On November 3, 2020, one of the ballot measures that Californians will vote on is Proposition 16, which would reestablish the use of race in public education, employment, and contracts. The use of race in these areas was prohibited in 1996 with a previous ballot measure, Proposition 209. As you might expect, the use of race, particularly in public education and college admissions, has Asian Americans divided. This article in the Pasadena Star News summarizes the positions of Asian Americans for and against this proposition.
Some Asian American groups support the initiative, such as the California API Legislative Caucus. A change.org petition against it has plenty of Asian American signatures. The article has more on the divisions, and it is worth reading the arguments of proponents and opponents.
Proposition 209 passed in 1996 and inserted Section 31 into the California constitution. Proposition 16 looks to eliminate the section as shown above, and it isn’t the first attempt. SB 185 was vetoed by then governor Jerry Brown in 2011. In 2014, SCA5 attempted the same thing and was strongly opposed by a number of Asian American groups. But 2020 is a different time.
It’s an open issue whether passing proposition 16 would affect Asian American admissions to the University of California System (UC), which is a focus area of the opposition to Proposition 16. UC has already been practicing holistic admissions, and recently voted not to required standardized tests. For Fall 2020, 35% of students admitted freshman are Asian American.