The Truth Board

A Blog by the Editors of
The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Last week I experienced two events that reminded me of my own beliefs and strengthened my belief system. I am currently under a lot of pressure and am busier than I have ever been in my life. This has resulted in my becoming completely immersed in the day to day tasks I have to complete: reading homework assignments, grading, teaching, writing, etc. These events reminded me of the global issues that I deeply care for but had not realized that I had been ignoring.

Last Thursday, I went to a lecture delivered by Al Gore at the Saban Theatre in Los Angeles. Global warming is an issue that I have always been concerned about, because I believe that the threat of Global Warming is very much real and we have to take action if we want to hang on to our dear planet. At the end of the event Mr. Gore signed books, and while I was waiting for my book to be signed I had a mini-conversation with Al Gore that made me quite excited. The Mini-conversation went along these lines:
Gore: "Hello, how are you?"
Me: "Thank you so much for your work!"
Gore: "You're very kind."

I know it does not sound much, but I was quite excited to see him in person, to have a conversation and to have a copy of his latest book. On my way home, I started thinking about my current disposition and behaviors toward global warming. It did not help that I was in my car while thinking about my behaviors, but I have made peace with the fact that I cannot give up driving, as bad as it is for the planet. Living in Los Angeles, and having a long commute and not being able to even ride a bike, I have to make peace with the fact that my carbon footprint will be bigger than I want it to be. I do, however, believe that something is better than nothing, and live my life accordingly. The lecture reminded me that my hectic schedule had steered me away from my convictions--I often caught myself printing more things than I needed, throwing bottles into the garbage bin instead of recycling. I am proud to say that I have modified my behaviors ever since--and I believe that adjusting one's own behavior is the most important change one can make.

The second event that made me take a step back and evaluate my own behaviors was an event that I helped organize. As one of the editors of Truth About the Fact, I had the privilege of attending and participating in an event called "Art of Resistance: Prop 8 and the Wedge between Black and Gay Communities." Our event was a great success, with an informative panel and great performances. The highlight of the evening for me was when we started an audience Q & A, and an elderly black woman got up and shared with us her experience of growing up as a gay woman in the South and as she was concluding her statement, "I have a beautiful partner and we have been in love for over 40 years" I could feel my skin forming goose bumps while wanting to get up and applaud and thank her for her statement and for sharing her beautiful story with the rest of us. As I looked around the room while she was talking, I could see that my feelings were shared by many. I felt extremely proud that the event that myself and my fellow editors had put together step by step had engendered an environment that made people comfortable enough to share with us their stories and experiences.

Lilly Berberyan

Friday, November 13, 2009

Say it Ain't So: Gay Marriage & Black Folks

Mildred Jeter, 18, married Richard Loving, 24 in Washington, D.C. Mildred's father and one of her brothers were the witnesses at their wedding ceremony. Mildred’s father said, "They picked the name of a minister from a phone book and, immediately after the ceremony, got back in the car, and returned to Central Point, [Virginia].”

The couple had travelled to DC to marry because marriage was illegal in Virginia -- on June 2, 1958 -- If you were a white man in love with a black woman.

Five weeks after their wedding, they were awakened at 2 a.m. by police who caught them “sleeping in their bed.” A crime. In their defense, Mrs. Loving had pointed to the marriage certificate which hung on their bedroom wall. The document was confiscated and became evidence in the charge against them: being married to one another. They were arrested and taken to jail. During their time of confinement, Mildred and Richard were housed on separate floors.

On January 6, 1959, after pleading guilty to the charge against them, they were sentenced to one year in jail. The sentence was suspended for 25 years, trial judge Leon Bazile proclaimed, “On the condition that the Lovings leave the State and not return to Virginia together for 25 years."

Judge Leon Bazil wrote in his opinion that: "Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."

After moving to DC, the Lovings instituted a class action on October 28, 1964, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia requesting that a three-judge court be convened to declare the Virginia antimiscegenation statutes unconstitutional, in part, because they violated the, the 14tH Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause.

The case wound its way to the Supreme Court, and on June 12, 1967, Chief Justice Earl Warren presented the court’s opinion, “These statutes also deprive the Lovings of liberty without due process of law in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.”

In 1967, the Lovings, and love itself, won the case as the federal government overturned the right of individual states to outlaw interracial marriage. When the Supreme Court ruled on Loving V. Virginia, Barack Obama, the product of an interracial marriage, was already 5 years old. In the November 4, 2008 election, he would win Virginia, the state where the marriage of his own parents was not legal at the time he was born.

