(3) News and Opinion about RPI

Also visit the official Racial Privacy Initiative web site at www.racialprivacy.org

Racial Privacy Initiative Qualifies for California Ballot!
News Release July 15, 2002

          (SACRAMENTO) – California’s Secretary of State today reported full-count verification of 694,586 valid signatures (670,816 were required) submitted by proponents of the Racial Privacy Initiative (RPI), and campaign supporters hailed the official completion of the qualification phase of the measure, the first of its kind in the country.

          "We’re pleased that the initiative is now qualified," said Ward Connerly, Chair of the American Civil Rights Coalition. "This gives the people of California – and indeed, the nation, since this is the start of a national revolution – a chance to decide our future with regard to ‘race.’ We will give our society a chance to move forward, beyond restrictive and arbitrary racial boxes."

          The proposed constitutional amendment would largely end the governmental practice of classifying and tracking individuals by race, ethnicity, color or national origin. Upon qualification and passage, racial check-off boxes would be phased out in state and local government forms by 2005, with explicit exemptions for such areas as medical research and treatment, law enforcement and the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

          "This initiative will trim millions of dollars of racial snooping out of the bureaucratic budget," said Ted Costa, CEO of People’s Advocate, Inc., a leading taxpayers group.

          "No one chooses the color of his or her skin or any of several other categories used to place boundaries between Americans. Rather than artificially dividing us and establishing dependency programs that dilute our competitive spirit, it’s time to focus on that which unites us: namely, we’re all Americans" stated Valery Pech, a RPI steering committee member who was a plaintiff along with her husband in the landmark Adarand lawsuit. "The true measure of an American is not a category – it’s not an artificial box – we’ve been placed in for the sake of highlighting our differences. We don’t ask people about religion or sexual orientation – race should be accorded the same privacy protection."

          "State and local government should not have to foot the bill for the seemingly insatiable appetite of those who are obsessed over racial data collection," Kevin Nguyen, RPI’s Official Proponent, pointed out. "The racialists’ curiosity is fed by a crumbling classification system that lacks standards, consistency and scientific legitimacy."

          The Racial Privacy Initiative is certified for the next possible statewide election, the primary election scheduled for March 2004.

CONTACT:  Kevin Nguyen, (916) 444-2278

Racial Privacy Initiative
P.O. Box 189113
Sacramento, CA 95818-8113

Phone: (916) 444-2278

FPPC #1237969

Mind Your Own Business: Privacy fight in California
by John Derbyshire for the National Review (6/25/02)

          "[Ward Connerly] is arguing that since, following the success of [the Prop. 209] campaign, it is illegal for the state to discriminate by race, there is no reason why the state should continue to gather data on race, or to operate systems of racial classification for any but a small number of very restricted purposes.  He is trying to get this new initiative on the ballot for either this November or next March.

          "That the Left should be hostile to the RPI is not at all surprising. Racial head counting is now deeply imbedded in America's public-sector culture, where most Lefties work. What on earth does a "civil-rights lawyer" or an "equal-opportunity" bureaucrat do, without some statistics to prove that "discrimination" is going on? The entire premise of large areas of our social policy is that greedy, pitiless white people will stomp on the faces of helpless minorities the instant the government relaxes its vigilance. To prove the truth of this, you need statistics to show that "disparate impact" has occurred. Then you have your case: for "disparate impact" is caused by that sinister desire, lurking in the hearts of all white folk, to insult, humiliate and impoverish people with dark skin.

"[Connerly argues] ... that our governments need to stop taking notice of our race (or, in the case of "Hispanics," pseudo-race) as decisively as they stopped taking notice of our religion when the First Amendment was ratified. It's none of their business."

          "Nor is it very surprising that California's Republican party will not touch the RPI with a barge pole. Republican politicians know that getting themselves associated with any policy of this sort will quickly be manipulated by opposition spinners to reinforce the impression of Republicans as the Unkind Party, the party of people who are forever striving, in sly and underhand ways, to bring back the evils of the past.

          "[Connerly argues] ... that our governments need to stop taking notice of our race (or, in the case of "Hispanics," pseudo-race) as decisively as they stopped taking notice of our religion when the First Amendment was ratified. It's none of their business.

          "Connerly further adds that there is nothing [in the Racial Privacy Initiative] to stop anyone collecting data on racial progress if they want to. His initiative, if approved by the voters, will only forbid the state government from doing so.

          "For myself, I find Connerly's First Amendment analogy persuasive. If our legislators are forbidden to make any law respecting an establishment of religion, why should they not be similarly forbidden to make any law respecting the establishment of "protected categories" of citizens defined by other accidents of geography, biology, or upbringing? 

