Thursday, August 14, 2003

Beyond Arnold: Californians Also To Vote On “Colorblind” Racial and Ethnic Policy

The recall of Governor Grey Davis is not the only initiative in the upcoming California election. Voters will also be asked to vote on the "Racial Privacy Initiative"
The measure would prevent state entities from sorting people by race. Approval would mean that no government agency in California would be allowed to ask for details of race, ethnicity, color, or national origin on job applications. And the state could not use such data to classify people involved in public education, public contracting, or public employment.
It is being pushed by Ward Connerly, the same University of California regent who introduced Proposition 209, which barred racial and gender preferences for all state institutions. It is opposed by state and national civil rights organization, as well as the American Public Health Association which states that
Racial and ethnic health disparities persist in a number of key health conditions, in access to health care and in the quality of health care delivery. If we are to address these disparities, we need the vital information currently collected by our public health agencies and other public institutions to better understand why these disparities occur and ways we can eliminate them.

People die prematurely because of inequalities in health care and health status. Knowledge of these differences provides important insight into ways to connect the problems, save lives and improve health.
As Jessie Jackson put it, “It's just really stupid. No one who can see would fight for the right to be blind.”