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The Affirmative Action Debate Continues

 What is Affirmative Action? 


Affirmative action is something that has long been controversial among Americans, sparking heated debates about its validity and effectiveness. Affirmative action is the practice of colleges favoring the admission of disadvantaged groups in order to eliminate discrimination and allow more success for minority groups in the future. The ultimate goal of affirmative action is that it should not have to exist in the future because it makes systemic changes. As of last week, the Supreme Court decided that affirmative action was unconstitutional. Regardless of one’s stance on the matter, it is unfathomable to envision the United States without the presence of affirmative action, considering that even one of our past presidents has openly benefited from the program. To support affirmative action, one needs to understand how it positively affects everyone by creating new perspectives and leveling the playing field.


On June 29, 2023, The Supreme Court decided to overturn affirmative action. Defending the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, "Students must be treated based on or her experiences as an individual—not based on race. Many universities have, for too long, done just the opposite." However, this statement fails to recognize race's impact on life experiences. In the United States of America, race alone can serve as a barrier in one's life, necessitating acknowledgment when attempting to understand someone's past. While we aspire for equal treatment of all individuals, it would be ignorant to believe that equality always comes to fruition in the United States. Hence, when seeking to understand someone's life journey and achievements, it is crucial to consider whether they faced any obstacles, and how their life might differ without those barriers. For example, a student from an affluent family might have time to study where a student from a lower income family might have to work two jobs. The former also might be able to take the SATs several times, after hiring a tutor to help them prepare. Extra curricular activities, something schools want to see, might not be financially possible for the latter.


How affirmative action has affected America so far


Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the greatest minds in American government, held strong opinions about affirmative action, as it played a pivotal role in enabling her to thrive in predominantly male educational settings. It is impossible to pinpoint the current position we would be in without the female leaders who were able to begin their careers thanks to affirmative action. Ginsburg eloquently explained that,  "Affirmative action measures are consistent with governments' obligations under international human rights to enact temporary positive measures to guarantee the equal enjoyment of rights." By implementing measures to level the playing field, affirmative action aims to create a fairer and more inclusive society.


Myths of Affirmative Action


Is the fight to end affirmative action merely a result of a lack of understanding about what affirmative action truly entails and who the beneficiaries are? It seems that everyone benefits from affirmative action, as so many influential politicians would not have a voice without it. Yet, the media often fails to frame it in such a manner. There are numerous advantages of affirmative action that extend beyond the apparent incentives. For example, it is crucial to recognize how it positively impacts non-minority students. Harvard.edu stated, "These students have more positive racial attitudes toward racial minorities, they report greater cognitive capacities, and they even appear to engage in more civic participation after college."

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