Members of Oklahoma's Affirmative Action Review Council met this morning to hear how state agencies are implementing plans to diversify their staffs, and how people are on the streets gathering signatures for a petition initiative that could mean the end of affirmative action in Oklahoma.
California-based American Civil Rights Institute, the organization behind the Oklahoma Civil Rights Initiative, has run successful grassroots campaigns to end the consideration of gender or ethnicity in hiring decisions and higher education admissions in states including California, Washington and most recently in Michigan during the midterm elections. "This is not a black and white thing," said state Rep. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City. "The unfortunate thing is that people are signing this, without understanding how devastating this is going to be to women more than anyone else. This is going to set women back 50 years." While criticizing the initiative, Shelton said it might start an important debate in the state. "Let's open the doors to these boardrooms and see, I guarantee the majority of these businesses are going to be run by white men," Shelton said. "No one has ever presented any statistics, any proof that this is a problem, that unqualified women and minorities are taking jobs. Show me the numbers where there are disproportionate numbers of minorities and women being hired."