Support California’s Prop 16 “Opportunity for All”

The members, organizers, and families of LEAD Filipino unequivocally support the passage of Prop 16.

An issue that has been long-fought on California’s political stage, we laud the leadership of the Honorable Dr. Shirley Weber.  Her championing of ACA 5 translated into Prop 16, which will be decided upon by millions of California voters this fall. 

In response to the perennial question that incites ire, feeling, and emotion across all settings: “Should race matter or not matter in public admissions?” we extend the discussion in this piece.

We’re reminded every day that we live in a society that appraises, ranks, and assigns [superficial] value to each of us based on our race and gender.  On issues of income inequality, data shows us that race and gender matter.  On issues of executive leadership across all fields, reports show us that race and gender matter.  On issues of promotions and hiring, evidence supports that race and gender matter. 

To help illustrate the beliefs that power our supportive position, we invoke the oversimplified and ever-popular adage, “Actions speak louder than words.” We say, “Actions speak louder than words” as a rejoinder to the opponents of Affirmative Action that cite credence to color-blindness, under the auspices of meritocracy. If race doesn’t matter, then why does empirical data and studies continue to show that ethnic minorities and women are consistently underrepresented in spaces of student admissions in universities and executive leadership? In this case, actions continue to speak louder.

In today’s climate, empirical studies and our observations show us that quality of “merits” reside in a collection of assumptions, such as suggesting that every individual has access to shelter, food, income, and socio-emotional support from loved ones. Under this guise, dominant American ideation proselytizes and praises “merit” in relation to hard work. (Bonus points if you overcame adversity and still finished college, secured a job, and own a home in California!)

Meritocracy negates the realities and influences of equity.

Meritocracy assumes that we each have access to shelter, food, income, and love. However, reality shows us repeatedly, that our world deals each of us a different hand. Affirmative Action orients our decisions around considerations of equity. Equity asks us to recognize that not everyone has the same economic and socio-emotional starting points. For instance, Filipinas/xs/os could not own land or property in the United States till post 1964 Civil Rights (and the same goes for all communities of color). Contrasting these experiences with individuals that had access to own, sell, and manage land at the start of the Union, only accounts for one of the historic factors that have contributed to the equity disparities that we see today. Bringing these historical influences into the fore, equity considers how minority communities were outlawed, creating economic disenfranchisement and exclusion — which we know impacts access to financial resources, home ownership, and opportunity . Meritocracy asks that we ignore these starting points and consider instead, both lived experiences as equals.

Prop 16 not only shapes our collective consciousness on equity, it forces those in power to address questions of access, inclusion, and opportunity across public universities, employment, and contracting awards in California.

With growing evidence that suggests California’s ban on Affirmative Action has not only hurt minority representation, but has contributed to the widening equity and opportunity gaps in higher education, professional fields, and contract awards, LEAD Filipino commits to galvanizing our resources and team to spreading the importance of Prop 16 in our shared future.

LEAD Filipino will join a host of San Jose/South Bay nonprofits, civic groups, and student organizations on Wednesday, September 23rd from 5pm-7pm in a Silicon Valley-focused virtual Town Hall on raising voter awareness around Prop 16. We hope to see you there!

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