How Proposition 16 Could Help Enable Equal Opportunity For All
Nine states currently ban Affirmative Action although it’s a legislative solution that helps everybody.
October 22, 2020 at 6:03 pm
Now is the time for voters to not only accept the ugly truth of America’s past, but to also take action to dismantle racism. There are systemic barriers holding us back as a nation, including states that continue to enforce bans on Affirmative Action. These bans further perpetuate systemic racism and formalize discrimination against women, Black, Latino and Asian people, all of whom have endured injustice in this country for far too long.
Nine states currently ban Affirmative Action although it’s a legislative solution that helps everybody. California has a chance to level the playing field for women and Black, Indigenous and people of color by passing Proposition 16 on the ballot this election year. If passed, Proposition 16 would end California’s ban on Affirmative Action and enable equal opportunity for all.
As a Black mother myself, I feel it is essential to support the rising generation by helping to put Affirmative Action back on the table in my state of California. Discrimination and anti-Black racism are on broad display in our everyday lives, but especially in the workplace and in our children’s schools. Black and brown people helped build this country and we work hard to take care of our families. Despite our efforts, the system continues to accept that it is OK to leave us behind. Meritocracy can be a good thing and people should be awarded opportunities based upon their abilities and hard work. Except the idea of Black and brown people having to work twice as hard to receive the same opportunity is outdated and racist. Meritocracy is only just when everyone begins the race at the same starting place and experiences the same challenges.
When put into practice, Affirmative Action would help institutions hire more teachers that reflect the diversity of our classrooms, fund scholarships for hardworking students of color who seek higher education, allow government agencies to better target and invest in businesses owned by women and people of color, and help hold companies accountable to implement equitable hiring practices, enable fair advancement opportunities and promotions, as well as provide equal wages in the job market. Women and people of color are losing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars because of the current disparities in place.
White men are overrepresented in positions of power in California. Nearly all public contracts in the state, and the jobs that go with them, are given to large companies run by older white men. 86% of public contracts in California go to white people. And data reflects that Black women are paid only 64 cents to the dollar, in comparison to their white male counterparts who work in the same industry — even when experience levels and education factors are the same. Furthermore, Latina women are currently paid just 42 cents to the same white man’s dollar.
Disparities like these are made possible because of the systemic and institutional cultures of racism that have been largely accepted throughout America’s history. We owe it to the next generation to re-establish Affirmative Action in all nine of the states that currently have a ban in place.
It’s time for the American people to make decisions that will yield solutions that could move the economy and this country’s future forward. An overwhelming majority of the California legislature supports this measure, and it’s also widely supported by the ACLU, California Teachers Association, Senator Kamala Harris, Governor Newsom, Senator Bernie Sanders and the founders of Black Lives Matter.
There is much work that still needs to be done in order to dismantle racist systems, institutions and practices — but let’s take one measurable step in the right direction this fall California. You can start by voting in favor of Proposition 16.
Racism won’t be washed away by holding onto the institutions and systems that have colorblind values. Vote "yes" to be a part of the movement for racial and gender equality.