This month three universities will have the honor of the sitting President of the United States delivering their Class of 2009 commencement address. Arizona State University, the University of Notre Dame and the United States Naval Academy will not only have a president speaking at their commencement ceremonies, they will be addressed by the United States’ first African-American president. It’s a significant moment in our nation’s history, and no doubt universities would like to take credit for instigating the social changes that produced an enlightened electorate unbiased enough to elect a black man as president.
According to the media, the election of Barack Obama heralded a new era for our country: a post-racial America. No longer are Americans tainted by racial preferences. Voters are now colorblind in their selection of leadership. (Whether voters are gender-blind is still questionable—just ask Secretary of State Clinton.)
Californians could argue they were at the forefront of this post-racial movement. Thirteen years ago, University of California Regent Ward Connerly led a fight to stop the racially discriminatory admission practices in California’s government schools. The passage of Proposition 209 was a watershed moment because it challenged the liberal “diversity” policy that schools look first at a student’s race before examining their scholastic aptitude. For decades prior, achieving the appearance of racial diversity was prioritized above intellectual diversity, regardless of race.
In 1996, California voters changed those antiquated priorities by amending the state constitution to 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.” This was the true fulfillment of President John Kennedy’s “affirmative action” against racial discrimination.
Despite all their proclamations about this new post-racial era, liberals are still acting as though there have been no societal advances in racial equality and harmony. In fact, it is university liberals, not American voters, who are clinging to a race-based worldview.
In December 2008—more than a month after Barack Obama’s election—California Assemblyman Ed Hernandez introduced legislation that would amend the constitution and reverse Proposition 209. Assembly Constitutional Amendment (ACA) 7 seeks to exempt from the state’s anti-discrimination laws the public school system and the University of California.
Opponents of Proposition 209 claim the measure has harmed minority students and cite decreased enrollment amongst minorities. After introducing ACA 7, Hernandez commented, “We have seen the damage done by Proposition 209, and it is time we cut away those provisions that keep qualified students from pursuing a higher education. It is time to stop tying the hands of our public universities and colleges and allow them to extend these same opportunities to all qualified Californians.”
Conveniently overlooked by Hernandez are the statistics showing minority graduation rates have actually increased since the passage of Proposition 209. The black graduation rate at UC Berkeley increased by 6.5% and doubled at UC San Diego. These statistics indicate that although some elite universities have admitted fewer racial minorities, the graduation rate is actually higher amongst those groups. This means more students who worked hard and want to receive a diploma are earning their way, not receiving entrance to a school simply based upon their ethnicity and then dropping out.
This attempt to overturn the voter-approved Proposition 209 makes one wonder who is truly stuck in the past: the people, or the supposedly progressive and enlightened academia? Universities are the bastions of liberalism, where their fascist political philosophy is protected from reality and can breed a new generation of adherents. In this surreal environment, liberals are still mired in the era of judging someone based on their skin color, not the content of their character or their academic abilities.
If we truly are in a post-racial America, why are liberals still trying to turn back the clock on raced-based discrimination?