With the recent talk about the Supreme Court case involving Abigail Fisher, a white woman who brought a suit against the University of Texas-Austin because she was denied admission due to affirmative action quotas, it has brought back a conversation that comes and goes every so often. But it looks like this time around, it may run the risk of being tabled for good. And by that, I mean causing affirmative action to be done away with for once and for all.
Let me preface my argument with this; at one point in time, I strongly debated within myself the validity of affirmative action. I reasoned that during a certain time in our country’s controversial history, the need for black people to have access to opportunities that those in power were not willing to get give them mandated that something be put in place to afford them that. Affirmative action was it. Because of the policy, black people who would have never gotten into certain universities, or certain industries have changed their lives and ultimately changed the world. I concluded that during its “heyday,” it did a lot of good for people of color but perhaps since we have progressed so much from the times of Jim Crow and the civil rights movement and black folks were able to get jobs on their own, affirmative action could be phased out.
Then, an unprecedented amount of black people were killed for what seemed to be sport. We were murdered in the streets of American cities and in the jail cells across the country. I started to realize that while black people have climbed way up the proverbial latter of success, we are still regarded as “lesser thans” in comparison to “others” and that proved something to me.
It proved that although we have been given (and earned) upfront positions and positions of influence, we are still not valued as much as nonwhites. We are not cared for, considered, or counted as much. And for that reason, the resounding answer to what seems to be the million-dollar question right now is yes, affirmative action is still needed.
And this is what white people, in particular, white women, have to understand. You see, Abigail Fisher and women like her don’t recognize their privilege and many times that causes them to make fools of themselves. Yes, she looks like a fool bringing this suit against affirmative action, which may doom it all together. She then will sit around proudly that she brought down affirmative action. That she ruined chances for others because she was sour, she couldn’t make the cut.
But is that really a win? Because you feel that you were discriminated against over this ONE thing in your lifetime. Imagine how it feels to, on a consistent, lifelong basis, have the color of your skin be the reason that you are overlooked for something in which you are qualified. How would you feel Abigail Fisher and every other person who thinks she is taking a stand, to fight for everything and still have doors slammed in your faces?
Now I know that a lot of people will not get what I am saying, and that’s fine. They’ll call me a racist, an idiot, an “angry black woman,” and that is fine. What is not fine is the audacity that Fisher and others display in their quest to “find justice.” Where is the justice for the millions who came before affirmative action? Does history not mean anything to anyone? Or is it only the history of people like us that we care about? As a black woman, I have had to learn my history on my own because what was taught to me in the public classrooms of America does not reflect the truth. The truth that even with affirmative action, black folks and people of color still are at a disadvantage.
The thing that bothers me the most about this situation, which has been brought to the forefront of the media’s agenda, is that it is rooted in privilege. Privilege is something that I speak on often because it is ever in my face. From social media to TV shows to commercials, I am forever reminded of “my place” in society. When non-women of color like Fisher feel that their “discrimination” is a singular occurrence that happens, it is a slap in the face to those of us who have stood in her shoes and had no other recourse than to encourage ourselves that we’ll get it next time.
What can we really do, though? At this point, it is all in the hands of the Supreme Court and my hope is that they understand what is really at stake here.