Most Americans probably associate Arizona with two things: Jan Brewer and Senate Bill 1070 — if the two can even be separated.
But things will change dramatically with the recent passage of Proposition 107. That is, if people can get past all of the ideas that this amendment will push society backward. But that’s just not the case.
Proposition 107 passed in November with nearly 60 percent of Arizonans voting in its favor. The proposition will amend the Arizona Constitution by changing its second article to read, “This state shall not 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.”
Think about that means for a second. Why, in a so-called post-racial society, do we need to amend our state constitution in order to deny preferential treatment based on race? Don’t we live in a society that doesn’t care about our skin color?
During the 1960s, at the height of the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a speech at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
“I have a dream,” King stated, “that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
The very essence of preferential treatment based on race is at odds with what Mr. King, who was at the helm of the civil rights movement, aspired to achieve. Arizona’s Constitution, before Proposition 107 passed, was not only racially unfair but also fundamentally flawed. According to King, it’s not race that should be the deciding factor in business, government, and society but the moral content of someone’s character.
Steve Montenegro, a Hispanic Republican, and a member of the Arizona State Legislature who was instrumental to the proposition’s passage, thought that it was “appalling” that the government “thinks of me as a subclass.” His argument is not only true but also extremely frightening.
Some think the proposition will end equal opportunity. But it won’t.
The proposition ends special treatment given to individuals based on race. Equal opportunity is essential to the proposition. It guarantees equal opportunity in the state’s constitution and redefines it.
Another concern from those who opposed the amendment said it would dramatically change the ethnic representations at institutions.
But, so what?
It shouldn’t be society’s goal to perfectly balance every ethnicity in an acutely diverse equilibrium. The goal of society should be to ignore race, sexual orientation and gender and instead look at something a bit more important — the content of our character.
The voters in Arizona have spoken. Proposition 107’s passage will not only result in a more competitive workplace and environment but will effectively make Arizona a just and equally opportunistic state.
It’s about time other states have a reason to look to Arizona for counsel.
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