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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Affirmative Action is Still as Necessary as Ever

Students demonstrate outside the Federal Courthouse, in Cincinnati, where the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals was hearing oral arguments in their review of their ruling  that Proposal 2, the ban on affirmative action in Michigan, is unconstitutional. )

Students demonstrate outside the Federal Courthouse, in Cincinnati, where the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals was hearing oral arguments in their review of their ruling  that Proposal 2, the ban on affirmative action in Michigan, is unconstitutional. )

 

 

The Supreme Court certainly has a lot on its hands right now. On its docket are two cases, which, apart from being potentially historically defining moments in the history of the US, just so happen to be race related.  Questions are being asked about voting rights and affirmative action (with regards to undergraduate admissions processes in tertiary educational institutions) in the US, the Supreme Court is being looked to for answers.

Affirmative action has always been a touchy issue with most. One side of the fence believes it fair that racial minority groups get preferential treatment, with regards to such institutions as education, because political, economic and institutional inequalities have forced them to lag.

In 2008, a case was brought forward by Abigail Fisher, a white student who felt she was wrongfully denied admission into the University of Texas due to the nature of affirmative action, with the Justices expected to give a ruling in June. The new case, Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, No. 12-682, deals with a Michigan case which banned preferential treatment with regards to race in the state’s public universities.

The issue of the use of affirmative action in undergraduate admissions was thought to have been put to bed in 2003, when in Gratz v. Bollinger, the court ruled that the University of Michigan’s undergraduate admissions program was in violation of the Equal Protection Clause (EPC) of the 14th Amendment when it assigned 20 points to minority applicants. So now, the court’s acceptance of these two cases leads to more than a few eyebrows being raised. It might unsurprisingly lead one to the conclusion that our conservatively inclined supreme court is hell-bent on obliterating racially conscious admissions programs in universities around the country.

With the US supreme court seemingly on course to strike down even the slightest forms of affirmative action in undergraduate processes, pressing questions must be asked: Has this nation progressed enough in race relations to discard the institutions put in place to go some way to righting those wrongs? Is the nation colorblind enough to assume that all constituents will receive fair treatment regardless of race and ethnicity? Has income, education and unemployment inequality been eroded to the point where affirmative action is no longer needed to give minorities a fair shot at otherwise inaccessible opportunities?

You tell me; let’s have a gander at the statistics. AP polling shows that despite having an African American president, racial prejudice is actually growing.  About 40 percent of whites between the ages 25-29 graduate from college, for Latinos, it’s 15 percent; for blacks, 23 percent. The Associated Press also reports that despite the decline of black poverty, it is still roughly three times that of Caucasians in the US.

Looking at income inequality, we find an ever widening chasm; as of 2009, the median net wealth of Caucasians was $113,149, with Hispanics and blacks raking in $6,325 and $5,677 respectively.

The simple answer is no — we haven’t progressed sufficiently in race relations. No, we are not yet colorblind enough to assume all races will receive fair and equal treatment. No, income, education and unemployment inequality haven’t been adequately eroded. No, it is not time to do away with Affirmative Action.

As we wait on our ever-esteemed Supreme Court justices for a ruling, we can only hope that a fair compromise can be reached.