I have been getting many heated questions about whether I support Initiative 1000 (a.k.a. “I-1000” and now, “R-88”). Most of these people are agitated about it because they have been led to believe it will discriminate against Chinese people.
I believe this view is misguided.
I’m Chinese, my daughter is half Chinese, and I will not support any legislation that discriminates against her (or any minority). What follows is some information I hope you will agree supports my view. As with my prior post, you may want to grab a cup of coffee and settle into a quiet reading place before diving in.
First, please read Initiative 200 and Initiative 1000, which replaces it (they’re both short):
The language in both of these initiatives is not confusing “legalese”. It should be easy to read and understand.
I-200 is only 3 pages long, and I-1000 is only 6 pages long.
Here is a link to a PDF of the actual text of I-200 (not some biased opinion of it), from WA.gov:
It’s deceptively simplistic. The devil is in the details of what is NOT there.
Here are the links to the actual text of I-1000 (again, not some biased opinion of it), both from WA.gov:
The government “home page” for Initiative 1000: https://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=1000&Initiative=true
Direct link to the text of I-1000 (PDF, 6 pages): http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2019-20/Pdf/Initiatives/Initiatives/INITIATIVE%201000.pdf
And just for completeness, here is the link to the voters pamphlet about I-1000/R-88.
State Measures – Referendum Measure No. 88
The legislature passed Initiative Measure No. 1000 concerning affirmative action and remedying discrimination, and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this act. Initiative 1000 would allow the state to remedy discrimination for certain groups and to implement affirmative action, without the use of quotas or preferential treatment (as defined), in public education, employment, and contracting.
Should Initiative 1000 be:
I would appreciate it if you vote “[x] Approved”, but not just because I say so; please read the text of I-1000 to make sure you understand it.
What follows is my attempt to make this goal easier.
Quotas were arguably the main problem with Affirmative Action
A quick look at what “Affirmative Action” means, and its history
I think it may be useful to understand what affirmative action is, and what problem(s) it was intended to solve.
The definition from Wikipedia is as follows:
“…Affirmative action describes policies that support members of a disadvantaged group that has previously suffered discrimination (and may continue to) in such areas as education, employment, or housing. Historically and internationally, support for affirmative action has sought to achieve goals such as bridging inequalities in employment and pay, increasing access to education, promoting diversity, and redressing apparent past wrongs, harms, or hindrances.”
And a little history:
“…The term “affirmative action” was first used in the United States in “Executive Order No. 10925”, signed by President John F. Kennedy on 6 March 1961, which included a provision that government contractors “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin”. It was used to promote actions that achieve non-discrimination. In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued Executive Order 11246 which required government employers to take “affirmative action” to “hire without regard to race, religion and national origin”. This prevented employers from discriminating against members of disadvantaged groups. In 1967, gender was added to the anti-discrimination list.”
I-200 got rid of affirmative action, mostly because of complaints about quotas
Here is the summary of I-200, from the top of the document:
“…This initiative prohibits government from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to individuals or groups based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public employment, public education, or public contracting. Government includes all public entities, including the state, cities, counties, public schools, public colleges, public universities, and other governmental instrumentalities. This initiative does not repeal or modify any law or governmental action that does not discriminate or grant preferential treatment. AN ACT Relating to prohibiting government entities from discriminating or granting preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin; and adding new sections to chapter 49.60 RCW.”
Well, that doesn’t sound bad…does it? The key phrase here is, “preferential treatment”. Affirmative action used quotas to ensure that minority groups (especially African Americans) were not being discriminated against, primarily with respect to hiring practices, because at the time, that is exactly what was happening: they were being shut out of employment (and home ownership, and bank loans, etc.) en masse, based on race. The argument against it was that it promoted reverse-discrimination against white people. There may be some truth to that, but only because of overly strict adherence to quotas. Still, it was necessary because without some preferential treatment via affirmative action, most African Americans (among other minorities) would be stuck in a generational feedback loop they could never get out of.
