Tamara Winfrey Harris
Friday 5 November 2010 17.00 GMT
On Tuesday, Arizona voters were given the chance to vote on Proposition 107, which prohibits "the state from giving preferential treatment to or discriminating against any person or group on the basis of race, sex, colour, ethnicity or national origin". The measure passed with 59% of the vote, effectively banning affirmative action in the state.
Proposition 107 supporters, including Republican representative Steve Montenegro, who sponsored the measure to amend the Arizona constitution, have invoked civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr's dream that "little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character" and twisted that into a plea for "colour-blindness" rather than equality. Affirmative action, which began in the United States in 1965, is a policy designed to mitigate historic and present discrimination and institutional racism and sexism.
A 1996 essay in the Journal for Social Issues noted that in a society where whiteness remains the baseline and the preference – consciously or subconsciously – people of colour are at a disadvantage:
Full Story: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/nov/05/arizona-affirmative-action