SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — Calls for racial justice during recent protests in California and across the country are bringing back a controversial push to reverse California’s ban on the consideration of race and sex in public education, employment and contracting.

After Proposition 209 passed in 1996, Black and Latino proportional enrollment at UC Berkeley dropped significantly. The argument is again heating up about whether to reverse that ban.

“Anyone who would vote against it, I would wonder not only where their heart is but whether or not they have an inherent bias that veers toward promoting privilege based on color,” said UCSF medical alumni association president Ramona Tascoe.

“Every candidate should be evaluated on his or her merit without regard to race. That is what we are striving for in California,” said Stanford University public policy professor Lanhee Chen.

Before making his speech and voting yes on ACA-5, state assemblyman Evan Low received 3700 calls and e-mails in opposition to the amendment.

“I was asked ‘why are you voting against your own people and why are you betraying us,'” Low said.

Many of those calls and e-mails came from the Silicon Valley Chinese Association Foundation.

“We cannot let government choose winners or losers on the basis of your race or gender,” said SVCAF president Crystal Lu.

“What are we doing to make the change that we see — not just in public safety but also across-the-board?” Low asked.

“While it’s well-intentioned it is not going to have the desired impact of moving us to a more race-neutral society,” said Chen.

“This is to ensure that we diversify and get more women, more African-Americans, more Latino and more Asian/Pacific Islanders the diversity that we want to see in the state,” Low said.

“This is a season in our history where we have to ask ourselves: do we really want this nation to be equitable and an opportunity for all?” Tascoe said.

The state legislature recently voted in favor of the amendment and that will allow voters to make the final call in November with a vote on Proposition 16.

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