As many of you know (hopefully—pay attention to the world!) the Supreme Court recently upheld, in a 6-2 decision, the Michigan ban on Affirmative Action in regards to colleges. This means that race (along with sex and national origin) can no longer be considered when looking at applicants. Theoretically this is great and hypothetically is supposed to give every person an equal opportunity to get into college, yay! However, this isn’t how this is going to pan out because when those who are of a racial minority are collected into a single area the quality of education is typically lower than their white counterparts.
This means that racial minorities are not given the same opportunities throughout their education with less funding there is less after-school activities, less chance to take advanced and college level courses, and lower quality teachers. And Michigan is a state where about a third of the black student population attend public school where less than one percent of the population is white. So, what does this look like when it comes to applying for colleges? It means that an average white student at a predominately white high school’s application is going to look better than a top student of color from a predominately minority high school because of the fact that the white student is from the beginning going to have had more and better opportunities to excel. Take it this way an average white student will have probably taken at least one advance placement course and had some sort of opportunity for SAT preparation classes. The top black student will probably not have had these opportunities and while they would have done the best they can in their situation their achievement still won’t be as high as their average white counterpart. See the problem? This article does a great job of explaining it further because that’s not the point of this post.
My point is the fact that the reason that many people wanted Affirmative Action to be struck down was because they believed that racism no longer exists in this country. News flash! They’re wrong. Am trying to say that racism is as bad as it was fifty, or even thirty, years ago? Absolutely not! But it has transformed into something so unconscious that what we see as “normal” behavior is actually behavior tinged with racism. Yes, we still have outward blatant acts of racism (see Donald Sterling) but that’s not where the problem is hurting people the most because we’ve gotten to a point where blatant racism is a big no-no and acts along those lines have serious consequences. Where we still need help are those subtle forms that we can’t seem to shake and where things like Affirmative Action is necessary.
What are these subtle forms you might ask?
- The fact that students who live in a predominately minority neighborhood often receive poor education.
- The fact that black people make up only 13% of the population, but account for 38% of the state prison population
- The fact that when asked about those in the welfare system most people picture a black woman with too many kids or some immigrant when in reality the predominant people on welfare are white rural Americans.
- The fact that I can type “white people are” into a search engine and nothing pops up, but I type “black people are” and I get that they are rude, aggressive, and loud.
- The fact that I can be pretty…for a black girl
- The fact that there is a rift between light skinned and dark skinned people
This list could go on for ages and that is so disappointing. We think we are living in a post racial and colorblind world, but by attempting to say we don’t see race then we can easily ignore the problems that are still occurring because of it. It’ll be interesting to see the demographics of Michigan schools in about five years and then I guess we’ll get the answer on whether race matters.