Red State Referendum: California Cans Affirmative Action

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Well, here we are on the other side of Election Day. And the winner is…uncertainty?

Americans all over are watching their televisions, their stomachs likely not as stable as they were 24 hours earlier.

But what news is there that’s sure, particularly the kind favored by Red State voters?

There’s a lot along those lines, and I’ve got one locked and loaded.

California citizens took aim Tuesday, pulling the trigger on a rejection of Proposition 16.

Its significance: The initiative was set to reinstate affirmative action.

As reported by The Associated Press, 16 would’ve permitted public employers to hire/contract and schools to admit based in part on race, gender, and ethnicity.

The move would’ve reversed a 1996 measure that put the kibosh on such discrimination among public employers and colleges.

Proposition 16 was introduced amid national unrest in the aftermath of George Floyd’s May death in Minneapolis. It had garnered support from two dozen representatives in the Golden State.

A June 22nd letter promoting the prop was signed by Cali Sens. Dianne Feinstein and — yes — Kamala Harris.

The Daily Caller notes people oppose affirmative action because it’s discriminatory.

And people support AA because otherwise, it’s discriminatory:

Supporters of the measure argue that it could expand equal opportunity to all Californians, regardless of race or gender. Opponents argue that giving preferential treatment to one group of people means discriminating against other groups of people.

The push to return to hiring based on race raised a whopping $31 million. In support, per the AP: “money, momentum and big-name backers, including Black celebrities (Emmy-nominated) Issa Rae and (film-making Oscar nominee) Ava DuVernay.”

But the big names and big money were no match for big votes.

Except in two areas. Take a wild guess:

The measure was passing in Los Angeles and five San Francisco Bay Area counties that are liberal and losing everywhere else. With more than 11 million votes tallied, 56% opposed Proposition 16 as of Wednesday.

Still, those behind the move won’t be giving up any time soon:

Supporters said in a statement Wednesday that they would wait for every vote to be counted but vowed that California would lead the country in rooting out barriers to advancement. The campaign acknowledged needing to “enlist more champions in the fight against structural racism and gender discrimination.”

Black Lives Matter LA co-founder Melina Abdullah seems to believe it’s just a matter of time:

“I…think that there’s a lot of conversation that needs to be had among folks who should be allies on this. We were able to pull many leading Asian voices, but there’s a narrative for a long time that Asians would lose, so we just have to do more solidarity work there.”

As stated by the AP, lawmakers thought a hiring and admission change was timely due to diversity:

[They] figured the time was right with an electorate that is less Republican and more diverse than in 1996, when California voters banned affirmative action through a ballot measure pushed by then-Gov. Pete Wilson, a Republican.

Today, Latinos make up 39% of the state’s population, followed by white people at nearly 37%. Asian Americans are almost 17%, and African Americans make up less than 7%.

But call ’em wrong, because they were.

For now, the state’s made its collective voice heard: It doesn’t want race, gender, and ethnicity to affect who gets the job.

Or — perhaps more importantly — who doesn’t.

-ALEX

 

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