Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

11 March 2008

Ms. Magazine investigates the attack on affirmative action

I've often joked that I'm in the wrong line of work. As an educated Latina from a working poor background who intellectually "gets" her oppositions stances, I really should have sold out years ago to become a right-wing pundit. In the legacy of Phyllis Schafly and every Latina who speaks in favor of the Minute Men (we have one in the Chicago area), I would be a star and I assume fairly rich by now. The current issue of Ms. Magazine profiles the identity sell-out we should all be educated on - Ward Connerly.

Who is Ward Connerly? If you don't know his name, you know his work. He ended affirmative action in California, Washington, and most recently Michigan. He did it with a smile, lies, damn lies. Wrapped in the blanket of equal rights, he peddles voter initiatives across the country, from state to state, like a Johnny Appleseed planting scapegoats as he goes. A successful African-American man, Connerly began his crusade to end affirmative action with the backing of some much more successful and wealthier white men from the construction business. Yes, the war against affirmative action began because white-owned construction businesses didn't feel they were getting enough contracts and/or were upset that they couldn't give all their business to their buddies and HAD to seek out a woman- or minority-owned business.

Ms. crack researchers give us some great stats on what happened in California before and after Prop 209 passed in government construction contracts:

Data collected by Morris and her colleagues about the effects of Proposition 209 shows clearly that women- and minority-owned firms in California have now been shut out of the “right” contractor networks. In the six years before Proposition 209 passed, those firms received 22 percent of all construction contracts awarded by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), one of the largest sources of public contracts in the state. In the six years after, contracts to women- and minority-owned firms were cut in half, resulting in an estimated loss of $1.4 billion. Having hit an all-time high of 27.7 percent of Caltrans contracts in 1994, women- and minority-owned businesses dropped to just 8.2 percent of those contracts in 2002.

Let's get one thing straight - Connerly's mission is not about fairness, but greed. Pure and simple.

This November's election is not just monumental in the fact that we could elect the first Black man or white woman to the Presidency, but in five states anti-affirmative action initiatives are on ballots. Dubbed "Super Tuesday for Equal Rights", November 4th may bring an end to affirmative action in Missouri, Colorado, Arizona, Nebraska & Oklahoma.

I've been lucky enough to hear presentations from various groups, especially a group of researchers in Michigan, who did a lot of great work to oppose other anti-affirmative action initiatives. Some have failed, some have won, and some are just getting ready for their local fights. The key factor to winning these stealth attacks - and they really are stealthy, not just stupid/ignorant people are falling for Connerly's deceptive language - is the white woman's vote.

"In Michigan...an exit poll showed that 59 percent of white women voted for the CRI, while 82 percent of women of color voted against it."

Are white women tired of people of color getting into college? Winning government contracts? IMO, they aren't. They were duped. And from one presentation I saw in the last year, I believe that white women didn't even turn out to vote that election.

I've heard a few people, who know what they are talking about, say that Connerly can't come to Illinois. Why? Our ballot initiatives are non-binding. Whether or not Connerly can set up shop in Illinois or not, I do urge you to head over to your local (hopefully independent) book store and pick up a copy of the winter issue of Ms. magazine. There's a whole lot more in the issue than just Connerly, but I'll get to that in another post.

Technorati tags: Ms. magazine, feminism, affirmative action

2 comments:

I just want people to get into college based on how hard they've worked. I am getting tired of percentages and ratios - I really don't want us to start working backwards. I'm seeing a lot of families struggle and their children can't get into college because there are only a certain amount of scholarships available for white kids - they want minorities. And a lot of these families can't afford to pay for college any more than the other families. I'm basing this on Oklahoma and Texas (where I moved from). The demographics there are completely different - but still. I just think things should be fair - for EVERYONE. Men and women - people of all color, including minorities that aren't the majority. Fair should be fair.

I enjoy your posts even when I'm not sure what to say - they make me think before I speak.

xo

Same here, holli, same here. But there is a great imbalance in our society that needs a slight nudge in the other direction. AA does not mean success, just access that others have had access to for generations. I do think that SES should be a factor in college admissions, BTW.

And thanks...I get that alot. People like what I write, but never know what to say in a comment. Say anything at all! :)