First there wasn't a whole lot of outreach and political empowering to the masses of people who this proposition was supposed to severly impact. In other words there was this overriding concern that the underclass in our various ghettos and barrios were gonna be hit hard... And while that was and is probably true, I think what was over looked was the fact that hard times were already affecting this segment of the population... Affirmative action policies that were designed to help get some kid from the hood in school were irrelevant in the life of that kid.. cause he had some more pressing problems to overcome.. 'How am I gonna avoid getting shot? How am I gonna get my mail [money] on?, How can I avoid five-o? etc.. College and decent paying jobs in corporate America were light years away....
Affirmative Action sounded good in principle but it wasn't an overriding concern for the average kid in the hood. Where Prop 209 stirred up the most concern was among those of us who could classified as being either educated or part of the middle class.. It effected those of us who were attending college or other institutions of higher education.. . It's no wonder that's where you saw some of your most vocal and visible opposition to Prop 209. When answering the question of 'why is that?'.. You come to our second reason for Prop 209 passing... Many iof us who benefitted from Affirmative Action never came back home to help the next brother or sister come up... You have to remember that these affirmative action policies were the result of a collective effort. It came about because lots of folks got together during the 60s and early 70s and pushed to get some laws on the books that would help correct some past injustices.. However, many indiviuals once they participated in these programs took on a 'Me Me Me' type attitude. You had kids going to college as a result of affirmative action who never bothered to go back to their inner city high school and spit game to the next round of kids coming up. Affirmative Action was to help uplift the community.. not just a few individuals.. The result of this 'me me me' mindset has been the masses not really tripping off of affirmative action being dismantled. The attitude has been.. 'Oh well what else is new?'
I've long held the belief that affirmative action could've been more effective had there been a requirement for those who benefitted to go back and help uplift those who would need it down the road... I mean you had a situation where affirmative action policies benefitted white women the most.. but did these majority of white women try and help lift up that disenfranchised body of people...or did they get their foot in the corporate door and call it a day? Did we have a bunch of Ward Connerly's and Clarence Thomas's who came up through affirmative action, get their position, prestige and economic windfall and then flip the script and tell people it was no longer needed.. Were such individuals out there in the hood aggressively involving themselves in the lives of inner city youth.. Were they out there trying to show folks the ropes?
If we restructure affirmative action, I would advocate that we make it a requirement to give back.. Treat it like the ROTC.. If you get two years.. you give two years back.. This way if you decide to flip the script like Ward Connerly or you decide to conviently qualify for such programs ..at least we can all benefit from your education....Part of readdressing past wrongs and injustices means each of us making sure that everyone is brought up to speed and taught the rules of the game.. Each one teach one...Affirmative action should've been as much a part of the lives of the kid from the hood as it was for the college bound white woman or middle class kid from the burbs.. Davey D c 1996