Racial Privacy Initiative: End of race

There is a “c” on my birth certificate, and it does not stand for Connerly. That “c” is for “colored.” Had I been born in the 1950s, there would have been an “n” for Negro; in the 1970s, a “b” for black; and now, an “AA” for African American.

Although the symbols have changed, their purpose remains the same: to categorize and divide individuals according to their “race.” While God creates a human race, in our infinite wisdom our society recreates us into separate races.

Race was never real in the sense of there being separate races; and the rate of interracial marriages and births is reshaping the lines that we have socially constructed at such a rapid pace that it is making those lines entirely obsolete.

The issue of race has always been a divisive force in American life, and there is little likelihood of that changing unless aggressive action is taken to reduce the influence of race in our daily activities. The overwhelming majority of the American people show their dedication to a society in which the color of one’s skin or the origin of one’s ancestors are irrelevant factors in the pursuit of happiness and the success that we might enjoy in our nation.

The question is how do we attain this noble objective?

What is loosely called the Racial Privacy Initiative was conceived as an attempt to answer that question and to move California, one of the most multiracial places in the world, beyond the paradigm of race.

Basically, RPI would prohibit all government agencies in California from categorizing, classifying and dividing its citizens on the basis of race, skin color, ethnicity and national origin in public education, public employment and public contracting — areas that are already governed by our California Constitution.

Although it has application to other areas of activity as well, RPI includes a provision that allows the Legislature and the governor to exempt RPI from those other areas if a compelling need is determined to do so. In addition, specific exemptions are made for medical research and medical treatment and for law enforcement. In short, RPI is a reasonable attempt to move California in the direction that most of say we want our state to go.

One might rightfully ask why RPI has any opposition if the overwhelming majority of Californians embrace its intent. The answer is simple: Race has become an industry, and every industry needs a product. For race, the product is grievance and the expectation of differential treatment. The primary tool for selling the product is data, statistics that are often misleading or outright contradictory. To protect their investment in race, its advocates have to maintain the classifications. It is really that simple.

Shrill arguments about partisanship and health-care concerns are nothing more than a hoax to hide the realities of race: power, coalitions, money and institutional preservation.

Those who opposed racial classification in the 1950s, such as the NAACP, because they feared that the race-box would lead to discrimination at a time when discrimination and racial oppression were rampant, now support racial classification at a time when white racism is the exception, not the rule.

This national lunacy about race cannot endure. First, race is becoming increasingly unworkable and the future will make it even more so. Hispanics come in an incredibly large number of colors and phenotypes. Often, we can’t even agree on the appropriate terms to use: Latino, Hispanic, Chicano or Mexican-American?

Second, ‘interracial’ families are flourishing in an environment of equality, and they don’t want their families divided into different “races.” They don’t want half-siblings reared in the same household having totally different legal categories when they go to school. Most “white” mothers of mixed-race children do not agree with Halle Berry’s mother. They do not see their own flesh and blood as members of an alien race, totally separate from their European lineage. Government-imposed racial classifications are and always have been anti-family.

Racial classifications and categories do not represent a paradigm of enlightenment. Let’s end a system that has its origin in 17th-century color- based chattel slavery, and wreaks havoc still.

Ward Connerly, a University of California regent who championed abandoning racial preferences in UC systems, is the sponsor of the Racial Privacy Initiative ballot measure.

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