GOP Racism Visible In Results--CA Scorecard Shows
by Paul Rosenberg, Fri Jan 13, 2006 at 07:55:27 AM EST
This scorecard--ignoring rationalizations and focusing on results--provides a solid empirical foundation for understanding the workings of contemporary color-blind "racism without racists" explained in detail by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva in his book Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States.
The reality of colorblind racism persists is personified in Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, who cited the Warren Court's one person-one vote decisions as one of the outrageous activist decisions that motivated him to go into the law. This reality is precisely what the GOP wanted to bury with its set piece in the Alito hearings--with Lindsay Graham playing the part of evil unnamed Democrats driving Alito's wife to tears with accusations of bigotry.
As the term "racism without racists" indicates, what we're talking about is something considerably more subtle--but decidedly destructive nonetheless. As can be seen in the scorecard results discussed in the artile below the fold, a somewhat different version of which was first published in Random Lengths News.
By Paul Rosenberg
California is already a minority majority state. By 2052, its population is projected to be 77 percent people of color. Yet, the state policies remain woefully inadequate in providing equitable treatment for all Californians, according to a Legislative Report Card On Racial Equity for the past year, which gave the Assembly a C, the Senate D, and Governor Schwarzenegger a D for vetoing 8 of the 18 bills--a 56 percent rating. But the main reason for the low marks was California's Republican Party.
"Decades of neglect have left California without a strategy to address longstanding inequalities. This does not bode well for a state that is 53 percent people of color and growing," said the Report Card, California's New Majority: 2005 Legislative Report Card on Race. It was issued by the Applied Research Center (ARC), a public policy institute with offices in Oakland, Chicago and New York City. The report's co-sponsors included the California NAACP, Californians for Justice, California Church Impact and the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network.
"The main purpose of the report is to make the point that race matters," said Report Card co-author Menachem Krajcer. "It matters for the entire state."
The Report Card went out of its way to present the data in a non-partisan manner. However, after the initial presentation, ARC noted that grading for the legislature "masks disparities along party lines and by the racial demographics of legislative districts." Democrats in the Assembly averaged 97 percent, for an A, while Republicans averaged 27 percent, for an F. In the Senate, Democrats averaged 93 percent for an A, while Republicans averaged 16 percent, for another F.
Republican indifference lags significantly behind some of the more forward-looking elements of the business community, who realize the importance of providing equal opportunities for the state's new majority. This is reflected, for example, in Silicon Valley support for AB 1253, a bill by Assemblymember Joe Coto (D-San Jose) to make college preparation the standard statewide high school curriculum for all students. AB 1253 did not even make it to a full floor vote, and was not included in the main calculations, but was one of 13 additional "missed opportunities" cited in the report, indicating that the report card's main grades were, if anything, too generous.
The grading was limited to 18 bills that made it all the way to the governor's desk. They were broken down into five issue areas: Education Equity, Economic Justice, Health Equity, Civil Rights and Criminal Justice.
Another "missed opportunity" Krajcer cited was AB 1142, which establishes the Statewide African-American Initiative to address the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS on Blacks. It was signed into law, but a Senate amendment Senate prevents implementation until non-state funds are raised to fund it--a sharp contrast to New York City, which quadrupled funding while shifting resources to focus on communities of color.
"This is definitely grading on the curve," Krajcer acknowledged, since many failures could not be quantified, but, "Even after grading on the curve, there are so many who failed." Just three Republican legislators did not get failing grades.
"Governor Schwarzenegger lacks the political will, and the legislature a cohesive plan, to address the needs of California's growing majority - people of color," said Report Card co-author Tammy Johnson, ARC's Public Policy Director.
According to Krajcer, ARC's purpose in putting the Report Card together was to help spur the process of developing a more comprehensive, cohesive approach, both among advocacy groups, and the legislature itself.
The "honor role" for 100 percent support included 31 Assembly Members, including Betty Karnette (San Pedro) and seven Senators, including Alan Lowenthal (Long Beach). All were Democrats.
ARC went out of its way to highlight a handful of Republicans. "Assembly Members Bonnie Garcia (R-80) and Shirley Horton (R-78) and Senator Abel Maldonado (R-15) deserve honorable mention as the only Republicans to receive passing grades for their support of racial equity legislation," it noted in the report. However, all three received D's with scores virtually identical to Schwarzenegger's.
Coto's education bill faced opposition from four main sources, according Mike Welch, who serves Coto as an education consultant, beginning with "vocational education teachers and teachers in elective areas" and "those who say, `college isn't for everyone." There were also those who pointed to logistical problems with getting enough teachers in science or foreign languages, and rural districts that claimed they lacked the capacity to comply.
All these objections could be met, he explained, but the kiss of death came from a flawed analysis when it went to the Appropriations Committee, which treated the bill as if it were mandating additional new classes, rather than changing content requirements. The bill will be re-introduced next year, Welch said, with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group taking a leading role in promoting it.
As this example shows, the barriers are often inertia and lack of vision--indifference rather than racial hostility. But the end result is the same: minorities continue getting second-class treatment.
Minority legislators and those representing substantial populations of color scored significantly higher. The Asian/Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus scored 100 percent; the Latino Legislative Caucus scored 96 percent; and the California Legislative Black Caucus scored 90 percent. But the four Republicans of color scored a cumulative 44 percent failing grade.
Those representing districts with 75 percent or more people of color scored a cumulative 97 percent in the Assembly and 92 percent in the Senate. In comparison, districts with white majorities scored 51 percent of the time in the Assembly and 43 percent in the Senate--both failing grades.
Still, fifteen assembly members and seven senators in districts with majority white populations received an A for their support for racial equity. And there are signs of growing awareness of the need to address racial issues systematically, rather than in a piecemeal fashion. We're beginning to understand that it doesn't work just "pretending that race doesn't exist," Krajcer said.
The new attitude ARC hopes to help nurture is that, "Yes there's racial disparities in California, and yes, there's things we can do, and by addressing that, we raise all the boats."
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