Vol. 6    No. 19
SEPTEMBER 22, 2011

The Capital City Hues
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EDITORIAL STAFF

Jonathan Gramling
Publisher & Editor

Clarita G. Mendoza
Sales Manager

Contributing Writers
Rita Adair, Ike Anyanike, Paul
Barrows, Alfonso Zepeda
Capistran, Theola Carter, Fabu,
Andrew Gramling, Lang
Kenneth Haynes, Eileen Cecille
Hocker, Heidi Pascual, Jessica
Pharm, Laura Salinger, Jessica
Strong, & Martinez White
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling   
                   AA Attack Déjà Vu
There are times when I wish we were a daily paper with the ability to report on major issues as
they impact communities of color in the Madison area. Such was the case when the Center for
Equal Opportunity — or should I say alleged Equal Opportunity — came rumbling into town on
September 13 to release their report that the University of Wisconsin-Madison was discriminating
against Euro-American, Asian and international students by allegedly admitting “less qualified”
African American and Latino students according to the “strict” interpretation of ACT — the college
entrance exam — data on UW admissions from about four years ago

When Dr. Damon Williams, the UW vice provost on equity and inclusion, other UW officials and
Associated Students of Madison got wind of the pending release of this data, they organized a very
orderly and rational counter-attack that I feel left students of color feeling empowered, knowing
that the institution firmly believed in their qualifications for being a student at UW-Madison.

I was about to write my column this week refuting this study when I got an e-mail from Erika Janea
Dickerson-Despenza, all the way from South Africa where she is studying abroad. Erika is a very
bright and capable First Wave student who founded the For Colored Girls Project at UW last year. I
did a story on her and the project last November.
Erika has learned about the developments of the CEO report on Facebook was outraged. She sent
us a wonderful defense of affirmative action on the UW campus and affirmation of the presence of
hers and other students of color presence on campus. It is a powerful column on page five that I
urge our readership to read. She expressed it better than I ever could and so, I won’t focus this
column on that.

However, in the words of the immortal Yogi Berra, I am having déjà vu all over again. It was
almost five years ago in December 2006 when Ward Connerly came into town at the behest of Fred
Mohs who was a UW regent at the time and Wisconsin State Senator Glenn Grothman who headed
up a committee that was looking at affirmative action in higher education in Wisconsin. At the
time, Connerly, a former University of California regent and an African American, was the most
visible and vocal opponent of affirmative action in higher education at the time. He personally led
efforts to get state referenda placed on the ballots in several states that would eliminate
affirmative action in higher education like he had successfully done in California.

So now, here we have the Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO) — not to be confused with UW-
Madison’s Center for Educational Opportunity (CeO) that works with students of color on the
Madison campus — headed up by Linda Chavez, a Latina, publishing an anti-affirmative action
report written by Dr. Althea Nagai, a research fellow at CEO whom some assume to be African
American because of her name. CeO comes into town to create a lot of publicity for its anti-
affirmative action report. Linda Chavez is a former President Ronald Reagan appointee. CeO has
received many grants from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee, a ultra-
conservative funding source. The Bradley Foundation specifically funded the CeO report on the
University of Wisconsin.

So now that all of this publicity has been generated and “scientific proof” on discrimination
against Asians and Euro-Americans produced, where does it go? In my experience, things of this
nature do not exist in a vacuum. They are produced to impact public policy.
Some very reliable sources have told me that the CeO report is just a prelude to the introduction
of anti-affirmative action legislation in the Wisconsin legislature. Republicans control both houses
of the legislature and State Senator Glenn Grothman is the assistant majority leader in the state
senate.

From what I understand, Republican leaders in both houses are dusting off the legislation they
drafted in 2006 to eliminate affirmative action in the UW system. Apparently they are updating the
legislation and are planning on introducing the legislation during the next few weeks.
Every generation must reaffirm its freedom and equal opportunity in some way, shape or form for
freedom and equal opportunity are abstract concepts that are made real only through the actions of
communities. The Baby Boom generation established its agenda for equal opportunity through the
civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s. It is now time for succeeding generations to step up to
the fore to define equal opportunity for themselves and generations coming after them.

The best bet to defeat this legislation is in the state senate where Republicans hold a 17-16
member edge over the Democrats. It will take only one Republican vote to defeat these measures,
assuming that the Democrats will remain united in support of affirmative action in higher
education.

I will try to keep people informed about developments as the legislation is introduced in the
legislature via this paper and Facebook. The defeat of this anti-affirmative action legislation will
depend upon the prolonged and visible opposition of students and civil rights supporters and
advocates everywhere.

Si se puede!