Voters in Michigan passed an anti-Affirmative Action law (Proposal 2) last November. According to the bill’s proponents, the purpose was to “prohibit the state from granting preferential treatment based on skin color or gender.” The language that voters saw in the ballot box:
The proposed constitutional amendment would: Ban public institutions from using affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment to groups or individuals based on their race, gender, color, ethnicity or national origin for public employment, education or contracting purposes. Public institutions affected by the proposal include state government, local governments, public colleges and universities, community colleges and school districts.
And the official amendment says:
The University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, and any other public college or university, community college, or school district shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.
The result is that the University of Michigan, whole president is a staunch supporter of Affirmative Action and diversity, has to find other ways to ensure a diverse campus besides the factors of race and gender. NPR covered the story several times (the link will take you to a list of archived audio clips).
It looks as if the person spearheading Prop 2 is a white woman named Jennifer Gratz who was rejected by U of M back in 1995 (supposedly because some black person stole her spot!). The Yes on 2 website is sneakily named michigancivilrights.org and a lot of the language on it emphasizes the idea that removing Affirmative Action is more in line with the Civil Rights Act and Movement than implementing and continuing it. There’s even some dubious use of the phrase “By any means necessary”. Voting Yes on 2 meant voting Yes on Civil Rights.
I cannot remember a time in my adult life where someone somewhere wasn’t talking about ending Affirmative Action. The reasons I’ve heard usually boil down to “We/You don’t need it any more” or “It’s reverse racism/unfair to white people.” Certainly many white people say the latter. Some black folks say the former. No one has ever shown me compelling evidence that either statement is true.
Since the last Monday Debate was such a success, I thought I’d kickstart the blog again by having another one. Here we go.
Is Affirmative Action still necessary? Do people of color and/or women need it, still? Or do we now exist in a fair and equal society in which we do not need any help leveling the field?
On the flip side, is Affirmative Action unfair to white people? (I won’t call it reverse racism because of, well, the last debate.)
I’m looking an actual debate, not just groups of people screaming at each other. This probably won’t be a problem considering the excellent regulars here, but I’m putting that out there for new folks who drop by. I am interested in exploring this issue with an open mind. I’m asking that anyone who comments do the same. Humor is, as always, welcome.
When you make statements, make it clear if you are spouting an opinion or a fact. If a fact, back it up as well as you can. Unsupported ‘facts’ are opinions. If your ‘fact’ is supported by personal experience, that doesn’t invalidate it, but it does make the ‘fact’ one based on limited data, thus it does not carry as much weight.
Anonymous commenters, please provide us with some kind of handle to call you by. And don’t come and post under lots of different handles to make it seem like lots of people agree with you. I’ll know. And I’ll smite you.
Tags: Affirmative Action, Equality, Civil Rights, Michigan, Proposition 2, University of Michigan, Jennifer Gratz