Friday, December 28, 2007

Affirmative action may be on ballots

I'm not sure what to say. Is it possible that Affirmitive Action has had its day? I don't know but several states are going to vote on whether or not to continue such programs.

A campaign is underway to ban affirmative action in five states already embroiled in debates over illegal immigration.

Efforts are proceeding in Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma to put initiatives on November ballots that would end programs to increase minority and female participation in government and education.

The push is led by Ward Connerly, a California management consultant who successfully ran similar campaigns in California, Washington and Michigan.

It is part of Connerly's effort to ban race- and gender-based policies nationwide.

The initiatives will add to the racially charged atmosphere in state elections, says Michael Kanner, a political science professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder. All five states have had big increases in their Hispanic population since 2000, leading to racial tensions and debates over illegal immigration.

Arizona, Colorado and Oklahoma have passed the nation's toughest laws against illegal immigration. Among their provisions, they penalize employers of undocumented workers. In Missouri, Gov. Matt Blunt is pushing for tougher immigration laws and enforcement. In Nebraska, towns with large food processing companies that employ Hispanic immigrants have been targeted by federal immigration raids.

"It's about race in both issues," Kanner says. "Affirmative action, by its nature, is associated with minorities. In Colorado, for example, the dominant minorities are Hispanic, so it is inevitable that the two will be tied together."

Connerly, founder of the American Civil Rights Institute, a group working to end affirmative action, says, "We will deliberately try to stay away from the issue of illegal immigration. It's a tangential issue that we cannot control."

He says, "It's a simple principle we are promoting: equal treatment for all Americans."

Connerly says he believes in affirmative action if it is based on socioeconomic conditions, not gender or race.

His campaign is in its first stage in Colorado, Arizona and Nebraska, gathering signatures to qualify to be on the ballot.

It has turned in signatures in Oklahoma, but is stalled in Missouri in a court dispute over language. Connerly's language says the state shall not discriminate or grant preferences based on race, sex or ethnicity. The language substituted by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan goes further and says the initiative would end programs that provide equal opportunities for women and minorities.

1 comment:

JP Paulus said...

It shouldn’t be done away with, but a plan should be in place to assess how it currently is working & not working, and have different goals in place to work toward, so we can measure progress.

I know it’s kind of a “white” philosophy, but it gives a start, and a way to show progress, and change what’s not working.

Ward Connerly does have a point that socioeconomic disadvantaged need the most help, and it is interesting that he favors THAT for affirmative action Children of people like Michael Jordan & Jay-Z wouldn’t need any government help in getting into any university.

I wonder if anyone has done any studies to see how racial demographics would change of a company or university if they adopted socioeconomic instead of racial affirmative action.

In today’s world, a few factors, in addition to affirmative action admission/employment there is a need to be focus on:

MARKETING to upper/upper middle class blacks. Different than admissions itself—this aims to get diversity without “forcing” it. The marketing would be like seeking out those who are bilingual or some other special skill set – is it discriminatory to get someone more well rounded and able to connect with a greater worldwide population? This will diffuse the “you got in/hired even though you’re less qualified.” argument.

Retention of black students/employees is just as important. That should be considered as part of the “affirmative action” plan. If a university admits 10% blacks, but loses almost all of them by senior year, has progress been made?

Building up elementary schools (with help from universities!), so that kids will have a chance at those universities, instead of falling so far behind that they don’t have a chance.

Have some way of addressing “unmeasurables” so that they are dealt with appropriately…I know there was quite a bit of talk on WVON about the incident at Northern Illinois, and the differences in how parent were/”should” be notified and involved. Also – how do we “know” if racism isn’t still going on to some degree (i.e. excluding blacks & others out of certain social networks & opportunitites)

A blog comment doesn’t do this subject justice, and I don’t claim to have THE solution…but just some ideas to chew on.

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