Merit or Race
Updated: Jul 30
-California Assembly Constitutional Amendment No.5 (ACA5)
California Assembly Constitutional Amendment NO.5, also known as ACA5, has recently been one of the hot topics due to its profound impacts on the racial distribution in the California public employment and education sectors. The discussion of ACA5 has to date back to 1996 when Proposition 209 was published. As one of the many states in the United States, California made it illegal to “discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting” (Proposition 209, 1996) as early as the 1990s. However, ACA5 intended to achieve affirmative action by repealing such law, which was listed as the Section 31 of Article I. The advocates of ACA5 claim that this bill guarantees the fairness in education and job market especially when many minorities and women suffer the COVID-19 while the opponents believe this might cause the importance of race to outweigh capability as well as jeopardizing the interest of some minority groups.
This ultimately leads us to the question: Will all the minorities benefit from this bill? Indeed, the intention is to help women and minorities in California to overcome their hardships in education and employment. But some opponents doubt that this may be another form of discrimination since people with good merit and experience might lose their jobs because of their race. People doing excellent work on their jobs might be forced to quit the jobs and handed over to those lacking relevant experience, leading to low work efficiency. And this is just because they are not the desired race. In the meantime, others worry about its effectiveness and further consequences. For example, this bill concerns some Asian Americans because they are afraid of being sacrificed by this affirmative action in the public education system. Those Asian Americans opposing this amendment think such a bill would drastically decrease the proportion of Asian Americans in college.
This controversial topic is still an ongoing debate. Is ACA5 essentially a “reverse racism” as the opposition expressed? Is ACA5 going too far? Where do you stand on this issue? At the end of the day, it’s a choice between merit and race.
1. California Constitution, Article I Declaration of Rights [Section 1- SEC. 32]
2. Symon, Evan (17 March 2020). "Affirmative Action Could Return Under New State Constitutional Amendment Proposal".californiaglobe.
Chen, S. (2020, June 01). Why affirmative action is necessary – from Harvard to California. Retrieved June 30, 2020, from https://calmatters.org/commentary/why-affirmative-action-is-necessary-from-harvard-to-california/