Affirmative action will be on California’s ballot in November

California voters will decide in November whether to reinstate affirmative action after lawmakers approved a proposal Wednesday asking them to repeal the 25-year-old law that bans the consideration of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in university admissions, public employment and contracting.

In a 30-10 Senate vote, Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5 secured the necessary two-thirds majority needed to send the measure to repeal Proposition 209 to voters in the Nov. 3 election. Only one Republican, state Sen. Scott Wilk of Santa Clarita, voted for the measure.

For two hours, senators debated the need to revisit a decades-old policy Democrats said has historically disadvantaged women and Californians of color in businesses and on university campuses throughout the most diverse state in the country. They recounted their own experiences with racism, anti-semitism and anti-LGBTQ sentiments to argue in support of or to oppose the bill.

“I know about discrimination. I live it every day. We live it in this building,” said state Sen. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, who is Black. “Quit lying to yourselves and saying race is not a factor...the bedrock of who we are in this country is based on race.”

Bradford said ACA 5 wouldn’t establish an employment or admissions “quota,” but would help add “fairness and opportunity” for Californians building a future.

Opposing the measure, state Sen. Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, rejected the idea that racism has had such a deep impact.


“I patently reject the notion that this state is racist, or that this country is racist,” Melendez said. “This is the least racist country on the planet.”

The debate largely centered on California’s internationally recognized higher education systems, which several senators said have historically disadvantaged low-income Californians of color.

Latinos make up nearly 40 percent of the state’s 40 million residents, but represent less than 25 percent of the University of California’s 2019 fall enrollment. About 6 percent of Californians are African American, but at both UC and California State University, 4 percent of students are black.

Currently, Asian-Americans represent 15 percent of California’s population, but 16 percent and 33 percent at CSU and UC, respectively.

Affirmative action will be on California’s ballot in November Affirmative action will be on California’s ballot in November Reviewed by Anson Moore on June 24, 2020 Rating: 5

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