Given the philosophy and political outlook of our Supreme Court—and we say “our” with some reservations, particularly in view of the more recent rulings—Black Americans should not be surprised that they have once again let us know where they stand on matters of race by upholding Michigan’s ban on using race as a factor for admission into college. Simply put, affirmative action has received the same rejection as the Voting Rights Act of 1965, in which a vital provision was eviscerated.
The ruling—the court has basically leaving states to decide who gets into the arena of higher education—will further challenge African-American applicants to receive any consideration for the past inequities that often stymied their mothers and fathers from institutions of higher learning. In 2006, the voters in Michigan voted against affirmative action in a referendum that was poorly worded, and the court, in a 6-2 vote, decided that it did not possess the power to resolve the lawsuit, stating that it was left to the people.
Well, if left to the people, if left to certain states that have already determined they won’t expand Medicaid, and historically have endorsed Jim Crow laws, and viewed civil rights activists as outside agitators, then we know what the outcome will be. We applaud the courageous and outspoken voice of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who refused to be cowed and read her passionate opinion for all to hear.
Several states, including California, have already taken major steps to “disappear” Black students from the classroom, and this is coming at a time when there is a growing number of students eager to get the education their parents do not have. As one student told us recently, he was the only Black student in his class at a top university in a course of management, and all eyes were on him—in effect, he was noticed but at the time invisible.
This ruling is an abomination, and the fallout from it will negatively affect our opportunity to enter higher education for generations. Some of the answer to this problem may occur if diversity can be achieved by using an economic matrix, but that is still in an experimental stage where we know that without a doubt legacy consideration continues.
It is good to know that the decision has aroused the activist community, and perhaps it will get the traction, the sustained outrage to put pressure on all the governmental agencies to rectify at least one of the longstanding injustices that affirmative action was proposed to do.
Yes, Sotomayor got it exactly right: Race matters—and like never before!