An open letter to Ward Connerly

On Nov. 7, Michigan residents voted yes to Proposal 2, which ended affirmative action in public hiring, education and contracting. What may be surprising is the measure was spearheaded by Ward Connerly, a black millionaire businessman born in Louisiana.

I won’t defend or attack his actions, but I’d like to pose some questions to Connerly.

Now that your crusade of “justice” and “equality” has succeeded, what’s next? After you celebrated, did you call Gov. Jennifer Granholm and devise alternatives? Or did you swing your hammer of selfishness, destroy a shaky institution and leave it in disrepair? If affirmative action, which benefits veterans, women and minorities, was such a big problem, where are your solutions?

How do you propose Michigan provide equal access to education and other opportunities? Or do you believe that everyone deserves access? In a December 2002 interview, you said to CNN, “Supporting segregation need not be racist. One can believe in segregation and believe in equality of the races.” So in a highly segregated state like Michigan, which contains an economically sagging urban metropolis called Detroit, where 81 percent of residents are black, how do you begin to create equality?

Have you heard of Detroit? It is a city where many single moms work two jobs to support three kids and are so busy working to keep lights on and mouths fed, they don’t have time to attend parent-teacher conferences or ensure their kids turned in last night’s homework.

A Dec. 30, 2005 article in the Detroit Free Press said the city had a 15 percent unemployment rate, making it the nation’s poorest city.

This is a city where parents lack resources to send kids to after-school enrichment programs, so BET and Xbox are the babysitters and the youth try to raise each other in the nation’s second most dangerous city.

Of the kids who graduate high school and seek college admission, many are not star students. But don’t they deserve access to education too?

A black C student will almost certainly encounter difficulty trying to get into college, but a white C student; he can get into the White House. So how do we level the playing field, Mr. Connerly?

Mr. Connerly, you did not accept the Supreme Court’s April 1, 2003 decision that allowed the University of Michigan to incorporate affirmative action in its admissions process. What a fitting date. It seems we were all fooled; it was all for nothing. I’ve always been told that when I become successful, I should reach back and help others come up. You walked through doors that others fought to open for you, then turned around and bolted them shut.

Driadonna Roland is a junior broadcast journalism student from Detroit. She can be reached at