are making all sorts of noise and following their own advise.

This past weekend there was big conference call put together by Rev Jamal H Bryant. he made a public call for Church leaders to get on the conference call to discuss Obama’s same-sex marriage endorsement..I would hope this wasn’t the only issue in recent days that he and other church leaders put out a nationwide conference call to undertake. I’m gonna assume that there were nationwide conference calls by these churches to address issues like skyrocketing poverty, massive incarceration rates, increased police and vigilante killings, war efforts in Africa, higher education becoming less and less affordable etc..Maybe I’m wrong to assume. I hope not.

Currently there are some who are so upset about the same-sex marriage endorsement to the point that they are calling on folks to sit out the 2012 election.. Now just a few months ago, many of these same folks were running around chastising anyone who objected to President Obama’s policies on war, poverty, government surveillance, deportations etc labeling them ‘Emo Progs’ (emotional progressives) aka Professional Left Y’all remember that term? What do we label those upset about ‘this one issue’ of same-sex marriage,  who are now threatening to ‘derail the 2012 election? Emo Churchers?  Professional Religious Zealots? The New ‘Ralph Naders?

I’ll tell you one lesson learned from this whole debate.. If you have issues of importance to you, you best speak up and push any and everyone who is in elected office to do right by you. There were many in the LGBT community who never piped down and even with this endorsement by Obama have not let up. They’re still pushing him as they should. There is no room for compromised citizenship. The goal is not an endorsement, but true equality and an end to state sanctioned discrimination.

written by Davey D

Thoughts on State of the Union: Great Speech, Great ACT-Key Word ‘Act’

Thoughts on President Obama’s State of the Union address last night?

It was a great campaign speech. It took me back for a moment to 2008 when all the euphoria and desire for hope and change kicked in..

Was it a lot of hot air?

At the end of the day it was..

Am I mad at him for delivering it?

No.. I’m not

In thinking about Obama’s speech I was reminded of a conversation I had last summer with rap artist KRS-One. He said people need to be get one thing clear when dealing with President Obama; ‘He’s not your man.. He’s not your homeboy. He’s the president’, KRS said.

He’s not your buddy he’s the commander and chief, and as President he will do what they all do… protect and manage this system as corrupt as it is.

KRS added it was important to not project too many things on him and get too emotionally attached. He urged us to see him as he is and move accordingly. In short make sure your interests are protected… KRS was on point..

It was clear last night with all the flowery rhetoric, President Obama was concerned about one thing… getting himself into political position to be re-elected. That’s his agenda. That’s his interest. As former Vice presidential candidate Rosa Clemente pointed out in our round table interview the other day, ‘President Obama’s job was to make a good speech to make everyone feel better even as things are progressively getting worse for many’.

His job is to prop us up. keep the proverbial natives from being restless and run some more game that takes us further down the hole. That’s his goal. What’s ours?

My goal is to figure out how to make rent. My goal is to figure out how to pay this whooping 900 dollar electric bill which is the result of these new fangled smart meters and 2 weeks of bitter cold weather during from last month.

My goal is to figure out how I can avoid paying 39 dollar late fees to a bank that absolutely refuses to change my due date to the end of the month when I do a get a pay check that has been slashed 20% and may have to take another hit.

Wells Fargo was one of those bailed out banks who got their chance to rebound, and then turned right around and smashed on their customers who are seeking to get back on their feet. We won’t even talk about the credit game these institutions are running. Pay late, get bad credit. Get bad credit, no job or stay stuck in the one you got until you can repair your credit, which is constantly being upended by fees, fees and more fees. Thats the battle millions of us our waging. That wasn’t talked about last night during the State of the Union.

My goal is to get away from this sort of madness. My goal is to escape this indentured servitude and to no longer be a sharecropper to a bank, gas company or some other entity that is ‘air-lining’ (charging all sorts of fees) me to death.

My goal is to see what can be done to make sure my neighbor who owned her spot for 30 years doesn’t lose it because she had to refinance a few years ago to send her only child to a college that was charging more than most homes cost. When all was said and done her situation was upside down…Her husband died suddenly, money got funny and the next thing you know a bailed out bank is at her door talking about her home is now owned by them.  Was she able to get bailed out by one who was bailed out? Hell naw. It’s hard watching an elder in our community who struggled for years to make sure we get our civil rights lose out in the end.  It’s almost like it was payback from a system that is resentful and refuses to change.

Again, such stories are not unusual. They’re typical for far too many who live in my world and sadly it’s not something that was or would ever be addressed in any real way during the State of the Union.

Nope President Obama while he may bear some resemblance to the Black men in my neighborhood with his beautiful wife and kids at the end of the day is not my man. When I don’t hear him pushing for policies that are designed to clear a path to serious economic relief, then this point is underscored even more.

It was frustrating to watch him  stand before us and tell us about how we can all go on-line and be innovators and entrepreneurs knowing that he sat back and let his boy who chairs the FCC Julius Genachowski gut Net Neutrality protections, after getting over 3 million letters saying keep them in place.  Watching him gloss over that and casually suggest that we could be innovators in cyber space knowing that the large telecoms will forever be in our way thwarting our every effort , something that Netflix is seeing happen right now, than its clear President Obama is nowhere near being a friend.

Hearing him say go online and be innovators while Homeland Security has been steadily shutting down seizing and shutting websites without a hearing or due process didn’t sit well. I kept thinking to myself, a true friend, a real homeboy doesn’t lie to his peoples. The guy on stage last night did.

And no we should not have to charge his transgressions off to some half ass wisdom that states: ‘that’s what politicians do’ or ‘that’s how the game is played’.. That’s all nonsense.

