*****Disclaimer: This is not legal advice and is for educational purposes only. This does not create an attorney-client privilege.
We are in another election year and it is (nearly past) time to start considering not only who you want to vote for as president and to represent you regionally, but also to start doing your research on the measures on the California State Ballot this year. Or alternatively, you can follow this series of blog posts to get a summary of what's at stake with each measure, who is in support of and opposed to it, and a progressive's guide on checking No or Yes.
Proposition 16 is the next up on the ballot and in our series! If you want the quick summary, Prop 16 is essentially Affirmative Action! If Prop 16 is a bill to allow the government to consider sex, race, color, ethnicity, or national origin in policies and decision-making as a way to address diversity by getting rid of a constitutional provision that prohibits such policies. This proposition does not have a direct fiscal impact associated with it. The actual effect of it will depend on ho the state and local legislature interprets and uses the freedom to address diverse backgrounds and needs in their policies.
A vote for YES on this would mean that you are voting to allow regional and state entities and governments to consider various demographics in policies, public education, public employment and public contracting, up to the extent allowed by federal law. This proposition is important because it allows for inequity to be addressed, instead of pursuing, for example, ‘colorblind’ policy and resource distribution that allows an inequitable status quo to persist.
It would expand equal opportunities across the state of California. Groups that are more disenfranchised would have improved access to fair wages, better jobs and also to a good education at better funded schools. It also allows for policies to directly address and prohibit wage discrimination and systemic racism and misogyny in workplaces. Its passage will open up pathways to opportunity for women and people of color. This proposition is backed by many groups, including Minority Business Consortium, League of Women Voters of California, California Federation of Teachers, leaders in higher education and many community based organizations.
A vote for NO would mean the current ban on Affirmative Action mandated by Amendment 209 would continue. In other words, there would remain a ban on the consideration of race, gender, ethnicity, color or national origin in public education, public employment and public contracting. The only arguments against this are founded in the idea that it is “unfair” for these demographic characteristics to be considered and for policies, programs, etc. to be adjusted accordingly.
The reality is, that arguments that this proposition is unfair or would perpetuate discrimination is simply not correct. The law, public funding, and opportunities have always discriminated against minorities; this bill would allow for adjustments to address that inequity. Without it, we will perpetuate an unequal status quo that only benefits those already in power and with the most opportunities. What they are called “equal treatment” is really a game where the deck is stacked in their favor. We thus would recommend that you vote YES on Proposition 16!