The fight for racial and gender equality is on the ballot in California. Equal Rights Advocates strongly supports California Proposition 16. This Proposition will reverse the ban on affirmative action in California and allow universities and government offices to factor in someone’s race, gender, or ethnicity in making hiring, spending, and admissions decisions. The practice has been illegal in California since 1996, when voters approved Proposition 209. Equal Rights Advocates was among the strongest opponents of Prop 209 then, and we call for its repeal now with Proposition 16.
As we argued in 1996, affirmative action is critical to ensure the representation of women and people of color in public employment, contracting, and education. Affirmative action encouraged state offices to set goals to ensure the representation of women and people of color among their employees, business contracts, and students. With the ban, we have seen the admission rates of Black, Latino, and Native students at UC schools plummet. We continue to see the vast underrepresentation of women among state-funded construction projects (See this compelling blog by tradeswoman and former ERA Board Member Molly Martin.) And today, in 2020, women in California still earn less than 80 cents on the dollar compared to white men, and it is far less for women of color and single moms. As people of color and women continue to face discrimination in hiring, employment, contracting, and education, the global pandemic highlights the harm in even starker terms. This crisis has been devastating for working mothers and Black and Latinx communities.
Affirmative action addresses these inequities.
In states that allow affirmative action, women and people of color earn higher wages and compete on equal footing for state contracts. It is time for California to get back on track to address the systemic sexism and racism that harms millions of Californians.
Join us by voting yes on Proposition 16 on November 3. We will be in good company. Who is with us? Vice Presidential Candidate and Senator Kamala Harris, Governor Gavin Newsom, Equal Justice Society, the ACLU, the California Teachers Association, and the founders of Black Lives Matter. These amazing gender and racial justice champions are why the forces from this current administration and their allies are working so hard to undermine this effort.
Let’s come together as part of a movement for equality.