Fight environmental racism. Vote yes on Proposition 16

In 1996, Californians voted Proposition 209 into law, banning the state from practicing affirmative action in public education, employment and contracting. This November, Californians have an opportunity to correct that mistake by voting for Propsition 16, allowing schools and public agencies to take race and other immutable characteristics into account when making admission, hiring and contracting decisions.

The Coalition for Clean Air urges you to VOTE YES ON PROPOSITION 16. Here’s why:

  1. Our air pollution crisis disproportionately burdens low-income communities of color. Most government agencies haven’t adequately responded to their needs. The ban on affirmative action is holding back our mission to fight climate change, protect public health and improve air quality for all Californians. Institutions that aren’t allowed to act affirmatively to make themselves more reflective of California’s diversity are less likely to take affirmation action to right environmental justice.
  2. The ban on affirmative action has directly hindered environmental justice by blocking governmental attempts to account for the ways racism has inflicted pollution burdens on communities of color. One example: CalEnviroScreen is a mapping tool that uses 20 environmental and socio-economic factors to identify disadvantaged communities at the census tract level. But because of the affirmative action ban, it can’t use race as a factor, even though researchers have identified race as the single biggest factor in determining who is subject to disproportionate burdens of exposure to toxic air contaminants.1)See, for example, Pastor, M., et al., 2005, “The air is always cleaner on the other side: Race, space, and ambient air toxics exposures in California,” Journal of Urban Affairs, 27:2, pp. 127-148.

The decision is simple. And the consequences are real – we know air pollution leads to and worsens negative health conditions and causes premature deaths. Vote yes on Proposition 16 and help fight air pollution in low-income communities of color.

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Header image courtesy Chapman University.

References

1. See, for example, Pastor, M., et al., 2005, “The air is always cleaner on the other side: Race, space, and ambient air toxics exposures in California,” Journal of Urban Affairs, 27:2, pp. 127-148.

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