When I think about the misnamed Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, the overwhelming feeling is one of frustration: frustration with the way it’s been presented by its supporters, frustration with the misconception so many Michiganders have about affirmative action, frustrated that it’s even on the ballot in the first place.
Let me begin by saying that the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative is neither civil nor right, and to name this proposal as such is a slap in the face of the Civil Rights Amendment and all the activists of the Civil Rights Movement. The MCRI will be Proposal 2 on the Michigan ballot this November. The proposal will “ban affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment to groups or individuals based on their race, gender, color, ethnicity or national origin for public employment, education or contracting purposes.” In other words, this is a proposal to amend the Michigan State Constitution to ban affirmative action.
Supporters of Prop 2 have been found, by a federal judge, to have used fraudulent tactics to convince voters to sign the initial petition to get the proposal on the ballot. Despite this, the MCRI remains on the ballot—something I find absolutely ludicrous. Prop 2 supporters told voters that the proposal was actually a ballot to protect affirmative action. They knew that if they told voters the truth, many voters would not sign.
Many people think of affirmative action as a controversial topic, and supporters of Prop 2 have used twisted logic to distort the issue. For me, it’s actually quite simple. Institutionalized racism and sexism, though less overt than in the past, are still very much alive and engrained in American society. There are countless studies and statistics to support this fact. For example, people of color and white women are extremely underrepresented in upper-level management of corporate America, State and National legislatures, higher educational institutions, and the list goes on. There are two explanations for this: institutionalized sexism and racism still exist in society and historically oppressed peoples have not yet had ample opportunity to overcome hundreds of years of oppression to level the playing field in America. Affirmative action aims to curb this inequality, to make the playing field level. Furthermore, since the goal of affirmative action has yet to be achieved, as can be seen in the statistics, it should not be discontinued.
Is progress being made? Yes, affirmative action has been working. The playing field is becoming more level, and under-representation is declining overall. But if we outlaw affirmative action now, we will roll back all the progress made in the past 30 years, and Michigan—the most segregated state in the country—will undoubtedly find itself in a pre-Civil Rights era. If Prop 2 passes this November, institutionalized racism and sexism will reign.
If you don’t think that a white-washed MSU campus is good for the progress of the university, if you value the benefits and strength of diversity, if you believe in equality, if you believe that 30 years of progress is much less than 400 years of oppression, then you have a duty to uphold the values of the civil rights activists who have come before us by voting NO on Prop 2.
Spread the word and educate your peers. So many people are misinformed about affirmative action and its effects. Visit oneunitedmichigan.org if you want to help or learn more. At the very least, vote No on Prop 2 on November 7. However, I encourage you to do more. This proposal is undoubtedly one of the most influential of our generation to date. Get involved in what goes on in your state. DO something! And DON’T let Michigan roll back 30 years of progress!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *