Ward Connerly is color blind to racism, but likes the color of money
Who is Ward Connerly and why should you care that he’s coming to UCSD this Week?
As you can see from the Week 10 Faceoff post above Ward Connerly is coming to UCSD to impugn the constitutionality of the accords between Chancellor Fox and the UCSD BSU. For those of you that don’t know him: here’s a quick rundown of how Mr. Connerly rose to prominence, courtesy of UCSD History Professor Takashi Fujitani (thanks Professor!!):
Connerly got his start in government by working in redevelopment and state housing, but got his push into big money circles by becoming something of a protégé of Pete Wilson. Wilson hired him in 1969 to be the chief consultant for the Housing Committee of the State Assembly (1969). This experience and the connections that he surely made at the time allowed him to start his own firm, Connerly & Associates, whose business centers on real estate. The money he made in the business that Wilson’s connections facilitated, allowed him to then pay back his benefactor by contributing a load of money to Wilson’s gubernatorial campaign. Wilson then repaid Connerly by appointing him as a UC Regent in 1993. This set the stage for Connerly’s drive to destroy the few meager tools we had under affirmative action at first the university level. I’m sure we all remember Regental Resolutions SP-1 and SP-2, which served as the testing ground and then springboard for the 209 campaign. But the story does not stop here because Connerly then went on to profit in obscene ways by accepting contributions from conservative foundations and corporate interests as a spokesperson and activist against affirmative action. Based on IRS records the Huffington Post reported back in 2008 that Connerly had personally made $7.6 million from 1997 to 2006 through his two tax-exempt, “non-profit” organizations, The American Civil Rights Institute and The American Civil Rights Coalition. Connerly’s profiteering out of the ruins of education and social justice came in the way of an enormous salary and fess for speaking and interviews that he paid himself.
“There just aren’t enough black kids who are academically prepared to go to UC San Diego”
This is Mr. Connerly’s most recent explanation for why Black students are underrepresented here at UCSD (for more, go HERE). In response to this comment, Prof. Jorge Marsical (Literature) wrote us in an email:
…this statement by Ward Connerly disqualifies him from saying anything else about our business. Every year there are hundreds of academically qualified Black students admitted to UCSD, more than at UCLA or Berkeley. As you all know, the problem is that over 80% of these academically prepared Black students choose NOT to come to UCSD. Why? Scholarship money and other factors but especially a shitty climate as we’re witnessed the last two weeks…
On Ward Connerly’s blackness
For sure, if Connerly jumps into this fight, critics of the BSU’s campaign here at UCSD are going to point to his black body as something that somehow gives his anti-affirmative action stance more weight. Much like the J. Jones fellow we got to know in the past few weeks, Black people are sometimes complicit in doing or supporting things that reproduce the structural marginalization of historically oppressed people of color in this country. A similar thing happens in the colonial world, where colonial subjects sometimes become agents of their people’s oppression partly because they have been thoroughly indoctrinated by colonial ideologies and partly because they’ve realized that they can get some personal gain out of it.
This illustrates how contrary to the way many people commenting on this blog think, this is not a white people versus black people thing. This is about people who understand the undeniable reality of structural racism and stuctural priviledges and are compelled to do something about these things versus those who for whatever reason either don’t get it or choose to ignore it. Mr. Connerly (and J. Jomes) are two examples of how people on either side of this struggle come in different bodies with different racial identities. The same goes for the thousands of white folks who have supported the campaign of the BSU and their allies (just look at any of the pictures from the Feb. 24 events; there are many kinds of bodies there).
On Ward Connerly’s love for the color green
Below is some more detailed information on who Ward Connerly is and on his track record when it comes to matters of race (courtesy of BAMN).
HIS FINANCIAL CONNECTIONS
- Connerly is CEO of Connerly & Associates, Inc., a real estate corporation based in Sacramento. He has gained financially from affirmative action programs in contracting. He attained his Regents position after donating $73,000 to the election campaign of Republican Pete Wilson, who as governor appointed Connerly to the Board of Regents on March 1, 1993, and whose political protégé Connerly is.
