Drop-In Referendum Momentum

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Washington Referendum 88, also known as Initiative 1000, was featured on the ballot for Washington’s Nov. 5, 2019 election. After all the ballots were collected, sorted and counted, the referendum was defeated with 50.54% percent of residents voting no and 49.46% voting yes.

If the vote was approved, once in effect it would have allowed the state to reinstate affirmative action policies without the use of preferential treatment. Preferential treatment as defined within the referendum is any quota system that solely considers certain characteristics (race, sexuality, age, national origin, ethnicity, etc.) when selecting a less-qualified candidate over a more qualified candidate.

Although, the initiative would have allowed for affirmative action. Which, in this legislature describes certain characteristics of candidates considered as factors (versus the sole factor) in deciding someone’s qualification for education or employment opportunities.

Washington State is often regarded as a city of innovation and a liberal haven open for all, but it’s never truly lived up to that representation in the eyes of its long-term residents of color.

Looking back on Seattle’s history, you’ll undoubtedly uncover a city as segregated as any other in America. People of color were viewed as second-class citizens through the eyes of white society. They were excluded from job opportunities prominent neighborhoods and school districts, hotels, restaurants and much more.

Due to Seattle’s varying levels of diversity throughout its neighborhoods, racial discrimination wasn’t limited to African Americans but also Native Americans, Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans.

Cities with long-hidden histories of injustice and discrimination to its residents of color have a false sense of reality today. Portland, another city whose image is predominantly based on progressivism, was the only city to exclude Black people from living in its borders after joining the union in 1859.

What’s important to note, as a state Washington isn’t typically viewed as an outwardly racist, homophobic or misogynistic environment [GN1] . Glancing over global news coverage of the state, issues mainly concern the environment, agricultural developments and varying levels of crime.

Yet, what has helped Washington climb to new heights of wealth and influence is the same discriminatory power structure that we see echoed throughout the world. A structure that consistently pushes people of color and people under the poverty line far away from major cities or impoverished.

One of the reasons the referendum failed goes back to the same conversation we’ve all been having since President Kennedy introduced affirmative action back in 1961.

Some people are so determined to intentionally ignore centuries of racism and discrimination that still impact decedents today and argue with affirmative action solely that someone less qualified and of color could be granted access to an opportunity over them.