Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly


Neil Gotanda


Advocates for the California Civil Rights Initiative have argued that they seek racial justice in a color-blind society. In this Article, Professor Gotanda first analyzes race color blindness to show that the color-blind vision is far from a truly open and just vision, but instead undermines efforts to achieve genuine social justice. The second section examines Hopwood v. Texas, a recent Fifth Circuit decision, and concludes that the majority opinion pursues an extremist color-blind vision which would deny any validity to the history and culture of women or racial and ethnic minorities. The third section examines the textual language of the California Civil Rights Initiate and finds ambiguous provisions which would not only eliminate affirmative action, but would prohibit ethnic and women's studies programs throughout California's educational system. The Article concludes by examining Justice Harlan's famous dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson and observes that Harlan's use of race color blindness supports continued white racial supremacy. Professor Gotanda calls for abandoning reactionary efforts to return to Harlan's nineteenth century understanding and instead moving forward towards a truly just society.