Who won on November 4?

by Kelsey Tanaka '09, Chantal Coudoux, and Ashley Franklin '09

When the news came in that Barack Obama had won the presidency, much of the world rejoiced, we rejoiced. But while millions upon millions of people were in tears, screaming, and jumping for joy, there were many others who had little to celebrate.

That night, in California, Proposition 9, Proposition 8, Measure R, and Proposition 1A passed, while Proposition 5 did not. This all happened with little notice, institutionalizing hate and the continued oppression of low-income, working-class people of color and the queer community.

Proposition 9 denies parole violators the right to a lawyer during a parole hearing and extends the time for parole hearings up to 15 years, in effect keeping people in prison longer, a racist “lock-’em up and throw away the key” policy. Further, voters turned down Proposition 5, a proposition that would have provided rehabilitation services rather than more prison time for non-violent drug offenders.

On issues of transportation, Proposition 1A and Measure R fund expensive rail and highway projects that help the Westside and commuters but do nothing for working-class people of color who depend on the bus system, a system that gets little attention and not nearly the same kind of funding. Funding for these projects is done through a regressive tax on low-income people of color and will ultimately, along with the 1 ½ cent sales tax response to the California budget deficit, cause the state sales tax to rise to 10.25%. This increase disproportionately affects low-income Los Angeles residents, mostly people of color. It also takes away from funds that could have gone to improving our healthcare and education systems.

And finally, Proposition 8 passed, banning gay marriage in direct violation of civil and equal rights. So while there is cause for celebration, we must remember that much work is yet to be done, that structural hatred continues to deny material resources and civil rights to historically oppressed nationality people as well as the LGBTQ community.

Who won that night? We are still uncertain.