Nicolaus Mills: Saving Affirmative Action from Itself
Nicolaus Mills is professor of American studies at Sarah Lawrence College and author of Like a Holy Crusade: Mississippi 1964 and Debating Affirmative Action: Race, Gender, Ethnicity, and the Politics of Inclusion.
THESE DAYS the future of affirmative action in higher education is in jeopardy. A series of states—among them Michigan, California, Florida, Nebraska, and Arizona—have banned the consideration of race, ethnicity, or gender by any unit of state government, including public colleges and universities. As a result, state-run institutions of higher education with the greatest capacity for accepting minorities are increasingly less able to do so.
Nor can these institutions turn to the public for support on affirmative action. By a 55-to-36 percent margin voters believe affirmative action should be abolished altogether, and by a 61-to-33 percent margin they oppose affirmative action for blacks in hiring, promotion, and college entry, according to a 2009 Quinnipiac University poll.
This negative view of affirmative action in higher education can, in part, be explained by the rightward shift of the country since 1980 and the pressures the current recession has put on state budgets. But even more important is the way in which affirmative action has strayed from its 1960s roots and lost sight of its own history.
Today, the only way affirmative action in higher education can save itself from losing still more public support is for it to become far more inclusive in practice. It needs to reach high-school students who for a variety of reasons—not just because of their race or ethnicity—have been disadvantaged in the struggle to get into college....
comments powered by Disqus
- In a county that tried to amend U.S. history course, a lesson in politics
- Overhauling La Guardia, an Airport With a Historical Name but a Tarnished Image
- Now it can be told: The weakening of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is the crowning achievement of GOP partisans who detested the law
- Japanese textbooks may sanitize history, but comic art books don't
- Novels About Real-Life Women Are Saving Forgotten History
- Historians Against the War gathering signatures for new resolution to AHA on alleged violations of academic freedom in Israel
- Academic Seeks Death Certificate for Outlaw Billy the Kid
- Murderer of historian of Czech Jewry goes on trial
- Election results are in for the American Historical Association
- Nial Ferguson warns Obama’s bet on Iran has low odds of success