Examining the Significance of Affirmative Action: Striving for Equitable Opportunities

This post will not be as polished as others – i need to speak a little freely. I am passionate about some of thee topics and serious lines are being crossed and redrawn.

So..They did it. Are we really surprised? Nope but kinda..

We had to sit with it for a few days.

Many in the Black and Brown communities anticipated this ruling. 

Nonetheless – Its still jarring, the reality of it is still settling in. 

Let’s cut to the chase here, folks. Affirmative Action? Yeah, it’s a hot potato, no denying that. You’ve got folks on all sides, getting heated, throwing around opinions like they’re going out of style. What’s at the crux of it all? Well, Affirmative Action is really all about trying to fix the past and create a more diverse present. It’s about giving a leg up to those groups who’ve been left on the sidelines for far too long.

Now, for those who are up in arms and suggest affirmative action is nothing more than reverse discrimination – lets be clear there is no such thing. Full stop. Let me tell you what many of my mentors dropped on me over the years: nothing, and I mean nothing, can hold a candle to the horrors of enslaving Africans, enduring Jim Crow, or facing the ongoing mass incarceration of Black and Brown communities. It’s like trying to compare a papercut to an amputation – no contest. Now, some folks out there might try to argue otherwise, but let me be clear: this ain’t up for rational debate. If you’re curious and actually want to educate yourself on why reverse racism is a myth, do yourself a favor and dive into the work of Robert S. Chang – the article is a bit dated but still resonates today. Trust me, it’s an eye-opener.

Affirmative Action is about a whole lot more than that. It’s about leveling the playing field and striving for a society that’s more equitable. So, before you write it off, take a step back and look at the whole shebang. It’s not just about reverse discrimination – it’s about moving us toward a fairer society. And, isn’t that something worth fighting for? In fact, the dismantling of Affirmative Action, coupled with targeted attacks on all things DEI, is causing a brain drain of epic proportions from certain states. It’s like witnessing an exodus of brilliance, as talented minds seek greener pastures elsewhere. According to a recent report by the Tampa Bay Times, several State University Systems in Florida are currently grappling with a significant loss of faculty members. The scale of these departures has raised eyebrows, leaving many to ponder who exactly is bidding farewell to these institutions. The situation calls for careful consideration and investigation into the factors contributing to this trend.

Addressing Historical Inequities

Affirmative Action didn’t just pop out of thin air, you know. There was a real need, a calling, to fix the wrongs of the past, to say, “Hey, we see you, we acknowledge that some groups have had it rough due to systemic discrimination.” It’s all about leveling the field, giving everyone a fair shot, whether it’s in the classroom, the job market, or anywhere else.

You see, Affirmative Action isn’t just about pointing out past injustices and saying, “Well, that was bad.” It’s about actively stepping in, giving targeted support to those who’ve been left out in the cold. It’s like giving someone a boost to help them see over a tall fence. And by doing that, it’s making the playing field a little less bumpy for those groups who’ve been at a disadvantage for far too long.

Encouraging Diversity and Inclusion

Here’s the scoop on Affirmative Action. It isn’t just about righting wrongs – it’s a big-time cheerleader for diversity and inclusion. So here’s the tea on Affirmative Action. It isn’t just about righting wrongs – it’s a big-time cheerleader for diversity and inclusion. It’s not just a band-aid for past mistakes, it’s practically leading the parade ( a double entendre) when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Pardon the low frequency sass- one of the folks penning this article lives in a place (here’s looking at you, Sunshine State) where the concept of “woke” and historical facts seem about as foreign as snowfall. But hey, even in the land of endless summer and “alligators in your backyard,” a little enlightenment and grounded truth can go a long way! It’s like a welcome sign that says, “Hey, no matter where you’re from or what your story is, you’re valued.”

You know… society’s a melting pot, brimming with all sorts of perspectives, ideas, and talents. And that’s where Affirmative Action really shines. It takes this smorgasbord of people, with all their unique experiences, and weaves them into our schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods.

And what do we get? A crazy-cool cocktail of creativity, innovation, and cross-cultural understanding. It’s about smashing those pesky barriers to bits and creating a space where everyone’s got a fair shot to strut their stuff. Because, let’s face it, everyone’s got something awesome to bring to the table.

Overcoming Implicit Bias and Stereotypes

No matter how much we think we’ve moved forward, let’s face it, we’ve still got these nasty little things called implicit bias and stereotypes creeping around. They’re like that unwanted party guest who just won’t take the hint. But here’s where Affirmative Action steps in, like a superhero in a world gone a bit sideways.

