“Colorblindness”: Without Clear Explanation of the Hegemonic Power Structure in the United States, Blind Use of Initiatives to Determine Human Rights Can Have Unfair Results for the Minority Group

The use of ballot referenda to amend the definition of rights that primarily affect a minority group should not be allowed. (I have argued this position before in the blog.) This issue was somewhat hinted at in the majority opinion of Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality by any Means Necessary (BAMN) v. Schuette (6th Cir. Nov. 15, 2012).

United States (population: 308,745,538) (2010 Census)

Race Percentage of population Number
White 72.4% 223,553,265
Black 12.6 38,929,319
Native American 0.7 540,013
Asian 4.8 14,674,252

While the majority opinion had a similar argument as on this website, it is hard to see the specific issue raised without the Census data describing the population of the state of Michigan. Without this critical piece of information, the argument defaults to a “majority wins” argument (that is, presuming the racial categories have equal social power (which is not the case within the United States of America), which prevails in the dissenting opinions.

Michigan (population: 9,883,640) (2010 Census)

Race Percentage of population Number
White 78.9% 7,803,120
Black 14.2 1,400,362
Native American 0.6 62,007
Asian 42.4 238,199

Also disconcerting was the low attention placed on the effect of ballot referenda on protected groups. Given Michigan’s population, opponents to Proposition 2 were effectively shut out of the process.

The ballot referendum being examined in this case, Proposition 2, was a Ward Connerly initiative that was funded by right-wing groups. (I have analyzed the Connerly’s wording of the initiatives earlier in the blog.)