Hey all, below is a piece by John Kernodle, a fellow organizer of mine here in Greensboro, NC that responds to the anti-South fervor of the last week. Organizers against homophobia–and generally non-assholeish people–who call this state home are trying to shift the focus. Homophobia, racism, sexism: they don’t just exist in the South. They exist everywhere, and they must be fought everywhere.
Thanks, John for writing this piece. As an organizer in the South and a student of Southern race and labor history, I’m sure I’ll have something of my own to add, but organizing and working two jobs leaves little time for writing. John is an organizer with Occupy Greensboro, a graduate of Elon University, and works for the Touring Theater of North Carolina, where he was recently part of the anti-Amendment 1 production, Second Class.
This piece is a direct response to this segment from The Daily Show.
Dear Jon Stewart and the writing staff of The Daily Show,
This letter is in regards to The Daily Show’s reaction to the May 8th passage of Amendment One in North Carolina. I should begin by saying that I am a fan of your show, in fact I find it to be one of the best sources of scathing critique on cable TV (of course, since we’re talking TV news/opinion programming the bar is kind of low to start with). I am deeply grateful for your willingness to call out the hypocrisy and cupidity prevalent throughout all levels of our nation’s culture and politics. If I’ve not been direct enough: thank you.
That said, I found your analysis of the Amendment One vote to be no less narrow than the drivel your show is so willing to scorn when it comes from Fox News or CNN. The entire piece accomplished nothing more than throwing those of us who worked, and who are working, our asses off for marriage equality (not to mention actual liberation) under the bus.
My family has been in this state since the 18th century, and this is just one of many grievous errors my family has witnessed its people make. North Carolina supported the confederacy, North Carolina had one of the most grievous race riots (in Wilmington) that set the stage for Jim Crow, North Carolina has been witness to religious bigotry from the Christian Right. At the same time my state had one of the largest anti-confederate resistance movements in the South, my state STARTED the sit-in movement, and my state has one of the most LGBTQ friendly populations in the country (Asheville). We are a complicated place, no less complicated because of the vote for Amendment One.
When you disparage this state because of the choice a minority of the population (though a majority of those who voted) made you fail to adequately address the injustice that was done in this state. What you’ve really done is tacitly claim that this state is made up of nothing BUT bigots. What you’ve really done is tacitly claim that those of us who worked, who are still working, our asses off are nothing – no one. That’s not so different than how the fanatical Christian right views our LGBTQ brothers and sisters – as less than equal human beings.
It’s like the meme going around that draws attention to the fact that the counties with major universities opposed the amendment which then claims that people who voted for the amendment are nothing but backwards hillbillies. It’s like the idea, batted around by people I occasionally respect, that says that only urban voters knew the score on this amendment. It shucks FACT in exchange for rhetoric. It’s not really all that different than Fox News. And it gives people in North Carolina an out – why fight for equality when your state is just made up of bigots; after all the Daily Show said so.
Well if you’ll excuse my language I say fuck that, fuck that elitist rhetoric. Don’t we get enough of that from the right?
Maybe if you actually looked at the results of the election you’d see that rural queers and rural queer allies were given a voice for maybe the first time in North Carolina. You’d see that in predominantly African American counties there were 1,000s of folks who said NO to bigotry. Maybe if you took the time to do actual analysis you would have seen that less than 24 hours after polls closed there were people in the streets all across the state. And maybe, if you were really paying attention you would see that there were bigots who voted for the amendment in the cities and counties where it failed.
Maybe, instead of the typical dump on the reactionary south rhetoric we Southern Leftists/Progressives have come to expect from all sources north of the Mason-Dixon line, you could have held off on the name calling. Maybe you could have helped provide the call to arms to our brothers and sisters whose hearts broke when the polls closed on May 8th. Maybe you could have helped hold the alliances and coalitions that came together to fight this bigoted amendment together. At the very least maybe you could’ve at least not discounted the fact that in a heavily evangelical state the liberation of LGBTQ people has become a regular conversation in households where before it was little more than a whisper.
What’s truly sad about your reaction is not that The Daily Show has got it wrong, but that there are so many North Carolinians who will have watched your segment and decided it’s just not worth fighting anymore. The forces of righteousness, goodness, and justice will put people in the streets across this state with increasing frequency from this day forward, but how many more would we have with us if not for the cynical dismissal of outlets like The Daily Show?
In Peace, Justice, and Love,
John R. Kernodle, III