In the upside down world that is California, the legislature wants to get back the right to discriminate, and they’re putting legislation on the November ballot to do just that.
In 1996, Californians voted for proposition 209, which read in part:
“The state 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 aim of the law was to get rid of all discrimination, both traditional, which is against minorities, and reverse discrimination, which is against the majority, such as racial quotas for school admissions and public employment. The law has survived many challenges but could fall in November, killed from the inside by voters.
While supporters of eliminating proposition 209 claim it will lead to greater equality, the numbers show that the proposition actually did this as minority representation at public universities increased after 1996.
Janet Nguyen wrote in the OC Register:
“In spite of dire warnings that Prop. 209 would negatively impact minority enrollment at the state’s University system, underrepresented minority student enrollment at the UC system has actually risen significantly since 209’s passage, from 15 percent in 1999 to 26 percent in 2019.”
The problem is that the incredible jump in minority enrollment was mostly Asian, and the black community remains a small part of the system. Supporters of eliminating proposition 209 are trying to find ways to bolster success within the black community. It’s not clear that making reverse discrimination systemic will do the trick.