Affirmative Action Opinion Not as Plain as Black and White ; FROM THE LEFT

By Estrich, Susan | Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current), April 28, 2014 | Go to article overview

Affirmative Action Opinion Not as Plain as Black and White ; FROM THE LEFT


Estrich, Susan, Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)


In the mid-90s, I got a call from a television network asking me whether I would be available to do a segment on affirmative action. "So are you for or against affirmative action?"

I explained: I'm against affirmative action, if you mean do I think that someone should automatically get a contract, even if they're not the low bidder, just because of race. On the other hand, where there's a history of discrimination or a compelling need for diversity, then yes, I support affirmative action.

"That makes so much sense," the young woman said. "So would you say you're for or against affirmative action?"

I tried again with more examples: why it's important to have black students even if they are from privileged backgrounds, because they likely will have experienced discrimination in ways other students haven't; why in places where there are few blacks in leadership positions you have to count to make sure unconscious patterns of discrimination don't persist.

In 2003, the United States Supreme Court upheld the admissions policy at the University of Michigan Law School, which took race, among other factors, into account in admissions.

Three years later, the voters passed a referendum that barred public colleges and universities from affording "preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin. …

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