By a large margin — sixteen percentage points –Michigan voters have rejected some forms of affirmative action. State Proposal 2 forbids the use of race and gender preferences in university admissions as well as in government hiring and contracting. It was a victory for the angry white people behind the cleverly-named Michigan Civil Rights Initiative(MCRI), headed by Jennifer Gratz, who after being rejected from the University of Michigan in 1995, cried reverse discrimination and sued the school. The U.S. Supreme Court took her side, in part, striking down the racial preference programs at Michigan’s undergraduate school of Literature, Science and the Arts (my alma mater, by the way), but in a related case, the court allowed the use of race in admissions to the UM Law School. Hence Jennifer Gratz’s continued campaign. You may wonder why this doesn’t backfire — why Gratz doesn’t come off as a whiny, sore loser who should get over her college rejections just as the rest of us have done. But the answer lies in the hostility that so many white people have to affirmative action. This really is a tough issue to organize around .
There has also been rampant fraud in the MCRI campaign. According to an opinion by federal judge Arthur Tarnow last August, after a suit brought by pro-affirmative action group By Any Means Necessary alleging dirty tricks in the petition drive, that “the evidence overwhelmingly favors a finding that the MCRI defendants engaged in voter fraud.” Voters say they were told that the petition would defend affirmative action. That’s shameful and the MCRI shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it. But the huge margin of Proposal 2’s victory shows that a whole lot of white Michiganders don’t support affirmative action. I’m just guessing, but maybe quoting Malcolm X isn’t the best way to convince them.