Here’s my latest post over at Change.org. Yes, it’s also on Proposition 107.
Following on the heels of its notorious anti-immigrant law, Arizona is again taking aim at its resident people of color — this time through a seemingly innocuous ballot initiative.
The proposal sounds like this: This state shall not grant preferential treatment to or discriminate against 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.
How many of us might support such a statement if we were asked to vote for it? Most of us probably would — it’s a disarmingly simple statement that appeals to our common hopes for a race- and gender-equal society. It suggests a dream of a better America, where racism and sexism no longer exist.
Yet a single statement like this one is what has successfully institutionalized racism and discrimination in California. In 1996, voters in California passed a ballot proposition based on these ideas. Since then, black and Latino enrollment in state universities has dwindled. Minority- and female-owned small businesses are less successful. Training programs and scholarships focused at underrepresented minorities have been decimated. (For a full discussion of the impact of this ballot proposition in California, read this report.) Similar efforts have succeeded in drastically reducing opportunities for minorities and women in Michigan and Nebraska, as well.