Duvalier Malone
Duvalier Malone

Affirmative action is a set of policies developed and implemented by colleges and universities in the U.S. that include race as a factor in considering applicants for college and university admissions and ensure diversity in student populations. With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the judiciary has once again proved that it is no longer the last hope of the common man, as it had equally demonstrated in some cases in the past. The apex court had struck down the affirmative action policies on admission at two of the country’s foremost universities, Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, thus effectively ending the consideration of race as a factor for college and university admissions in the country and dashing the hope of millions of prospective students, who rely on such policies to gain admission to some of the world’s most competitive higher education institutions. Therefore, the Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action is a “tragedy” for minorities: it perpetuates the agelong system of discrimination and marginalization deeply ingrained in our nation’s tertiary education institutions against minorities.

The ban on affirmative action on admission will no doubt deepen the deep-rooted discrimination that exists in our colleges and universities. It is no longer news that many Americans are discriminated against on the basis of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, race, or religion in terms of seeking admissions to these schools. This culture that has survived the ages has deprived many of our people of their right to education and put a question mark on the much-touted egalitarian nature of American society. For example, Asian Americans faced discrimination in Harvard University admissions due to a few perceived strengths over White applicants, according to a study on Asian American discrimination in Harvard admissions. The discrimination comes in the form of a direct penalty in admissions and a penalty in some of the school’s ratings.

The end of affirmative action on admission reaffirms the fact that marginalization has come to stay in America, not just in our schools but in all spheres of our national life. Previously, the number of non-White students, including Asian, Black, Hispanic, Native American, Pacific Islander and biracial students, increased from 27% in 2010 to 35% in 2021. However, there was a sharp decline in minority enrollment in the leading public universities in nine U.S. states – California, Michigan, Washington, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nebraska, New Hampshire and Oklahoma – that had already banned affirmative action. In California alone, enrollment dropped to about 30 to 40% among Blacks and Hispanics after the elimination of race as a factor for consideration in school admissions, with predictions of a 10% drop in nationwide enrollments among these populations in the coming years following the ban. School administrators are well aware of the implications of such a ban. “We fully expect it would be a significant decrease in our population,” said Matthew McGann, the director of admission at Amherst College, Massachusetts.

While proponents of the ban on affirmative action, including Chief Justice John Roberts, who said “the color of their skin” should not be “the touchstone of an individual’s identity,” have hailed the recent decision of the Supreme Court regarding affirmative action, they do not see the bigger picture of its wider implications for other contentious issues, like the Voting Rights Act, which was introduced as a way of combating discrimination and protecting marginalized communities. However, with the recent judgment of the apex court, there seems to be a calculated attempt to orchestrate a broader plot to repeal or amend some laws, including the Voting Rights Act, that give some form of protection against discrimination and marginalization to minorities.

This is something that must not be allowed to happen, lest we are all doomed. As Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the court’s first Black female justice, puts it in a separate dissent, the decision is “truly a tragedy for us all.” All hands must therefore be on deck to seek more legal backing, through grassroots activism, community engagement, and voter mobilization efforts, to reinforce the Voting Rights Act against any future attempts to tinker with it to achieve a seemingly hidden agenda to continue the culture of discrimination, suppression, oppression, and marginalization against minority communities in an America where the concept of equality is only in principle. Let’s avert more looming tragedies by joining the fight for a fair and inclusive democracy now, before it is too late. A stitch in time saves nine.

Duvalier Malone is the author of “Those Who Give A Damn: A Manual for Making a Difference,” a motivational speaker, community activist and CEO of Duvalier Malone Enterprises, a global consulting firm. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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