The Justice Department, under Jeff Sessions, is now targeting affirmative action in colleges and universities. Although the Supreme Court upheld the practice just last year, it is concerning that the conservatives are now using their power and influence to utilize scare tactics against admissions offices, under the guise of protecting whites and Asian-Americans.
Gersten said evidence suggests some schools use racial preferences sloppily without regard to the law.“By using race and ethnicity rather than actual social and economic disadvantage, racial preferences harm many low-income Asians as well as whites,” he said in a statement. (CNN)
There was nobody else involved in that process except for me. I, and I alone, was responsible for my success and my failure. I enjoyed a campus that was fairly diverse, considering the location in the South. We were raised to keep our eyes focused ahead and never let anyone or anything distract us from our goals.
We were also raised to take full responsibility for own actions and lives. If I had not made it into the scholarship program, I would have had only myself to blame. I knew early on what it would take to achieve that goal. Not a single other person could make it or break it on my behalf. The requirements, the minimum GPA and ACT score, were laid out. If you met them, you received the award. Affirmative action did not play any part.
Not everyone has the same advantages in life. African-Americans have been discriminated against since the beginning of time in the United States. White people still have distinct educational and financial advantages in this country, and that cannot be ignored. If we do ignore them, we reinforce prejudice and discrimination. There are other factors, besides GPA and test scores, that make a good college student. Grit, determination, the ability to overcome life obstacles. Some of us can show that in our education, but others are able to demonstrate it in different ways, like making it through school despite the challenges they face; achieving a decent GPA in the face of difficulties most of us cannot even begin to imagine. That has to be taken into account.
Despite the progress that has been made, the playing field is far from level. Women continue to earn 77 cents for every male dollar (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2010). Black people continue to have twice the unemployment rate of White people, twice the rate of infant mortality, and just over half the proportion of people who attend four years or more of college. In fact, without affirmative action the percentage of Black students at many selective schools would drop to only 2% of the student body (Bowen & Bok, 1998). This would effectively choke off Black access to top universities and severely restrict progress toward racial equality. (UP.org)
We need to allow our universities to accept students on the basis of multiple factors. Yes, they can have standards for GPAs and test scores. But they can also look at background and ethnicity, character and strength, and make the best decisions they can to have the most diverse, inclusive, and highest achieving classes possible.