La Shawn Barber

If you thought the turbulent Civil Rights Movement – culminating in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – ended skin color discrimination, you were mistaken.

Half a century ago, America faced a moral and legal struggle to end government-mandated preferential treatment based on race. Half a century later, America faces a moral and legal struggle to end government-mandated preferential treatment based on race.

Our government still treats people differently based on the color of their skin. This time around, minorities (Asians excluded) benefit from unconstitutional race-based programs. So-called equal opportunity policies in federal, state, and local agencies across the country are nothing more than thinly veiled race preferences.

In the last 10 years, however, at least three states have done away with discriminatory programs. In 1996, Californians voted YES on Proposition 209, which amended the state constitution to bar public institutions from discriminating on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin by 54 percent. In 1998, voters in Washington State passed a similar measure by 58 percent.

On November 7, 2006, 58 percent of voters in Michigan said YES to Proposal 2, which bars the state from treating its citizens differently based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.

Groups like the hilariously named Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) tried to defeat the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI) every step of the way.

Two years ago, BAMN and other groups challenged the legality of the petition to get MCRI on the ballot. A Michigan circuit court ruled that the petition language was misleading and should not have been approved, but a Court of Appeals panel disagreed, unanimously affirming the legality of the petition language. The case went to the Michigan Supreme Court, which declined to hear it. As a result, MCRI appeared on the ballot as Proposal 2, and the people of Michigan decided that government-backed discrimination had seen its final days.

Some were shocked, of course, including University of Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman. In a meandering post-election speech, she expressed disappointment that voters rejected the government’s use of race preferences and vowed not to allow California’s “failed experiment that has dramatically weakened the diversity of the state’s most selective universities” to “take seed here at Michigan.”

This woman, a state employee at a state institution subject to the will of the people of the state, is barking mad and ill-informed.

La Shawn Barber

Freelance writer La Shawn Barber blogs at the American Civil Rights Institute blog.