Color Bind by Lydia Chavez
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Color Bind
By Lydia Chavez

The Color Bind

California's Battle to End Affirmative Action

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Format: Paperback

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Color Bind by Lydia Chavez

Book Description

"The Color Bind" tells the story of how Glynn Custred and Thomas Wood, two unknown academics, decided to write "Proposition 209" in 1992 and thereby set in motion a series of events, far beyond their control, destined to transform the legal, political, and everyday meaning of civil rights for the next generation. Going behind the mass media coverage of the initiative, Lydia Chavez narrates the complex underlying motivations and maneuvering of the people, organizations, and political parties involved in the campaign to end affirmative action in California. For the first time, the role of University of California regent Ward Connerly in the campaign - one largely assigned to public relations - is put into perspective. In the course of the book Chavez also provides a rare behind-the-scenes journalistic account of the complex and fascinating workings of the initiative process. Chavez recreates the post-election climate of 1994, when the California Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI) appeared to be the right-time, right-place vehicle for Governor Pete Wilson and other Republican presidential prospects. President Clinton and the state Democratic Party thought the CCRI would splinter the party and jeopardize the upcoming presidential election. The Republicans, who saw the CCRI as a 'wedge issue' to use against the Democrats, found to their surprise that the initiative was much more divisive in their own party. Updating her text to include the most current material, Chavez deftly delineates the interplay of competing interests around the CCRI, and explains why the opposition was unsuccessful in its strategy to fight the initiative. Her analysis probes the momentous - and national - implications of this state initiative in shaping the future of affirmative action in this country.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780520213449
ISBN-10: 0520213440
Format: Paperback
(229mm x 152mm x 19mm)
Pages: 320
Imprint: University of California Press
Publisher: University of California Press
Publish Date: 27-Mar-1998
Country of Publication: United States

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US Kirkus Review » A strong yet impartial look at the beginning of the end of affirmative action in the US, by a self-proclaimed recipient of its benefits. The fantastically misnamed California Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI), which became Proposition 209 on the 1996 ballot and was passed by state voters, was intended "to end the use of race and gender preferences in state employment, contracting, and education." As such, it went beyond the landmark US Supreme Court case of University of California v. Bakke (1978), which declared affirmative action programs that looked only at race unconstitutional. Chavez (Journalism/Univ. of Calif., Berkeley) traces how Glynn Custred and Thomas Wood, two disgruntled academics, and Ward Connerly, an African-American appointed by Gov. Pete Wilson to the University of California's Board of Regents, launched the initiative, after Wilson had effectively stripped the state educational system of affirmative action programs, with Connerly's inside help. Wilson hoped to ride the issue to his ultimately abortive presidential campaign. Bob Dole's nomination complicated the issue for CCRI's proponents, as neither Dole nor running mate Jack Kemp was willing to disavow affirmative action entirely. The opposition to 209 came from a "forced marriage" between white liberal women in the San Francisco area led by Patricia Ewing and blacks and Latinos around Los Angeles led by former Black Panther Anthony Thigpen. The question of whether CCRI was more racist or anti-woman fractured the opposition, and their use in commercials of David Duke's visit to California to speak in favor of CCRI seemed distasteful to many. They also had to contend with President Clinton's refusal to denounce 209 directly, as well as the general public's inability to understand the legalese of the initiative, especially given its misleading name. In the end, however, the opposition was simply outspent. Chavez skillfully shows the upside and downside to each argument and each outcome, and her ability to turn the subject of a plebiscite into a compelling, widely relevant, and instructive study is admirable. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Lydia Chavez

Lydia Chavez is Associate Professor at the School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

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