          "As a conservative, I should be glad to see our bloated, arrogant, intrusive state and federal governments rolled back from any part of our private lives... But especially this part."

By John Derbyshire, excerpted from his piece in the National Review 6/25/02

Last known link to the original piece:

Chicken Little Returns
by Ward Connerly for Townhall.com 5/1/02

          "Do you remember the predictions the supporters of racial preferences made in 1996, during the California Prop. 209 campaign? Here are just a few:

"Prop 209 will re-segregate California universities."

"Women will be denied access to rape crisis centers if Prop. 209 passes."

"Hispanics, blacks, won’t get jobs after 209."

"Prop 209 will force women into ‘oldest profession’."

          "In case you may have forgotten, Prop. 209---also know as the "California Civil Rights Initiative"---successfully ended the use of race-based "affirmative action" in public education, public contracting, and public employment. Of course, the Chicken-Little’s were wrong about the effects of 209. None of the opponents’ predictions proved accurate, nor did they honestly believe they would.

          "So, don’t be surprised when you start to read and hear similar hysteria about another California statewide referendum ---the "Racial Privacy Initiative." This effort will get all government agencies in California out of the racial bean-counting business and prevent them from forcing increasingly multiracial citizens to check those Jim Crow-era race boxes on government forms and school applications. Sadly, it goes without saying that any effort like this to further colorblind governmental policies is under assault from the new defenders of the "One Drop Rule"---the NAACP, ACLU, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

          "... If Prop 209 has taught all of us anything it is that our nation’s steady advancement to true colorblind government reflects the will of the people. They know our government--state as well as federal, for that matter--should not collect, distribute and utilize data about the "racial" and ethnic composition of our citizens. 

          "Martin Luther King was not the first civil rights leader or jurist to acknowledge the inherent injustice of racial classifications. The post-civil war constitutional amendment debates over the legal status of the freed slaves reflected the views of many who believed that making "distinctions of race" would inevitably lead to discrimination.

          "Because our government has never abandoned the use of racial classifications, the great civil rights struggles during the last 125 years have been over the government’s misuse of this information. No one will ever convince me that keeping this system of governmental racial classifications will "protect" my constitutional rights.

          "Furthermore, those who support the end of preferences but stop short of ending race classifications and embracing colorblindness in government are going to have their hearts broken. They are leaving the door open for a return of preferential policies disguised as "improvements." As a member of the board of regents at the University of California, I can report with some real authority that we are experiencing this already.

          "... By removing the [race] boxes, we make government colorblind and we encourage black and Latino kids to perform like everyone else. We let them know that their color and ethnicity really don’t matter, and that their accomplishments belong to them. If we can dispel this victim's mindset of "minorities," we will do more to advance their self-image than anyone can imagine. With the debate about reparations and racial profiling, it is a constant battle to keep these kids from wallowing in the victims' mental ghetto."

By Ward Connerly, as excerpted from his article in Townhall.com 5/2/02

Last known link to the entire piece:

Racial and Ethnic Data Collection by Government Agencies
Statement by Roger Clegg to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
May 17, 2002

[Roger Clegg is the Vice President and General Counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity.  The following are excerpts of his statement to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights regarding racial and ethnic data collection by government agencies.]

            "Thank you, Madame Chairman, for the opportunity to testify before the Commission today about the collection of racial and ethnic data by government agencies, and in particular its effect on civil-rights enforcement. 

            "My name is Roger Clegg, and I am vice president and general counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, Section 501 (c)(3) research and educational organization based in Sterling, Virginia.  Our president is Linda Chavez, who used to be the Commission’s director.  At CEO, I focus on civil rights issues.  I also served for over ten years at the U.S. Department of Justice, including four years in the civil rights division, during the Reagan and earlier Bush administrations. 

            "Let me say at the outset that my testimony will not categorically defend or condemn racial and ethnic data collection.  For example, sometimes the collection of such data can be useful in civil-rights enforcement, but sometimes it undermines civil-rights enforcement by facilitating discrimination.  More broadly, sometimes such data can be put to good use, sometimes it can be abused, and some methods of data collection are more problematic than others.

     "Insisting that people embrace a racial identity is bad for civil-rights progress and, therefore, bad for civil-rights enforcement.   Discrimination is more likely to occur in a society in which people have strong racial identities and an us-them mentality." -- Roger Clegg

            "Those who want the government to put people into what Ward Connerly has called the "silly little boxes" on written forms should bear the burden of proof in showing that there are very good reasons for needing this information, and that the likelihood of misuse is small.  I will discuss the problems with data collection first, and then some of the possible benefits.  

