Abigail Fisher and the reaction of race politics

by b socha

The Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a case that stands to uphold, limit, or gut the court’s 2003 upholding of Affirmative Action in the Grutter case. Abigail Fisher, who recently graduated from LSU and works as a financial analyst in Texas, sued the state of Texas for racial discrimination. Texas’ affirmative action policies are rather mild compared to many other states: the state guarantees college admission to top high school students but uses factors like race and extra curricular activities to determine acceptance in general admissions.

Fisher was not among the 75% of Texas applicants who yearly receive offers of admission from the UTs. And she was not among the accepted students from general admissions. With mediocre grades and the interplay of extras, letters of recommendation, and her race (white), it remains to be seen how her lawyer will prove that Fisher’s whiteness was the factor in her failure to gain admission.

I haven’t spent a lot of time reading up on this case, but the issue of affirmative action played a key role in my undergraduate life at a large public university. The central trope of “diversity within diversity” that still allows for racial admissions gerrymandering: recruitment of wealthy minorities.

It is deeply frustrating that race relations are played out in our nation’s universities, schools, streets, and even our courts as a hazy shroud over deepening class relations.

It is amazing that race is still parried as the central and most determinant feature of economic and social injustice in this country. For many Americans still think that race is a primary indicator of economic status. Rather, I would argue that the race and socio economics are correlated (for obvious historical and legislative reasons that privilege wealthy whites). The tragedy of America’s debate over affirmative action is that it rests on the fragile image of aggregated colors, rather than what makes a generation of people (and another, and another) disadvantaged: poverty.