Knowing that the end of Affirmative Action was coming doesn’t make it any less jarring.
While Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling against admissions programs at Harvard and UNC-Chapel Hill was always the end game of a Court seated by Donald Trump, it still is a devastating prospect to watch generations of progress destroyed by people who don’t think Black people, brought to this country through no fault of our own, don’t deserve the same pathways to success as white Americans.
The rulings not only cast doubt on the immediate future of diversity of education, but the very future of HBCUs is also in danger. Howard University president Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick said in an appearance on CNN Thursday that HBCUs would be trying to avoid lawsuits when it comes to admissions policies.
That means there is a high risk of being sued by non-Black students who would be denied admission from HBCUs because of their race, though Black colleges have long been open to students of different ethnicities, possibly against better judgment.
The immediate post-SCOTUS decision call to action has been for Black students to “come home” and attend HBCUs instead of PWIs, but as previously discussed, HBCUs are consistently and intentionally underfunded by federal, state, and local governments. Without the money to take on an influx of new students, HBCUs would be first on the chopping block if students were not provided the proper resources.
That is by design, as the right has played a nearly 60-year-long game since Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law.
Their aim has always been a return to Jim Crow, the era of violent, unrepentant inequity that terrorizes anyone who isn’t white, male, or heterosexual. Black people check so many boxes for them to hate, and this is a stark reminder of the lengths they’ll go to in order to achieve their mission of eradication.
This decision can also serve as a wake-up call for the HBCU community to put aside any petty differences and build our institutions up together to not only keep them open but provide a haven for Black students who are almost guaranteed to be dismissed from consideration at other schools. We literally are all we have. The urgency of the hour is at hand. The line in the sand has been redrawn with the feathered pen of powerful bigots.
Black people have spent 400 years making a way out of no way, so there’s still hope. But that hope will certainly be tested in the coming years as we must be prepared to continue the fight our ancestors began generations ago because the powers that be won’t stop until either we have nothing left to fight for or the fight has been completely taken out of us.