Making Our Voices Heard
When the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear the University of Michigan’s affirmative action case and render what will undoubtedly be a landmark ruling on the issue, I honestly thought there would be more of an outcry from civil rights groups lobbying the administration, making the case in support of affirmative action. But it’s been rather quiet, with the exception of the press conference held by several Latino organizations (see stories, pgs. 6 and 18) and the filing of some friend of the court briefs. Can we no longer make the case for affirmative action?
Many argue that we can and should still make the case for affirmative action. And more so, those who support it should not apologize for it. As critical race theorists have argued for the past two decades, affirmative action should not be viewed as a deviation from the norm. The contemporary idea that there was once an unbiased, neutral, level playing field and affirmative action came along and disrupted it is just plain false. Just look closely at our nation’s history, they say. Still, opponents seem to overlook the historical aspect, arguing primarily that affirmative action is “reverse discrimination” and that trying to achieve a diverse student body does not justify race-conscious admissions policies.
After a long silence on the matter, the Bush administration made clear its position on the University of Michigan’s affirmative action policy at Black Issues‘ press time. The day before legal briefs were due to the Supreme Court, President Bush declared his opposition to the Michigan plan, saying the policy “amounts to a quota system that unfairly rewards or penalizes prospective students solely on their race” and called it “fundamentally flawed.”
Affirmative action is one of those issues that people have strong feelings about, whether in support or opposition. It remains to be seen how influential the Bush administration’s stance will be with the Supreme Court. I hope the voices of others will resound as loudly as the administration’s.
Both sides can debate the issue, but ultimately the Supreme Court will have the last word.
Caribbean scholars and activists are certainly trying to make their voices heard on another serious issue which is having a devastating impact on the African Diaspora and the African American community in the United States — AIDS.
Our cover story, “A Predator in Paradise,” written by Black Issues alumna B. Denise Hawkins, takes a look at the efforts under way in the island nations of the Caribbean, more specifically at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, where scholars are taking steps to educate national leaders about HIV/AIDS and methods to curb the spread of the disease. The scholars, based in both the Caribbean and the United States, are taking on a huge task which is trying to change the way many Caribbean governments think about HIV/AIDS. It should follow that new thinking and increased awareness will improve governments’ approach in combating the deadly disease.
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Could training in implicit bias be helpful at your institution?