By Abigail Richards, YWFC Co-Executive Director
We are beyond disappointed in yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling to overturn affirmative action. Affirmative action was put in place as a method to combat institutionalized racism and barriers that young people of color face. This is yet another backward motion that shows the influence and danger of white fascist campaigns on the continuous fight for freedom. This decision will only exacerbate the structural barriers that have continued to impact BIPOC students and decrease efforts to invest in BIPOC students at colleges and universities.
As a young person, I was taught to work twice as hard as my peers to be seen. When I got into top schools, a moment that should have been a joyful celebration of my hard work was tainted by white peers who said I had gotten in because of affirmative action. They disregarded my hard work and the real purpose of affirmative action, which is not to unduly advantage students of color but to address inequity in opportunity and access.
Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson said it best: “Deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life.” We must continue to fight towards our collective liberation now more so than ever. With this ruling, we have to not only think about how this is going to impact entry to higher education, but what happens after we are admitted, and even what happens when we try to get jobs.
We must use this time to reimagine liberatory ways of learning that serve young BIPOC people, support historically Black Colleges and Universities and institutions serving Indigenous and Latinx people, and create more spaces that center education as a practice of liberation. We deserve an equal right to an education. We deserve equal access to institutions that have turned away people of color for far too long. We cannot go backwards.