I.

We didnt land on Plymouth Rock, my brothers and sisters PlymouthRock landed on us! Malcolm Xs observation is brought out by the facts ofAmerican History. Snatched from their native land, transported thousands ofmiles in a nightmare of disease and death and sold into slavery, blackswere reduced to the legal status of farm animals. Even after emancipation,blacks were segregated from whites in some states by law, and by socialpractice almost everywhere. American apartheid continued for another century.

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In1954 the Supreme Court declared state-compelled segregation in schoolsunconstitutional, and it followed up that decision with others that struck downmany forms of official segregation. Still, discrimination survived, and in mostsouthern states blacks were either discouraged or prohibited from exercisingtheir right to vote. Not until the 1960s was compulsory segregation finallyand effectively challenged. Between 1964 and 1968 Congress passed the mostsweeping civil rights legislation since the end of the Civil War. It banneddiscrimination in employment, public accommodations (hotels, motels,restaurants, etc.

), and housing; it also guaranteed voting rights for blacks inareas suspected of disenfranchising blacks. Today, several agencies in thefederal government exercise sweeping powers to enforce these civil rightsmeasures. But is that enough? Equality of condition between blacks and whitesseems as elusive as ever. The black unemployment rate is double that of whites,and the percentage of black families living in poverty is nearly four times thatof whites. Only a small percentage of blacks ever make it into medical school orlaw schools. Advocates of affirmative action have focused upon these differencesto support their argument that it is no longer enough just to stopdiscrimination. Liberal Democrats feel that the damage done by three centuriesof racism now has to be remedied, they argue, and effective remediation requiresa policy of affirmative action. At the heart of affirmative action is theuse of numerical goals.

Opponents call them racial quotas. Whateverthe name, what they imply is the setting aside of a certain number of jobs orpositions for blacks or other historically oppressed groups. ConservativeRepublicans charge that affirmative action really amounts to reversediscrimination, that it penalizes innocent people simply because they are white,that it often results in unqualified appointments, and that it ends up harminginstead of helping blacks. The issue of preferences to address historicalpatterns of racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination has received a great dealof attention nationally. Whether in government contracts, private sector hiring,college admissions, or state hiring practices, opponents in the issue haveengaged in often-heated debates. In Michigan, legislation to limit or eliminateaffirmative action has been introduced this session.

A good example of thislegislation was proposed on March 18,1998 and it is called SJR N (S-2). Thisresolution proposed an amendment to the Michigan Constitution to prohibitdiscrimination based on sex or ethnicity and to prohibit the state and itspolitical subdivisions from using religion, sex, color, ethnicity, or nationalorigin as a basis for discriminating against or giving preferential treatment toany individual or group in employment, public education, or public contracting.The present system violates the fundamental principle of equal protection of thelaw against discrimination on the basis of immutable characteristics of race,sex, color, ethnicity, and national origin. SJR N (S-2) was intended to end thispractice and return Michigan to the goal of a colorblind society.

II. SJR N(S-2) is on the Conservative side of things, in that, the legislation is tryingto stop reverse racism. There really is no moderate way to look ataffirmative action; you can either be for it or against it. Sen. Bill BullardJr. was the chair and sponsor of this bill, but when he met with the othermembers of this committee it was stated in the minutes of the meeting thatthe issue will not be voted on today, nor does he (Bill Bullard) intendto press for a vote in the Legislature this year.

There will be futureopportunities for all who wish to contribute to this dialogue to have theirviews heard. The committee then had a long list of testimony from those whoopposed SJR N (S-2). It was then stated that this constitutional amendment ifapproved by a two-thirds vote of the Senate and House of Representatives, wouldbe submitted to the voters at the next general election. The bill was neverbrought before senate, it was basically killed in committee.

III. Bill Bullardthe Republican State Senator from District 15 stated his views on affirmativeaction from this statement. Indicate the principles you support (if any)concerning affirmative action. State government agencies should take race andsex into account in the following sectors: a) College and university admissions Yes X No Undecided b) Public employment Yes X No Undecided c) State contracting Yes X No Undecided Senator Bullardopposed all the affirmative action questions because he is a Republican, and ifone has a viewpoint against affirmative action it is considered a conservativeone. How does presidential candidate George W. Bush feel about affirmativeaction? He Opposes quotas and racial preferences, supports affirmative”access” to open the doors of opportunity through programs such as theTexas 10 percent plan, where those who graduate in the top 10 percent of theirclass are automatically admitted to any state college or university, andadvocates needs-based contracting and breaking down government contracts tosmaller sizes to encourage entrepreneurship in all communities.Social Issues