Our Statements On the U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision To Overturn Affirmative Action
President Obama’s Statement:
Affirmative action was never a complete answer in the drive towards a more just society. But for generations of students who had been systematically excluded from most of America’s key institutions–it gave us the chance to show we more than deserved a seat at the table. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent decision, it’s time to redouble our efforts. So, if you’re looking for ways to help right now, here are some organizations doing important work:
Mrs. Obama’s Statement:
Back in college, I was one of the few Black students on my campus, and I was proud of getting into such a respected school. I knew I’d worked hard for it. But still, I sometimes wondered if people thought I got there because of affirmative action. It was a shadow that students like me couldn’t shake, whether those doubts came from the outside or inside our own minds.
But the fact is this: I belonged. And semester after semester, decade after decade, for more than half a century, countless students like me showed they belonged, too. It wasn’t just the kids of color who benefitted, either. Every student who heard a perspective they might not have encountered, who had an assumption challenged, who had their minds and their hearts opened gained a lot as well. It wasn’t perfect, but there’s no doubt that it helped offer new ladders of opportunity for those who, throughout our history, have too often been denied a chance to show how fast they can climb.
Of course, students on my campus and countless others across the country were — and continue to be — granted special consideration for admissions. Some have parents who graduated from the same school. Others have families who can afford coaches to help them run faster or hit a ball harder. Others go to high schools with lavish resources for tutors and extensive standardized test prep that help them score higher on college entrance exams. We don’t usually question if those students belong. So often, we just accept that money, power, and privilege are perfectly justifiable forms of affirmative action, while kids growing up like I did are expected to compete when the ground is anything but level.
So today, my heart breaks for any young person out there who’s wondering what their future holds — and what kinds of chances will be open to them. And while I know the strength and grit that lies inside kids who have always had to sweat a little more to climb the same ladders, I hope and I pray that the rest of us are willing to sweat a little, too. Today is a reminder that we’ve got to do the work not just to enact policies that reflect our values of equity and fairness, but to truly make those values real in all of our schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods.