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Affirmative Action response to racial inequity in admissions denied

UC Berkeley School of Law
UC Berkeley School of Law
Peggy Reskin

San Francisco Chronicle reported that California lawmakers prepared a bill to repeal 209 and reinstate Affirmative Action back into college admissions in response to racial inequities. Prop 209 ended in 1996 by the voters of California, halting Affirmative Action set into law by the Civil Rights Bill in 1964 and brought to action by President Lyndon Johnson in his War on Poverty. The Oakland Tribune reported that UC Berkeley demonstrated the results of the end of the practice of affirmative action with a drastic and continuing decline in admission of african americans and latino-chicanos admitted to UC Berkeley: Specifically the drop for african americans in 1995 when affirmative action was in effect, the admission rate was 50%, and in 2010 declined to 15.4%. For Latino students, the admission rate under affirmative action in 1995 was 46% which dropped to 18.9% in 2010.

At UC Berkeley, of 35,899 students admitted in 2011 reveals the demographics: The admission rate of freshmen was:

American Indians 6%, African American 3.1%, Chicano/Latino 12.6%, Asian 41.7%, White 34.1%.

This picture gives definition to the alarming inequity of admission of freshmen of african americans and chicano/latinos, and brought up the possibility of a return to Affirmative Action in the admission process for the California public Universities through a bill being prepared in Sacramento to repeal Prop. 209.


In response to the move among the California legislation to return race and ethnicity and affirmative action to the process of admission to California's public universities, there was a huge backlash from the chinese american community. An angry protest by 500 Chinese American students, as well as angry phone calls and emails to state legislators. The chinese american communities gathered 100,000 signatures through to stop any action by the state to address affirmative action as a response to the educational inequities currently in the admission policies, and have had the effect of halting the move to bring the repeal of prop 209 to the legislative body.

Many feel that the Chinese Americans are not looking at the bigger picture. A bigger picture to the problem is what is happening to the african american and latino youth who are not being admitted to the California public universities? Where are they going? What are their options?


The Brookings Institute census bureau reported that youth 16-21 have the sharpest drop of employment since World War II. Teens employed from 2000-2011 dropped from 45-26%, African american women are more likely to have work than young black males, the report states. California as a state has the most significant diminished job option picture for youth, with Los Angeles being the lowest teen employment, San Jose, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara at 5th from the bottom and San Francisco Oakland the 7th form the bottom, lowest employment for teens.

Unemployment hurts not only the youth completing high school who are damaged according to this report by the lack of access and opportunity to move forward into the public universities, or jobs-. The hopes for a future for the black and latino youths- are not there. The gains of social mobility through education was the basis for the interest in bringing back affirmative action. It is a response to include and expand the number of youths in college with a future they can work for.

As one student at UC Berkeley said in reference to the Affirmative Action bill being considered, the loss of the black and latino participation in their community is a loss to this generation. The problems begin in public financing and support of the schools the youths attend in neighborhoods that have less funding and less appeal to attract teachers committed to the community. The problem of funding to promote the development of young minds is the future we all want. The black and latino population if admitted through affirmative action to the public universities are the potential teachers and community leaders needed and wanted by the communities in need.


Recently President Obama has taken on the 100's of thousands of young black men who must be brought along and for which a place needs to be granted, through training, education, mentoring with the commitment to have these young men, not in school, be brought back to school and to the opportunities that education provides. These issues are everyone's concerns: with the same number of young black men admitted to college as killed, the President sees this as intolerable. It diminishes not only their lives but all their communities. In Oakland recently Yes WE code began the process of finding young black teens to support, mentor and train to code programs and create apps and join the world of the coders. Just the beginning of what must be a priority for all who care, knowing we have to go forward, have to find solutions to social inequity and the problems in inherent in them for all society.


The Chinese American community in blocking the action of moving towards preparation of a bill to consider Affirmative Action and inclusion of groups that are severely underrepresented is short sighted. If not affirmative action, then what is their suggestion to have the public universities be more available to the whole population of students who are presently excluded. Some responsibility for another answer, another approach rather than angry attacks by chinese americans given the advantage that has been theirs must be challenged. Again and again, whether its crime on the streets, global warming or the economy, everyone has to be considered, all groups have to have a place to stand. It's all about sustainability for this generation-a view of the larger community of students leaving high schools and a more just socioeconomic advantage by means of a public university education is the path to a sustainable and just social system that must be considered and acted upon.

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