Supreme Court Rules Affirms Race Consideration in Admissions

US Supreme Court 1935 Washington, DC, USA

US Supreme Court 1935 Washington, DC, USA

In a 4–3 decision the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the University of Texas’ (UT) admissions process, which considers race as a factor in a holistic review of applicants.

This decision is a victory for students who will get a fair shot at an education. We strongly agree with President Obama that this ruling affirms “diversity is an important value in our society and that this country should provide a high-quality education to all our young people regardless of their background.” The Supreme Court’s decision also helps solidify affirmative action’s role in college admissions to create an inclusive campus environment for students.

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We’re With Justice Sotomayor on Affirmative Action

This weekend, Justice Sotomayor was on ABC’s “This Week” to make the case for affirmative action and to talk about her own experience with it. We have to say, when this wise Latina is right, she’s right!
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Want to Understand Race? Let’s Acknowledge Our Implicit Biases First

By Joseph Rendeiro, Media Relations Associate, NCLR

“Not to sound racist, but….”

“Why isn’t there a ‘White Entertainment Television’?”

“He’s so cute…for a black guy.”

In what seems like ages ago (aka two years) for the social media universe, a viral video called “Sh*t Girls Say” blew up on the Internet, inspiring hundreds of equally humorous parodies for every possible type of person, from Asian grandmas to hobbits. And while the videos were meant to be funny, highlighting extreme stereotypes in jest, reading video creator Francesca Ramsey’s thought process behind the making of her video sheds light on how something seemingly innocuous can offer legitimate social commentary. For Ramsey, the video is based on her real-life experiences and meant to both make people laugh and open their eyes to how they treat others of a different race.

Race is a difficult topic to address and often one that gets overlooked. Yes, we have Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month. Societal changes have spawned younger generations that are generally more inclusive and recognize that racism is unacceptable. But the reality is that many of us continue to treat people, and oftentimes people of color, differently because of our own biases, which, to be fair, most of us don’t recognize we hold on to.

With the help of partners such as NCLR, NAACP, and a host of others groups, MTV recently launched the “Look Different” campaign, an initiative aimed at younger generations to combat inequality based on race, gender, and sexuality. The campaign spotlights implicit bias—attitudes that a person may hold about another group of people at an unconscious level—that can manifest in exactly the kind of language Ramsey uses in her video. These comments and actions may not be intentional or have any malice behind them, but their effects are nonetheless damaging for minorities.

LookDifferent_logoThe “Look Different” campaign is focusing on race and ethnicity first, providing teens and young adults with a number of tools to help them not only recognize bias but also address instances of bias when they witness or experience them. Part of NCLR’s broader body of work is aimed at teaching the public, and particularly youth, about the effects of racial and ethnic bias, so we specifically worked with MTV to ensure that stereotypes and biases about Latinos and immigrants were addressed. Users can learn about the common types of racial bias that they may engage in without realizing it. For example, the site explains the concept of microaggressions, which are seemingly harmless phrases that add up to make people feel as though they are different or don’t belong.

The overall goal is to change people’s attitudes with the language and tools necessary to discuss a subject that many feel is off limits. By challenging existing beliefs about topics ranging from undocumented immigrants to affirmative action, we hope to make teens and young adults think twice before they call something “ghetto” or say that their friend “only got into this college because he’s Hispanic.”

Words have an impact; it’s time we start choosing them more wisely.

Do you think that you are biased? Explore lookdifferent.org and discover how your views may shape your interactions with certain groups of people. 

Our Students Deserve a Better Opportunity

On April 22, in a 6–2 decision (Justice Elena Kagan recused herself), the Supreme Court found that a state can prohibit considering an applicant’s race when determining admission for public colleges and universities. The decision, Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, ruled on a question that was taken up by the court centered on a 2006 Michigan referendum known as Proposal 2, which added language to the state’s constitution that prohibits using race as a factor when determining admission. The decision leaves the court’s 2003 Gratz v. Bollinger case intact, which affirmed a public institution’s ability to make race-conscious decisions.

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The larger implication of this decision is that states with growing or prominent Latino populations can pass amendments similar to Michigan’s, which could prevent a public institution from making race-conscious decisions. This means that the benefits of experiencing diversity that come with interacting with people who are different from you, which were so eloquently outlined in the military and Fortune 500 amicus briefs, and were mentioned in Grutter v. Bollinger, may be lost for allstudents. In addition, according to Lyle Denniston from SCOTUSblog, while this ruling was “focused on the use of race in selecting new students for public colleges, it presumably also would permit voters to end race-conscious policies in [the] hiring of state and local employees and in awarding public contracts.”

NCLR is concerned with the ramifications of this decision and will be monitoring the situation carefully in the coming months. Latino students deserve a better opportunity to succeed in this country and this decision doesn’t bring us any closer to equality.

Justice Sotomayor made the unusual move of reading her dissenting opinion from the bench. In it, she chided the majority for wanting to “wish away” this country’s problems with race rather than tackle them. We agree with Justice Sotomayor and thank her for standing up for the minority communities that will be affected by the court’s misguided opinion.

You can also say “thanks” to Justice Sotomayor. Just fill out the form below and we’ll send her your message of support.