Thursday, April 24, 2014

Affirmative Action, or why I love Justice Sotomayor

When the SCOTUS ruling came out on 4/22/2014 regarding Affirmative Action—that voters had the right to smack down affirmative action admissions process via a ballot measure in Michigan, discussion, <here>, my stomach dropped a bit.  As a child of the 80s, I experienced this Affirmative Action subject not as some kind of controversial question, but a given, a right, a step forward in our great nation to level the playing field between the haves and the have-nots, to open doors that were closed based on race for generations, to help our country move forward as a true (and not fake) ‘melting pot’ we were taught about in third grade.  That racism was being addressed by the powers-that-be and that it was a fair thing to do.

And then I paused and scratched my head a little bit, too.  How could the Supreme Court smack down other extreme, discriminatory voter ballot measures (hello, gay marriage! California’s Prop 8!), discussion, <here>, but then support a similar, drastic voter measure in Michigan?  Seriously?  Ok, fine, admissions practices are not as easy to justify constitutional protections such as marriage or voting (oh wait, they blew up the voting right act, too, discussion <here>), but then again, the Defense of Marriage Act was passed in the 90s and upheld until just this year, so what gives?

My head spins.  And thankfully, Justice Sotomayor’s reasoning echoes my head spin on this, discussion, <here>.  The majority opinion is taking backward steps and not allowing protections under our constitution for racially diverse students applying to college.  At least, in Michigan.  And while Justice Sotomayor’s dissent, is that, merely the dissent to the majority, and not the ruling opinion, it gives me hope that there is voice to fairness and equality and that hopefully this conversation (er, battle), will not be over.  Because the race conversation, as much as people would like to believe has come to a close with the election of a Black president, is not over.  It continues to evolve and grow and change.

I have suffered racist comments and have a suspicion I’ve been racially profiled before.  And yet, I still have hope for my future and the future for my daughters—that the context we live in will be improved and keep improving.  Maybe it’s a blind hope, but one I will not give up on.  That whole, make a difference as best as you can in your personal life, be the change you want to see in the world, and all that. 

It’s hard to keep that hope alive when SCOTUS did what they did on  4/22/2014, but Justice Sotomayor sure did help me keep this little light of mine aglow and aflame.

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