Columnist discusses their opinion on affirmative action.
BY KAYLE LENZO, ’25. PHOTO BY KAYLE LENZO, ’25.
Legal decisions– especially ones delegated by the Supreme Court– have a range of different outcomes, and each has its differences that make it part of life. In civil society, the law should unpack these situations, identify differences among people, and be applied to settle claims. The goal should be creating rules for behavior that create consistency. But, systemic racism is not just a situation, it’s a ticking bomb. One of my favorite quotes from Malcolm X says, “If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there’s no progress. If you pull it all the way out, that’s not progress. The progress is healing the wound that the blow made. And they won’t even admit the knife is there.” To understand what affirmative action was is to understand stories. The stories of millions of Americans who wouldn’t have received equal opportunities from their government.
During this summer the Supreme Court struck down affirmative action, which has been in law since 1965. Ed Blum, a politically conservative legal strategist who has organized many lawsuits challenging race-conscious admissions, made the argument that the admissions process for college violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution and the Civil Rights Act — he also claims affirmative action at Harvard inherently discriminates against the Asian Americans community where he himself is not a student or Asian American. In 2016, the previous court upheld an admissions program at the University of Texas for a similar case.
Despite these facts, the new conservative Supreme Court super-majority demolished affirmative action based on false obligations of bigotry and bias. Due to the fact Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson attended Harvard, she wasn’t able to participate in the hearing. Over the course of the argument, the Justices seemingly spouted random nonsense. Chief Clarence Thomas stated, “I didn’t go to racially diverse schools but there were [still] educational benefits,” and “I’ve heard the word diversity quite a few times, and I don’t have a clue what it means.” Chief Justice Roberts said, “A student would not be a very savvy applicant because the one thing his essay is going to show is that he’s Asian American.’” In my opinion, any hope that they would find some way to keep the idea of affirmative action alive went out of the window when they overturned Roe v. Wade because when you have a court that’s willing to overturn 50 years of precedent and reduce women to the status of second-class citizens, it is not hard–in their mind–to overturn another 50 years of precedent. The court has the ability to strike down the law very easily. The ruling simply furthered the evidence of the court’s conservative tendencies. This is because of President Donald Trump’s appointment of three justices — who are all conservative.
Overall affirmative action is in no way an equitable solution to the problem of systemic racism, it’s just a bandaid over a deep historical wound. A better solution could include creating equal access at the beginning of the educational process. This could be done by increasing funding for education, which would give children more opportunities. Some of the funding could also go to after-school studies. Research from Afterschool Alliance found afterschool activities have a positive impact on disadvantaged students who otherwise wouldn’t have access to the type of support and capital these programs would provide. This study also shows afterschool programs promote positive youth development for the youth who need it most, and these programs improve school attendance and reduce behavioral issues. The funding would come from the multi-trillion industry from the defense district which, in 2023, was given $1.77 trillion dollars. Just a quarter of that would help less fortunate children across the country. With the solution I provided there wouldn’t be a need for affirmative action to exist in the first place.