The Best Affirmative Action is Early Education

Yesterday, the Supreme Court began hearing two cases concerning admissions criteria using affirmative action as one means of determining who gets coveted entry into Harvard University and the University of North Carolina. According to media reports, most justices appeared ready to end decades of judicial precedent and rule the use of affirmative action at public colleges and universities, represented by UNC, is unconstitutional. The second case involving Harvard University, a private university, is also being considered and may determine how broadly the affirmative action ban might be applied.

The suit against UNC was brought in 2014 by Students for Fair Admissions, a conservative legal activist group. It accused the school of giving “mammoth” preferences to underserved minority students at the expense of white and Asian students. The average G.P.A. and SAT scores of white and Asian students who were admitted were 4.57 and 1375 compared to 4.4 and 1269 for black, Latino, and Native American students. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the newest addition to the Court wasted little time challenging the standing of Students for Fair Admissions to bring the case to the Supreme Court. She also took issue with her conservative colleagues’ insistence that the Constitution requires all US laws to be colorblind.

We would not be here had this country seen the value in educating all its citizens. In White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, the author Carol Anderson lays out in detail centuries of efforts to block African Americans and other children of color from receiving anything close to quality education, often with assistance from the U.S. Supreme Court. The infamous Plessy v. Ferguson decision in 1896 set the stage for Jim Crow laws by declaring segregation constitutional if there were separate and equal accommodations. This lasted until Brown v. Board of Education overturned Plessy. However, southern politicians refused to abide by the Supreme Court’s decision. Some shut down public schools rather than allow them to be desegregated. Efforts to educate descendants of slaves were thwarted at every turn.

Southerners could not reconcile being forced to surrender after a bloody civil war that freed the slaves. Their way of life was destroyed. In their minds, the slaves were still their property. Their hatred had grown more intense as it were slaves who fought valiantly for their freedom, killing and maiming confederate soldiers. It was unthinkable that these dark-skinned people would live side by side with them and their children. I can only imagine that some of them were driven mad by the very thought. The plan was to remove the freed slaves to some remote land, but it did not happen because the freed slaves were rooted in the soil after centuries on this land. Southerners did not want to live with them, but they knew they could not live without them.

When the Soviet Union launched Sputnik into orbit, America’s leaders realized they would need to get the best from every available talent, including black people, to compete. Yet, many could not get beyond their hatred. They would not do anything that might benefit the descendants of slaves or cause them to become legitimate rivals. America would be at war with herself for the foreseeable future. Drugs, crime, and confinement would be the future for too many black men with little or no education. Wasted human capital at a time when human capital is much in need. The Chinese awaits.

Another Supreme Court decision would cement inequality in America’s school systems. Decided in 1973, San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez held that property taxes may properly be used to fund public schools without violating the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The majority found that quality education was not a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution because it was neither ‘explicitly nor implicitly’ textually found in the Constitution. It is regarded by many to be one of the worst decisions rendered by the Supreme Court.

If the purpose of the Supreme court is to guarantee a fair and just society, it is failing miserably. If its purpose is to preserve white Christian nationalism, the future of the United States of America does not bode well. It will be an uphill battle for the Court. There are not enough white people to sustain this country. We’re all in this together, like it or not.

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