Segregation and discrimination based on race should be a sad relic of our past, and yet in 2022, bitter clingers hang around like a bad smell refusing to be washed clean.
Affirmative action was brought about in the 1960s to help end segregation and discrimination against people of color, specifically blacks. Proponents sought to close the gap in work and educational opportunities. However, the laws and executive orders that come under the umbrella of affirmative action have fostered a sort of reverse racism, particularly in college admissions. Students who are white or Asian American are being passed over in favor of blacks. Black students are accepted over whites or Asian Americans regardless of merit.
Students are finally seeking to make the college admissions process fair again. Two lawsuits are coming before the Supreme Court: Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina. Plaintiffs in these suits rightly argue that race should not be a factor in the admissions process.
Unfortunately, these suits cut against the popular woke narrative that states America and its institutions are systemically racist and require government interventions like affirmative action to level the playing field. Organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Democrats in Congress — 65 of them — have each filed amicus briefings declaring their support for colleges to continue their racial discrimination in the admissions process.
ACLU senior staff attorney Sarah Hinger publicly argued: “Ending the consideration of race in college admissions would ignore the country’s ongoing challenge of racial inequality and threaten diversity and inclusion on campuses everywhere. Race-conscious admissions practices help create a diverse student body and enrich the educational experiences of all students. The Supreme Court’s holdings have recognized this for decades, and we urge the court to protect universities’ ability to consider race in the admissions process.”
The ACLU even went so far as to proclaim, “All students deserve equitable access to higher education.” Asian American students aren’t diverse? So much for civil liberties for all.
Representative Bobby Scott (VA), chairman the House Education and Labor Committee and instigator of the Democrat amicus brief, was more nuanced in his statements: “Narrowly tailored admissions policies that recognize race as one criterion — out of many criteria for evaluating prospective students — are a key tool to realize diverse learning environments and address continued educational inequity. Moreover, research has confirmed that diverse campuses not only support underserved students, but also provide all students with a quality, well-rounded education.”
Congressman Scott tries to spin race as only one of many factors (students who filed the lawsuit have found that race is the most important criteria). He also tries to say that underserved students will suddenly become well-rounded by being admitted to Ivy League schools. Ironically, this non sequitur actually hints at the real underlying issue.
The American Enterprise Institute observes that “despite decades of affirmative-action programs, wealth-redistribution schemes and other well-intentioned government efforts, racial gaps in educational achievement, employment, income, family formation and crime persist.” In other words, affirmative action has not solved the problems that the black community is trying to overcome; it has instead mired them deeper in the bog.
Using race as a qualification as opposed to merit also hurts black student graduates. Famously, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas affixed a fifteen-cent sticker on his Yale Law diploma after having a hard time getting a job after graduation. In his book My Grandfather’s Son, he writes: “I learned the hard way that a law degree from Yale meant one thing for white graduates and another for blacks, no matter how much any one denied it. I’d graduated from one of America’s top law schools, but racial preference had robbed my achievement of its true value.”
The fight between the Left and the Right in the culture wars is how we define and go about achieving rights. As we have previously noted, the Right believes that rights are inalienable and natural for you to enjoy free from government interference, whereas the Left tends to believe that rights are something that must be provided for you at the expense of someone else under coercion of government power.
Equality and freedom cannot thrive when a government is using coercion and taking rights away from others to “even the score.” It is a lesson writ plain all across our American experiment, and yet the battle goes on.