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Detroit Free Press

Letters to the Editor
May 5, 2006

Affirmative action excess

At the NAACP’s Fight for Freedom Fund dinner (“No turning back, crowd told: Mich. voters must save affirmative action, officials say,” May 1), Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick welcomed the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative ballot proposal by saying: “We will affirm to the world that affirmative action will be here today, it will be here tomorrow, and there will be affirmative action in the state forever.”

Really now. I once thought affirmative action was meant to redress past discrimination. And that once the so-called playing field was level, then it would end. The mayor clearly believes that equal opportunity is not a goal of affirmative action. Rather, by the mayor’s words, affirmative action is designed to guarantee special privileges for protected classes of people in perpetuity. I believe that the mayor has clearly articulated the true motives of those who will slander the supporters of the MCRI. Undoubtedly, supporters will be called bigots and racists. The tragedy of affirmative action is that it taints the achievements of all minorities. Passing MCRI would be a major step in the direction of true equal opportunity for all.

Thomas Page

A double standard

Directing her comments at the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, told attendees at the NAACP dinner that “we must fight against those who desire to take our rights away.”

Proponents of preferential treatment champion racial discrimination as long as the victims are not black. However, they hypocritically believe the same abhorrent practice is sound public policy when the victims are white. Discrimination against anyone based on race is immoral and serves to widen the racial divide.

Raymond Dubin
Farmington Hills

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Detroit News

Letters to the Editor
May 12, 2006

Racism in disguise

Affirmative action is a newer term for an old problem — racism. Shame on Nolan Finley for supporting it (“Is affirmative action a remedy or a right?,” May 7). Two wrongs make two wrongs and discriminating against whites because blacks were once discriminated against will be found illegal, as it should. The people will speak in November on the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative.
Jack Danko
Grosse Pointe Park

Columnist seeks Utopia
I see that Nolan Finley has embraced the position of former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in Grutter v. Bollinger. This is that “equal protection of the laws” doesn’t mean what is says now, but we’ll take another look at it in a few decades after society has become a “true meritocracy.” Never mind that this is a state of affairs that has never existed in any society in history, regardless of government-mandated incentives and coercions. Pick up a copy of Thomas Sowell’s excellent book, “Affirmative Action Around the World: An Empirical Study.”
Richard G. Finch
Dearborn Heights

Equality needs more time
Nolan Finley’s take on affirmative action is both intuitive and correct. I am conservative but agree that more generations need to pass before African-Americans can overcome the equality issues that are so burrowed in the fabric of American history. In the early movies, blacks were depicted as either cartoonish characters or lackeys whose greatest joy was serving white folk. Blacks were nonexistent on television unless targeted by cigarette commercials. These major entertainment outlets promoted a stigma of inferiority that they are just now beginning to dispel.
Marvin Lee
Commerce Township

Time to reduce injustices
I read with interest the touching story of the convicted drug runner who will graduate from Michigan Law School (“From prison to law school grad,” May 5). While I am now even more confused about why Jennifer Gratz had her application rejected at the University of Michigan, one thing I am certain of is a “yes” vote on the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative in November. The chances of such injustices occurring again will be greatly reduced.
David Fisher
Ann Arbor

Beware ‘outsider’ game
Isn’t it hypocritical for Wendell Anthony of the Detroit chapter of the NAACP to be calling Ward Connerly a “California outsider” when he is using U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democratic outsider from Texas, to push his message? The truth is, the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative is not led by outsiders. Jen Gratz, the executive director of Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, grew up in Southgate and went to school at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. All signature collectors, by law, had to be registered to vote in the state.
Dan Shuster
Ann Arbor

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Kalamazoo Gazette Group urges county board not to support affirmative-action resolution

Wednesday, May 17, 2006
By Cedric Ricks
e-mail: [email protected] phone: 388-8557

An organizer of a November ballot initiative to amend the state constitution to ban affirmative-action programs urged the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night not to adopt a resolution in support of such programs.

“This initiative is about equal treatment under the law for all individuals without regard to their race or sex,” said Jennifer Gratz, executive director of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative.

“One of the myths that is out there is that this initiative would eliminate all forms of affirmative action,” Gratz said. “That is not true. If you consider preferential treatment to be affirmative action, then, in that sense, it will eliminate programs.”

Ballot language will go before Michigan voters that would “ban affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment to groups or individuals based on their race, gender, color, ethnicity or national origin” in public employment, education or contracting.

Gratz spoke to the county board in response to County Administrator Don Gilmer’s request that county commissioners consider passing a resolution affirming the benefits of the county’s affirmative-action plan.

Gilmer said the proposed resolution was removed from Tuesday’s agenda and will be considered by the county board at its June 6 committee-of-the-whole meeting. The county has had some form of affirmative action since 1975, he said.

In the county board’s agenda packet, Gilmer and Jo Woods, the county’s human-resource director, prepared a memo that offered some reasons for supporting affirmative action.

The memo said affirmative action includes identifying and dismantling discriminatory barriers such as biased testing or recruitment and hiring practices, and conducting outreach to under-represented women and minorities by targeting colleges and ethnic, media, women and minority organizations.

Instituting mentoring and targeted training programs, along with addressing hidden biases in recruitment, hiring, promotion and compensation practices, such as addressing unnecessary job requirements, also are examples of affirmative action, according to the memo.

Gilmer and Woods said in the memo that they believed the proposal from the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative is “misleading and will have unintended consequences.”

“It won’t stop the other preferences that permeate state and local hiring, promotion, contracts and education opportunity, and it will immediately eliminate affirmative-action programs that help women and minorities have a fair opportunity in education and jobs,” the memo stated.

“Excluding race and gender while continuing to allow preferences for cronies, legacies, geography, income, military service, musical talent, athletic capability, family background, physical disabilities and other factors would be wrong.”

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Group seeks affirmative action vote

Published May 28, 2006

A civil rights group in Michigan will ask voters through a ballot initiative this November to decide whether to abolish affirmative action for college admissions, government hiring and contracting.

The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI) has been trying for three years to pose the question to voters, all while fending off lawsuits and other civil rights groups, Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, a Democrat, and some prominent state lawmakers who oppose it.

The state’s Republican Party chairman, Dick Devos, who is running for governor, has said he is opposed to it, as has Keith Butler, a high-profile Republican state Senate candidate.

The initiative was announced after a pair of U.S. Supreme Court rulings regarding the University of Michigan’s admission policy.

One of the cases was brought in 1997 by Jennifer Gratz, now MCRI’s executive director, who was rejected by the university despite her 3.8-grade-point average.

“The Michigan case was based on a points system and the system was heavily slanted,” said attorney Terry Pell, who heads the Center for Individual Rights. “On a 150-point scale, a person could get 20 points based on your race, and in that scale, many people could be denied.”

While Mrs. Gratz won her case, the university’s law school was allowed to keep its points system.

Mr. Pell said the question he and other advocates of abolishing racial preferences has is how long the courts will allow them to be used.

“What happens is each time you bring it up or think you are at the end of the 25 years, the court says we will allow it to go on for another 25 years and the problem is the Supreme Court has never allowed this to come to an end or given an opportunity for it to come to an end,” he said.

Mrs. Gratz said that is the purpose of the initiative.

“This initiative is moving the timeline forward, and I firmly believe the people of Michigan believe in the fairness of law,” she said. “What the courts and these universities have been saying all this time is that if you have good intentions it is OK to do the wrong thing, and taking race into account is choosing winners and losers based on race.”

She said affirmative action policies have gone much farther than they were intended to, when they were created by executive order of President Nixon.

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