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Anti-affirmative action wave ignores country’s history of racism

Ronald Mitchell
Anti-affirmative action wave ignores country’s history of racism
“Your Honor, return this check to sender.”

Anti-affirmative action activist Edward Blum and his fellow backward thinkers are at it again. An organization called the Equal Protection Project has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education against the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, targeting its Black Public Media Residency. This program, in its second year, is designed to help Black filmmakers develop projects. The complaining organization alleges the residency program violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The complaint asks the Department’s Office for Civil Rights to launch an investigation.

This new legal challenge follows the Supreme Court decision in June overturning the systematic consideration of race in college admissions, in two cases against Harvard and University of North Carolina that were orchestrated by Blum. The continuance of this crusade against affirmative action that ignores history comes as no surprise. Many legal observers anticipated this type of fallout being trotted out under the false claims of unfairness and the ludicrous cry of reverse discrimination.

In what was obviously part of a coordinated effort, in recent weeks another organization that Blum founded filed a federal lawsuit against a firm in Atlanta called Fearless Fund, for allegedly violating Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, a law that bars racial bias in private contracts. The Fearless Fund provides venture capital grants only to businesses owned by Black women.

These two cases could have a profoundly chilling effect in the future of Black- and women-owned business development moving forward. As America struggles to identify and dismantle the systemic racism in our business environment, it is crucial that mainstream companies continue to create programs that directly support the development of minority- and women-owned companies. The only true way to level the playing field in business is to provide a leg up to the many companies that have suffered from the discrimination.

Racism and sexism in the business environment can be seen even to this day, with higher lending interest rates and lower loan approval numbers for equally qualified minority- and women-owned companies. These are just a few of the most obvious disparities. These obstacles, as well as the modern day redlining seen in the insurance and other crucial support industries, make it almost impossible to create, maintain and grow Black and women-owned companies.

As the halting quest for equality in our country continues, programs like Nebraska’s and the Fearless Fund’s provide support to the groups most directly affected by centuries of racism and discrimination, and can make a difference in creating and growing businesses owned by Black women and other entrepreneurs of color. In many cases, this targeted support is the only way that companies will get a chance to develop into viable enterprises that can employ people in their own communities, promoting family and community stability.

It is truly a shame that Blum’s 30-year crusade to eliminate affirmative action is finally gaining traction. But it should come as no surprise during the country’s current rise of white supremacy, racism, sexism and antisemitism. The premise that programs targeted to benefit the most discriminated members of our society somehow discriminate against those that have benefited the most from this historic imbalance is ridiculous.

You cannot fix a broken system by ignoring historic facts and just declaring everything is now balanced and fair. The education system and business environment in America have always been discriminatory against Black and brown people and women, by design. The only way you fix them is by redesigning them to make up for the centuries of imbalance. Ignoring the history and pretending it is all equal now is just a new lie that will not make anything better. It will only continue to propagate this country’s racism and sexism when it comes to business, education and, in turn, all elements of our society.

As MLK eloquently said in his speech in support of the Sanitation worker’s strike, “there can be no racial justice without economic justice and no economic justice without racial justice.”

This weekend, high-minded people who believe in this nation’s civic creed of equality for all will gather in the nation’s capital to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. The original event’s full name was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Early in the 21st century, the country is still struggling to extend the full, fair measure of both to people of color and women.     

affirmative action, Black Public Media Residency, editorial, Edward Blum, he University of Nebraska-Lincoln, racism