Sunday, May 18, 2014

Affirmative Action, Color Blindness and Tyranny

Last month, the Supreme Court decided a major civil rights case, Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action. Throughout the opinion, the justices stated that the case was not about merits of affirmative action. According to justices, the case was simply about the political process doctrine. However, in fact, that case was all about the future of affirmative action. The case served as a proxy battlefield in the fight over affirmative action.

For now, the conservative justices prevailed.  The majority essentially gave states the blueprint to effectively dismantle affirmative action. As this Nation approached the 60th anniversary of Brown v. The Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court basically said that the white majority can change the rules of the game in the middle of the game and make it more difficult for African Americans to enact and/or pursue policies, like affirmative action, that benefit us.

In Michigan, others may simply lobby university board members if they seek to changes university admission policies regarding legacies, geography and athleticism. On the other hand, African Americans and other minorities seeking to create race sensitive admission policies must obtain the vote of two thirds of both Houses of the Michigan legislature. Alternatively, we must 10 percent of the voters sign a petition in order to get the matter on a ballot. After getting the matter on the ballot, the majority of the voters must vote to lift the ban on affirmative action. In light of the current political climate in Michigan, such obstacles are virtually insurmountable. Unfortunately, as a result of Court's decision, the tyranny of the white majority will prevail over the minority.

In the name of promoting a so-called color blind society, the Supreme Court is gradually reversing the gains of the civil rights movement. As Justice Sotomayor points out in her powerful dissenting opinion, race neutral alternatives are not an effective substitute for affirmative action. After Michigan amended its constitution to ban affirmative action, there has been a 25% decline in black admissions to the University of Michigan.

Sadly, this is just the beginning. It may be an omen of the end of affirmative action nationwide. The doors of opportunity will slam in the faces of our youth and their precious dreams will be snuffed out like the flame on the tip of a cigarette.

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