When You Don't Support Affirmative Action, You're Saying #AllLivesMatter

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Here’s a quick game of catch up: The United States has a long history of racism. Affirmative action is a relatively new thing that helps give minorities a better shot at combating said racism. And, the Supreme Court has heard a case to do away with affirmative action in a university setting. Of course, that's about as oversimplified as you can get. So, let’s break it down.

Affirmative action programs help people who have not been treated justly to get a fair shot at success. It is a conscious effort to try and right the vast and atrocious injustices that are so deeply rooted in our prejudiced culture. President Lyndon Johnson dropped this wisdom nugget regarding such issues: “You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say you are free to compete with all the others, and still just believe that you have been completely fair.” In order to help bridge the opportunity gap, the government has to step in and say hey, don’t be racist. Now, a white girl from Texas is calling that practice into question.


Fisher v. University of Texas is the case in question. Abigail Fisher applied to UT Austin in 2007 and was not admitted. She claims this is because of the holistic approach that universities take in admissions—Meaning the school looks at the whole person and not just the GPA and SAT score. However, she couldn’t prove it with hard facts. The court first heard her case in 2012, after she had already graduated from a different university, and the Supreme Court shot it down 7-1. The case was sent back down to lower level court in order to assure a fair verdict. But now here we are again with Fisher II. The main question on trial here is the fairness of affirmative action.

Affirmative action is a program to help those who have been marginalized. The important thing to recognize here is that affirmative action is not some special golden ticket that certain races are handed so they can cut to the front of the line. That is not how this works.

Affirmative action, as I see it, is a way to even the odds. Take, for example, the popular study in which researchers sent out resumes with the same credentials but different names. On average, resumes topped with a historically black name got called back for an interview 50 percent less than those with a white name. That’s not right. It shouldn’t happen, but it does. It happens every single day. By legislating affirmative action, the government is essentially saying that while companies may want to hire Jake no questions asked, they need to interview Jamal as well, because racism. This is a hypothetical conversation that needs to happen on every level—University, professional, and everywhere else.

Demeaning affirmative action is essentially the equivalent to crossing out #BlackLivesMatter and writing #AllLivesMatter. When you only acknowledge that humans matter, and refuse to say specifically that black humans matter, you are saying that black people are already treated as equals. This implies that black people are not discriminated against and that their struggle for equality is not valid. So, before dissing affirmative action, think about the underlying structural problems, and the real people these programs are meant to help. It’s not about giving people of color something unearned. It’s about recognizing that for centuries, white people have benefited from advantages they’ve never worked for.

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