Here is a recent opinion regarding affirmative action from Harvard Law School:
The Case for Affirmative Action
As the federal stance on affirmative action changes, a look at what the policy has accomplished, and why it’s still relevant today
By: Leah Shafer, July 11, 2018
“…Decades of research in higher education show that classmates of the direct beneficiaries [of affirmative action] also benefit. They have more positive racial attitudes toward racial minorities, they report greater cognitive capacities, they even seem to participate more civically when they leave college.”
Finally, to quote President Lyndon B. Johnson on affirmative action:
“But freedom is not enough. You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying: Now you are free to go where you want, and do as you desire, and choose the leaders you please. You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, ‘you are free to compete with all the others,’ and still justly believe that you have been completely fair. Thus it is not enough just to open the gates of opportunity. All our citizens must have the ability to walk through those gates.”
-Lyndon B. Johnson’s Commencement Address at Howard University: June 4, 1965
My stance: affirmative action is good, but perhaps its intent can be achieved without quotas.
What does I-1000 say about quotas?
If you open the I-1000 PDF and search for “quota”, you will find it mentioned 3 times:
Page 1, lines 15-19: “This is accomplished by: Restoring affirmative action into state law without the use of quotas or preferential treatment; defining the meaning of preferential treatment and its exceptions; and establishing a governor’s commission on diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
Page 3, lines 5-9: “(9) Nothing in this section prohibits the state from implementing affirmative action laws, regulations, policies, or procedures such as participation goals or outreach efforts that do not utilize quotas and that do not constitute preferential treatment as defined in this section.”
Page 4, lines 14-20: “For the purposes of this chapter, “affirmative action” means, in addition to and consistent with the definition in section 3 of this act, a policy or procedure by which racial minorities, women, persons in the protected age category, persons with disabilities, Vietnam-era veterans, honorably discharged military veterans, and veterans with disabilities are provided with increased employment opportunities. It shall not mean any form of quota system.”
Therefore, any “quotas are bad” arguments against I-1000 are clearly baseless.
What else has changed in I-1000?
- It is more specific about who it protects.
Instead of the comparatively vague text from I-200:
“This initiative prohibits government from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to individuals or groups based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin…”
In contrast, I-1000 adds other groups that have a history of being discriminated against by adding the following language:
“The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, sexual orientation, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or honorably discharged veteran or military status…”
- The terms “Affirmative action” and “preferential treatment” are clearly defined:
“Affirmative action” means a policy in which an individual’s race, sex, ethnicity, national origin, age, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, and honorably discharged veteran or military status are factors considered in the selection of qualified women, honorably discharged military veterans, persons in protected age categories, persons with disabilities, and minorities for opportunities in public education, public employment, and public contracting. Affirmative action includes, but shall not be limited to, recruitment, hiring, training, promotion, outreach, setting and achieving goals and timetables, and other measures designed to increase Washington’s diversity in public education, public employment, and public contracting; and (d) “Preferential treatment” means the act of using race, sex, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, sexual orientation, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, and honorably discharged veteran or military status as the sole qualifying factor to select a lesser qualified candidate over a more qualified candidate for a public education, public employment, or public contracting opportunity.
- It creates “The Governor’s Commission On Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion”:
The commission is responsible for planning, directing, monitoring, and enforcing each state agency’s compliance with this act. The commission may propose and oppose legislation and shall publish an annual report on the progress of all state agencies in achieving diversity, equity, and inclusion in public education, public employment, and public contracting.
- It defines how this will be paid for: “funded within the governor’s biennial budget”.
- It defines who will be appointed by the governor to this commission and serve four-year terms (fairly long; please see page 4, line 33 through page 5, line 36). Concerned Chinese people should note that this list includes an, “Executive director of the commission on Asian Pacific American affairs;”.
- It also defines appointing legislative members, in a bi-partisan manner, two from the senate (“one from each of the two largest caucuses, appointed by the president of the senate”) and two from the house (“one from each of the two largest caucuses, appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives.”), each serving two-year terms.
That’s pretty much it. These all seem like good, bi-partisan-friendly changes to me.
Thanks for reading this far!