It’s all about judging people by what they can do, not by some preconceived idea. It gives everyone a nudge, sort of saying, “Hey, you’ve got some biases; let’s deal with them.” It’s about changing minds, breaking down barriers, and shifting attitudes.

At the end of the day, Affirmative Action is all about creating a place where you’re seen for your talent, your skills, and your accomplishments, not where you’re from or what you look like. And isn’t that the kind of world we all want to live in?

Strengthening Society Through Equal Representation

Affirmative Action, my friend, is like that wise auntie who reminds us just how vital representation is in those high-and-mighty spots—be it the boardroom, the courtroom, or the hallowed halls of government. It’s not just about giving everyone a seat at the table; it’s about making sure those seats aren’t all filled with the same type of people.

By pushing to sprinkle just a little bit of diversity in leadership roles and decision-making bodies, Affirmative Action works like a megaphone for the voices of those who often get lost in the shuffle. It’s all about making sure the suits at the top echo the colorful diversity of those at the bottom. It’s about showing us all a more inclusive picture, one where decisions and policies truly mirror the kaleidoscope of needs and dreams of us all, not just a select few.

But it doesn’t stop there. Affirmative Action is also a superstar when it comes to clearing the path for the next generation. It’s about showcasing role models who break the mold—people who look, live, and love just like them. It’s about smashing through those glass ceilings and outdated stereotypes and creating a society where anyone can see themselves in a position of influence.

So, yeah, Affirmative Action is more than just a policy—it’s a vision of a world where the power structures genuinely reflect the beautiful, messy diversity of the people they serve. Now, wouldn’t that be something?

Creating Pathways for Socioeconomic Mobility

Affirmative Action isn’t just playing in the race and gender arena, folks. It’s also stepping up to the plate when it comes to tackling the gnarly beast we call socioeconomic status. It’s like that tough-as-nails coach who sees potential and isn’t afraid to call foul on the uneven playing field.

See, it gets that not everyone’s starting from the same spot on the track. Some folks have had a tougher climb due to economic disadvantages, facing steep hills where others have had smooth pavement. Affirmative Action doesn’t shy away from this. Instead, it builds a ladder, making it easier for those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds to reach those juicy fruits at the top: quality education, good jobs, and better chances to move up in the world.

The endgame? It’s all about creating a society where your wallet size doesn’t dictate your life’s trajectory. Because, let’s face it, being born on the wrong side of the tracks shouldn’t mean you’re stuck there. With Affirmative Action, we’re saying that everyone deserves a fair shot, no matter where they started. And that, my friends, is a goal worth fighting for.

Old News, New Twist

Alright, here’s a newsflash for you. Affirmative Action isn’t the new kid on the block. Not by a long shot. In fact, racial preferences have been woven into the very fabric of the American Dream since way back when the Pilgrims first set foot on Plymouth Rock. The Homestead Act was a United States federal law enacted in 1862 that granted eligible individuals, excluding former slaves and immigrants, the opportunity to claim and acquire up to 160 acres of public land. To qualify, applicants had to improve the land by building a dwelling and cultivating crops, after which they could obtain ownership of the land for a small fee. The Homestead Act played a significant role in the westward expansion of the United States and the settlement of the American frontier. The exact amount of land and money given to Whites through the Homestead Act can be challenging to determine with precision. However, it is estimated that over 270 million acres of public land were distributed under the Homestead Act between its enactment in 1862 and its expiration in 1976. Racial preference has always existed in the U.S.

That’s right, history’s got the receipts (for those of you who still dig history, that is). This whole concept of selective access to resources and opportunities depending on race Yeah, that was business as usual. Mr. Tim Wise, in an old-school IQ2 debate, went all guns blazing, arguing for affirmative action. I haven’t watched the clip in over 10 years, and it was still an auditory gem after a decade. He was dropping knowledge bombs left, right, and center, educating the crowd that affirmative action has been a thing for white folks and is still very much alive today.

But guess what? The minute Black and Brown folks got their VIP passes to this so-called racial preference fiesta, all hell broke loose. Like, seriously, people, was it okay only when it was an exclusive club?

If you’re looking for a good read on the subject, check out Ira Katznelson’s 2006 book, “When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America.” It’s a solid deep dive into how racial preference has always been part of our history.

And just to clear the air, I’m not one to sugarcoat things. Affirmative Action is indeed about racial preference, and yeah, minoritized folks should be getting that preference. Every darn quality of life indicator out there shows that something’s not quite right and explicit and targeted intervention is necessary.

And sure, there are those who like to use fancy language and coded dog whistles to try and dance around it, but the reality is clear: race still plays a massive role in determining one’s lot in life, just as it did 100, 200, or 300 years ago. Anyone denying that is living in a different reality.

