Is It Time?

Posted in Uncategorized by groffellison on June 17, 2008

The historic ascendancy of Sen. Barack Obama to the Democratic nomination for president has sparked a number of discussion about race and how far America has come and how far America has to go. 

Does the trailblazing step mean America’s long tortured journey toward racial equality had reached the promise land of Rev. Martin Luther King’s dream or is it just a much needed move in that direction?  That question probably won’t be addressed by election day November 4th or inaugural day January 21st so the discussion will continue long after this election has faded into history. 

However, on the ballots of Colorado and potentially in Arizona and Nebraska on November 4th an initial answer may be given.  On election day in Colorado and possibly in Arizona and Nebraska voters will be asked the question whether the state should engage in Affirmative Action programs? 

The age old question about the need and purpose of Affirmative Action will now be argued in a new light with the success of Obama.  In an intriguing article by Jonathan Kaufman of the Wall Street Journal the questions still draw heated arguments on both sides. 

But one can’t look at this campaign solely and say that Affirmative Action is no longer needed.  To do so would ignore the comments about Sen. Hillary Clinton and her historic run amidst sexism and the Obama climb among the thorns of racism, some of which came from within his own party.  One can’t forget the comments of Democratic party voters in Kentucky or West Virginia who said they would never vote for an African American and think it is time for Affirmative Action to go away, particularly in it’s current very narrow fashion. 

To dismiss racism to some backward, red-neck country hicks as the mainstream near lilly-white media seems intent on doing ignores the other signals put forth by America everyday.  There is no question that African Americans have made tremendous strides and maybe as the last Supreme Court ruling on the issue stated, Affirmative Action programs won’t be needed in 25 years, but until then programs that are race specific may still be needed.  Programs to urge qualified students of color to apply for college, to assist along with many other tools to diversify college campuses, target health challenges and high rates of various dangerous illness must be allowed to move forward.  The elimination of those efforts and many others clearly would solidify and press inequality into America’s bedrock never to be chiseled out and creating a permanent lower class made up of people of color and women who wouldn’t be able find avenues out of that situation. 

We know that Affirmative Action is not the only avenue, but clearly creating options that hard working and qualified people can take advantage of seems to make perfect public policy sense to us.   


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