Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Ballot or the Bullet?

Well, it looks like Proposal 2 passed in the state of Michigan last night 58% to 42%. The passing of Proposal 2 does not surprise me, but it does disappoint me tremendously. Over the past few years I've seen leaders emerge from the U of M community and beyond to fight this measure. While it passed, I want to take this time to thank everyone who put their time, heart, and souls into stopping this thing. To you all I remind you, that your work will never be cancelled or distilled by this measure. You have served to heighten awareness among the unaware and provide fertile ground for the future battles that we will fight as we work to maintain civil and human rights.

While the nations applauds the Dems taking the House and the nation awaits very
tight senate races, I'll be in mourning. It's naive to think all the "allies" that we found in the fight against Prop 2 will be around today to comfort, walk with, and get ready for next steps, they'll be busy returning to their jobs saddened, but not disappointed. For me the mourning is realizing that the very reason that I am able to attend U of M is under attack again. As a first generation college student and graduate of African-American descent, I was able to take advantage of programs such as the Rackham Merit Fellowship and the resources on campus targeted to people like me, who didn't come from the best of circumstances, but when I look back down the pipeline, there will be fewer "me's" coming in the door. Michigan voters have neatly shut the door behind them and many will continue on today with "business as usual."

This year, like a number in the past, have continued to make me feel electoral politics failed me. The representation of "minority" issues in the electoral process rarely comes out in the minority group's favor, no surprise right? But I realized that with Michigan's battle of Proposal 2 that there is a silent tide that has been rising vis-a-vis the ballot proposal. While the highest courts in the land may rule in one way, the ballot proposal has become a tremendously dangerous tool to use local sentiment to contradict decisions by "activist judges."

Last night I learned that abortion, English as the official language, gay marriage, and minimum wage were on the ballots of a number of states. Some of the bedrocks of American freedom and opportunities lay at the hands of a populous, mind you a populous that just seemed to figure out a Republican run nation was not doing us too well- but I digress. Out of all these measures the one that I think gives me the most hope it's the increase in minimum wages, but even that is not enough (pun intended). The willingness to raise the economic floor is simple, in fact common sense. The abortion ban just got defeated, 45% of voters voted for it and they say it didn't pass because it had too few exceptions... scary! English as an official language ... I can't even start to go there on this one. The ban on same sex marriages further demonstrates that the American people believe in freedom, for some.

Collectively, these ballot initiatives literally mean the bullet for many civil and human rights, but they all happen relatively beneath the radar. In the past week, it would be hard to count how many folks from around the country didn't know that Affirmative Action was on the ballot here. I would be lying if I said I knew all these key issues were on the ballots around the nation. The national silence around these issues makes it difficult to build coalitions and responses, but one by one these propositions and proposals are passing. Today it was Michigan, I hear Wisconsin you're in the cross-hairs next. Until we learn how to turn out state level populations that are willing to vote against equality, we will be seeing this tide for years to come. Forget all the talk about "the tsunami" (by the way, does anyone else think its tremendously globally insensitive to refer to political shifts by the name of natural disasters that the world is still recovering from? I mean, what happened to good old landslides, at least we Americans know what that's like) the state level initiatives are going to continue to creep in, be on the look out.

Finally, I've already got a number of inquiries about what I think the passing of Proposal 2 means. Well since the best comparison we have is California this is my quick take. The passing of Proposal 2, theoretically would mean the ushering in of a California-like system. While to some this may seem "alright" there are a couple of major differences between Michigan and California: 1) demographics- Cali's racial demographics (majority minority -I know it's an oxymoron) make it "easier" to talk about successes without Affirmative Action 2) economies- Michigan's economy has been shrinking and will continue to, and 3) breadth of educational system- California's UC system is way larger and more diverse than what Michigan has to offer.

To me, this means that you will fundamentally see a large drop in entering students of color, particularly Black because of the state's composition. You will not see these students going to other schools four year institutions, I'd guess community college and other high cost urban schools will get flooded (in a best case scenario). You will see Michigan continue to be less competitive economically as the Black middle class flee to areas that consider their race in decision making. Lastly, you'll see Universities in particular do their best to maintain the representation of marginalized groups, but with at best marginal success.

This may serve as a wake up call to some, but I kinda think if you're not awake already, you may not be waking up. As the nation barrels ahead and waits for the "Democratic awakening" please remember that for many of us, the party politics will not save us and in some ways, I'm not sure the ballot will either.

