Ying Ma: California vs. ‘wokeness’ – right here is how believers in equality fought assist and obtained

The early days of the Biden administration derive equipped “racial justice” and “racial equity” as the new buzzwords to your total executive division. 

These are the marching orders governing every little thing from immigration policy to Cabinet nominations to affirmative movement in greater training. Worshipping on the altar of wokeness and identity politics will be required for the next four years.  

However folks who imagine in equality for all quite than special medications for some may perchance perchance well merely aloof now not despair: Real closing November, a wildly successful marketing campaign in California relief off the “equity” onslaught in a most unlikely landslide victory.  


The effort defeated Proposition 16, a measure that sought to overturn a pollinitiative handed in 1996 – and adopted as allotment of the California disclose Structure – that prohibits racial preferences in public training, contracting and employment. In a disclose the put Biden defeated Trump by virtually 2 to 1, the No on 16 marketing campaign, for which I served as communications director, obtained by a 14-level margin.   

A success the public debate used to be key to our success, and the formula that made it that you just’re going to be ready to judge will be informative for others fighting wokeness and identity politics in the Biden period: 

Correct credibility  

The racial equity agenda shamelessly entails racial intimidation, and the backers of Prop 16 weren’t terrorized in taking part. Riding the momentum of closing year’s Dark Lives Matter protests, they referred to as for the repeal of equal different in California. Anybody who dared to remark otherwise used to be branded a racist – appropriate as someone criticizing the Biden-Harris “equity agenda” now risks the equivalent.  


No on 16 president Ward Connerly dared to remark otherwise. A Dark man with a proud multiracial heritage, he reminded Californians that the belief that “all men are created equal” is a first-rate American precept enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, reaffirmed in the Gettysburg Handle, and current in Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Enjoy a Dream” speech.  

Ward Connerly was a University of California regent from 1993-2005. (ACRI)

Ward Connerly used to be a University of California regent from 1993-2005. (ACRI)

As Prop 16 proponents referred to as for racial bean counting and proportional illustration to tackle alleged systemic racism, Connerly, born in segregated Louisiana, proclaimed that whereas person racism will repeatedly exist, the machine is not any longer racist.  

Connerly, the chairman of Proposition 209, the voter referendum that ended racial preferences in California virtually 25 years ago, has a long note file of fighting for equality in the disclose and across the nation. That did now not terminate our opponents from smearing him as a racist and our marketing campaign as consisting of White supremacists. Their sleaze did now not stick. 

Interesting to all voters 

Not only did the No on 16 marketing campaign derive a severe funding drawback of 16 to 1, the effort to reinstate racial preferences loved the backing of your total political, media and commerce establishment in the Golden Remark, besides that of decent sports groups and nationwide figures worship then-Sen. Kamala Harris.  

More from Notion

Regardless, our marketing campaign used to be propelled to victory by voters of all colors, creeds and birthday party affiliations.  

Rosa Paniagua, a deepest trainer in Los Angeles, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, and a Biden supporter, stumbled on Prop 16’s message patronizing and explained her opposition to the Los Angeles Times: “It’s in our custom to work flat out and invent our living.”  

Prop 16 proponents tried to fan racial grievances across the disclose, especially among folks who seemed worship Rosa. Our marketing campaign’s message used to be that equality is for each person.  

Wokeness in America may perchance perchance well merely now portray fealty from the mainstream media, Valuable Tech, Hollywood, far-left politicians, Wall Boulevard, academia and other highly effective players in society – however they don’t symbolize sparkling, ordinary Individuals of all stripes. 

Combating true racism 

The equity agenda requires racial justice, however inevitably inflicts injustice on groups it doesn’t favor. This used to be no assorted for Prop 16.   

Our marketing campaign emphasised that on the coronary heart of racial preferences is true racism – against Asian Individuals. They derive been consistently and disproportionally harmed by racial schemes – from  Harvard to Yale to California public universities before the implementation of bustle neutrality – touting “diversity” dreams worship Prop 16. Had the measure handed, Asian Individuals would were the most fast victims.  

Our opponents helped us manufacture our case. They on a licensed basis griped that Asian Individuals were “overrepresented” on the disclose’s top public universities and brazenly referred to as for a nick worth of their numbers, even as much as 50%.  

The combat over oppression credentials is now not what Individuals of any birthday party may perchance perchance well merely aloof need, in California or nationwide. 

The likelihood that such racism may perchance perchance well became policy galvanized Asian American voters, especially first-period immigrants. Though many were political neophytes (a different of our senior staffers had no prior marketing campaign abilities and had a steep studying curve), they brought dedication and enthusiasm.  

An military of volunteers grew to became out for automobile rallies, yard signal distribution, and projects mountainous and diminutive in the heart of an epidemic. Over 90% of our marketing campaign funds came from ordinary Asian Individuals making diminutive-buck donations.  

In the terminate, the injustice and collateral hurt supposed for one racial community in pursuit of the equity agenda used to be unacceptable to an overwhelming majority of all Californians.  

Liberal principles 

The Democratic supermajority in the disclose legislature establish Prop 16 on the November ballot, and now not one Democratic flesh presser who held statewide or nationwide arena of labor publicly adversarial the measure. Yet, a pair of of our marketing campaign’s easiest spokespeople were lifelong liberal Democrats. 

Amongst them, Professor Rick Sander of the University of California Los Angeles College of Law wrote, “Liberals spent noteworthy of the 20th century searching to outlaw and purge racial discrimination – why would we be so alive to to reinstitute it, indirectly believing that this time its use will be extra ‘benign’?” 

Charles Geshekter, retired professor of recent African history and one more lifelong Democrat, now not only condemned Prop 16 however your total mindset underlying identity politics. He wrote: “Proposition 16 promotes a return to a racial and ethnic spoils machine that teaches students to tag themselves and others because the oppressed or the oppressors. In this realm, no competition is fiercer than the combat over oppression credentials.” 

Indeed, the combat over oppression credentials is now not what Individuals of any birthday party may perchance perchance well merely aloof need, in California or nationwide. 


Campaigns plot finish for many reasons. Yet, the formula for waging an effective public debate against identity politics and wokeness will be quite easy: Bring the acceptable authority and backbone; manufacture the argument to each person, including supporters of the different facet; remind voters of the extent of the supposed injustice; and don’t be terrorized – disaster and cowering obtained’t make.  

After all, equality and commonsense American principles deserve a appropriate combat.