Last week liberal blacks and whites went crazy after the Supreme Court issued its ruling on affirmative action and the voting rights cases. Well, I happen to agree with the court in both decisions. Now, before you start calling me a “sell-out, Uncle Tom,” or Republican,” turn off your emotions and listen to reason.
In the black community, the mere mention of revisiting any civil rights program automatically elicits cries of “Jim Crow,” “racism,” or “turning back the clock.”
Despite protestations to the contrary, in a 7-1 decision, the Supreme Court actually upheld the use of affirmative action. They simply stated that institutions must prove that they have exhausted all other remedies before they resort to using race in their admission decisions. In light of the progress we have made in this country on the issue of race, I find the court’s decision very reasonable.
What I did find troubling about this case brought by white high school student, Abigail Fisher, was her assertion of “white privilege.” She is from Sugar Land, Texas, one of the wealthiest communities in the state. She sued the University of Texas at Austin after she was denied admission to the school in 2008. According to her, “it was because she was white and that she was being treated differently than some less-qualified minority students who were accepted.”
Of course, she has no way of knowing that since the admissions process is confidential. However, she just assumes that because she is white and from Sugar Land, there is no way that a minority could be more qualified than she for admission to the school. In written submissions to the court, the school stated that even without the issue of affirmative action, Fisher did not meet the school’s standards for admission. She is “white privilege” personified.
Civil rights leaders totally lost their minds over the Voting Rights Act case, even though
the court upheld the status quo. The court simply said that Congress needed to redo the formula that determines which states should remain under the supervision of the Department of Justice.
Let me explain it this way. In the 1960s and 70s, polyester suits were in vogue. What the court said was, it’s the 21st century, so we think you might need to change the fabric used in your suits. You can still have whatever suit you want, you simply need to update the material you are using to one that is more appropriate to the times. Again, I find this very reasonable.
So, to civil rights icons like John Lewis and Julian Bond, c-h-i-l-l o-u-t! If you listen to them and the liberal media, you would have thought the Supreme Court put blacks back in chains.
We must approach these decisions strategically, not emotionally. In a weird kind of way, I am very optimistic that Republicans will step up and play a constructive role in facilitating a thoughtful discussion of these two important court decisions.
The key players on these two issues will be, House Majority Whip Eric Cantor and Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner.
Cantor represents the 10th district of Virginia in the U.S. House of Representatives. He instinctively gets and understands the issue of race better than most Republicans. He has quite an interesting story to tell in this regard and I hope one day soon he will allow me to share it with the public.
Sensenbrenner represents Wisconsin’s 5th congressional district and is former chairman of the House’s Judiciary Committee. He has been a stalwart on issues revolving around civil rights, specifically the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act in 2006.
If Speaker John Boehner taps Cantor and Sensenbrenner to play key roles in helping the Republican Party understand some of these issues involving race, I am fairly confident that they will lead the party down a constructive path that will show the black community that Republicans understand these two issues that are of great interest to the black community. There is a lot of work to be done, but Cantor and Sensenbrenner’s unique understanding on these issues can be a great asset if the party’s leaders take advantage of it.
Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached through his website: www.raynardjackson.com.