California's Proposition 16 Aims to Overturn State Ban on Racial Preferences

(Mike Blake/Reuters)

Supporters claim the need for state-sanctioned racial preferences in order to fight racism. Here’s why they’re wrong.

Amid the chaos of nationwide racial violence and lawlessness, proponents of Proposition 16 — on the California ballot in November — claim the need for state-sanctioned racial preferences in order to fight alleged systemic racism.

Prop 16 aims to overturn Proposition 209, passed in 1996 by California voters, which prohibits racial preferences and discrimination in admissions to public universities, and in hiring and contracting for state jobs.

Many Prop 16 supporters talk of the “failed experiment” of Prop 209’s mandate of equality, an assertion as baseless and absurd as it is insulting to the memory of countless Americans of all races — from Union soldiers willing to “die to make men free” in the Civil War to Freedom Riders risking their lives to fight racial segregation in 1961.

It is as if Prop 16 supporters are not aware that the North won the war and that Americans today, regardless of their race or sex, are living proof of the level of equality that has been achieved since then.

There is likely no country in the world where the fight for human equality has been as successful as it has been in the United States. There will always be racists; but to claim, as the Prop 16 crowd does, that the United States is still a systemically racist country is a lie.

Whatever their motives, Prop 16 supporters want to return to the bad old days of judging people by skin color and sex. They disguise their campaign before the public with words such as “diversity” and “a level playing field.” Who could be against that?

Many people will likely buy this version. But those who see through it are calling out Prop 16 on its true aim, and these people are often brought in line through the intimidation tactics so regularly employed by the far left. At venues ranging from business organizations — such as the Regional Hispanic Chamber of Commerce — to the general public, anyone who openly opposes Prop 16 is denounced and shamed as a racist. In today’s America, there is nothing worse than being called a racist, so this blunt instrument works on Californians averse to confrontation and on confused, well-meaning people. As such, it takes great courage to refuse to support Prop 16, as groups such as the League of California Cities has done.

But when Prop 16 supporters can’t win by honest debate, they turn to the most vicious, weak lies: They are smearing the No on Prop 16 campaign — spearheaded by me, a black man, with a proud multiracial background and with a dedicated multiracial staff — as a white supremacist effort.

The Prop 16 proponents are also spending massive amounts of money to buy this referendum, vastly outspending the No on Prop 16 campaign. No on Prop 16, fighting for the foundational principle of equality, is supported by numerous small-dollar donations. Yes on Prop 16 is funded by “woke” billionaires who want to dictate racial preferences to Californians, and by special-interest groups eager to curry favor with Sacramento politicians. Some examples of large donations to the Prop 16 campaign are below:

  • Amidst an unprecedented pandemic, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Blue Shield of California spent $1.5 million and $500,000, respectively, on promoting racial preferences instead of devoting those resources to Californians’ health.
  • Pacific Gas & Energy (PG&E) donated $250,000. PG&E’s incompetence has led directly to, or exacerbated, wildfires and blackouts in California.
  • Quinn Delaney, wife of a real-estate tycoon, contributed $6.5 million; Steve Ballmer, former COO of Microsoft and current owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, and his wife donated $1 million.
  • The Open Society Policy Center, a George Soros outfit pushing left-wing causes, contributed $1 million.
  • Patricia Quillin, wife of Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, donated $1 million; Salesforce contributed $375,000; the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative donated $100,000 — all examples of Silicon Valley money being used to pursue the Left’s racial-grievance agenda.

The mainstream media, for its part, whether uninformed or in agreement with the agenda, give plentiful and positive coverage to Prop 16 proponents. The Prop 16 side has cash and clout to go after dissenters — and it does.

They call equality an “experiment.” Our Founding Fathers did not see it as a mere experiment. President Abraham Lincoln didn’t see it as an experiment. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and millions of black people who cried out for freedom and equality in the 1960s didn’t see it as an experiment.

In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court had already ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional. In 1967, the Court held in Loving v. Virginia that banning interracial marriage is a violation of the 14th Amendment. These rulings were also not experiments.

Yet here we are in the year 2020: millions spent to promote racial discrimination, intimidation and smears used to destroy those with a different view.

None of this makes sense. Has California gone crazy? A good number of people here certainly do act like it has. It is up to the rest of California to make sure that the race-baiters do not take over, and destroy, this great state. Californians who believe in equality can start by voting No on Prop 16.

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