Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Without Some Affirmative Action, Bros Won’t Look At You

Jose Vilson Jose 1 Comment

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

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I see any argument against affirmative action as invalid. Time and again, I see clear examples of situations where there was a rather conscious decision to exclude because of “fit,” which is just doublespeak for “whatever’s normal and profitable to us.” Which is often to the detriment and ostracization of an “other.”

Thus, I have something else to add to the plethora of things I’ve already said:

Affirmative action is my best friend. Actually, it’s every person of color’s best friend. And, mostly, it’s white women’s best friend. We ought to embrace affirmative action with both arms wide open and say “Thank you!” For, without affirmative action, we leave the decision of selection to those who would relegate we of different experiences and perhaps more negative perceptions of the fairyland they call united.

While one might say, “What do panels and media staff have to do with anything?”, to which I respond, “With all the qualified and vested individuals out there, many of whom have passed the respectability politics test from some institute of higher learning, would you think that the panels and staff put to the fore still look like this or would they be more representative of the wealth of knowledge out there?”

The nice part of you wants to believe that the selectors will come to their own egalitarian way of approaching diversity and pick folks outside of their country club or beer garden. They don’t. It’s the same people speaking the same language inculcating each other on their rightness, flabbergasted when the rest of the world looks at their selection with rolled eyes and loud sighs. Once the reactions flow in, a promise to “improve” always comes out, and a few people of color get a “privilege-to-be-here-so-take-it” pass, even if they may not get a chance to speak up and out.

As an after-thought. Not a “before-thought” the way legacies do at Ivy Leagues or “thought” the way bros with beard implants get. An after-thought.

That’s why, when Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented in the recent affirmative action case, I nodded like my head was about to fall off:

“In my colleagues’ view, examining the racial impact of legislation only perpetuates racial discrimination. […] This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable. As members of the judiciary tasked with intervening to carry out the guarantee of equal protection, we ought not sit back and wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society.”

Affirmative action isn’t a handout. It’s the idea that everyone who isn’t a “bro” should have a part to play. We can’t just wish racism away. If institutions continually perpetuate racism, then the institution has a hand to play in dismantling racism. Otherwise, expertise, like those linked above, looks bleached, devoid of the gradients this world allows us.

Jose

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About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.