- As president and spokesperson of ACRI and ACRC, Connerly earns an additional $400,000/year. [Sacramento Bee, “Connerly’s Crusading is Paying Off,” June 26, 2003] He has received at least $100,000 from Joseph Coors of the Coors Corporation and nearly $2 million from other sources to spend on Proposition 54 (the “Racial Privacy Initiative”). [Ann Arbor News, July 27, 2003] Connerly “buys” his ballot initiatives- with his funding, Connerly pays professional companies to gather hundreds of thousands of signatures to place initiatives on state ballots and to finance deceptive ad campaigns.
- Despite a legal challenge filed in 2002, Connerly continues to conceal the source of more than $1 million he is currently spending on Proposition 54 (“Racial Privacy Initiative”).
WHAT HE HAS DONE
- In an effort to nullify the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling upholding affirmative action, Connerly is attempting to bring an anti- affirmative action ballot measure to Michigan and has announced his intention to bring similar measures to other states.
- Connerly first gained notoriety when he authored SP-1 and SP-2, which the Regents passed on July 20, 1995, banning affirmative action in UC admissions, employment, and contracting. The Regents later unanimously repealed this ban on May 16, 2001 in response to a BAMN-led demonstration of over 8,000 students and youth on March 8, 2001.
- In 1996, Connerly chaired the campaign for and drafted Proposition 209, which amended the California constitution to bar affirmative action in education, employment, and contracting for all state institutions. In 1998, Connerly campaigned for Initiative 200 in the state of Washington, which has lowered minority enrollment at the University of Washington and has increased segregation in Seattle’s public school system.
- Connerly is chairing the campaign for this October’s Proposition 54 (“Racial Privacy Initiative”), which would bar the collection by the state of racial and ethnic data. Universities, employers, and government agencies would be allowed to engage in discriminatory practices without fear of state information-gathering used to track discrimination.
- In September 2001, Connerly brought a successful suit to eliminate five state equal opportunity programs. This included abolishing outreach programs that provided information to socially disadvantaged businesses about opportunities available through the state, as well as programs that encouraged but did not require the use of underutilized minority and women-owned businesses in competitive bids for state contracts. Connerly also eliminated procedures protecting minority civil service workers from discriminatory layoffs, as well as every integration goal for faculty and staff in California universities and community colleges. Groups that are negatively impacted by these attacks include: women, black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans (including American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts, and Native Hawaiians), and Asian-Pacific Americans (including persons whose origins are from Japan, China, the Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, Samoa, Guam, the United States Trust Territories of the Pacific, Northern Marianas, Laos, Cambodia, and Taiwan).
- In July 2003, Connerly raised Resolution 38 before the UC Regents, to ban minority and LGBT-themed student orientations and graduation ceremonies. The motion failed.
- Proposition 209 has resulted in severe drops in black, Chicano, Latino, and Native American enrollment in the University of California’s top schools and graduate schools. In the Fall 2003 freshman class, only 315 (3.6%) black, 771 (8.8%) Chicano, 262 (3.0%) Latino, and 51 (0.6%) Native American students were admitted to UC- Berkeley (out of 8,796. For Fall 1995, before the end of affirmative action, 623 (7.1%) black, 1172 (13.3%) Chicano 338, (3.8%) Latino, and 142 (1.6%) Native American students were admitted to UC-Berkeley. [UC- Berkeley Office of Student Research] In 2002, these groups comprised 41.6% of California’s high school graduates. [California Department of Education] In Fall 2002, only one black first-year student enrolled at UC-Irvine medical school, and only two black first-year students at UC- Davis and UC-San Diego medical schools. [UC Office of the President].
To sum up, Ward Connerly has a proven record of undermining the small gains in educational access made by communities of color. He is not the defender of ‘civil rights’ as he claims to be, but rather continues to work in the interest of those in privilege. UCSD, what will we do in response to his campus visit? – T.T. and J.F.