According to a recent Pew survey, most white and Asian adults in America disapprove of using race as a factor in the higher education admissions process. They consider affirmative action as an inequity likely to push less qualified candidates into the academic arena and beyond.
This is the 2023 American attitude.
This attitude may not be rooted in gross disregard for Black representation and value in scholarship. The attitude may instead reflect America’s under-appreciation of racial socialization and what it has done to large segments of the population. Reversing affirmative action, as the U.S. Supreme Court did in a ruling last month, seems to imply that there is no longer race-based bias among the gatekeepers of academia and, therefore, no longer a need to address it.
This may have shaped why Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson argued in her dissent to the court’s majority ruling that reversing affirmative action does not prevent the harm of racism. It may in fact help cultivate racism through unchecked bias. Jackson puts the focus on the feasibility of colorblind gatekeeping of college admissions. Reversing affirmative action will destabilize diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education.
The momentum already achieved by minority representation in higher education must be sustained. DEI leaders and advocates must find a way to ensure minority students get opportunities in higher education. This challenge will demand intentional strategy by young leaders and advocates.
Perhaps these young advocates can look at the work done by past DEI leaders who fought for the access gained by affirmative action. We must galvanize current leaders to overcome the reversal of affirmative action.
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