Antonio Ray Harvey | California Black Media
Last week, African American activists confronted
June Yang Cutter is an Asian American Republicanrunning for State Assembly in District 77, which covers parts of northern San Diego and the nearby cities of Poway and Rancho Santa Fe, among others. She is running against incumbent Brian Maienschein(
One major topic on the call was theproposed constitutional amendmentACA 5.
ACA 5would allow California voter
s a chance to uphold or overturn Proposition 209, a ballot measure that passed in 1996 outlawing the consideration of race in contracting, college admissions, employment and state data reporting in California.
If voters approve ACA 5 in November, it would bring Affirmative Actionback to the state of California.The state would then join 42 other states that provide equal opportunity programs that support women and minorities.
Affirmative Action is an issue that has polarized somestaunch African American opponents of Prop 209 and some avid Asian American supporters of it in California, driving a deep wedge thatremains smack-dabat the
heart of the relationshipbetween th ose two advocacy camps.
Last Wednesday, June 3, during a virtual town hall meeting organized to drum up opposition toACA 5, participants made somecomments Black activists said were misguided and demeaning.
Some of the Black participants, who attended the digital town halltook offense when one of the speakers referenced a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., quote to make the argument that Black people should get ahead by their own means rather than lean on affirmative action to access opportunities.
“He had this immigrant story of how he had to pull himself up by the bootstraps,” said Chris Lodgson, a member of American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS). “(And he) started talking about how Dr. Martin Luther King would not be in favor of ACA 5 and Affirmative Action. That was sort of the tipping point. I told him that it was disrespectful for him to invoke the name of Dr. Martin Luther King. Taking away Affirmative Action has particularly hurt us.”
Lodgson and other ADOS members, say the Zoom call moderators, dropped them from the meeting when they started speaking up,but they made sure they communicated to the group that some of the comments made on the call were disrespectful and insulting to them. They also pointed out that the selective reference to King without providing context dishonored the memory of an African American icon who stood for equality for all.
“We let them know,” Lodgson said. “The second point I made was that George Floyd was put in the ground in the middle of COVID-19, and you all out here trying to take (stuff) away from Black folks. It’s disgusting and you should be ashamed of yourselves. We told them just like that.”
Last month, the California Assembly Committee on Public Employment and Retirement approved ACA 5, whichAssemblymember Dr. Shirley (D-San Diego) Weber, chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC), introduced earlier this year. It passed out of committee with a 6-1vote.
Under current law, Prop 209 prohibits the state from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to certain individuals or groups on the basis of their race, sex color, ethnicity, or national origin.
Many opponents of Prop209 say the legislation puts an end to opportunities that were designed to level the playing field for minorities.
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