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Education Post-Affirmative Action

The systemic and structural inequities in schooling were already at an unprecedented level and all time high in 2023, given evidence of the struggle to establish and maintain more diverse and inclusive academic environments in the United States. Yet, we are now witnessing the impact of adding insult to injury and harm in real time, with the recent Supreme Court decision to end affirmative action and/or consider race in college admissions. This decision renders a college education as an option for only those born of unearned privilege and wealth. Thus, ensuring that an already under educated America (especially in comparison with the rest of the world), will certainly be worse than ever before, from the lens of its ability to compete.

It is a historically significant fact that affirmative action policies were only established to redress the oppressive, generational effects of institutionalized racism in the years immediately following the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling to desegregate schools. And now that these protections and remedies are no longer enshrined in the law, schools serving Black, Latinx, Indigenous and students of color (which were already inherently unequal), are now even more susceptible of being classified as merely carceral places synonymous with inflicting irreparable harm. As if the schools were not already part and parcel of miseducation – now this reality has been made official by the highest court in the land. Sigh . . .

In an Amicus brief, arguing in favor of continued affirmative action protections, Apple and 70 other major U. S. corporations theorize that the Supreme Court ruling which bans race conscious admissions in higher education, have implications far beyond academia and only serves to hurt companies and the economy as a whole. Their compelling argument concluded that the dissolution of affirmative action would mean that some of the best talent would go untapped in the “pipeline of highly qualified future workers and business leaders”. Needless to say, the sentiment of these companies is informed by their own commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Kudos to them on their attempt to speak on behalf of a policy aimed at equalizing the corporate playing field. There is certainly value and impactful data to support their claim that diversity does indeed enhance creativity, communication, and improves decision making in business performance. Despite the justice’s recent abysmal decision to perpetuate a system of codified oppression, Apple, Adobe, Airbnb, Cisco, Dell, Google, Ikea, Intel, Lyft, PayPal, Salesforce and others have largely seen fit to recommit their intention to apply affirmative action norms in their hiring practices, as equal opportunity employers committed to inclusion and diversity of all.

Without the provision of affirmative action and race conscious admission policies, the disproportionate impact of limited education access and opportunity will be most severe for Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Pacific Islander and Asian communities. Undoubtedly, the negative and limiting impacts of knowledge sharing, employment opportunities and business ownership, and most importantly, the economic earning potential of marginalized communities will be felt for many generations yet unborn. As an ominous example of a sign of the times, nine states had already banned the use of race in admissions policies at public colleges and universities: Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Washington. Essentially, every college and university in all states now have the blanket authority to fail to mitigate the effects of generational oppression, institutionalized racism and to return to the yesteryear reality of segregation.

Clearly, this decision which effectively eliminates over half a century of precedent, will now undoubtedly contribute to the elite colleges and universities accepting far less historically marginalized groups of students to their ranks. We would be remiss to erroneously believe that the deleterious consequences of this ruling will only be suffered by those who seemingly benefited from affirmative action. Indeed, only time will tell how the privileged few who legislate inequity, will also experience the repercussions of this desperate attempt to permanently relegate the masses of BIPOC persons, to a permanent underclass.

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