CRIMES OF ART

If you think history is going to be made on a certain Tuesday in November, and you are a West Indian through and through, there is only one proper course of action. You have to plan a lime. And we Trinis take organization of an historic event lime very, very seriously. Cooking must start at least 24 hours in advance. You must have one fridge cleared of normal domestic requirements like cheese and tomatoes and lined with liquid refreshments. I favour an alphabetical arrangement:
Shelf No. 1 – Banks (what passes for beer on this rock);
Shelf No. 2 – Carib (what Trini people assert is the beer);
Shelf No. 3 – Coconut Water (to give that something extra to the Extra Old);
Shelf No. 4 – Wine (for the health conscious to get their vitamin C allowance).
Finally you must be careful to invite only those whose politics you are sure of and share. Those beer bottles have to be returned intact.

But even the distraction of having a few friends over on the election night of a lifetime could not stop the sweating, hand wringing and nail biting that preceded the hours before That One was declared The One Elect. Friends from all over the world were emailing their coping strategies or sometimes just emailing as a coping strategy. C. in Cairo drank a full case of Coke Zeros and hurt his thumb texting his sister in DC. How many McCain supporters could she spot in the voting queue and how exactly was she going to nuke ‘em? R. in Geneva decided to take a more Zen approach. He trusts that the universe will do the right thing and, if this is not the moment for change, then we must wait as the endless cycle of life reveals itself. When I grow up I want to be like him - just later man. First we have to get Pallin back to Alaska. Who’s been keeping an eye on the Russians while she’s been shopping?

In anticipation of her plane full of children and clothing making that one-way journey back to Anchorage, the assembled mob in my yard made a couple banners expressing common dreams and hopes. There was only one small problem. Have you ever tried making banner slogans, by committee, at a gathering where alcohol is flowing? Not easy. But in the spirit of the night we came together and said Yes We Can. I still have a banner left hanging between two trees that says “Bajans for Obama” – ironically composed by a majority of non-nationals. And as the results became clear, we on this small rock joined in the collective happiness that crashed through the world, shouting, crying and hugging each other – a combination of relief and hope surging through our veins.

But when Second Born woke the next day he was not pleased. The Law is The Law and he takes a dim view of those who transgress – Obama euphoria notwithstanding. He and I have spent time together on YouTube listening to the preacher’s dream and he knows about Rosa, so I thought the foundation was laid for him to understand why unknown person or persons might be moved to hang a banner on a public monument of a freed slave, proclaiming 500 years + Obama = Hope while he slept. But he was having none of it and thought that I should take responsibility for undoing this travesty by removing it soonest - before the police arrested anyone.

A day later it was all over the local TV and on the front page of The Nation and the back page of The Advocate - full colour photographs of Bussa with banner. As Second Born read the blurb suggesting that Bussa himself might have approved of the graffiti, he softened. By the time he had spoken to his grandma about the newspaper coverage he was positively beaming.
“How come you like the banner being there now, little one?” I asked.
He grinned cheekily.
“Well, it made people happy so the police won’t mind.”
Maybe his rigidity is softening enough for me to postpone lecturing him on The Impact of Non-Violent Protest On The Legislating of Fundamental Human Rights – From Gandhi to Banksy.

So the world is changing and we on this small rock have joined in the collective happiness that is rippling through the world - our exuberance in part that when America as a society was asked to live up to the ideal of non-discrimination she came through. Actually it would be more accurate to say there has been a resounding victory for most notions of equality. In Obama is symbolized a triumph over discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, social origin, association with a national minority, property and birth. So it is even more crushing that on that same day in California a majority said no we cannot overcome discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. Let’s make a promise that we can.

1 comment:

Prof Rob Wintermute said...

Subject: California: Where were Sylvester Davis and Andrea Perez?

PROPOSITION 8
This initiative measure is submitted to the people in accordance with the provisions of Article II, Section 8, of the California Constitution. This initiative measure expressly amends the California Constitution by adding a section ...

SECTION 1. Title
This measure shall be known and may be cited as the "California Marriage Protection Act."

SECTION 2. Section 7.5 is added to Article I of the California Constitution, to read:

SEC. 7.5. Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

The location of the new Section 7.5 illustrates the confused and contradictory nature of California's constitutional bill of rights, which is too easy to amend:

SEC. 7. (a) A person may not be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law or denied equal protection of the laws; provided, that nothing contained herein or elsewhere in this Constitution imposes upon the State of California ... any obligations ... which exceed those imposed by the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the [US] Constitution with respect to the use of ... pupil transportation [ie, unpopular court-ordered "bussing" to reduce racial segregation in public schools]. ...

SEC. 8. A person may not be disqualified from entering or pursuing a business, profession, vocation, or employment because of sex, race, creed, color, or national or ethnic origin.

(1) In view of the following exit poll, suggesting that support for Proposition 8 was higher among African-Americans and Latinos, should "the race analogy" have been stressed in the "No on 8" advertisements, ie, the fact that it was the Supreme Court of California, in 1948, that struck down the law banning the different-race marriage of Sylvester Davis, an African-American man, to Andrea Perez, a Latina (deemed white) woman? See Perez v. Sharp, 198 P.2d 17 (Calif. Sup. Ct., 1 Oct. 1948)(4-3). (The invalidated law appears briefly in the following video, but Davis and Perez are not mentioned. http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Oj-0xMrsyxE)

http://edition.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/results/polls/#CAI01p1

Percentages voting "Yes on 8"

African-American - 70%
Latino - 53%
Asian - 49%
white - 49%

(2) Was this "THE AD WHAT WON IT" for Proposition 8 supporters (slogan: "Restoring Marriage & Protecting California Children"), as London's "The Sun" newspaper might say?

http://www.protectmarriage.com/video/view/5 (English)
http://www.protectmarriage.com/video/view/4 (Spanish)

(3) Looking on the bright side, many US state constitutional provisions excluding same-sex couples from legal marriage will probably have to be repealed by referendum before the US Supreme Court will strike down the rest. California could lead the way:

2000 - Proposition 22 (enacting "initiative statute" defining marriage as man-woman only; an "initiative statute" is above an ordinary statute or law passed by the state legislature, and below the state constitution) - 61.4% Yes - 38.6% No

2008 - Proposition 8 (enacting a constitutional amendment defining marriage as man-woman only)- 52% Yes - 48% No (results not final)

2012 - Proposition __ (repealing Proposition 8) - 48% No? - 52% Yes?

CALIFORNIA CONSTITUTION
ARTICLE 2 VOTING, INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM, AND RECALL

SEC. 8. (a) The initiative is the power of the electors to propose statutes [fewer signatures required] and amendments to the Constitution [more signatures required] and to adopt or reject them. ...

SEC. 10. (a) An initiative statute [or an initiative constitutional amendment?] ... approved by a majority of votes thereon takes effect the day after the election unless the measure provides otherwise. ... [This means that the constitutional right of same-sex couples to marry in California has been TEMPORARILY SUSPENDED from 5 November 2008 until the repeal of Proposition 8.]
Prof. Robert Wintemute (Professor of Human Rights Law)

School of Law, King's College London, Strand
London WC2R 2LS, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 20 7848 2356
Fax: +44 20 7848 2465
e-mail: robert.wintemute@kcl.ac.uk