In a recent ruling that sent shockwaves across the nation, the Supreme Court dealt a devastating blow to the progress of equality and social justice by gutting affirmative action. As an ardent believer in the power of affirmative action to rectify historical inequities, it is disheartening to witness what I believe is the court's short-sighted decision.
In a recent article by Shirin Ali, a graduate student at Northwestern University, it was eloquently pointed out that the Supreme Court’s ruling may have inadvertently highlighted another controversial admissions program that may consequently also need to be dismantled – legacy admissions for wealthy donors’ family members and alumni. The article cites that nearly 70 percent of Harvard’s donor-related and legacy applicants are white. The complaint against legacy admissions is that it will also need to be undone unless institutions can provide an adequate justification for them – besides the ability to purchase a spot in the institution.
Affirmative action has resulted in a more inclusive society by enabling marginalized individuals to access higher education and thrive in their chosen fields. It has fostered diverse perspectives, bolstered creativity, and challenged the status quo, ultimately benefiting society as a whole. Abandoning these principles will only perpetuate a society entrenched in inequality.
Furthermore, by dismantling this crucial policy, the Supreme Court has turned a blind eye to the persistent barriers faced by minority communities. Affirmative action is not a handout; it is a necessary mechanism to dismantle systemic discrimination that continues to plague our society.
Several years ago, Community Action created a program called Generation Next. GenNext critics argue that affirmative action perpetuates reverse discrimination. However, this perspective fails to acknowledge the broader context and the pressing need for redress. Affirmative action seeks to rectify deeply rooted disparities by creating equitable opportunities for historically marginalized groups. It does not discriminate against any particular race or group but instead strives to foster inclusivity.
It is crucial for our society to confront its historical injustices and strive for a more equitable future. The Supreme Court's decision to gut affirmative action undermines this crucial pursuit. We must continue the fight to ensure equal access to education and employment for all individuals, regardless of their background. Only then can we build a society where everyone has an equal chance to thrive and contribute their unique perspectives to our collective progress.
In a time where diversity and inclusivity should be embraced and celebrated, we cannot afford to abandon the principles of affirmative action. The Supreme Court's ruling is a regressive step backward, jeopardizing the strides we have made in creating a fair and just society. Let us remember the fundamental values that define our nation and work tirelessly to preserve equity for all.
Executive Director, Community Action Lehigh Valley