The Supreme Court recently upheld a Michigan referendum that repealed affirmative action initiatives in the state's public university system.
These initiatives, rolled out as a part of the affirmative action plans following the Civil Rights Movement, aimed at correcting the stark racial disparity evident across America's institutes of higher education. The repeal process was spearheaded by the Center for Individual Rights, an organization dedicated to the deconstruction of affirmative action initiatives across the nation since 1989.
As part of the affirmative action ruling Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, public universities were not required to adhere to "colorblind" admissions practices. Students who hailed from minority populations — African American, Native American, Pacific American and others — were given preferential treatment in their applications.
We at the Future believe that, in a democracy founded on the principles of "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness," equality among its citizens ought to be first and foremost among the government's national priorities. To that extent, we mirror Justice Sonia Sotomayor's rebuttal in opposition to the court's ruling.
"This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable," Sotomayor said. "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination."
Even a quick look at U.S. Census data reveals that racial disparity is still a real and enduring issue in the halls of higher education.
According to the 2010 Census, the population of the US was: 75.1 percent White, 3.6 percent Asian, 12.3 percent African American, 0.9 percent American Indian and Alaska Native, 4.6 percent Asian American, 0.1 percent Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, 5.5 percent other race and 2.4 percent two or more races.
Compare this to college demographics, wherein whites earned 72.9 percent of bachelor's degrees; African Americans, 10.3 percent and Hispanics a meager 8.8 percent. That's a difference that numbers in the tens of millions.
Since beginning data collection in 1999, the Census has reported that there has been an 89 percent increase in associate's degrees awarded to African American students, and a 53 percent increase in bachelor's degrees.
Affirmative action works. After nearly two centuries of systemic and institutionalized disenfranchisement, minority populations in this nation are finally approaching equity in education, income and opportunity.
Shall we be so quick to roll back methods proven to promote equality within our nation? Shall we be so quick to forget the sins of our forebears?
We say no.