The Supreme Court just got done taking away the federal right to abortion and is now poised to end affirmative action nationwide. Dobbs v Jackson had a limited reach due to state protections, but no state will be safe from the upcoming affirmative action cases.
It will impact all universities that consider race in an attempt to foster diversity, regardless of which state they are located in. Indeed, after eviscerating a woman’s right to bodily autonomy, the Supreme Court has decided it’s the racial minorities’ turn to suffer (though I contend this will negatively impact all races).
I know the counterargument you’re thinking of. “How can banning affirmative action be racist if Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas supports it?” Here’s my response. “How can Hitler be antisemitic if some Jewish people supported him?” Do you see the problem?
When the Supreme Court does hand down its ideologically driven polemic posing as case law that ends affirmative action, the chief justice will likely give the opinion writing task to a lifelong opponent of the policy, Clarence Thomas. Rosa Parks said it perfectly when she said, “The Supreme Court now appears to be turning its back on the undeniable fact of discrimination and exclusion, ruling that anti-discrimination laws and remedies have gone too far. I believe that Judge Thomas will accelerate that trend and that will be destructive for our nation.”
Affirmative action was one of the remedies against segregation implemented by colleges in the 1960s. As Parks predicted, Thomas has pretty much ruled on justiciable racial issues no different than a random klansman would. When it comes to attacking affirmative action there are two arguments that Thomas has invoked that I plan to dispute.
The first is that affirmative action may make minorities dependent or entitled to racial preferences and second, it designates a “badge of inferiority” on all minorities by throwing their competency into doubt. Both of these arguments are specious.
First, Thomas alleges that affirmative action may cause racial minorities to “develop dependencies or to adopt an attitude that they are ‘entitled’ to preferences,” but this is ridiculous. Is there any data that shows that minorities who are beneficiaries of affirmative action expect diversity hiring to secure them a job? Even if there is (which I dare you to provide), what about racial majorities who receive preferential treatment at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other universities where their views and experiences are, but a whisper? Why does Thomas disregard these groups as being susceptible to dependency on racial preferences post-college?
Given that diversity hiring largely benefits white women, not minorities, you could argue there is a stronger case for racial majority dependence on racial preferences. So when Thomas fools himself and says he is doing this to make minorities more independent, racial majorities are far more dependent on these programs and they seem to be doing just fine in society failing to show any drawbacks to such dependency.
Finally, given that a bachelor’s degree isn’t all that common in the United States, and even less so for minorities, it is difficult to imagine why college-educated minorities would need preferential treatment in the workplace. Such people are better placed than most minorities and most Americans by the fact they hold a degree. Even when applying to jobs that require a bachelor’s, the fact is affirmative action didn’t take classes for minorities and make them meet the academic minimum needed for graduation, so I don’t grasp how minorities could become dependent on it. This criticism makes no sense.
Second, Thomas says affirmative action blurs unqualified minorities who got in through race and qualified minorities who would have got in through a pure race-blind meritocracy.
First, who cares? Employers can check GPAs to determine the qualifications of minorities and why should strangers’ views on someone’s qualifications matter? Are they going to pay their taxes next year?
Second, doesn’t Thomas’s mismatch theory solve this issue? Mismatch theory says that if a minority gets into an institute due to their race, they would blunder academically and face academic dismissal. Therefore haven’t all minorities who graduate displayed that they are qualified, by the fact they didn’t flunk out as others did due to mismatch theory?
What about those who are accepted through affirmative action and outperform applicants who were not? Thomas fails to account for these people as if they don’t exist. I don’t get why a rural white male accepted into Howard University due to the scarcity of his race is perceived as incompetent or undeserving. If he is undeserving, he will flunk out, and if he graduates, then how is there a question? And the rural white kid acceptance through affirmative action is “racial discrimination” against who? Presumably, Thomas would say it’s the Black people who run Howard, discrimination against the Black student body by introducing them to different viewpoints. What?
Affirmative action allows the rural white kid to get an education from the best HBCU in the country, and everyone else benefits from a unique (and presumably conservative) viewpoint. Thomas argues that mismatch theory causes most minorities to fail en masse and is thus of great harm to them. This is a lie, but it is a lie that will likely be used to reduce the number of college-educated minorities and Black lawyers everywhere in the United States.
Deven Pierre is a senior at the University of Connecticut.