Why don’t they just put us on a boat back to Africa? That was my first thought when I read that the Supreme Court is going to hear yet another argument challenging the use of affirmative action programs in college admissions. This time, a Texas woman, Abigail Fisher, is claiming the University of Texas (UT), which has a racially diverse student body, unfairly denied her admission because of her race.
I’ve grown tired of disgruntled white working class Americans (Fisher, Grutter, Bakke, et. al.) blaming a black, Hispanic or Asian student each time they fall short. As the aphorism goes, “when you point a finger, remember that three are pointing back at you.”
Abigail Fisher contends that she was denied admission although her tests and grades exceeded those of some minority students admitted to UT that year. Okay but did her scores also exceed those of some white students admitted that year? In all likelihood, the answer is yes.
Ms. Fisher could rightly claim that a female field hockey or tennis or golf jock with lower SAT scores took her seat because of Title IX requirements that colleges and universities equalize their athletic programs.
She could claim that a low achieving donor’s child earned the spot she coveted. Or claim that the university’s legacy program giving preference to the children of alumni is discriminatory and unconstitutional. It’s common knowledge that college and university donors and alumni influence admissions officers.
Would she win on those claims? No. But it probably never occurred to her or her attorneys to make those claims. Dumb female jocks, influential donors and college legacy graduates are not sufficient societal bogeymen.
Blacks and other minorities, however, are sufficiently threatening and undeserving. Never mind that only 18% of African Americans and fewer than 10% of Hispanics over 25 hold a college degree.
Should Fisher win on her claim against the alleged use of race-based affirmative action at the University of Texas? Heck, no. Like the courageous defenders at the Alamo, we have to take a stand and claim our piece of the American dream.
In the late 1940s, the University of Texas built a separate law school to educate the single black student it was forced to admit. Today, the University of Texas has a student body that is 25% minority. In the mind of Ms. Fisher that’s too much diversity, if it means she can’t attend the college of her choice.
One critic of affirmative action programs described as “incredible” the idea that his college-aged daughter might be discriminated against and not be admitted because of her race. I guess he’s okay with discriminating against his child because she can’t hit a backhand or sink a three-point field goal.
I attended college during the time when women were first admitted to the service academies, Title IX was implemented, and campuses greatly diversified their student bodies. My college experience and that of my peers, black and white, male and female, during that era was much better as a result.
Deporting all the blacks, Mexicans and Asians won’t make American life fairer for the white working class. Attacking affirmative action programs won’t either.
Rising income inequality is not occurring because a couple of black kids got into college, law school or medical school. Americans, black and white, are experiencing socioeconomic erosion because their elected leaders, captains of industry and commerce, and trusted institutions have failed them miserably.
Our nation’s greatest strength is its diversity and willingness to set right what was once wrong.
Our challenge is to complete within a generation, the work that Justice O’Connor said will make the use of racial and gender preferences no longer necessary to ensure diversity in higher education admissions.
Should the US Supreme Court declare race and gender-based affirmative action programs in college admissions unconstitutional?
Michael Benjamin
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