Opinion

Affirmative Action Bill Sponsored by Assemblywomen Shirley Weber and Lorena Gonzalez is Racist and Regressive

Written by Michael Palomba

Assemblywoman Shirley Weber is pushing hard in favor of ACA 5, otherwise known as “The California Act for Economic Prosperity,” which is effectively a repeal of Prop 209.

The motivation behind this, she claims, is that Prop 209 “has perpetuated a wage gap wherein women make 80 cents on every dollar made by men and has allowed discriminatory hiring and contracting processes to continue unhindered.” But The California Act for Economic Prosperity isn’t about creating an equal playing field for all, it’s an affirmative action bill meant to give certain people an advantage.

Let me start by explaining what Prop 209 accomplished. It was on the ballot back in 1996 and was actually an anti-affirmative action measure. It amended the California constitution to include a new section. The first part of that new section read:

“The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”

So, in addition to other equality measures, this bill made it illegal to discriminate almost entirely; Race, sex, ethnicity, etc. are all included.

Now, you may be thinking, “that sounds as fair as it gets, why would someone possibly want to repeal that.” And if you are saying that, we’re on the same page.

Weber and her colleagues believe that true equality isn’t enough. They allege that the equality measures put in place by Prop 209 have “cost women- and minority-owned businesses $1.1 billion each year.” And their proposed solution would regulate away the alleged “preferential treatment” based on factors like gender and race.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez has come out in favor of the act as well, claiming to be “a product of affirmative action.” She concluded a long Twitter thread by adding that she’s a co-author of ACA 5, because she hasn’t already caused enough damage with AB 5.

The California Constitution already mandates that employment practices be color blind, gender blind, etc. The act proposed by Weber and her colleagues is legitimately an attempt to make the state look at things like race and gender as a factor in employment.

If my history classes taught me anything, fighting racist policies like this was the mission of progressives back in the day. I find it majorly hypocritical that they are attempting to bring policies like this back, just with the tables turned. It sends the message that racism—of a slightly different form—is okay, and it’s not

With the plethora of real issues we are facing right now, the last thing Democrats should be focusing on is trying to sprinkle some racism into the state’s hiring processes. Between disastrous homelessness policies, employment discrimination via AB 5, and “gender-neutral” store aisles, it’s clear that Democrats in San Diego and across the state are committed to either ignoring or exacerbating the real challenges being faced by Californians.