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By Julian Peeples

All Californians deserve the same opportunity to chase their dreams and build a strong future, and thanks to fierce advocacy and legislative action, voters have a historic opportunity to reinstate Affirmative Action in our state by voting Yes on Proposition 16.

The events of this year have only underscored the vast inequities that exist in our communities. As Americans take to the streets to protest widespread systemic racism across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic is ravaging Black, Indigenous and people of color at alarming rates, pushing families to the brink physically and economically. There has never been a more critical time to reinstate equal opportunity as we chart a path forward to a stronger economic future for women and communities of color, and a California where Black Lives Matter and our systems are just.

“I am voting Yes on Prop. 16 because I know that our underrepresented students need educators that look like them, and they need doors opened for them just as they have been for me,” says Shay Lohman, a member of Association of Rowland Educators.

Prop. 16 will repeal Prop. 209, adopted in 1996, and restore the state’s ability to consider race and gender in state contracts, hiring and college admissions.

“We must recognize the roadblocks within our systems and make every effort to clear the path for equal opportunities for women and people of color,” says CTA President E. Toby Boyd. “Prop. 16 is necessary to help prevent discrimination by reinstating equal opportunity for all, laying the foundation for every student to achieve their dreams and define their own limits.”

In 2020, women in California still earn only 80 cents for every dollar a man earns, and women of color make significantly less. A Yes vote on Prop. 16 is a loud statement that discrimination is wrong and that all people deserve equal and equitable opportunity.

California is one of the most diverse states in the country. It’s time our laws reflect the strength of our diversity.

“I have fought for the rights and dignity of all of our communities, but equal opportunity has not yet been realized for all Californians,” says civil rights leader Dolores Huerta. “This is why we must pass Prop. 16 — we cannot stop the progress we have made.”