Harm from Racial and Ethnic Data Collection 

            "There are two basic kinds of problems that result from the collection of these data.  The first arise from the very process of collecting the data, and the second from the misuse of the data once they are collected. 

            "The process of collecting the data, in turn, also gives rise to two problems.  People are encouraged to think of themselves as having a particular racial identity, and the government is encouraged to require that they have such an identity.  ... Requiring the government to do the classifying rather than the individual is likely to lead to errors, and of course it would be offensive to train officials in how to identify people by racial or ethnic "characteristics."  On the other hand, it is also intrusive for the government to demand that people identify themselves racially and, no matter how "voluntary" you make such identification, when the government is asking for it, pressure is being brought to bear.

            "The problems with requiring people to identify themselves racially and ethnically become more problematic in a multiracial, multiethnic society with much intermarriage.  ... In California, for instance, interracial births are the third highest category of births, behind white and Latino.   

            "It is offensive for the government to ask these children about their racial and ethnic background and demand that they choose a particular identification.  It is really none of the government’s business, just as religion and sexual orientation are generally none of the government’s business.

            "Insisting that people embrace a racial identity is bad for civil-rights progress and, therefore, bad for civil-rights enforcement.  Discrimination is more likely to occur in a society in which people have strong racial identities and an us-them mentality.  ...   Getting the government out of this business sends a strong, positive message that we are all Americans and that skin color and ancestry don’t matter here. 

            "The second problem that arises from the very process of data collection is that the government may be encouraged to engage in racial discrimination if it wants a particular set of racial results.  For instance, suppose that a police department is required to keep track of the race and ethnicity of the people pulled over for traffic violations.  Such a requirement is frequently proposed as a means of combating racial profiling by the police.   The trouble is that policemen know that they may get into trouble if a disproportionate number of their stops involve, say, African Americans—even if the disproportion is not a result of any discrimination on the part of the police.  A policeman, therefore, may be reluctant to pull over a black motorist who is speeding if he has already pulled over a couple of other black motorists that evening; conversely, he may decide to pull over a nonblack motorist in a situation when he would have let a black motorist go.  I believe that the District of Columbia police chief—who happens to be black—recently made this very point in a radio interview. 

            "In such situations, you can see how the very process of collecting racial and ethnic data for ostensibly civil-rights enforcement reasons actually ends up encouraging the violation of civil-rights laws and principles. 

            "The second category of problems arises when a government agency deliberately uses the data it has already collected in order to discriminate.  When a college admissions office collects such data, the data are almost certainly going to be used to discriminate in favor of some individuals on the basis of skin color or ancestry and against others.   There is really no valid use to which the admissions office can put this information.  And I have already discussed how personnel data are frequently used to ensure that groups are proportionately represented. 

            "Obviously, in these situations the collection of data actually undermines civil-rights enforcement, because the data facilitate the violation of the civil-rights laws. 

Legitimate Uses of Racial and Ethnic Data 

            "On the other hand, there are situations in which the collection of racial and ethnic data is legitimate and useful.  A good example is when a prison includes a physical description of an inmate in his file; this information would obviously be useful if, say, the prisoner escaped and the police needed to identify him.  ...

            "Note that these legitimate uses of racial and ethnic data are not directly related to civil-rights enforcement; nonetheless, they are important. 

            "The other major and legitimate use of racial and ethnic data is in determining whether racial or ethnic discrimination has occurred.  For instance, my organization—the Center for Equal Opportunity—collects admissions data from public colleges and universities under state freedom-of-information laws, and then subjects the data to a multiple logistic regression analysis to determine if the schools are engaged in racial or ethnic discrimination (our studies, which have found a great deal of discrimination all over the country, in undergraduate, medical school, and law school admissions, can be found on our website, www.ceousa.org).   

"I have been very critical of "disparate impact" lawsuits—that is, lawsuits that do not allege disparate treatment because of race, but simply challenge the use of selection criteria that have a disproportionate "effect" on one group or another." -- Roger Clegg

            "Obviously, we would be unable to conduct these studies unless the schools kept racial and ethnic information.  On the other hand, the schools would probably find it more difficult to engage in discrimination in the first place if they lack these data.  As I said earlier, on balance I support the Racial Privacy Initiative, even though in this one area it would make my job harder, because I think that the RPI would diminish the amount of racial and ethnic discrimination that occurs.  

