Court Rulings May End Race-Based Mandates
by Jay Banks

Each year thousands of high school students spend a great deal of time, effort, and money applying to the colleges of their choice.

Each year hundreds of qualified students will be rejected at the college of their choice, not because they were not qualified, but because of the color of their skin.

The very programs that were set up to end discrimination at colleges are now the cause of this problem. A problem that some have labeled "reverse discrimination."

Two recent court rulings (one by the Texas Supreme Court and the other by the U.S. Supreme Court) have sent a message that the end is near for these discriminatory programs.

Their solution is to eliminate the consideration of race in college admissions altogether.

And so it should be, if all individuals are created equal then showing preference for certain races over another is wrong.

One of the cases in question regarded the University of Texas School of Law, which was found to have "substantial racial preferences" in its admissions program. The court's role was to determine if these admission policies were allowed under the Fourteenth Amendment.

On this, Circuit Judge Jerry E. Smith said:

"We hold that it does not. The law school has presented no compelling justification, under the Fourteenth Amendment or Supreme Court precedent, that allows it to continue to elevate some races over others, even for the wholesome purpose of correcting perceived racial imbalance in the student body. "Racial preferences appear to 'even the score' ...only if one embraces the proposition that our society is appropriately viewed as divided into races, making it right that an injustice rendered in the past to a black man should be compensated for by discriminating against a white."

This ruling sent waves of shock throughout Texas and prompted several demonstrations within days of the ruling.

The state of Texas has vowed to send the matter to the United States Supreme Court; but in light of recent ruling by the Supreme Court, it is very likely it may be upheld.

The recent rulings by the United States Supreme Court include the upholding of a ban by the University of Maryland on scholarships for blacks only.

This was an important ruling because it acknowledges what experts such as Yale Law School professor, Stephen L. Carter, have been saying: ``What has happened in black America in the era of affirmative action is this: middle-class black people are better off and lower-class black people are worse off.''

Some critics of affirmative action are pushing for helping all low-class people regardless of color. And this makes sense because a middle-class black person may not need help as much as a lower-class white person does.

As Paul Kamenar, of the Washington Legal Foundation, said, ``Why not give it to the white son or daughter of the coal miner in western Virginia instead of the son or daughter of the black doctor who doesn't need a scholarship?''

Critics of these rulings argue that there is no such thing as reverse discrimination. Their point is that for a situation of reverse discrimination to occur everyone must be on an equal level, which it is apparent that blacks are not.

Ruben Navarrette, Jr., pointed this fact out in his essay "Is It Reverse Discrimination?" when he wrote, "We have not ended the suffering of our old victims."

But, less than five paragraphs back in the same essay Ruben wrote: "My white classmates, many of them with grades not as good as mine and reeling from rejections by the schools that were admitting me, were far more direct. "Now, you know if you hadn't been a Mexican...""

This clearly demonstrates the need for and end to race-preference programs in colleges; if Ruben had better grades than his fellow classmates, a race-preference program was not needed.

The fact is, it should be insulting for a member of minority to be told they need special treatment.

Instead of engaging in race-preference programs, colleges should focus on rewarding the individuals who work hardest.

Indeed, a system that fails to reward hard work runs the risk of degrading the entire system, and it is quite clear that race-preference programs reward people for something other than hard work.




Copyright 1996, Media Bypass (Vol. 4, #8, August 1996, p. 22)

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