The SOMA Action Racial Justice Committee unequivocally rejects the Supreme Court’s ruling against Affirmative Action in the strongest terms possible.
That we have not seen the kind of public outcry about this ruling as we saw after it struck down abortion rights has disappointed, but sadly, not surprised us. Many People of Color have benefitted from Affirmative Action through acceptance to well, and highly regarded colleges and universities, to grants to complete their undergraduate education, to immediate acceptance to grad school and doctoral programs when others had to apply several times before being accepted.
On such occasions, People of Color experienced for the first and possibly the last time, the kind of privilege that White people receive at birth. Affirmative Action can even be considered an early form of reparations. Colleges and universities must now, more than ever, hold themselves morally responsible and commit to diversity to ensure that People of Color are provided with the same rights to higher education as their White counterparts. The fact that the Supreme Court followed this outrage against Affirmative Action with a ban on student debt relief the following day only makes the intent to curtail the achievements of People of Color more apparent.
In addition, any work that relies on race to promote Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is now in grave danger. There is an expectation that the Supreme Court will not stop at colleges and universities but will seek other areas in which to strike down Affirmative Action making it impossible to use race as a criterion for any benefits at all. Many Programs, including Diversity, Equity and Inclusion exist specifically to benefit People of Color. Of course, benefiting People of Color benefits us all, but this is exactly what those on the right wish to deny. As we have seen in Florida, the erasure of DEI is one of the first steps in the creation of a White Nationalist mindset and State.
This is a battle that we must all fight because as Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. We ask that everyone, regardless of race, sign the NAACP’s petition “…calling on colleges, universities, and corporations across the country to commit to diversity, no matter what.”
SOMA Action Racial Justice Committee
Barbara Velazquez, Chair