Over the last several months we have witnessed a direct and concentrated attack against Latinx immigrants by the federal government. We saw the gut-wrenching pictures of immigrant children lying on concrete floors behind fences, separated from their parents. We heard the heart-tearing cries of immigrant children crying out for their parents, confused about their sudden and violent solitude. The condemnable and undeniable attack against immigrant minorities has been conveyed by the federal government as a return to law and order — as a rescue mission for constitutional principles that were lost during President Barack Obama’s two terms in office.
Now, the Trump administration has another target: college acceptance (and secondary school placement) of minorities. On Tuesday morning, it was announced that “The Trump administration will encourage the nation’s school superintendents and college presidents to adopt race-blind admissions standards.” The Trump administration will advise school leaders to turn a blind eye to affirmative action policies that have attempted to aid in providing equal opportunities for education and work to minorities who have historically suffered discrimination. Though Trump’s advice is only that, advice, we cannot ignore the fact that minorities continue to be targeted in our country.
The effects of affirmative action policies are not as significant as the intentions behind these policies. The idea that college acceptance cannot be focused solely on merit is a recognition of the fact that minorities have been historically and systematically underserved, and as a result are not given the the appropriate tools to be competitive in a merit-based education system. Affirmative action requires that schools take race into consideration when admitting students to their academic programs because we must recognize that merits, or a lack thereof, is the byproduct of systematic educational practices that (based on race) favors some and ignores others. The fact that Trump’s administration wants to roll-back any affirmative action practices (practices which have been deemed legal by the Supreme Court) is further proof that our federal government both participates in and does not want to recognize systemic racism in our education system.
As I write this, I cannot shake-off the haunting reality that I live in California, a state that has banned affirmative actions policies since 1996 through proposition 209. California’s education system is perhaps one of the most diverse, and it is unfitting that we are a state that refuses to recognize, at least in principle, that we have some of the most underserved students in the nation. Affirmative action is needed to shed light on the fact that our merit-based economy does not have a level field. I hope to see the day when California does not echo discriminatory laws promulgated by our current federal government.
Recent events have all been justified by the idea that we must go back to ‘law and order’, that we must rescue and protect constitutional principles for the sake of our nation’s health. This traditionalist perspective that has been adopted by Trump’s administration sounds healthy and wholesome at its forefront, but it hides an damning fact: the constitution was not written for people of color. A return to our country’s founding principles would mean, and effectively does mean, a return to a world where women, Black and African-American men and women, children, Latino/as, Asians, Pacific Islanders, Indians, Muslims, Buddhists, and all non-whites and non-males are considered inhuman property to be kept or discarded at “We the people’s” discretion. A return to traditional law is a return to discrimination, and the stance against affirmative action that Trump’s administration will encourage is just one more instance where minorities get a glimpse of the lacking value we hold for our current federal government.
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