Recent Supreme Court rulings on Affirmative Action policiesby Ronald Pecorry Editor Satire and Comment
(ACPA-Atlanta) Segregation of white and black students in US public schools was outlawed in 1955 with the Brown v Board of education ruling. Integration policies such as preferential allocation of space to minorities, often known as affirmative action or positive discrimination, have been widely used since then to ensure racially diversified student populations.
However, the Supreme Court recently overturned efforts by schools in Seattle, Washington and Louisville, Kentucky to ensure integration of African American students into their schools in what appears to be a reversal of the 1955 ruling. The line taken by the Supreme Court was that these integration policies are creating a new discrimination against white students and violate guarantees of equal rights.
Logically this is correct - if you integrate a black student into a school you are indeed depriving another student, presumably white, of that place.
A New form of Discrimination?
In order to provide meaningful comment on this ruling I have considered the following question - Has the discrimination of white students caused by integration policies become a greater problem than the discrimination prevented by affirmative action? Asked another way - have we moved so far from our past that we no longer need programs that promote equality and must instead be conscious that such programs may be creating a new form of discrimination?
My opinion is that the Unites States has not yet achieved sufficient equality among the races in education and employment, and that affirmative action is still required. A frank review of 400 years of US history led me to this conclusion:
- For the first 250 years of settlement, one could own African Americans and sell them in the manner of cattle.
- Following the civil war there was 100 years of despicable economic discrimination and 'yours and ours' segregation at water fountains, restaurants, movie theaters, schools and many other areas of day to day life.
-There has been legal equality of the races for little over 40 years of the Nation's history.
Hearts and Minds
Legal equality of the races has pushed our society towards equality in education and the workforce, with hearts and minds most certainly changing along the way. But in light of our national experience and previous practices, it is entirely unreasonable for the Supremes to make its recent leap of faith.
I am willing to accept that there is something inherently dubious in positive race biased policies but it is still a necessary tool today. I look forward to being part of a nation where such concepts as mandated integration will be unnecessary, outdated, even surprising. But we are not there today.