The United States has reached a pivotal milestone in its 200-some odd year history. In an April 22 ruling, the United States Supreme Court upheld a Michigan constitutional amendment, which banned the use of affirmative action in the college admissions process. The Court sided six to two, with Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg providing the dissenting opinion. This is an unprecedented ruling, which states that the individual states should have the right to chose whether or not to use the basis of race as one of the determinants of college admissions, meaning it did not outright ban the use of affirmative action. Of course, a ban on affirmative action does not necessarily equate discrimination. This constitutional amendment was supported by 58% of the Michigan voters, which was surprising because most of Michigan voters classify themselves as liberal.
So it seems like the Unite States has reached a new age. The higher education playing field is level; no longer are minorities at such a disadvantage as before, so we no longer need affirmative action. Racism is a thing of the past; minorities have an equal chance of making in both this world and into college. After all, we can see this in my home state of California (which placed a ban on affirmative action), where Latinos are actually surpassing their Caucasian counterparts when it comes to percentage of 18-to 24-year-old High School graduates attending a university (29% and 47% respectively).
We are finally moving away from the damage caused by years of discrimination and Jim Crow laws, established to keep minorities at a disadvantage.
However, Justice Sotomayor wrote “Race matters… because of persistent racial inequality that cannot be ignored and that has produced stark socioeconomic disparities,” in her dissenting opinion on Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action. While racism and discrimination are not completely dead in America (more on that later), we have reached a point where it is no longer socially acceptable to have discriminatory practices and minorities have a better chance than ever to get into college and to make it big in this country. I myself can serve as a testament to this.
If we are to continue the practices of Affirmative action, we must ask ourselves if we are not being discriminatory towards other races in the process. If there are two identical students with the same GPA, test scores, and volunteer work, but one of them is Latino and the other is white, it is truly just to accept the Latino over the Caucasian simply because of race? They are both equally qualified for the position, yet only one of them gets it because he’s Latino. We must ask ourselves is this truly fair? In a way, we are babying the people who do get in via affirmative action. In a society as diverse as our own, we have to realize if we help one group, other groups should be entitled to the same help, or else we face risking unfairness and injustice.
Instead of creating a “leg-up” program based on race, we should be focusing on making sure everyone has the same chance at success, leveling the playing field early on. We as a country have a right that everyone, regardless of race or ethnicity, has the same chance at achieving the American dream. This cannot be done via affirmative action. There is still low-income, high-achieving students from every race, and often times because of practices such as affirmative action, Caucasians go without assistance from the government. Seeing how the education of its residents is one the best investments a country can make, we should be ensuring that these students have the same opportunity as success as everyone else, not just give a hand to minorities. I say this as a minority myself. I have struggled from time to time, but find it unfair and unjust that I should receive more help than a Caucasian student under similar circumstances. For most of our over 200 year history, the United States has been about favoring one group over another and placing handicaps on minority groups. We should be beyond that in this day and age. We shouldn’t be about favoring one race over the other.
Just because we have reached this turning point in our history doesn’t mean all is happiness and rainbows and that everyone gets along just fine and people are no longer discriminated based on their race/ethnicity. In fact, racism is still alive and kicking in the United States.
Earlier this week, TMZ released an audio recording of a private conversation between Los Angeles Clipper’s owner Donald Sterling and his girlfriend, V. Stiviano. Sterling was upset that Stiviano, his half black, half Latina girlfriend, took a picture with basketball great Magic Johnson and posted it on the social app Instagram. Sterling told her he doesn’t want her to publicize the fact that she socializes with black people and goes on to say he doesn’t want any black people going to his games. When the audio recording was released onto the internet, there was massive backlash.
Within days, sponsors began to pull their endorsements of the team and people everywhere demanded Sterling sell the clippers and stop any further involvement with the franchise. The NBA responded promptly, and commissioner Adam Silver imposed a lifetime ban on Sterling as well as a $2.5 million fine, the max the league can impose. Sterling can no longer go to any NBA games or practices or be able to conduct any business with the Clippers franchise he owns. However, commissioner Sterling cannot force him to sell the team. That’s up to the Board of Governors, or the 23 owners, who must vote with a three quarters majority to force Sterling to sell the team. Even after all this, we can expect a legal battle that may drag on for a while.
Sterling’s racist views have placed him in hot water before. He has been sued twice, on one occasion by the Federal government. Federal prosecutors charged his real estate company in the past for refusing to lease apartments to African Americans and the prosecution settled out of court for $2.7 million. During the first trial, a property supervisor that worked for him testified that Sterling had said that blacks “smell” and are “not clean”
It’s ironic that Sterling, a man with a half black girlfriend, mostly black players on his team, and whose team’s fans are predominantly minorities, would say such horrible, racist comments. John Stewart put it best: the only parts of Donald Sterling that aren’t racist are his d*** and wallet.
Another such example of why racism is still alive and kicking in the United States can be seen in state’s rights and right-wing activist’s favorite poster boy, Cliven Bundy. We’ve covered Mr. Bundy and his antics before and it seems like he likes the media attention so much that he doesn’t seem to have a functioning filter.
In an interview with the New York Times this past week, Bundy made no attempt to hide his racism and what he “knows” about the “negro”.
“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.
“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom”
So basically in the United States, if you are a white male stealing land from the Federal government, you are a patriot. But if you’re a black woman, you are “better off as of as a slave”. This automatically discredited any credibility that Cliven Bundy and his cause had prior to this. As soon as he opened his mouth, Conservative politicians and figureheads that once supported him began to take back their support and distancing themselves from Bundy and his comments.
The irony of it all is that Mr. Bundy is calling others freeloaders when he himself has been grazing his cows on federal land without paying grazing fees in over twenty years.