After voters shot down her attempt at repealing California’s ban on affirmative action this week, it would seem Assemblymember Dr. Shirley N. Weber will have to reload efforts to bring about greater balance.

The Weber-backed ballot initiative, Prop. 16 would have reversed the 24-year reality of Prop. 209 which prohibited the use of “preferential treatment” in university admissions and state contracting.

Dr. Weber announced the repeal effort to be among the California Black Legislative Caucus’ top priorities prior to protests surrounding the deaths of African Americans like George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, but the campaign kicked in as calls for social justice reform, and a decidedly divisive presidential race, kicked up, aiding the message from Prop. 16 supporters that race remains a factor in most aspects of American life.

Prop. 209 progenitor Ward Connerly came out of retirement to help defeat Prop. 16. Ending affirmative action says was the chance for African Americans and other minorities to show that they could earn their places on their own merit. The former UC Regent believes Prop. 209, and he, in fighting for it, are misunderstood by most African Americans.

“It wasn’t saying let’s turn back the number of Black kids who are admitted to Berkeley for example, it was saying I want more, but I want Black people to be able to get to the point where they have earned that right to be there,” Connerly said.

In urging people to vote in favor of Prop. 16, Dr. Weber spoke of the last impact ending affirmative action practices in 1996 has had.

“We failed our children, she said, we did not work hard enough to protect them from the impact of what Prop. 209 would be,” she said last month, as the guest speaker on Facebook Live with Sacramento Black Women Organized For Political Action.

“What it has done, it has taken away our ability to address the critical issues that we face, directly. Everything we do now is kind of circular; it goes around it…it never addresses the inequities that exist in this society.”

Dr. Weber said had it passed, Prop. 16 would have been a “game changer.”

By Genoa Barrow | OBSERVER Senior Staff Writer