            "... [R]acial and ethnic data can also be used in the course of a lawsuit.  There are three important caveats here, though. First, many civil-rights lawsuits do not hinge on the use of statistical data at all.  Second, it is also possible to collect the information after a lawsuit has been filed, through the discovery process.  And third, statistics can be used and abused in lawsuits.  I have been very critical of "disparate impact" lawsuits—that is, lawsuits that do not allege disparate treatment because of race, but simply challenge the use of selection criteria that have a disproportionate "effect" on one group or another.  In my view, making such lawsuits harder to bring would be a good thing, not a bad thing, because their inevitable—and, I believe, intended—result is to encourage the use of racial and ethnic quotas and to discourage the use of perfectly legitimate selection criteria.

            "I would point out that data are typically not collected about people’s religion, yet there is no claim that the civil-rights laws’ ban on religious discrimination has been undermined by this fact.  Likewise, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would create a federal ban on employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, would at the same time ban the collection of statistics by the EEOC with respect to sexual orientation. ... The point is that questions about religion and sexual orientation are viewed as none of the government’s business, even if they might sometimes facilitate a lawsuit.   A person’s melanin content and his or her ancestors’ countries of origin is, likewise, none of the government’s business. 

            "Conversely, while the collection of racial and ethnic data can help tell us if racial and ethnic imbalances are present, they do not tell us whether those imbalances are the result of discrimination.  For that, we also have to have data on all the other variables that might account for whether a person is selected for a job, school admission slot, or whatever.  Unless the employer or school is keeping all these other data, too, then not collecting racial and ethnic data isn't’t denying much of value to potential litigants. 

            "... Every time you force someone to put himself or herself into one of the silly little boxes, you are reinforcing that message that a person’s racial and ethnic identity is very important—a bad message. 

The Harm from Data Collection Generally Outweighs the Benefits 

            "As I said at the beginning of my statement, I think that weighing the costs and benefits of racial and ethnic data collection has to be done on a case by case basis, as the Racial Privacy Initiative has done.  I hope that the initiative becomes law in California, and that we will be able to see whether any problems result from it.  Frankly, I doubt that there will be any problems.  The doomsayers opposed Proposition 209 (ending state preferences based on race, ethnicity, and sex) and Proposition 227 (ending bilingual education), but they turned out to be quite wrong, and I think they will be wrong this time, too.   

            "If you think that government agencies and those they regulate ought to use racial and ethnic quotas and ought to be prosecuted if they fail to meet them, and if you think that the government and individuals should be encouraged to embrace racial and ethnic identification, then there is every reason to support the collection of racial and ethnic data by government agencies and no reason to oppose it.  I suspect that the most vehement opponents of the Racial Privacy Initiative fall into this category. 

            "On the other hand, if you think that racial and ethnic identification by individuals and, especially, the government is something we ought to be moving beyond, and if you think that quotas are a bad idea and that this sort of discrimination has now become as or more widespread than other forms of discrimination, then getting the government out of the business of racial and ethnic data collection starts to make a lot of sense." 

Excerpted from Roger Clegg's statement to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission 5/17/02

Last known link to the complete, unedited statement:

'Colorblind Initiative' Finding Support
Associated Press via Fox News
May 1, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO — "California voters appear inclined to support an initiative that would bar the state from classifying people by race, according to the first independent poll on the proposed ballot measure.

          "Conservatives champion the "Racial Privacy Initiative" as the next step toward a colorblind society. Liberals blast it as a cynical attempt to undermine anti-discrimination laws.

          "... 48 percent said they supported it and 34 percent said they opposed it, with 18 percent undecided. The poll, released Wednesday by the Field Institute, had a 4 percentage point margin of error.

          "The poll numbers are "nothing but good news for us," said chief sponsor Ward Connerly, the University of California regent whose Proposition 209 abolished race-based affirmative action six years ago. "It mirrors the prevailing sentiment that these racial boxes just don't seem to fit who we are."

          "Opponents say the initiative would undermine civil rights enforcement because it would stop the collection of statistics that could show a pattern of discrimination in anything from schooling to law enforcement. Connerly has said statistics can't prove discrimination, and that it's time to stop being so race conscious.

          "The poll broke down voters by several categories, including political party, race, gender and region.

          "Republicans fell heavily in favor of Connerly's proposal, while 43 percent of Democrats supported it and 37 percent were opposed.

          "Half of the Hispanics and whites polled supported it, while blacks were split at 42 percent yes and 41 percent no. Asians were the only group to oppose it -- 42 percent were against and 35 percent approved.

          "On April 19, Connerly's American Civil Rights Coalition submitted 980,000 signatures to put the initiative on the ballot.

          "If state and county agencies certify by June 24 that 670,000 of the names are legitimate, voters will decide in November -- a scenario Connerly thinks is 90 percent likely. Otherwise, it's spring 2004."

Excerpted from the Associated Press article as it appeared in Foxnews.com on May 1, 2002

Last known link to the complete story:

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