According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2018, over 52% of higher education enrollment was composed of white students, while Black students and Native American students made up less than 13.5% combined. This disparity can be attributed to a variety of systemic barriers that allow white people, who are also more likely to have access to wealth, to succeed at the expense of other communities. For example, public schools in areas that are predominantly Black often get less funding and access to resources.
CA Prop 16, or the Repeal Proposition 209 Affirmative Action Amendment, comes in response to Proposition 209 (1996), which prohibits preferential treatment on the basis of race, sex, skin color, ethnicity or nationality in public employment, public education and public contracting. Although Prop. 209 is cloaked in anti-discrimination sentiments, this proposition harms marginalized people: In practice, Prop. 209 forced California’s public universities to abandon their affirmative action policies put in place to offset the marginalization of gender and racial minorities.
In the Sacramento Bee, president of the University of California Student Association Varsha Sarveshwar argues, “Today, colleges can consider [...] virtually everything about you – but not race. It makes no sense – and is unfair – that schools can’t consider something that is so core to our lived experience. Repealing Prop. 209 will not create quotas or caps. These are illegal under a Supreme Court decision and would remain so.”
If passed, CA Prop. 16 would repeal Prop. 209, allowing California’s public entities to reinstate or begin affirmative action policies. The Peace & Freedom Party encourages Californians to Vote YES on Prop. 16 in the upcoming election to help improve opportunities in public education for oppressed people!
–written by Micah Fong