What really gets my goat is this half-baked notion that a mere 50 years of painfully slow progress can somehow undo over 500 years of systemic advantages and disadvantages. Think of Newton’s Laws of Motion applied to social issues. It’s like throwing a pebble at a giant boulder and expecting it to change course. Yet, here we are, barely 60 years after the Civil Rights Movement, and some folks are ready to call the game over.

This kind of thinking, with its embedded cruelty, is eerily reminiscent of the hardships faced by the ancestors of Black and Brown folks. And it’s high time we called it out for what it is. 

Time for a Wake-up Call

Let’s chat about the power players in our Black and Brown communities—the ones who are already stepping up and making waves. And to all those folks out there who seem to have missed the memo, here’s a newsflash: our communities aren’t to be messed with. I mean, really, at what point do we need to blast out reminders that the Black community’s spending power hit a mind-blowing $1.6 trillion in 2022? Yeah, you read that right: $1.6 trillion! Why on earth are folks still treating us like second-rate players? And the real question is, why are we letting them? Seriously, it’s teeth-grittingly frustrating.

But let’s cool down and refocus (cue Woosah). There’s plenty of fire in this post already, and both my co-writer and I have to check our Jersey City and Bronx alter egos before they jump out and take over. Don’t worry, we’re keeping things family-friendly here, but let’s get real for a second.

Power Brokers

Our communities are packed with power brokers, celebrities, athletes, politicians, you name it. These folks are far more than just their job titles. They’re influencers, trendsetters, and trailblazers. They’re the ones with the spotlight, the ones with the megaphones, and the ones who can effect real, lasting change.

But they’re not alone in this. We all have a part to play. Let’s use that $1.6 trillion worth of power and influence. Let’s make them sit up, pay attention, and stop playing games with us. Because if there’s one thing that’s clear, it’s that we’re far from being benchwarmers in this game.

The Graffiti Writing’s on the Wall

Let’s break it down, folks. If we don’t swerve hard on this treacherous road we’re on, we’re looking at changes so massive, they’ll rearrange the landscape. The effects won’t be confined to a single sector; they’ll ripple out across the board.

Starting with higher education. We’re talking about a groundswell of students pouring into Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the next few years. We’re not actually mad at this prospect, though.  We digress. At first glance, you might think, “Great, more students getting educated. What’s the problem?” Here’s the deal: it’s not about more education, it’s about segregation sneaking back in through the back door. Schools will become more segregated again, than jobs/workspaces , then neighborhoods. At a time when we should be reaching out towards each other we are going to put things in motion to push us further apart. Not smart at all from a societal perspective. 

We forsee the possibility of a radical shake up in favor of Black and Brown communities in light of this travesty of justice. The potential for a radical shake-up. Picture a bona fide Wakanda or a, Black Wall Street 2.0, hub where Black and Brown talent and creativity run wild and free. We’re talking about forging places that uplift us and that are built for us, not shoehorning us into molds we were never meant to fit. This would be kind of cool, we can’t front (forgive the intermingling code-switching). 

Amidst the buzz following the recent SC ruling, a chorus of insightful scholars is painting an exciting picture of seismic changes in enrollments at both PWIs and HBCUs. Get ready to witness a dynamic shift that promises new opportunities and vibrant diversity on campuses across the nation. Let’s put our future-gazing goggles on. Following the Supreme Court ruling, some big-brained folks are predicting that we might see a shake-up in student demographics at both Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

These predictions suggest that enrollments at HBCUs could see a significant increase, sorta like a student population boom. Now, this wouldn’t just be about numbers. This could potentially enrich these institutions, leading to a rejuvenation of sorts, with more resources and more diverse courses on offer. On the flip side, PWIs could see a change in the complexion of their student body. If the ruling deters some minority students, these institutions might need to rethink their strategies on how to maintain a diverse and inclusive environment.

In short, we could be looking at a bit of a student shuffle between PWIs and HBCUs. It’s too soon to tell how this will all play out, but one thing’s for sure these are interesting times in the world of higher education! Although varying opinions abound a few days after the SC ruling regarding the possible fall out, some notable scholars are predicting seismic changes in enrollments at PWIs and HBCUs

But let’s not skip the harsher postulations. Work places could be next. The dividing lines in workplaces and communities could grow bolder, and the seeds of racial mistrust could sprout and flourish. In a world where country stability is so important global rankings. Again, not smart SC …not smart. 

