On university campuses, in public sector jobs, and government contracting, the policy called "affirmative action" could be coming back in California if voters approve Proposition 16.
It would clear the way to for state and local governments, universities, and other public entities to grant preferences based on race, sex, color, ethnicity and national origin.
Ward Connerly, a former University of California Regent who identifies as "multi-racial", is a longtime opponent of affirmative action.
He is against Proposition 16.
"People who are quote under represented have every opportunity equal to that of any other," said Connerly.
Proposition 16 is a constitutional amendment, which would repeal Proposition 209, which California voters approved in 1996, which banned affirmative action in the state.
A common criticism against 16 and affirmative action programs in general is the potential they create for discrimination against Caucasians, and Connerly agrees.
"It's critical that we get this right and getting it right mean leaving 209 in place because it is a reflection of our ideals," said Connerly.
The organizations which support Proposition 16 include Equality California, the Black and Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Ariana Rodriguez is a Policy Counsel for the ACLU of Southern California.
She contends affirmative action programs are needed in the state, particularly on college campuses, where she and others say ethnic groups, especially blacks and hispanics are "under represented".
"Voting yes on Proposition 16 would do is open up those opportunities to be able to use this tool to truly create equitable opportunities for all Californians," said Rodriguez.
San Diego Democratic Assembly Woman Shirley Weber authored the legislation that got Prop 16 on the ballot.
"Too many hardworking Californians are not sharing in our state’s prosperity—particularly women, families of color, and low-wage workers," said Weber.
It's a point echoed by Rodriguez.
"It's leveling the playing field and opening up opportunities in employment and education, public employment and public education," said Rodriguez.
|"A "yes" vote supports this constitutional amendment to repeal Proposition 209 (1996), which stated that the government and public institutions cannot discriminate against or grant preferential treatment to persons on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public employment, public education, and public contracting.|
|A "no" vote opposes this constitutional amendment, thereby keeping Proposition 209 (1996), which stated that the government and public institutions cannot discriminate against or grant preferential treatment to persons on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public employment, public education, and public contracting."|