Nearly 25 years ago, California voters passed Proposition 209, a state constitutional amendment that barred public institutions (such as public universities and state agencies) from considering race, gender, or ethnicity in admissions, hiring, or contracting. In so doing, California became one of only eight states in the US to ban the use of race- or gender-conscious affirmative action.
The aftermath of Proposition 209 was immediate and stark. A year following passage of Proposition 209, Black, Chicanx, Latinx, and Native admission rates to UC schools fell precipitously — by nearly 30% at some campuses — and remained depressed for the more than two decades that followed. Barriers in government contracting also led to an estimated annual loss of $1 billion in contract dollars by minority- and women-owned small businesses.
In the nearly 25 years since Proposition 209’s passage, the loss of affirmative action has only served to further crystallize the ways in which structural inaccess disproportionately excludes Black and Brown communities. We have seen an erosion of Black and Brown enrollment in California’s public universities, and fewer state contracts awarded to minority-owned businesses. Proposition 209 was clearly decided in error, and it is time for a new generation of California voters to be empowered to correct the persistent exclusion of so many Californians of colour.Continue reading “California Poised to Restore Affirmative Action After Nearly 25 Years”