The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to strike down affirmative action in college acceptance processes is a devastating setback in our nation’s ongoing journey to address systemic racism, endangering decades of movements that have challenged the United States to live up to its professed ideals of freedom, liberty, and justice. Ignoring a history of persistent and ingrained inequities, this decision will detrimentally impact higher education. According to the American Educational Research Association, “student body diversity promotes learning outcomes, and ‘better prepares students for an increasingly diverse workforce and society, and … as professionals.’”
As a graduate school focused on achieving equity and justice for young children, families, and communities, Erikson Institute strongly disagrees with the Court’s decision to eliminate this powerful tool for creating equitable opportunity and access to a historically elitist system of higher education. We know that the illusion of race-neutral policies without dismantling systemic inequities and racially exclusive practices will only perpetuate inequity. We cannot address the effects of past and present-day discrimination by creating new inequities; otherwise, we become part of the vicious cycle of injustice.
The Court’s decision obscures these inequities under the appealing notion of equality. Equality fails to acknowledge and address the systemic barriers and inequities that Black, Indigenous, and other students of Color continue to face. This approach assumes that everyone starts from the same position and has the same needs; and it indelibly ignores centuries of racism, chattel slavery, land theft and colonization.
U.S. history shows us that racist laws were constructed to prevent Black, Indigenous, and other persons of Color from attaining an education and from building wealth. These policies had lasting effects that continue to permeate our entire educational system–from preschool to college. Higher education is particularly white-centric and, while affirmative action is not perfect, it provides pathways into a system that is laden with roadblocks for Black, Indigenous, and other people of Color.
At Erikson, we remain steadfastly committed to the pursuit of racial equity and justice for all students, which are central to our mission. We believe that the Supreme Court’s decision against affirmative action is fundamentally a decision against equity and justice.
Erikson Institute educates, inspires, and promotes leadership to serve the needs of children, their families, and communities. By offering graduate education, family services, research, and leadership training, we strive to help all children achieve optimal educational, social, emotional, and physical well-being.
We acknowledge that we still have much work to do in diversifying our own student population at Erikson. We are committed to enrolling more Black, Indigenous, and other students of Color and students from minoritized backgrounds and disinvested communities. Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn a decision that has provided access to colleges and universities to countless individuals, and enriched higher education, we remain committed to increasing pathways to our programs for everyone. At Erikson Institute, our commitment to the pursuit of equity and justice is unwavering.
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