For the folks who are in A2 and on U of M's campus today there are two things going on of interest: 1) at noon Mary Sue Coleman, president of U of M, will address the student body about Proposal 2 and 2) the Multiethnic Student Affairs office is hosting an Election Recovery space at the Trotter house all day.


Anonymous said...


I posted a comment on this topic, but, I'm afraid cyberspace ate my comment.

I will attempt a cut-n-past of my comment later.

I may not live in Michigan, but I feel what happens there, especially on the state of AA, affects the rest of the country as well.

Dumi said...

Hey Ann, I don't think cyberspace ate it, but it just came through, so I posted it. I have on comments moderation so I approve the comments before they go up. Glad to hear you've bene following, you're rare. I think?

Anonymous said...

Hey, Dumi.

I still do not see my comment.

If it came through it would contain the following phrase: "If you dig a ditch for someone to fall into."

If you do not have that phrase in my comment, then it did not go through to you, and I will have to do it again.

Peace out!

Anonymous said...

It sure can't hurt to demand more, not less.

Whatvever people are willing to march for.

I'd march for just flat-out open admissions to the U-M, for every Black student who graduates from any Michigan high school.

"The best defense is a good offense" --Vince Lombardi.

Dumi said...

Ann- aight, I think your comment did get eaten in cyberspace.

Flatout- I don't think that has any chance of coming about. The closest thing I can think of to that would be in Texas with their 10 percent plan, but we see what a mess that is. Thoughts?

Anonymous said...


Sad to see this slap -in- the -face Proposition pass.

People who think they are hurting black people only, are people who in the end are hurting themselves.

A vote to approve Proposition 2 sent the message to black people:

"You are nothing in our eyes. Drop dead."

And the flight of the black middle class takes with it more than just bodies residing in the state of Michigan. It takes with it business and acumen skills, tax dollars and mentor and role models to emulate in the black community. Leaving behind a hulled-out, husk of a black community that already has suffered devastations over many decades.

And the black youth of Michigan? There's less chances in store for them. Less chance to get to open the door, and go in and try and better themselves. Less chances to improve their lot in life.

More chances to have less allowed to them to better themselves. More chances to be told they are inept, inadequate, more inherently lazy, more ambitionless because what little benefit they could have acquired from AA has now been taken from them. More chances to still struggle with less-than stellar educational opportunities because they cannot go to an institution of higher learning to prepare themselves for the world.

Yes, this is a slap in the children's faces. But, the children will prevail. This insult is just one of many that black people have worked their way around, worked their way through, worked their way over.

And I have been watching more than just this debacle in Michigan. I have been watching how AA program after AA program is biting the dust all across America. "Backlash" my ass. It's a tide of turning back what little civil rights gains black people have made, and I say black people, because so far the only group that has been vocal for the support and continuence of AA are mainly black people, and a few white people. And the silence of some other people on this issue is deafening.

The silence on AA is very pronounced among white women. They who have benefitted the most from AA. And their silence speaks volumes.

Other "races" who stand to benefit from AA are also complicit in their silence:

Native Americans
Black Africans
Caribbean blacks

Yet, the only people who speak the most for the keeping of AA are blacks and a few whites you can count on one hand.

The "majority" of America has spoken. Prop. 2. Prop 209. "3-Strikes-you're-out California law.

America has said to black America: "You don't count in our grand scheme of things.

"You never have.

"And you never will."

But one day America will have to wake up and realize that wrongs done to black people are no less wrongs done to the whole country.

And when you did a ditch for someone else to fall into, you always fall in yourself.

Better yet, you can't expect to hold a person down in a muddy ditch, trying so hard to keep back their progress, and not expect to get just as filthy and muddy yourself.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and one more thing on Michigan's Prop.2.

The amendment reads:

"A proposal to amend the state constitution to ban affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment(and that's BS in and of itself. It's not "preferential treatment" asswipes when you are supposedly trying to rectify past wrongs) to groups or individuals based on their race, or gender...."


I guess the white girls who voted for the passage of this proposition did not take the time to read it.

And I had better not hear any cry-baby ass bawling from them when they find they have a hard-ass time trying to get THEIR foot in the door to better themselves.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Dumi,

You're right that Texas is a mess with its 10% chump change scheme.

