Dr. Alwin Spence
Once again the ugly head of Racism was raised by none other than the highest court of the United States. Affirmative Action has been shot down, down, down. Perhaps it was not a surprise to many because it points to the injustice of the American system, and any acknowledgement of Affirmative Action is also the confirmation that injustice existed. You see the systematic screening of Black people from certain schools and colleges, and job opportunities, limiting their efforts to rise to the top is the indelible rule, written or just act out. Affirmative Action came into place to correct injustice, not to perpetuate it. To provide equal education at all levels for all groups is not taking from one group to give to another. It should be that all have access to every level of education and employment. This did not exist. So to rectify this imbalance Affirmative Action was introduced.
Let us remind ourselves. The original intention of A.A. was to alleviate under-representation and to promote the opportunities of defined minority groups, Blacks, Hispanics and women, within a society, to give them equal access to that of the majority population.
This was often instituted and promoted by the government and educational settings, to ensure that certain designated groups within a society are able to participate in all provided opportunities, including promotional, educational, and training programs. However the stated justification for A.A. by its proponents was to help to compensate for past discrimination, persecution and exploitation by the powerful ruling of a culture, and to address existing discrimination. More recently, A.A. concepts have moved beyond discrimination to include diversity, equity and inclusion, as motives for preferring historically underrepresented groups. At the same time Canada may appear progressive as its Employment Equity Act requires employers in Federally regulated industries to give preferential treatment to four designated groups, namely, women, persons with disabilities, Aboriginal peoples and visible minorities. One must note that from the outset of A.A. the proposers were very careful not to suggest preferential treatment as a way to limit or control discrimination. So by giving Blacks special treatment is in itself a form of discrimination. Rightly so, but it is not preceded by prejudice. Negative discrimination is a natural offshoot of prejudice, while correctional discrimination may evolve from Affirmative Action.
DID AFFIRMATIVE ACTION WORK?
Yes, it did. In 1955 only 4.9 % of college students 18–24 were Black. In five years the figure rose to 6.5%, 7.8% in 1970, and by 1990 11.3%. Increased educational activities have revolutionized Education. Through the availability of student aid programs, and aggressive recruitment and retention programs, the college-going rate for Blacks and white students who graduated from High school became equal.
Another spin-off of this program is the growth of women graduates in both the first and second degrees. Many Presidents including John F. Kennedy issued Executive Orders in support of A.A. He was a friend of the Civil Rights movement. Obama, also was supportive.
Affirmative Action has been the subject of numerous court cases, and has been questioned upon its constitutional legitimacy. Many States have outrightly banned it claiming it to be nothing more than reversed discrimination. The Civil Rights movement has fought all of these challenges. However, June 29, 2023, the Supreme Court of the United States, the highest court in the land ruled 6–3 that the use of race in college admissions is unconstitutional. Big loss for the honest proponents of A.A. But losing a battle is not the same as losing a war. The fight still goes on. We have come too far to stop or to turn back.
The President Biden initiative to ease the burden of student loan as it affects so many minority poorer students has been scuttled. Another fight, on another front.
The fight will not go away.