Affirmative Action is Headed to the Supreme Court. Here's Why We Still Need It

Affirmative Action is Headed to the Supreme Court. Here's Why We Still Need It

On June 29th, the Supreme Court announced that it would rehear Fisher v. Texas, a case where a white woman claims she was denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin because of her race. In 2013 ProPublica reported, Fisher was a good student, but her grades and test scores weren’t high enough for admission. And while the university did admit 47 students with lower scores than Fisher, 42 of those students were white. There were 168 black or Latino students who had grades and test scores similar or better than Fisher’s who were also denied admission.

Ask any person of color who has achieved even a modicum of educational and career-related success if she’s ever been accused of being an affirmative action hire or just there for diversity quotas and there’s a good chance she’ll say yes. Affirmative action laws leave a sour taste in the mouths of many white Americans. In their minds, the only thing preventing them from being accepted into a prestigious university is their whiteness. Universities are giving away precious spots to black students, while white students get sidelined.

This view basically purports the idea that affirmative action has done its job and more. Minority students no longer need to worry about disadvantages in college admissions; it is now white students that are now at risk for discrimination. But, if that’s truly the case, the numbers don’t add up.

It’s true that college enrollment is up among blacks and Latinos, but the race gap in educational attainment isn’t closed yet. According to FiveThirtyEight about 70 percent of white high school graduates go to college while just 65 percent of black high school graduates do the same. In 2013, 40 percent of whites between the ages of 25 and 29 had a bachelor’s degree or more. Just 20 percent of blacks could say the same. Minority students are also less likely to attend selective schools like University of Texas at Austin.

So, never fear white students of America—your skin color isn’t holding you back, but your grades might be.