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Even with Affirmative Action Ban, African Americans Will Thrive

by Todd A. Smith

 

Survivors

          African Americans have always been survivors.  From the Middle Passage to the election of President Barack Obama, no matter what obstacles have been placed before us we have not only survived, but also thrived.

For instance, when the Montgomery bus system would not integrate in 1955, we banded together with many like-minded people of a lighter hue, and car-pooled and walked throughout the city of Montgomery, Ala. until our mission was accomplished.

          On Tuesday, the United States Supreme Court upheld Michigan’s ban on affirmative action in college admissions.  For decades, all minorities have benefitted from the use of race, gender and other demographic categories when it came to college admission and employment.

          Furthermore, since affirmative action was outlawed in California, African American enrollment at schools like UCLA has declined.  In the decade following California’s Proposition 209, African American enrollment at UCLA declined 57 percent according to NPR.

          In November 2013, the Huffington Post reported that, “African Americans make up 3.8 percent of the [UCLA] student population…(and) Black males make up 3.3 percent of the male student population, and…65 percent of those Black males are undergraduate athletes.  Of the incoming men in the freshman class, only 1.9 percent of them were Black.”

          While affirmative action is still needed because race still matters in America, I am probably one of few African Americans that will not bat an eye when affirmative action disappears from the equation in America. 

The reason I will not be sad at its demise is because African Americans have always been like a phoenix that rises from the ashes.  When people count us out is usually when we really achieve our greatness.

          And furthermore, I will be glad to see the day that bigots cannot falsely hold affirmative action over the heads of successful and professional African Americans as if the only way we can be qualified for a job is through some form of preferential treatment.

          When slave masters doubted the intelligence of African Americans, we used our own ingenuity through songs to assist escaping slaves on their route to the north.

          Furthermore, when people like Harriet Tubman were smart enough to escape to freedom through the Underground Railroad, she was even smarter and braver to sneak back down south, undetected, to help others find freedom.

          When Adolf Hitler bragged about the superior Aryan race, athletes like Joe Louis and Jesse Owens kicked racism in the behind for everyone to see, despite the weight of the world being on their broad shoulders.

          And during the Civil Rights Movement when bigots again questioned our intelligence, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was smart enough to utilize Gandhi’s message of nonviolence to break the backs of bigotry.

          While many thought King was insane and weak for not fighting back, he was smart enough to know that if the first generation of Americans raised watching television saw innocent African Americans being hosed down and attacked by police and dogs and not fighting back, many would empathize with our plight and Jim Crow laws would soon be a thing of the past.

          Even in 2014, many bigots question our intelligence.  They falsely believe that we need preferential treatment to succeed in a world that consists of an un-level playing field.

          However, like in 1955 when we found other means of transportation to offset the bigotry on the Montgomery buses, we will find other means to offset the inevitable demise of affirmative action.

          It does not take a rocket scientist to know that inner city schools are often subpar to those in affluent communities.

          In addition, many children from affluent homes can afford the best-standardized test preparation that money can afford.

          Often, many affluent children have parents that enjoy flexible work schedules, which allows them to assist their children in their schoolwork and read to them, which is crucial to their early childhood development.

          Unfortunately, many African American and Latino families do not have that luxury.

          But what we should have is a community that comes together to become David in an attempt to slay Goliath.

          Many mega-churches in the Black community now have organizations like Mufasa’s Pride at the Fountain of Praise and Diamonds in the Rough at The Church Without Walls, both in Houston.

          Organizations like these not only teach young boys and girls how to become young men and women, but they also offer tutoring by church members who are employed as educators during the week.

          In these organizations, students are taught the importance of the PSATs, writing skills and math skills. 

          With this extra help on the weekends, many students are able to compensate for the lack of resources they have in the public school systems, which in turn levels the playing field with their more affluent counterparts.

          So, forgive me if I do not shed a tear if affirmative action does not survive in America.

          I just know that regardless of what does not survive in the years to come, African Americans will not only survive, but we will find a way to thrive.

This article was published on Friday 25 April, 2014.
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