Recently the Civil Rights Commission in Colorado ruled to uphold a judge’s finding that a baker could not discriminate against a gay couple who wanted a wedding cake made. “I can believe anything I want, but if I’m going to do business here, I’d ought to not discriminate against people,” Commissioner Raju Jaram of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission said. Of course “religious freedoms” proponents, conservatives and anti-LGBT rights groups were upset.
This was the featured topic of a talk radio show in Atlanta hosted by Rashad Richey. Mr. Richey presented this case to his listening audience and also discussed the Religious Freedoms bills being presented to local and state governments across the country. These bills would make it legal to deny goods or services based off of a private business owner’s individual religious beliefs.
So for example in the case of the baker, if he believed that homosexuality is an abomination or sin, then he could deny services based off of his religious beliefs. Even though Mr. Richey was vehemently against discrimination and these religious freedoms bills, the overwhelming majority of his callers were in favor for them. I must note that the Rashad Richey show is on WAOK 1380 AM, which has predominately African American programming and talk show hosts. Caller after caller gave their reasons for supporting laws that would allow a private business owner to not only denying services to LGBT customers but also to Black customers if they choose. In a nut shell, their reasons were; “if it’s their private business that doesn’t take money from the government, then they can do what they want. Oh and by the way; homosexuality is evil, wrong, I’m sick of these gays pushing their agenda and calling and comparing it to civil rights and the Civil Rights movement”. So yours truly Octavius Williams decided to call in and not only combat the foolish rhetoric that was being spewed but to also offer a different perspective. I will summarize what I stated.
I began by stating who I was and sharing that I was Black, Homosexual and a non-believer. So I’m a trifecta of being despised by some in many different circles. Next, I do believe there is a big difference between race and sexuality; nonetheless let’s not pretend that Black gay people did not participate in the Civil Rights movement of the 50’ and 60’s. Just because you are not aware, that doesn’t mean we didn’t exist and participate. Notably for some strange reason, Black religious minded folk today seems to not know or forget that an open Black gay man organized the famous and historical March On Washington DC where the world witnessed MLK’s famous “I Have A Dream Speech”. Yes an open and out Black Gay man Bayard Rustin organized this march. Being gay doesn’t erase “blackness” and the experience and struggles that come with it.
Next, public tax dollars pay for roads and interstates. Tax dollars pay for police departments and fire departments who also use these roads and interstates. If a private business owner’s customers use public roads to get to their business then they benefit from local public tax dollars. If their private business is burglarized and they call the police, then they benefit from local public tax dollars. If their private business is on fire and they call the fire department to put it out; the fire department is able to assist their private business due to local public government tax dollars. So because private businesses benefit directly from local tax dollars, they should not be allowed to discriminate against certain individuals amongst the public regardless of their personal religious beliefs.
Let me give the quick insight that went into my final statement to the radio host. You may or may not be aware but many groups used religion to justify the enslavement of black and brown peoples. The justification was based upon the curse of Cain. God bestowed additional punishment to Cain for killing his brother Abel and lying about it, so God marked Cain and his descendants. This mark was black skin. So many whites believed that not only were blacks inferior but were cursed by God himself and the proof was their skin.
That was the thought behind my last point that I made. A Black Christian couple is on a road trip. The husband is driving due to his wife being pregnant. During the trip they are in rural part of a state that has enacted “religious freedom” bills. The wife begins to experience severe pains in her abdomen. The husband can’t call for help due to his cell phone not having a signal. He pulls off the road into a private business desperate to get help for his wife. He goes in and asks the business owner to call 911. The business owner states sorry but we don’t serve darkies because you have the Mark Of Cain. I hope I made my point.