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The End of Affirmative Action and the Attempt to Erase Race

Photo: Joseph Prezioso / AFP

In a landmark decision on June 29, the Supreme Court, by a 6-3 vote, effectively abolished affirmative action as we know it. The lawsuit was initiated by a group called Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), which argued that these policies unfairly discriminated against Asian American applicants to Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, where race-conscious guidelines allegedly undermined their likelihood of acceptance while boosting opportunities for Black and Latino students. This nation’s highest court agreed.

This decision was particularly meaningful for me, because I am, in part, a product of America’s tortured history of racism and its incomplete effort to acknowledge and atone for that history. I’m a descendant of enslaved people on both my mother’s and father’s side, in Virginia and South Carolina. My maternal grandmother was the first Black person to work in the Supreme Court building. Many decades later, with the determination of my mother and the help of loans and scholarships, I attended the private Sidwell Friends school in Washington, D.C. While there, I considered many possible colleges, but the Harvard admissions official who visited for an information session really grabbed my attention. David Evans was a bowtie-wearing Black man from the South. Seeing him represent the school made me think I might seriously be able to go there and find a place. I applied. Harvard accepted me, and I accepted Harvard. Now, the admissions process, which I’m certain took my race into account, is severely restricted from doing so thanks to the decision of the Supreme Court in which my alma mater was a named defendant.