Essay on Should California Bring Back Race-Based Affirmative Action?

Published: 2021/11/18
Number of words: 1110

Affirmative action can be referred to as the policies and practices aimed at mitigating discrimination and increasing the opportunities in housing, education, and employment of the historically underrepresented groups in society concerning an individual’s sex, nation origin, color, religion, and race. These policies are meant to solve the inequalities that have hindered adequate access to learning institutions, acquiring and accumulating wealth by most Americans. The supporters of affirmative action state that it’s important to rectify some past discriminations and injustices such as tenacious social injustices, slavery in relation to race, native American displacement and coverture laws, for instance, that equipped men with legal rights states over women, possession of the property and also money in marriages. Affirmative action was presented in one of the John Kennedy executive rulings or orders. It stated that the applicants of higher learning institutions and employees should all be treated fairly despite their color, originality, and race. The list later included religion and gender by 1967, and this policy targeted to improve and increase diversity against discrimination and ensure equal opportunities for all people in workplaces (Bolano et al. page 4)

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Affirmative action has so much been politicized in California whereby proponents support it due to its advantages, such as ensuring equity to all and its opponents viewing it as reverse discrimination against non-disadvantaged groups. Proposition 209 appeared in the ballot boxes in 1996; on November 5th, citizens advocated for constitutional amendments that proposed to ban discrimination in education, issuing contracts, employment, and any preferential treatment of individuals regarding their race, gender, color, and nation originality. The voters maximally passed or approved the bill with more than 850000 votes and thus making California one of the states to enact such a law and section 31 of the article in the California constitution. However, this did not stop the proponents of affirmative action as they sought proposition 16 in 2020, which was then supposed to repeal proposition 209. Whether California should bring back race-based affirmative action has brought up many mixed reactions amongst citizens. Below are some of the advantages and reasons supporting bringing back race-based affirmative action by its proponents.

Reasons in support of bringing back race-based affirmative action

The banning of affirmative action in California for almost 24 years now has highly impacted the students from underrepresented or disadvantaged backgrounds from getting admission to most state universities. Since 1996 when most voters led to the end of the California University admission of students considering their race and giving grants and scholarships to help in financial crisis relief of the students, the percentage of native Americans and Africans has reduced or fallen. The faculty makeup of the university neither does nor reflect anything near the Californian’s diversity in ethnicity (Long et 204). When their affirmative action ban is removed, there will be equity in contracts awarding, admissions, and faculty hiring too, and that’s why prop.16 was proposed to help lift the ban. Gary Orfield, the Co-director in NCLA, S graduate’s school, states that universities have never been able to get over 209 bans of affirmative action regarding accessing education for students of color. Affirmative action can help the underrepresented groups to climb up the socioeconomic class ladder. There are three classes of economic classes, namely low, middle and high. A person’s social, economic class is usually determined by their status, occupation, education, and income level. Giving disadvantaged groups an equal chance and opportunity to acquire education and employment can quickly help them climb up the ladder of social-economic classes. The lifting up of the ban on affirmative action would ensure the promotion and development of education and diversity in work on community levels. Considering that women and other groups that were historically or previously underrepresented, oppressed, and discriminated giving them equal chances to access education, admissions in universities, equal pay would result in the development and growth of human capital in the economy( Long et al. page 199)

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Criticisms of race-based affirmative action

As much as California has a significant number of people supporting race-based affirmative action, there has been a lot of criticism. For instance, it encourages reverse inequalities or discrimination whereby instead of ending discrimination, it discriminates the groups that are not from the disadvantaged groups or backgrounds. Students who have talents may not be given equal chances because they don’t come from minority groups. This may also result to hatred and enmity between the minority and majority groups. There is also the absence of meritocracy when race-based action is preferred. Meritocracy usually works towards enabling students who are more capable of higher institutions to get more knowledge and skills to make significant changes in the world. By promoting admissions in universities in terms of race, gender, or nationality, meritocracy is discouraged. Race-based affirmative action may lead to diminishing actual achievement, whereby the people from disadvantaged groups or minorities’ successes and achievements may be seen as a result of affirmative action instead of their hard work, thus demeaning their abilities and efforts (Lipson and Daniel, page 985)

In conclusion, I feel it’s high time for California citizens to mobilize and work together to vote to lift the ban against race-based affirmative action. Although proposition 16, which was meant to push through advocating for affirmative action, failed. There are always other laws and amendments that can be made to ensure that the minority groups and the disadvantaged groups also find justice and are being treated equally in the education and employment sectors. For the longest time, people of color and women are still very disadvantaged in almost all fields. Men still earn higher than women in workplaces, and white women earn more than color women at the same work. The nonwhite and the women are still much underrepresented in halls of power and board rooms too. In terms of economic view, the black Californians are exceptionally unwelcome and very lowly represented in California University and surprisingly very overrepresented in prisons, and most of them are homeless. Therefore clearly, there is a need for race-based affirmative action in California.


Bolano, Leanne, and Arvinder Kaur. “Proposition 16: Allowing Affirmative Action in Public Contracting, Employment, and Education.” California Initiative Review (CIR) 2020.1 (2020): 4.

Lipson, Daniel N. “Embracing diversity: The institutionalization of affirmative action as diversity management at UC-Berkeley, UT-Austin, and UW-Madison.” Law & Social Inquiry 32.4 (2007): 985-1026.

Long, Mark C., and Nicole A. Bateman. “Long-run changes in underrepresentation after affirmative action bans in public universities.” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 42.2 (2020): 188-207.

Bleemer, Zachary. “Affirmative Action, Mismatch, and Economic Mobility after California’s Proposition 209.” Mismatch and Economic Mobility after California’s Proposition 209 (2020).

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