Prop 16 Restores Affirmative Action

Voters will decide if affirmative action is solution to systemic racism.

Graphic by Monica Inouye/

Proposition 16 is on the ballot for California voters in the 2020 general election on Nov. 3. According to the Official Voter Information Guide, Proposition 16 is a California proposition that promotes diversity through the consideration of race, sex, color, ethnicity, and national origin when it comes to public employment. Affirmative action is currently banned in California. If Proposition 16 is approved it would reverse the 1996 Proposition 209, effectively lifting the ban.
The passing of Proposition 209 in 1996 amended the state constitution to prohibit government institutions from considering race, sex, or ethnicity, specifically in the areas of public employment, public contracting, and public education. In wake of police brutality, social unrest and generations of racial inequity, supporters of Proposition 16 say it would once again protect against such discrimination, and it would offer equal opportunities in hiring and education.
Those opposed argue that Proposition 16 is itself a form of racism, giving special treatment based on race or sex rather than individual merit and is a misguided attempt to rectify recent events.
The Opportunity for All Coalition, also known as Yes on Prop 16, is leading the campaign in support of Proposition 16. Other proponents include the League of Women Voters of California, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Equal Justice Society. In the California State Legislature, California Assemblyman Shirley Weber, a Democrat, was the lead sponsor of the constitutional amendment.
Eva Patterson, president of the Equal Justice Society said during a Sacramento Press Club Debate hosted on Facebook on Oct. 8 that, “the universal call was to eliminate systematic racism. One concrete way to do that is to make sure that the playing field is level in California for women and people of color, and Prop 16 does that.” She also said, “there is still discrimination either overtly or implicitly against women and people of color, and having race and gender consciousness applied to education, employment and contracting helps level the playing field.”
Helping lead a campaign to ban affirmative action in California 24 years ago, Ward Connerly has been a long-time opponent of affirmative action. Connerly said that in California everyone, regardless of their race or color or sex, has an equal chance to compete.
“I am not in favor at all of tearing down our values and ripping asunder our ideals just so we can get a handful of Black and Latino kids into our select universities,” he said.
According to articles published by the Los Angeles Times and, those in support of Proposition 16 also include Democratic and liberal California residents and other Democratic political figures such as Sen. Kamala Harris, Gov. Gavin Newsom and speaker of the U.S. House Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Supporters argue that systemic racism in our society should be ultimately dismantled and more opportunities should be considered for diverse communities. The Mercury News Editorial Board is in support of Proposition 16, saying, “after more than two decades of furthering racial disparities in California, voters have a chance to create a more-level playing field for students, workers and businesses.”
Connerly, former president of the University of California Regents, said in an ABC7 news article published Oct. 2 that, “as a brown skinned guy, I can tell you that I have had, in the last 50 years of my life, every chance to succeed, and I have.”