Leon Worden

I dream of a Star Trek future

Leon Worden · October 30, 1996

Call me a wacko, but I want a Star Trek future. I don't want a Blade Runner future where hate and fear and class warfare rule the day. I want a Star Trek future, where the air is clear and the streets are clean and people of all cultures are treated with dignity and respect: where all people have an equal chance of attaining the rank or position of their dreams, no matter how pointy their Vulcan ears or how blue their Andorian skin may be.

I think it's OK to dream. I dream. I dream that one day our children will live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Science fiction? I don't know. We've got a long way to go.

Something is very wrong when a young woman can work hard and become the valedictorian of her high school class and yet be denied an education at the University of California, simply because she is Asian-American and some bureaucrat decided there are too many Asian-Americans on our university campuses.

Something is very wrong when a young mother enrolls her daughters in a San Bernardino elementary school and is told by the school admissions officer that one daughter will get special privileges as she grows up and the other one won't, simply because one daughter is white and the other one, a product of a prior marriage, is not.

Something is very wrong when a young teacher who has worked at a San Fernando Valley high school for a year is asked not to return next semester, simply because her school must "make room" for five new teachers who have no experience but do have the "right" ethnic background.

Something is very wrong when a subcontractor in Fontana with over forty years of construction experience starts losing jobs to companies that have never poured one dab of concrete or hoisted a single girder, simply because the subcontractor wasn't born with a "qualifying" skin color.

Something is very wrong when Governor Wilson has to issue an executive order to rebuild the Gavin Canyon overpass after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, simply because it normally takes CalTrans several months to determine if enough highway jobs are set aside for people whose race or sex is "preferred."

The struggle for race and gender equity that punctuated the 1960s was important work. That work is not yet complete. So long as we look at each other and see not another human being but a member of a different racial or ethnic group, we will never achieve a "colorblind" society. So long as our governmental institutions value race and gender over ability, we will never achieve true equality under the law.

We are at a crossroads, and next Tuesday is the turning point. Next Tuesday, California voters have an opportunity to boldly go one step closer to a future not unlike the one Gene Roddenberry so artfully and equitably crafted.

Will Californians decide to create a more perfect union where applicants are awarded an education or a job or a government contract on the basis of their qualifications and abilities? Or will the voters of this great state decide to reverse societal evolution and backpedal to the dark ages of sex discrimination and racial strife?

It's up to you. You can't duck this one. When you enter the voting booth next Tuesday, you must reach down to your very soul and decide if you agree that this sentence should be added to our state constitution:

"The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting."

It's not a tough question. When you cut through all the rhetoric, when you boil everything down to a simple case of right and wrong, it's really pretty basic. Either you believe that all individuals should have equal opportunity under the law, or you don't. If you don't, please stay home next Tuesday. But if you do believe there is no place for racism or sexism in our governmental institutions, please vote YES ON PROPOSITION 209.

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Leon Worden is a Santa Clarita resident. His commentary appears on Wednesdays.

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