California Coalition Takes Fight for Race Neutrality One Step Farther
Ward Connerly, the University of California regent who spearheaded California’s move to race neutrality in education, is behind a new move to further ensure that race is not a factor in official state business.
Connerly, a Black businessman, chairs the Sacramento-based American Civil Rights Coalition. The Coalition is pushing a ballot initiative that would stop state government from actions that “classify an individual by race, ethnicity, color or national origin.”
Connerly recently announced that the Coalition had gathered nearly a million signatures to support the so-called “Racial Privacy Initiative.” The initiative grants exceptions only for medical research, law enforcement, the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing and other programs that the governor and state legislators agree fulfill a “compelling state interest.”
Connerly has for years claimed that making people identify themselves by checking off boxes is divisive and discriminatory. In 1995, he led the University of California in becoming the first public university to ban affirmative action from admissions, a policy that took effect two years later. By that time, California voters had already passed Proposition 209, which banned all consideration of race and gender in state hiring, education and contracting.
The current proposal would take California’s race-blind regime a step farther. But the measure faces determined opposition by civil rights groups as well as public policy researchers and other defenders of public information.
State officials must count the signatures by June 24 to determine whether the measure has the required 670,000 valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot.
— By Pamela Burdman
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