Affirmative Action: Thinking Outside the Racial Box

Affirmative Action: Thinking Outside the Racial Box
January 09, 2002
by Kim

Remember Prop 209?

That was the 1996 California ballot initiative that read:

“The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”

It passed.

As a result, most of California’s race- and gender-based preference programs were dismantled.

University of California regent Ward Connerly (above) was the driving force behind Prop 209.

He’s at it again.

New Plan
Connerly is collecting signatures to place a new initiative on this November’s ballot.

His Racial Privacy Initiative would prohibit California or its local governments from collecting racial data and classifying residents by race.

State government would have to delete the “What is Your Race” box from all of its forms.

Here is the exact wording of the Racial Privacy Initiative (RPI):

“The state shall not classify any individual by race, ethnicity, color or national origin in the operation of public education, public contracting or public employment.”

Connerly has added a few exceptions:

  • Police Departments, which need to describe crime suspects
  • Hospitals and medical research labs, which work on conditions and diseases that disproportionately affect certain races, and
  • Federal government forms filled out by Californians.

Other exceptions can be made in the future by a 2/3 vote in the California Legislature.

As you might expect, opinions are divided over RPI in California.

Brad Hayward, spokesman for the University of California system, said:

“We request race and ethnic data because it helps identify trends in the admission process.? It’s a useful analytical tool in determining how well we’re serving all the people of the state.”

Connerly counters:

“In one of the most racially and ethnically diverse places in the nation, where people are marrying across racial lines, the whole concept of race is becoming anachronistic.”

Another opponent of PRI, U of C regent Justin Fong:

“Ward Connerly is a maniac when it comes to the issue of race.? Connerly is not pro-diversity at all.? He is anti-diversity because he doesn’t see any value in it and I think the man has blinders on.”

Los Angeles civil rights activist Joe Hicks supports RPI:

“It’s clear when you read Martin Luther King that he was saying we need to move to a higher place, where people see the content of our character and not the color of our skin.? Science refutes the notion of race.? Ward’s ballot measure will help us reach beyond the genetics of people.”

U of C regent William Bagley sees it differently:

“The banning of race boxes would be counterproductive and deleterious to our effort to recruit qualified minorities.”

Activist James Landrith supports RPI:

“Continually dividing our fellow Americans by race reinforces the concept that one group of Americans is so different from another group of Americans that they must be viewed differently and as a nasty consequence of this type of thinking, treated differently.? These racial classifications do not end or lessen racism.? These classifications do, however, reinforce the concept of race, which in turn fosters the twin demons of superiority and inferiority.”

One more voice opposed to RPI, Earl Ofari Hutchinson, a syndicated columnist:

“Despite Connerly’s idealistic talk of promoting a color-blind society, the initiative is yet another thinly-disguised assault on affirmative action.? The crucial difference this time is that unlike Proposition 209, which affected primarily college admissions, it will sledgehammer millions of Californians who depend on government agencies to prod public and private employers not to discriminate, and to provide equitable funds for public services and education.”

Who’s right?

Do you support the Racial Privacy Initiative?

Is America obsessed by race and ethnicity?? Should we return to the great melting pot philosophy that focuses on our common identities as Americans, and not our hyphenated differences?

Or is it vital to collect data in order to measure progress in society?? Without verified numbers will contractors and other employers violate equal employment laws?? Will the spending gap between minority and majority school districts widen without facts and figures?? Is this initiative a step backward?

Let us know by clicking on the View/Add Comments button below.

Read more about The Racial Privacy Initiative.


Copyright 2002 The Internet Party

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