Color struck court
7/6/2023, 6 p.m.
For many of us, the joys of summer involve spending time in our gardens, toiling intently until a chorus of red, white, blue or purple flora reveal a luminous rainbow to be admired by anyone in sight.
Yet, too often, the tranquility of such artistry is shaken by a sudden sting or bite from other earthly inhabitants known as mosquitoes, hornets and snakes. Once attacked, we may recoil from spending so much time outside, reminded that although humans need many of those unwieldy creatures for survival, their venom can be deadly.
Which leads us to compare our multi-legged and winged outdoor companions to our far right two-legged friends who spend much of their time sitting inside the U.S. Supreme Court.
For several weeks we were warned that the high court likely would strike down affirmative action in college admissions. And while its 6-3 decision came swiftly a week ago, it still stings.
The verdict, declaring that race cannot be a factor in college admissions, now forces institutions of higher education to find new ways to achieve diverse student bodies, reads one news media account.
“The court’s conservative majority effectively overturned cases reaching back 45 years in invalidating admissions plans at Harvard and the University of North Carolina, the nation’s oldest private and public colleges, respectively,” states The Associated Press.
“The decision, like last year’s momentous abortion ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, marked the realization of a long-sought conservative legal goal, this time finding that race-conscious admissions plans violate the Constitution and a law that applies to colleges that receive federal funding, as almost all do.”
Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog, which presents independent analysis and coverage of the Supreme Court, noted, “The decision also overrules the court’s 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, in which the court upheld the University of Michigan Law School’s consideration of race “as one factor among many, in an effort to assemble a student body that is diverse in ways broader than race.”
So here we are, 20 years later and forced to find other ways to achieve diverse student bodies in many of the nation’s leading institutions, many of which are funded by taxpayer dollars.
Such a stinging insult, no matter how it’s delivered.
Most Black people, Native Americans, People of Color, immigrants and others are used to a lifetime of racial discrimination, economic inequality and being held to higher standards than white people. Black students and Black employees at majority white institutions carry the weight of being scrutinized, marginalized and weaponized in majority white classrooms and workplaces throughout this country. We seek entrée into such institutions to create better lives for ourselves and our families. We learn to ignore the slights, stares and snubs from people who don’t look like us.
As a result of the court’s decision, the good news is that we don’t have to rely on admissions offices or any other entities to “find another way” for us to enter colleges and universities that five white justices and one Black conservative justice believe should be available to us based on “experiences” rather than race.
Surely, they jest.
Black folks are accustomed to “making a way out of no way,” and stories abound about Black men and women who have sat alone in classrooms, slept in segregated campus housing, eaten breakfast, lunch and dinner solo and suffered silently when chastised or called out by white professors who disliked having to teach them.
That’s what many Black students “experience” daily within mostly white spaces then and now.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities, our HBCUs, have long opened their arms to not only educate us, but offer the nurturing that so many “mainstream” colleges and universities never will.
And, despite lingering questions about the need for HBCUs, Black students will continue to enroll in them in record numbers as has been seen since George Floyd’s murder three years ago.
In the meantime, we will continue to push for our own seats in predominantly white classrooms and workplaces. And if that means finding other ways to get there, so be it.
If we can continue to withstand the bites and bruises inflicted by our pesty invertebrate friends indoors or outside, pushing back against a conservative court that also lacks a backbone is child’s play.