I say: demand 100%.

400 years, of not getting paid, is worth a little tiny entree today.

If you make it out of high school today, I say demand the whole thing.

Bush got to go to Yale, by flashing his White Card...

...along with about 10 generations of his forebears.

And they seem quite happy.

So really, I don't see it having ill effects.

T. Zac. R. d V. said...

The problem is what Dumi said, people who are not awake may never wake up, that includes African American Blacks decendents of slaves, white slave owner and Native American Indians.

Fact of the matter is the only people working diligently to perserve their own interests are wealthy upper ruling class white men.

I think in 20 years or less the history books will be written and there it will show the great disbursement from the midwest especially in Michigan of people of color. Michigan will soon look very close to the way it did prior to Henry Ford and the $5 work day that attracted so many people to Michigan in the first place.

The decline of the auto-industry, the lack of diversity in the economy, the lack of institutions of higher learning, the climate, the ban on same sex marriage (the subsequent attack on civil unions), the ban on all stem cell research, and finally the ban on affirmative action sends a clear message to people, especially people of color and other potentially marginalized groups (queer people, people with medical conditions) Do not enter, you are not welcome, and to those that are already here, please leave. There is really not enough incentive to remain in Michigan for so many people of color.

I just feel bad for those "left behind" because I think this idiotic ignorantly racists people remains will create a "tribulation" on earth like in those Left Behind evengelical movies and books for the people of color that don't leave.

Anonymous said...

Thanks again for the post...
its going to be hard as hell heading back to the rez for the holidays.

There arent too many role models in the native community. God help my little cousins if im the best they've got.

And now I have to tell them that if they want to follow in my footsteps as a U of M grad, they are not only going to be expected to overcome the racism and backbiting that is reservation life, but they will be held to the exact same standards as somebody who grew up, not only without these negative conditions but were being prepped with high expectations and special classes, tutors and some of the most well funded pre-college educational systems in the world (i washed dishes and served tables in Okemos MI for awhile... drive by thier highschool on the way to MSU sometime and you'll see what im talking about). I was SO lucky... what hope can I offer them?

Nothing but a heap of demands supported with a little known treaty that offers thier tuition in exchange for the land the U was built on, and whatever they can pry from the greedy mits of the Tribal governments and native program administrators.

It had better damm well be enough, as much as they hate to admit it, the U will need them and all the scions of all of the peoples of color to keep thier classrooms free from the stagnation of group think and convergant ideas.

A recent estimate I heard was that minority enrollment will drop from 14% to 4%... where are the natives in that pie?

Welp, I imagine we'll do what we do. Suck it up and keep trying... though the old excuse "if only white people didnt do this..." becomes disgustingly more valid.

it saddens me that Ann felt that blacks were alone in this fight. I take partial responsibility for that, we people of color are notoriously bad at communicating accross communities and a more coordinated effort, obviously would have had a better result.

I know the natives were hardly "silent" on the matter. It has been a topic of discussion at every event and on the tongue of every speaker that addressed native issues since this whole nightmare began. As usual however, the tribal governments were not as loud as they should/could have been. afraid of pissing off the ones that hold the purse strings.

we can squabble amongst ourselves over whos the most opressed and who did the most to attempt to avert this disaster and point fingers and do exactly as those who are truly opposed to AA want/expect us to do. or we can focus on what matters, a coherent response. at this moment... I dont have one (some role model, i know) at this moment, im still trying to figure out how im going to stay positive and strong for my little cousins when they pick my brain over thanksgiving dinner...

Dumi, let us know when you hear of one.

-Andy Chosa

C Gentry said...

County-by-county results can be found here:

Only 3 counties shot down the initiative: Ingham, Washtenaw, and Wayne.

Lester Spence said...

i just had an npr commentary come out today about my thoughts on proposal 2. do a keyword search there (it's late and i don't have a link handy).

we see things differently in one way. the kids who don't go to michigan will (if they are in state kids) go to michigan state or any variety of solid schools in the state. weaker students MIGHT be forced to go to community colleges because they'll be crowded out of state, eastern michigan, or wayne, but I don't think this will be the case.

out of state black students will just go to schools like UNC or UVa if they go to public schools, or schools like Wash. U and Chicago if they go to private schools. the people who will be affected most in the long term will likely be white males, who will soon need some form of affirmative action themselves.