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Too Much Silence Around Affirmative Action

Julianne Malveaux | 6/21/2012, 11:04 a.m.

Policymakers are remarkably short sighted when it comes to affirmative action. By 2040, our nation will be majority minority, and our nation's economic survival will depend on this population being well-educated and able to provide the services our nation will need. We need more Black and Brown physicians, nurses, computer programmers, professors, and so many others. We won't have them unless we educate them.

Our method of delivery educational services has not improved in 40 years. We have not taken demographic differences into account when we look at education. Some say we should base college admissions solely on merit, but when has that ever happened? We give preference in admissions to legacy students, those whose parents attended the same college. We admit athletes simply because they can play sports. With women representing more than 55 percent of our nation's undergraduates, I've actually attended meetings about affirmative action for men (and that probably means White men since the number of African American men attending college has declined).

The Fisher case makes no sense, but silence around it makes no sense either. Last time there was an attack on affirmative action, lots of Fortune 500 companies, colleges, civil rights organizations, and even the United States Army weighed in. Amicus briefs must be submitted to the Supreme Court by August 6 in order to be considered. Time is running out and too many are fiddling while affirmative action is being dismantled.

Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and writer. She is President Emerita of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.