23 Oct PROPOSITION 16—OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL—VOTE YES
By Community Coalition’s Member-Led Political Education Committee:
Pastor Byron Smith
In 1996, Proposition 209 banned affirmative action. Repealing 209 would bring back affirmative action, the concept of which dates back to the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. It was put in place in order to improve opportunities for African Americans while civil rights legislation was attempting to dismantling the legal basis for discrimination. It sought to improve opportunities for minorities and women who have been historically excluded in the United States.
The initial emphasis was on education and employment. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy issued an executive order that established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and used the term “affirmative action.” Today, students remain underrepresented on college campuses. Affirmative Action ensures colleges and universities provide opportunities to those historically shut out of the system because of their race, ethnicity, income, or identity. Affirmative Action adds transparency to the hiring and promotion process.
When there is no Affirmative Action policy in place, then rejected applicants have no idea why. The candidate may have been rejected due to skill shortages, but equally the company may be discriminating against members of a certain group. Discrimination is hard to prove when you do not work for the organization and you are not privy to the decision-making process. When companies choose to adopt Affirmative Action policies, it helps to ensure diversity in the workplace and equal opportunity of employment for all.
Lead: The Opportunity for All Coalition, also known as Yes on Prop 16 is leading the campaign in support of Prop 16
Organizations: ACLU of California, Anti-Defamation League, California Black Chamber of Commerce, California NAACP State Conference, Chinese for Affirmative Action, Equality California, NextGen California, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, California State Student Association, Environmental Defense Fund, Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce
California for Equal Rights, also known as No on 16, is leading the campaign in opposition to Prop 16. Ward Connerly, who was chairperson of the campaign behind California Proposition 209 (1996), is chairperson of Californians for Equal Rights.
Pros: Prioritizes diversity benefits for students of all races, helps colleges take steps toward greater equity in admissions, helps promote social mobility, levels the playing field for groups that have been disproportionately rejected by hiring managers in the past, ensures women and minorities are being employed according to their rate of availability in the job market, ensures that a company’s current policies do not unintentionally discriminate.
Cons: Critics refer to this as “reverse discrimination.”
Why Does It Matter For South LA?
A new study by UC Berkeley found that California’s ban on affirmative action significantly harmed Black and Latino students by reducing their enrollment across University of California campuses, lowering their graduation rates and driving down subsequent wages. Prop 16 levels the playing field for Black and Brown communities and helps other under-represented groups i.e. women, indigenous, and undocumented residents of California.