A recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit struck down Michigan’s 2006 referendum, which had ended the practice of affirmative action admissions in public universities throughout the state.
The reaction by many is mixed; there are cheers for social justice and racial equity… and there are many who decry the ruling because they feel it’s institutionalized racism.
Now, let me clear the air by saying I’m for affirmative action because I believe that Michigan, as a state, as a society, as a culture, is racist against persons of color. That being said, I also believe that education is an awesome tool in enabling upward mobility and Michigan’s public universities are going to need to do a better job of enabling students of color to succeed if they want to retain the numbers of students they currently have. For support, Michigan is losing population, including potential college students, so to maintain the level of in-state students colleges and universities are going to need to look at populations they have not traditionally admitted.
“Populations they have not traditionally admitted,” unfortunately, means persons of color.
However, the case of winners and losers, I believe, is also beside the point. From what I have observed, comments about affirmative action admissions practices are decried because they will hurt the admission of average, middle-class, white males.
I strongly disagree that the outcome of affirmative action admissions practices will hurt average, middle-class, white males. In fact, I believe that, long-term, it will benefit average, middle-class, white males.
First, back to my previous point about shrinking population in Michigan. Michigan’s bleeding population is bleeding because they’re mobile. Mobile is code for: educated enough to find work elsewhere and physically able to move… and the mobile population is white. Furthermore, the few populations that are growing are persons of color-Latin@s and Arabs.
Second, working to provide education for a very large population in the state of Michigan, African-Americans, will only benefit the state. It’s no secret that many African-Americans are disadvantaged in this state (see my thoughts above), and products of that disadvantage can be demonstrated in education completion, job attainment, family income, etc. Certainly, in a time where Michigan could use a boost in attracting companies here for employment opportunities, educating the WHOLE workforce (not just white males) would be a boon for the state.
As Rick Snyder and Dave Bing say, “Without Detroit, Michigan will fail.” And to loop it all back around-Detroit is not going to get better without holistic support of its population from its legislature and those who vote them in.
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that this will be heard in the decision-making process about the fairness of affirmative action admissions practices by the U.S. Supreme Court. The last major affirmative action supreme court case (in favor of) was a 5-4 decision in 2003-Grutter v. Bollinger-and this time Sandra Day O’Connor has been replaced by conservative Justice Alito. If Alito dissents from the last decision, this policy will be overturned.