The United States Must Acknowledge the Legacy of Racial Injustice

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The United States Must Acknowledge the Legacy of Racial Injustice

By Rachel Krinsky
CEO, YWCA Madison

This week, the Supreme Court dealt a serious blow to affirmative action by upholding a Michigan law prohibiting public universities from considering race as a factor for admissions. Also this week, President Obama unveiled a new clemency process intended to reduce prison overcrowding and to begin addressing the stark overrepresentation of prisoners of color resulting from the war on drugs. These contradictory federal decisions cut to the core of our nation’s beliefs about the state of race in the U.S.

The Court’s decision reflects a worldview that insists we live in a post-racial society. This view posits that equal opportunity is now available to all regardless of skin color, that the playing field is even, and that “fairness” means making the same rules for everyone. This denies the continuing effects of historical racial discrimination in admissions. It also ignores the fact that other admissions policies, such as a preference for children of alumni, continue to perpetuate affirmative action for whites.

The clemency plan reflects an alternative worldview that recognizes how past discriminatory policies continue to affect people of color and have a direct causal relationship to current disparities. This plan acknowledges the nation’s responsibility for the effects of drug enforcement and sentencing policies that discriminated against people of color and openly states the intention to begin alleviating the current effects.

The YWCA’s mission focuses on eliminating racism.  We believe that we must talk openly about race and the continuing effects of centuries of discriminatory policies if we ever hope to address the staggering racial disparities in our nation.

Follow YWCA Madison on Twitter: @YWCAMadison

Stand Against Racism logoThis post is part of the YWCA Stand Against Racism blog carnival – we invite you to join the dialogue! Post your comment below, share your story and follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #StandAgainstRacism.

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