September 12, 2003

Editorial:

Prop. 54 Another Form of Discrimination

Proposition 54 will appear before Cali-fornia voters on the October 7 ballot. The ballot initiative is know formally as “Classification by Race, Ethnicity, Color or National Origin” (CRECNO) and informally as the “Racial Privacy Initiative.” Proposition 54 amends the state Constitution to prohibit the state or local governments from “classifying” individuals by race, ethnicity, or national origin for any purpose not covered by a specific exemption.

Let us cut to the chase on this issue. This initiative has little to do with collecting or not collecting information but is about putting the Hispanic community it its place. Prop. 54 falls right in line with the other recent anti-Hispanic issue of late such as Prop. 209 the anti-Affirmative Action initiative, Prop. 187 denying services to immigrants, and the English-Only initiative.

The right wing segment of our society has a deep embedded fear of the growing Hispanic community, they often refer to as the brown tide, which was readily expressed in the recent outcry over Cruz Bustamante’s membership in MEChA. Not knowing how to deal with the growing Hispanic community, they have embarked on a road to control or slow down this continued growth not in numbers, but in opportunities made available to them in education, jobs and, social and health services.

The main argument in Prop 54 is that we are no longer minorities in that the numbers for all minorities have grown to the point of being larger than the white population of the State and that California’s Hispanics equal 32% of the population. These numbers scare a lot of people and instead of working with this growing population they are working to control the people in these communities. And one way to do this is to no longer classify individuals by race, ethnicity, color or national origin.

One of our greatest tools in the fight to achieve equality in an unequal society is to take a look at the numbers and show where Hispanics are failing to achieve equality in education, in business, in politics, in health care, in social needs. You do away with the numbers and you do with the argument that despite our growth in numbers we are still a minority group in all other areas of maturity.

Until we can show that our students are passing school and graduating on par with the white affluent communities, that our contractors are receiving equal opportunity, not the 5% or less that they now receive in cities like San Diego, that equal housing opportunities are achieved, that health care and insurance are on par with the rest of society, that they are employed not only in the lower rungs of corporate America, but at the top levels, until we achieve parity and are no longer looked up as the problem but a part of the solution, then and only then can we do away with collecting data.

Prop. 54 is nothing more than yet another form of discrimation. We strongly urge a No vote on Prop. 54.

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