The worst-case scenario? Our dear old US of A becomes more susceptible to outside interference. Political instability worms its way in, and the nation’s global clout takes a nosedive. Yes, Affirmative action isnt perfect but it is the best mechanism we have at this time to ensure equal opportunity]. Ever hear of the phrase “cutting off the nose to spite the face” is a saying used to express a needlessly self-destructive over-reaction to an issue. It means to take an action in anger, frustration, or revenge that ends up causing more harm to oneself than to the person one is trying to hurt or the situation one is trying to improve.

Now, to the power structures that hold the reins at Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs): Pay attention. If the moral imperative to right past and ongoing inequities doesn’t get you moving (you know, the whole “justice” thing), then let’s talk about something you do care about: your bottom line. Higher education demographics have been shifting towards minoritized students, especially Black and Brown, for a while now. And if you keep playing games, you’re gonna miss out on a massive pile of cash.

This isn’t a done deal, folks. It’s a warning, a flashing red light. We need to change our course, and it’s got to happen yesterday. Because if we keep speeding along this path, we might find ourselves dealing with a fallout that we’re utterly unprepared for. Here is one way you can support and get involved National Defense Fund.

The Complexities of Affirmative Action: A Closer Look

In 1903, W.E.B. Du Bois rocked the world with his seminal essay, “Souls of Black Folk.” He delved deep into the struggle faced by Africans in America, coining the term “double consciousness” to describe their social isolation, trapped between their African heritage and their denied American identity. It wasn’t a predicament experienced by African immigrants who chose to come to America, but rather a painful inheritance for those whose ancestors were violently uprooted from their homelands to build a country from which they were systematically excluded. 

Du Bois aimed to awaken the conscience of White Americans, shedding light on the atrocities they had initiated, perpetuated, and benefited from. However, in the years that followed, critics emerged, pointing out Du Bois’ colorist elitism and his potential ignorance of the privileges he enjoyed as a light-skinned man in a nation deeply entrenched in anti-Black slavery, nurtured by the likes of Willie Lynch.

Fast forward to 2023, and the conversation around affirmative action is steeped in historical context. Affirmative action emerged as a policy response to the deeply rooted institutionalized racism, nourished by the oppressive Jim Crow era. The question we must ask is, “What prompted the need for affirmative action?” We encourage you to take the time to read Du Bois’ “Souls of Black Folk” to gain a deeper understanding.

However, let’s approach this from a slightly different perspective and reframing. In June of this year, the Supreme Court delivered a significant opinion on affirmative action, but it’s not the root cause of the issue. Allow us to discuss a possible root cause. This time, it’s about the challenges faced by White individuals—their struggles. We often hear the cliché of rugged individualism and self-determination: “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” However, this statement often overlooks the privileges enjoyed by certain individuals—their shoes, their straps, and their easy access to resources. It conveniently ignores those who have been intentionally held back for centuries, with their shoelaces tied together.

Moving forward, we need to move beyond this narrative that arises whenever there is progress for historically disadvantaged groups, with privileged White Americans lamenting that their opportunities are taken away by affirmative action. Now, there is a moment in history where the responsibility to succeed falls squarely on the next generation of White Americans in a system designed in their favor. The pressure is not on African Americans; it rests firmly on White Americans. This moment introduces a new form of “double consciousness” for them—a sense of unearned advantage and experiencing failure without excuse. Welcome. 

This social condition is unfamiliar to Black individuals who have grown accustomed to relying on the benevolence and/or guilt of their White counterparts. It is equally unsettling for White individuals who have used affirmative action as a second chance in life. For the first time in a long while, White Americans, not Black Americans, will have to compete without making excuses. As an African American, I have been shaped by this very moment, enduring a long history of policy failures from the Supreme Court. I am prepared both mentally and emotionally. So, let’s meet at the starting line. If and only if we agree to keep the race and track we are all running on level and fair. 


While the controversy surrounding Affirmative Action remains, its integral role in addressing historical inequities, encouraging diversity and inclusion, confronting biases, promoting representation, and creating avenues for socioeconomic mobility cannot be dismissed. Affirmative Action, though not flawless, serves as an instrumental tool in rectifying the deeply entrenched imbalances prevalent in society. By endorsing Affirmative Action, we edge closer to a future marked by fairness and justice—one where opportunities are dictated not by one’s background but by their abilities and potential. These deliberate actions are the stepping stones towards a society truly embodying the ethos of equality and opportunity for all.

The following piece is a collaborative effort between Arian L. Bryant and Lawrence Q. Alexander, born out of a conversation sparked by the recent Supreme Court decisions on Affirmative Action. It will be posted on our respective websites. We hope you find it engaging and insightful.

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