I mention the Lovings because the arguments used to reject same-sex marriage rights are similar to the arguments once used to reject different-race marriages: It defies the bible, it’s unnatural, and it’s an affront to marriage itself.

African Americans have a long history of challenging the legal politics of marriage. Under slavery, African Americans were denied the right to marry. Despite this, enslaved African American couples formed powerful unions and performed marriage ceremonies that were bonding and real -- even though they were not legal.

Almost 150 years before gay and lesbian couples rushed to make their commitment bonds legal, when their right to marry was briefly legalized, many newly emancipated African Americans rushed to legalize the marriage bonds formed during the brutal conditions of slavery. It is perhaps tragically ironic that African Americans, who have historically fought so hard for the right to marry the people they love, are being constructed by some, as the group most opposed to gay marriage rights.

A January, 2009, study entitled “California’s Prop. 8: What Happened and What Does the Future Hold” by political scientist Kenneth Sherrill of CUNY-Hunter College and Patrick Egan of NYU, found the black support of Prop 8 was exaggerated by exit polls, immediately after the November 4, 2008 that banned gay marriage.

An Exit Poll by National Exit Polls, which was widely quoted by the media, placed black support for Prop 8 at 70%. The Sherrills-Egan study criticizes the NEP poll for poor design and sampling error, as fewer than 300 African Americans were interviewed, and none in the precincts with the highest percentages of African Americans.

By contrast, the Sherrills-Egan study looked at pre- and post-election polls and conducted a sophisticated analysis of precinct-level voting data from five California counties with the highest African-American populations (Alameda (Oakland), Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco) Based on this, it concludes that the level of African-American support for Proposition 8 was in the range of 57-59 percent. The study concluded that support for Proposition 8 among black voters "Was not significantly different than other groups."

The study found four factors—party identification, ideology, frequency of religious service attendance and age—drove the "yes" vote for Proposition 8. For example, "more than 70 percent of voters who were Republican, identified themselves as conservative, or who attended religious services at least weekly supported Proposition 8." On the other hand, "70 percent or more of voters who were Democrat, identified themselves as liberal, or who rarely attended religious services opposed the measure."

However, much of the damage had been done. Because of the pervasive and faulty media reports that that Blacks supported Prop. 8 at rate of 70%, there is perception among some that African Americans were significantly responsible for passing Prop. 8. A perception that understandably has created tensions between some black and gay communities. The idea is to have a frank conversation. Not to demonize any position. Instead, to listen. To learn. Minds may not get changed about the subject of gay marriage. But my hope is that ears will get a little wider. Hearts will get a little softer. And we’ll all emerge a little more human.

Michael Datcher

Note: I’d like to thank Dr. Dionne Bennett, assistant professor of African American Studies at LMU for her research assistance on the Lovings case.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Staying Healthy

After spending few hours asleep each evening, and many hours awake and running around campus for class, work or meetings, I realized that I need to be thankful for not ending up with the flu or sick in any way. The past few months have always been quite busy for me as I juggle homework, sorority meetings, my vice presidential responsibilities for the organization, my resident advisor position, my job on campus and other things, just to name a few.
With the current outbreak of the Swine Flu and the “seasonal” flu this year, college students have been hit extremely hard. With the close living quarters in the dormitories, or the numerous encounters with other students in the handful of classes attended each week, AND the lack of sleep students experience, they are the targeted age group of students.
How I have not gotten sick? Knock on wood that this does not jinx my health in any way, but I have to attribute some of it to my smart up keeping of vitamins, fruits and vegetables and the flu shot. According to, “In addition to the 30 percent reduction in flu illness, vaccinated students were 47 percent less likely to visit a doctor for flu, 32 percent less likely to miss class and 47 percent less likely to do poorly on a test. In addition to the reduced illnesses for the students themselves, the study authors noted that immunizations of college students could help keep influenza from spreading.”
I received the flu shot on LMU’s campus two weeks ago, knowing that many of my residents in the upperclassmen apartments have come down with flu-like symptoms and that I was bound to come across them as they were trying to get healthy. With my $15 in hand and my LMU One Card ID, I waited in a long line for a simple pinch of my skin on my upper right arm.
“Keep your arm in motion for the next few hours,” the nurse told me. I walked off swinging my arms in circles—knowing that I looked like a complete fool. However, being out of service for days and suffering from flu symptoms does not sound appealing at all.
Just the thought of how far I would fall behind scares me. So I am drinking that orange juice; attempting to get in enough sleep; exercising; washing my hands constantly and doing all that you can possibly do to avoid the flu.

-Monica Augustyn

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