Letters to the Editor: Why oppose affirmative action? Obama explained it well

Proposition 16 proponents organize a rally at UCLA.
Proposition 16 proponents organize a rally at UCLA for the initiative that would reinstate affirmative action in many California programs.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: You regard the rejection of Proposition 16, which sought to restore affirmative action in California, as a bad decision.

All who care about this issue should read then-Sen. Barack Obama’s March 18, 2008, speech. It is great because he not only vividly expressed the hurt Black people feel from prejudice, he also wrote of the other side, how “opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense.”

He said resentment builds when “an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed.”


Later, he said, “And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns — this too widens the racial divide and blocks the path to understanding.”

You should examine whether your stances have contributed to understanding. The Black experience in America has far too often been one of dehumanization. Obama wrote as he did because he knows that no one likes being dehumanized.

Michael Belzer, West Hartford, Conn.


To the editor: Your editorial lament for the defeat of Proposition 16 is a facile dodge.

California is a diverse state and its voters refused to ratify special “affirmative action” set-asides based on race or gender for fear they would be more unfair even than the status quo.

Genuine affirmative action comes from prioritizing excellent K-12 public education and paying for it year after year. If we commit to spending more for smaller classes, better teachers and tutors, many more counselors and high standards for academic achievement, we will see more women and people of color take their places of power and influence alongside all the white guys.

Frances O’Neill Zimmerman, La Jolla


To the editor: Your are peddling the idea that discrimination in the name of anti-discrimination is not counterproductive. Once again, voters saw beyond the misinformation.

Wayne Bishop, Altadena