The Student News Publication of Warren Township High School

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The Student News Publication of Warren Township High School

Scratch Paper

The Student News Publication of Warren Township High School

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Exploring Students of Color Responses to Race-based Affirmative Action Ban

Let’s say responses varied from angry and plain confused. 

To give a little context, here’s a short history lesson on Affirmative Action. Affirmative Action was instituted in the 1960s to fight against racial and gender discrimination in higher education. This forced not only institutions to be race conscious, but the workforce as well when hiring. While people argued Affirmative Action put non-people of color at a disadvantage, the entire purpose of this executive order was to accept more students of color that had historically been excluded from college and universities. 

On June 29, 2023, the Supreme Court of the United States prohibited the use of race-based Affirmative Action on college admissions. A tool used to bridge the gap of unequal representation in higher education and stop the lack of fair consideration of people of color has been outlawed. 

What do students of color have to say about this? I asked upperclassmen of different ethnicities around Warren Township their opinions and thoughts.

Upon questioning, Kayla Cameron, a Hispanic and African-American senior, responded, “It’s bullsh**! We are minorities, first of all, the world is against us, so just them taking that off..” She paused. “It gave us a boost to get back up to white people.” Kayla was referring to the gap of unequal representation of POC (Persons of color) in higher education. “I feel like that’s bull and they should bring it back.” 

I can sympathize with Kayla’s statement considering myself as a black woman, and oftentimes being the only black person in the room in my more advanced classes. This has been a consistent disparity between POC with a lack of inclusion and opportunity in higher education. There have been systems against us in the past, and they still hurt us today. Affirmative action fought back, but now it’s banned. 

One student, a Mexican senior, shared a story where race impacted her cousin’s college application. “My cousin had to take care of her siblings and she couldn’t go to clubs and go all out for school.” She was referring to building an appealing high school resume. “You have to be able to see that potential and see what’s happened in the past, and the colorblind thing takes away from that.” Looking into her family and their culture, college admissions might have been able to better understand why her cousin was lacking in clubs and community service. Many Hispanic families value family togetherness, and it was her cousin’s responsibility to take care of her siblings. But without that closer look into an applicant, a college will only know so much.

Another student, an African-American male junior, responded, “It doesn’t make sense. The entire point of the Affirmative Action thing was to implement more people of color into predominantly white institutions. Taking that away is like a huge step back when we’re trying to make steps forward.”

His last statement resonated with me. Diversity rates have improved, but not by a lot. This isn’t because there aren’t smart students of color, but as history has shown, PWIs were never looking for intelligent students of color. This is what led to the need of a program like Affirmative Action. A quick search of Harvard’s diversity rate serves as an example. In 2021, 9,623 degrees were awarded across all undergraduate and graduate programs at Harvard University. The most common race/ethnicity group of degree recipients was White (3,798 degrees), 258 times more than the next closest race/ethnicity group which was Asian (1,478 degrees). That difference is insanely high but this is the reality of people of color shown in higher education.

More students felt that opportunity was being taken from their futures. Heav Gutierrez, a Mexican senior said, “I feel like it takes a huge piece of opportunity since the background of a student really decides who they are. It takes away the meaning of what a POC experiences.He feels as if it degrades the experience as a POC and truthfully, I didn’t even consider that side of schools being color blind.

 More from Heav, “I feel like if you have a color blind perspective for the students– ” His friend chimed in, a Hijabi senior, finished his sentence, “I feel like you’re just going to see the student the way you wish instead of for who they actually are.” 

How can a college truly understand me if they aren’t considering my race? The admissions office will never know about my feelings of isolation in my class, nor my experience of feeling detached from my own community based on the lack of other black students in my advanced classes. It’s difficult to tell someone about yourself without revealing one of the most vital identifying ways such as your ethnicity. I don’t believe it’s fair for them to suddenly decide a student’s race is unimportant. Especially when the people making this decision don’t know what it’s like to be us. And let’s be honest: college admissions may be colorblind, but the world is not; never has been.

Ayanna Pettis, African-American junior, responded, “I feel like we are always going to have a disadvantage getting into higher education because we are the minority.” Essentially she is saying Affirmative Action could only do so much and, with or without it, minorities were always going to have a hard time.

Seeing the ban placed upon race-based Affirmative Action, I can’t help but look at Legacy in college admissions. Does that not unfairly benefit some applicants and exclude others? I asked a student how they felt about Legacy still existing when race-based Affirmative Action was banned, he replied, “I haven’t even thought about that.” 

It feels like a scam of sorts. So you’re telling me Affirmative Action was unconstitutional, yet Legacy that predominantly aids white students isn’t? Who else is going to have a Legacy established at Harvard, or Princeton, or Columbia. The answer? White students. For generations, their education was uninterrupted, meanwhile students of color were fighting to just be allowed to step foot into those same institutions. 


About the Contributor
Sa'mihah Dilosa
Sa'mihah Dilosa, Staff Writer
I'm a student-athlete, basketball is one of my many passions. I'm a certified book lover and I enjoy writing.