If passed, the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative or Proposal 2 will ban affirmative action in state funded programs in the state of Michigan.
A lot of people believe that affirmative action is no longer necessary because a few Blacks have made great accomplishments in the US.HERE is a recent essay in which Anti-racism activist Tim Wise discusses "The Oprah Effect" - the notion that the examples of a few individuals who have achieved superstardom in a racist America are an indication that racism isn't a problem in the US.
It's the one that goes roughly like this:
"If racism is really so bad, and blacks face so much discrimination, how come Oprah is one of the most loved people in America? How come she's been so successful, and has become so wealthy, and so powerful?"As James Baldwin so presciently put it, some forty-five years ago, responding even then to the same "anyone can make it if they try" mantra commonly heard today:
"...the inequalities suffered by the many are in no way justified by the rise of a few. A few have always risen – in every country, every era, and in the teeth of regimes which can by no stretch of the imagination be thought of as free."
Which point brings to mind the obvious question: if whites were so willing, even in 1961, at which time Baldwin wrote these words, to insist upon the meritocratic nature of what was, after all, an apartheid system, what orgiastic irrationality would lead us to ever believe that this was a particularly persuasive argument, or that those putting it forth had even the faintest inkling as to what they were talking about?
Whites, as it turns out, have always said that racism wasn't that big a deal, and that the "determined will," as Baldwin put it, was sufficient to make all obstacles vanish in their wake, even when the evidence to the contrary was incontestable.
You need only go back and read the Gallup polls of white racial attitudes even before the passage of civil rights legislation, to see this fantastical vision of America on full display. Therein you can find most whites, even in the early '60s, insisting that blacks had fully equal opportunity in education, employment, housing and the like – a position that all would recognize as borderline delusional now, but which prompted no concerns for the mental health of the white masses at the time.
Wise also cites the example of Madame C.J. Walker who became a millionaire in 1911, a year when 63 blacks were lynched in America. That's more than one a week.Progress has been made in America since the time of Madame Walker and James Baldwin, but conditions for the majority of Blacks and other minorities in the US indicate that there is still a long way to go. The fact that some whites don't recognize their privilige or the racism in our society clearly is not proof that they do not exist.
Vote "NO" on Prop. 2 on November 7.