I’ve heard president Obama speak on numerous occasions to folks in our community where he’s demanded that we ‘pull up our pants’ and strive for excellence. I’ve heard him demand dead beat dads stand up and be counted. I pretty much heard him last night call for all of us to make a commitment to excellence and to not settle for being mediocre.

Maybe someone needs to tell our President its mediocre when you lie and omit truths.  That’s not excellence. That’s called pimping. It cheapens the lofty ideals he puts forth. It’s like praying to God to help you be good at committing a sin.

Anyway, after last night, things hit a point where I no longer care if crazy white folks are running around carrying signs with him eating watermelons, or dressed like Hitler. He’ll be alright. He’s got money. Both him and Michelle are lawyers..plus he’s the Commander and Chief so he has the military at his disposal and they got Secret Service protection.

Many who I know don’t have any protection. They’re not protected from increased foreclosures, increased deportations, increased police brutality and increased prices for basic things like food, heat and shelter. There’s no protection from the outright lies being told by TV pundits who make a few thousand for a speech telling us the flowers are starting to bloom when we know damn well it ain’t.

What’s the solution? many say we needed to get out and work for the Hope and Change.. That’s a pimp game gone awry. That’s an attempt to refocus us and dismiss the truth. People need to be reminded, long before president Obama came along, we were working for Hope and Change.

We did this in 2000 when millions of voters were disenfranchised in Florida as we watched all 100 senators including the fool we voted for Al Gore, not raise their hands to fight for further investigations and recount counts. Y’all remember that right? Y’all remember the opening scene in Michael Moore’s documentary Fahrenheit 9-11?


We saw folks take to the streets only to watch a lot of Hopes dashed on that one.

In spite the immense disappointment we regrouped, got ourselves together endured 4 years of hell under George Bush and came back swinging in 2004.

We had large anti-war rallies, some which numbered in the hundreds of thousands.

We saw artist step up and record at last count over 200 anti-war songs. Folks forget what went on back in those days.

We all came together pushed for more change… We stepped up and brought out record numbers of voters (the most for any presidential election). We saw folks standing in long lines in the rain in some cities ready to do what needed to be done to turn things around..

Sadly at the end of the day, we  saw our hopes dashed by voter disenfranchisement in Ohio..I recall talk show host Tavis Smiley sitting on ABC News speaking to this.. We saw some of our champions like the late Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs speak to this..but there was no change and no real fight to correct the wrong.

Instead we saw many criticize P-Diddy and his Vote or Die campaign for not bringing out the Youth Vote when in fact young people not only came out, but was the only demographic to vote in the majority for John Kerry.

Nevertheless we all got up dusted ourselves off, regrouped and went back to work. We organized, strategized and in doing so, we got behind one of the emerging bright stars who were first introduced to in 2004. We voted Barack Obama who electrified us during his speech at the 04 DNC into the US Senate. Impressed that he was speaking out against the war and echoing many of the ideals we had fought for since 2000 we saw him as another catalyst for the change we were pushing for.

Around that time, we saw millions of Brown folks take to the streets, flexing potential political power demanding immigration reform. We saw a proposed Draconian bill The Border Protection, Anti-terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 that would’ve criminalized undocumented folks defeated.

We saw our Hope and Change manifest itself  when we gave the Senate and Congress Democratic majorities with the expectation that those who were newly minted with power would stop the war, impeach the President (GW Bush), bring about election reform to stop things like Swift Boat campaigns. We gave folks in power the tools and mandate to start correcting a lot of wrongs

We saw impressive sea changes locally all over the country. This was best symbolized in a city like Dallas, which is notoriously known for being red. We saw it flip to blue. We saw folks vote in a new DA named Craig Watkins who started looking into questionable cases where folks were wrongly convicted and he started to correct things.  he was overturning cases and making moves to bring about justice.

We elected Nancy Pelosi, a long time liberal from San Francisco to be the Speaker of the House. She was the first woman to ever hold that seat and many figured since she came from place that was a key epic center to anti-war fever she would exercise her power to wheel and deal.

The stage was set. Tools were given. Folks were anxious for the change to began. We were told to hold off and wait just a bit longer. Everything would be set once we put in a president. This would ensure us not being vetoed. So everyone bit their tongue and got behind the election of the man who personified the Hope and Change. He was the crowning jewel and the key to putting everything in motion.

Many of us worked, gave money and followed the game plan  to get him into office. Once elected he had the excitement and enthusiasm of the people. He had Democratic majorities in both houses. He had all the tools.. All that was squandered. Very little has happened. There’s been surface changes at most, lots of lip service, and tons of excuse making.  The cold part about it is that there’s been an attempt to erase the hard work that was put in for the past 8-10 years to turn things around.

So last night’s State of the Union was hollow and the realization that as much as I would like and naively expected, this president is not trying to address the realities that are impacting my world on a daily. There is obviously another audience he feels needs to be reached. Maybe its corporate backers, or some phantom independent voters in the middle of the country. Whatever the case it’s certainly not the activists who was leading those huge marchers or organizing to bring about the changes I described.

So God Bless to those he was speaking to.. For the rest of us, we understand this script. We dust ourselves off, regroup and come up with a better game plan…one that ensures the interests of poor and working class are not only protected but pushed forward. That’s the goal for 2012 Support and votes are not guaranteed

That’s how President Obama is playing it. He doesn’t see us as friends, his homies or anything like that. He sees us as potential voters who need to be seduced or conquered into buying his agenda which bears little reflection of our  realities. I understand.

Great Speech, Great show.. President Obama deserves an Oscar. His act is convincing. key word ‘Act’

Something to ponder

‘Davey D