Yes on Prop. 16 Campaign Makes Final Appeal to Voters: Dismantle Systemic Racism, Support Equal Opportunity for All

The Yes on Proposition 16 campaign is making its closing argument to California voters with just two days until Election Day — emphasizing the contrast between the campaign’s vision and that of the opposition. As polls show surging support for the measure to repeal California’s ban on affirmative action, the campaign launched a positive and wildly popular social media campaign called #MyShot, which stands in sharp contrast to the recent outbursts and racist statements made by No on Prop 16’s leading advocates, Ward Connerly and Gail Heriot. 

#MyShot, a Twitter campaign, shares stories from supporters of Proposition 16 who point to life-changing opportunities that helped them get where they are today. Elected officials, advocates, nonprofit leaders, student advocates and many more joined the campaign, which has generated hundreds of posts and millions of views. 

On Twitter, Assemblymember Dr. Shirley Weber (D – San Diego) who authored ACA 5, the legislation that became Proposition 16, said, “Never thought I’d be a college professor until Asante—my only black professor at UCLA gave me #MyShot. I became a Woodrow Wilson fellow that paved the way for my 40 year career at state college.  #AffirmativeAction works.” 

LA Councilmember and former California State Senate pro Tempore Kevin de León said, “#AffirmativeAction gave me #MyShot at a higher education. @ucsantabarbara and @pitzercollege opened the door, I ran through it & kept running until I had the privilege to be the Leader of your California Senate. Everyone deserves a FAIR SHOT at the CA dream.”

The Yes on Proposition 16 campaign has also been amplifying recent comments made by Ward Connerly and Gail Heriot, two longtime anti-affirmative action activists who have been prominent leaders of the No on Proposition 16 campaign. In an EdSource article published on October 28, Connerly praises President Trump, calls white supremacists “super patriots,” and dismisses the profoundly unequal representation of Latinos in the UC system. When Assemblymember David Chiu mentioned Connerly’s recent comments in a TV debate with Heriot on Thursday, October 29, Heriot attempted to shout down Chiu, threatened to sue the Proposition 16 campaign, and even shouted down moderator Kristen Sze. 

Other No on Proposition 16 advocates have been seen trafficking in explicitly racist, divisive statements online. Leo Terrell has called Black Lives Matter “a fraud a shake down a worthless organization designed to exploit Black people.” Kali Ites calls Black Lives Matter a “satanic organization” that is “far more like the KKK and not even close to the Civil Rights movement.”

Vincent Pan, Co-Executive Director of Chinese for Affirmative Action and Co-Chair of Yes on 16, the Opportunity for All Coalition, said, “The choice could not be more clear, in the final days of this election. On one side, you have our campaign telling voters exactly what Proposition 16 is about: that it lifts the ban on affirmative action in California to level the playing field for women and people of color. And on the other side, you have an increasingly clear portrait of what’s been undergirding their movement the whole time: an agenda that feeds off and protects the structural racism and sexism of the status quo.” 

He continued, “When voters understand what Proposition 16 is and who supports it — Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, the ACLU, the Democratic Party, the co-founders of Black Lives Matter — they’re for us. And when they see who opposes Proposition 16 and who has always fought affirmative action — they’re really for us. We’re glad the choice is clear as voters finish casting their ballots, and we head into this historic Election Day.”

Eva Paterson, Co-Founder and President of the Equal Justice Society and Co-Chair of Yes on 16, the Opportunity for All Coalition, said, “Californians have been working for nearly a quarter-century to lift the ban on affirmative action here in our state. The murder of Mr. George Floyd led to a national call for an end to systemic racism. Proposition 16 is a concrete tool in that effort. We have all been waiting for November 3rd to come. The choice is clear: voters have the opportunity to say yes to a California that gives everyone their shot — no matter who they are.” 

She continued, “We know who we are. We know who they are. Vote yes on Prop 16.” 

Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) and Co-Chair of Yes on 16, the Opportunity for All Coalition, said, “The campaign about Proposition 16 has confirmed what we always knew:  the partisans of exclusion and oligarchy will seize on every tired trope of individualism, on every borderline falsehood, on every flimsy assertion of us-against-them to pervert the clear determination of Californians to support and champion fairness and opportunity for all, without exception or caveat.  As the true beliefs of the leaders of the ‘No’ campaign have emerged, including their clear connection to the politics of Pete Wilson and Donald Trump, the polls have shown California voters gravitate to where they are and want to be — in the lead on integration and equity of opportunity for all in our great state, with a resounding Yes on Proposition 16.” 

Proposition 16 has built one of the largest, people-powered coalitions this election cycle with endorsements from hundreds of elected officials, business leaders, labor unions, activists, and advocacy groups, including Senator Kamala Harris, Governor Newsom, founders of Black Lives Matter, Bernice King, Dolores Huerta, the NAACP, the ACLU, the California Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic, Black and Asian Chambers of Commerce, the California Labor Federation, SEIU State Council, AFSCME California, the California Teachers Association, MALDEF, nurses, firefighters, and frontline workers. The campaign has also been endorsed by over 22 newspaper editorial boards including the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, San Jose Mercury News, San Diego Union-Tribune, East Bay Times, La Opinión, and countless others. 

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