Dynamic Rhetorics of Race: California's Racial Privacy Initiative and the Shifting Grounds of Racial Politics
In October 2003, Californians voted in the high-profile gubernatorial recall election and on what is referred to as the “Racial Privacy Initiative.” The Initiative sought to prohibit the gathering of racial data in education and state employment. Unlike recent such initiatives addressing California's racial laws, this one was unsuccessful: 62 percent of voters said no. This essay examines the discourse surrounding the initiative over its three-year history and traces the rhetorical dynamics that led to its defeat. The analysis details the implications of this moment for hegemonic processes in general and as they relate to the specifics of race.