Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Why California Rejected Racial Preferences, Again

California is a deep blue state, which is under the de facto one-party rule of the Democrats. It is a majority-minority state and one of the most culturally liberal states in the US. And yet Proposition 16 was defeated in the year of “Black Lives Matter” becoming an ascendent movement and Fascist Orange Man being voted out of office. What this seems to indicate is that “political correctness,” which is largely a project of white liberals and leftists and sectors among some minority elites, will actually not fair very well as US society continues to diversify because the historical narratives and cultural framework from which “PC culture” is drawn will become less relevant or familiar.

By Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic

For at least 50 years, Californians have been fighting about whether their state government should be race neutral, treating all individuals equally under the law regardless of the color of their skin, or race conscious, granting preferential treatment to certain groups while discriminating against others to remedy past discrimination or increase diversity.

These various disputes over racial quotas and affirmative action have tended to anticipate national controversies. And last week, a majority of voters in this Democratic stronghold, where no single ethnic group constitutes a majority, reaffirmed their long-standing preference for neutrality: California voters defeated Proposition 16, an attempt by progressives to remove the provision in the state constitution that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race or gender in public employment, education, and contracting. The margin of defeat, 56 to 44 percent, was striking to students of political history, because it suggests that race neutrality is more popular now than when it was initially mandated by a 1996 ballot initiative that passed by a slightly smaller margin.


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