If there’s one thing Trump hates more than Obama, it’s legal policies that might help out people that look like Obama.
Earlier this week, the administration announced that it was rescinding Obama-era guidelines based on Supreme Court decisions that advised colleges to consider race on an individual basis in making admissions decisions in order to improve diversity in schools.
Key to keep in mind: the decision doesn’t actually bring affirmative action to a halt. Many colleges, including Harvard, have already promised to vigorously defend their right to consider race and the promotion of diversity when accepting applicants, and the Supreme Court ruling Obama’s guidelines cited is still in position.
Of course, with a new Supreme Court Justice on the way and a case pending in the courts regarding Asian-Americans and affirmative action, that may not mean much for long.
This first step is just that – the first step. It doesn’t rescind everything, but it is part of a series of signals his administration has made towards what really seems like an eventual plan to actively roll back affirmative action as well as anything that might, in some severely distorted light, be seen as providing an advantage to Black Americans.
And let’s be clear that Black Americans are who Trump is targeting with this decision. It is Black Americans, time and time again, Trump has made clear he considers undeserving of “special treatment,” of opportunities for advancement and growth.
Because he’ll probably point to the Asian-Americans filing the lawsuit as proof that he’s on the side of minorities – some minorities – so long as they’re not too dark and have done a background check. He may even consider it a tactical move to improve relations with China, somehow. He’ll try to argue in a meeting with the president that the move makes American colleges friendlier to Chinese applicants.
A representative of the Justice Department promised that the government is committed to fighting all forms of race-based discrimination. Knowing Trump’s ilk, what that probably means is fighting any and all policies that might not explicitly allow White Americans to retain an advantage. “Race-based discrimination” coming from a Republican basically means “reverse racist” at this point – they never want to talk about any other kind of racism (it’s funny – they’ll believe reverse racism, but deny racism).
These guidelines being rescinded don’t mean much alone, but it won’t be long until the case does reach the Supreme Court, and while we’re all worried about the Roe v. Wade case (and rightly so), Trump is almost certainly asking potential candidates how they would vote on the matter of affirmative action as he vets through them and makes a final decision.
This isn’t the end of Trump’s war on affirmative action – it’s the beginning. Citizens can and should take to the streets in protest at any opportunity, but it’s up to colleges and institutions to really step up now and demonstrate that they too want to fight for the right to retain as diverse a student body as possible. Universities never prosper from a lack of diversity.
Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr