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Affirmative Action/In A State of Becoming

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Can we really believe the recent Supreme Court ruling does what President Bush said? He called the decisions “a careful balance” between the goal of diversity and “the fundamental principle of equal treatment under the law.”

Justice O’Connor provided the swing vote in keeping affirmative action alive, but then she back stepped ruling that while “race may be a plus in school admissions policies, it may not be an automatic plus to meet a set numerical criteria.” If the Court is truly buying into diversity, how do we objectively measure getting there from here?

Apparently, the President’s statement reflected a Justice Department “torn between the hardliners who demanded a pure colorblind policy ignoring past racial discrimination and the pragmatists who did not want to offend the corporate establishment nor Black and Hispanic voters.”

Can we believe the argument that we have achieved a socially neutral society in which color safely can be ignored? Justice O’Connor said that she hoped in 25 years we might get there, but we’re not there yet. The Black Voice: “all Black Americans wished there was no need for affirmative action because then our unemployment rate might not be double that of Whites and the Black youth unemployment rate would not be at 37% while White youth is at 15%.” Justice O’Connor says until we get there this country needs a system to assure that “the path to leadership is visibly open to talented and qualified individuals of every race and ethnicity.” The court missed the opportunity to widen the possibility.

I find it hard to believe the President’s statement even suggests that equal treatment under the law exists for the majority of students in our nation’s public schools, let alone in fact exists. Visit almost any inner city school for current data on how budget cuts and restrictions affect the allocation of resources, talent and curriculum.

• According to the Harvard Civil Rights Project: Black and Latino students are more segregated in impoverished school districts than at any time in the past three decades.

• Blacks, Latinos and low-income students are far less likely to have highly qualified teachers and be involved in challenging curriculum than White students (Education Trust).

• Additionally, the data shows a persistent gap in achievement that leaves even suburban affluent Black students lagging behind their White counterparts. Nothing short of special efforts will close these and other glaring gaps in preparation of our youth for leadership roles on a global scale.

The evidence is overwhelming. Affirmative action has benefited our nation qualitatively and quantitatively. All ethnic groups and genders have been recipients of its rewards. The private sector and military have found that it quite simply works. Undoubtedly, other challenges to its merit will come. However, good for all will prevail.

During the mid 70’s Minister Hugh Jackson served as Executive Director, Inland Area Urban League with office locations in San Bernardino, Riverside, and Ontario. At the latter part of the 70’s he accepted the position of Executive Director, Pontiac Area Urban League, Pontiac, MI. Simultaneously he became Founder and CEO of the Michigan Association for Leadership Development, Inc. from 1980-2002 (MALD, Inc.).

In January 2003, Jackson and his wife returned to Rialto, California where they have taken up permanent residency again bringing with them twenty-two years of experience in the trenches with African American young males, particularly 10-13 years of age teaching them the dynamics of becoming men and succeeding at it, empowering them to lead families, help build communities from a foundation that is spiritually rooted -- raising up a generation of 21st century men who will take the Black family to the next level.

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