notes from a town hall meeting


aboutJasmyne Cannick is a real bomb-thrower. An African-American lesbian know in the L.A. community for her op-ed pieces, journalism, media appearances, political activism and co-founding the National Black Justice Coalition, she’s not one to pull punches.

Here’s what she wrote on he Web site about the Nov. 22 Town Hall meeting she organized on Proposition 8 along with The L.A. Sentinel, long considered the most important media voice for news in the Southern California African-American Community:

Dear No on Prop. 8 Leadership,

While I know that your ego and superiority complex will tempt you to attend these meetings, I’d politely ask that you don’t. You’ve done enough damage and now it’s up to the Black same-gender loving community to try and clean up your mess.

 Now of course by law you can’t be turned away. But I want you to really think about this.

 If this issue of gay marriage is so important, don’t come.

 Let the Black community have a discussion about this among themselves without the interference of outsiders, who in my opinion have only made the issue worse and only aided in the invisibility of Black gays.

Not being a member of the No on 8 leadership, I figured it was okay for me to tag along (the email invite I got from Jasmyne was also quite welcoming) even though I’m of Sicilian-Irish descent. Boy, am I glad I did…

Held at the theater at downtown’s L.A. Trade Tech College, the Town Hall brought together a variety of speakers on several different panels. The event started at 8 a.m., and I’m embarrassed to say I missed the first panel, a political discussion that included L.A. City Council Member Jan Perry. 

I heard most a discussion involving four African-American pastors, including Proposition 8 opponent Rev. Eric Lee, the President and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Los Angeles. Lee will be speaking via the Internet at this event. It was pretty amazing to hear the quartet go back and forth with one another, quoting scripture and one-upping each other’s arguments. 

Most of the panels went over the larger LGBT rights movement’s inability to properly integrate the black LGBT experience into the marriage equality movement, but plenty of time was spent on reminding the African-American gay community it was time to come out and stand up for what they believed in.

mooreOne of the more poignant moments was when UCLA Sociology professor Dr. Mignon Moore (pictured right) talked about her own reticence over putting up a No on Prop 8 sign on her lawn in the predominantly Black and quite religious neighborhood of Leimert Park. Initially she had the sign high on her lawn close to her house. But then an elderly African-American neighbor stopped her and told her something; if she wanted to people to know what she thought, she needed to put the sign where they would see it.

I’ll be posting more interviews and quotes from the Town Hall today.


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