Monday, August 18, 2008

Killing quotas

There's an anti-Affirmative Action ballot initiative in Colorado. In fact, there are a few across the country, also in Arizona and Nebraska, with a measure pending in Oklahoma. There's one guy behind them, Ward Connerly, who's accused of all kinds of fraud to get those measuers on the ballot.

Some Coloradoans are mounting a creative challenge to Connerly and his ilk.

It seems that Americans really, really hate it when you talk about Affirmative Action in terms of quotas--i.e. we need to have x% women students, x% Black students, x% Latino students, etc. Really, really hate it.

What's interesting is that quota programs were ruled unconstitutional in 1978 in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke.

Of course, this doesn't keep anti-AAers from busting out the Q word whenever we talk about race and admissions and hiring. John McCain--maybe another one of his funny, funny jokes?--came out against quotas. That's his position on Affirmative Action.
“I do not believe in quotas.... I have not seen the details of some of these proposals. But I’ve always opposed quotas.” - John McCain

So, the creative Coloradoans have come up with a plan. They have mounted a counter-initiative to Connerly's, which states that racial quotas should not be used in admissions and hiring decisions, but that less-advantaged statuses should remain a factor, and support and outreach programs based on less-advataged statuses can support a fairer and more diverse school or workplace.

According to the article, Connerly's people are pretty pissed about it. Let's be clear--Americans are not, by and large, big fans of Affirmative Action. Two-thirds to three-quarters tend to disapprove of AA-type measures.

But these Coloradoans are doing a good thing, reminding us that Affirmative Action is not a pity-program, but the best shot we have right now of leveling the playing field. Stop talking about quotas, and stop playing petty games with race. If you don't think people of color are disadvantaged in this country (and, if you check out some of those polls I linked to above, you'll see that many people don't) that's what you say. If it makes you look like an asshole, tough.

Enough with the quotas.

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