The impact on non-whites of SCOTUS overturning precedent and gutting affirmative action is huge news today. It should be. Chief Justice John Roberts famously, in my view petulantly wrote in his decision gutting the Voting Rights Act that the way to end discrimination was to stop discriminating. Well THAT sure did the trick didn’t it? DIDN’T IT?
Except of course it did no such thing. Discrimination has not only remained alive and well but has become more virulent thanks to Trump letting the GOP’s carefully cultivated mob of angry white people who they communicated with in code off the leash. Turned them into his loud, profane and ugly MAGA mob. And they’ve been on a tear. Affirmative Action has riled up folks in MAGA world, and even beyond for decades now. The election of Obama didn’t prove we were over the worst of racism – it exposed the ugly fact it had grown back to what it was before the Klan pi$$ed off Hoover and threatened FBI agents back in the 1960s. THAT’s why he went after them, not because of what they had been doing to black people. So they went almost dormant for a while but they and their type has always been there. And among the guys there was a corollary of not just black people (and brown people, and Catholics and Jews) “knowing their place” but womenfolk too. IF women had to work they could be secretaries, teachers and nurses.
Hell, a lot of the WWII generation men had struggled after coming home to find wives that had proven they could do a lot more. Including working in factories and mines and other gritty jobs. A lot of those women didn’t cotton to the idea of going back to just tending to the house and hubby.
Look, I grew up and lived my first 26 years in what’s now MAGA territory. Southern Illinois (which starts a ways south of I-64) is a place of great natural beauty. It’s also a place of dark, ugly violence and strong pockets of racism which have grown larger and more willing to let that racist flag fly. After dropping out of the beltway rat-race I lived in the eastern panhandle of WV, with the gateway to western MD and the northern Shenandoah Valley less than thirty minutes north and south. Almost eleven years of living in what felt like southern Illinois.
Lot’s of angry white folks. Not just men either. If they feel actual economic prosperity has passed them by it has. From corporate American to medium and small business larger than mom & pop places they are sheep to be sheared but they refuse to blame the moneyed interests that have kept a boot on their necks. Instead they fall for conservative crap about unions stealing wages from them, and…. those people. Non-White people getting all manner of government handouts. Chances denied them, and other “god fearing” white folks. Never mind that so many, far more of them than minorities fill govt. offices seeking “food stamps”, “welfare” and other stuff. You see to these people their circumstances are different. They deserve govt. help. So do their friends and family too by god. But not “those people.” They are nothing but takers!
Jobs are scarce and good one with good pay & benefits more so. Schools have steadily declined in quality because of lousy pay creating low property values which means less taxes to pay for good schools and teachers. Not to mention that a culture of being disdainful of those with “fancy schmancy” educations has taken hold. Home schooling with “Christian” values is on the rise and test scores are plummeting.
But from where they sit it’s all black people’s fault! Or brown people. Or those Asians that do nothing but study. And of course once again Jewish people get plenty of blame. Israel? Total support. But not Jews. Weird isn’t it?
It’s no wonder the mere mention of Affirmative Action makes these people go into meltdown mode. However, even in pockets of prosperity in states/parts of states where this mindset rules the day Affirmative Action is on par with the word liberal. BAD! UNAMERICAN! The mortal enemy of “real” Americans like them.
I’ve worked with an awful lot of women in my life, especially all those years in social services. Had women bosses too and never had issues. One was kinda stupid at times but she was well qualified for her job and wasn’t a jerk to me other others.
And prior to Affirmative Action the bulk of these women, so many in serious jobs that took real education and experience to attain their “rank” they’d have been shut out of ever getting those good jobs. And they weren’t just women, they were overwhelmingly white women.
Take a look at the title pic. The original political “Year of the Woman” was 1992, when the number of female Senators jumped from two to five. The House also saw some gains in the number of women and people were oh so impressed that sooooo many women were now in positions of power. I wasn’t the only one who was both impressed but also saying “that’s a helluva long way from where things should be.” Still, without Affirmative Action it’s unlikely those women that year would have gotten the education and experience that would have prepared them for a run for federal elected office.
Success breeds success though and seeing more strong and capable women in positions of power and influence (a certain lady who happened to be First Lady back then sure helped) more women got more chances to advance in the private sector and in higher education. Not enough. It’s never been enough but in 2018 we had another “Year of the Woman and if things still aren’t where they should be, many in the “class of 92” have taken a measure of satisfaction that tangible progress has been made.
The majority of those lawmakers are white but there’s a noticeable mix of other ethnicities in there. Something that looks a lot more like America. Like I said, real progress but still a ways to go.
And without Affirmative Action that picture, and women in so many other places that were once the almost exclusive preserve of men, of WHITE men wouldn’t be what it is.
So when you hear a white person, especially a white woman who has or is retired from a decent job talk about today’s SCOTUS position keep in mind who the biggest beneficiaries of Affirmative Action have been. And if they make approving comments about the decision, or say we’re at a point where Affirmative Action isn’t needed any more point out the facts to them.
And remind them that any policy that negatively impacts whites impacts minorities much more so!
Now, I’d imagine many a white woman who has fought and clawed her whole life for “mere” equal opportunity and treatment is saying “who the eff is this old white GUY to tell me Affirmative Action helped me? It hasn’t done jack for ME. That’s a fair question to ask and/or criticism to make. I’ve seen articles over the years to back up with data what I’m saying here. Here’s a one that lays things out well.
I do in fact know damn well that being a white male (and taller than average – believe it or not it helps to be tall when up for something that requires leadership) has given me chances so many others have been denied. I can also say that twice in my life, back in 1983 and again in 1992 when I was in need of a job and was up for really, and I mean really good ones I lost out. To women. In each case the woman was qualified. No question. Just not as much as I was. Because I could be trusted I was informed why I was passed over. They knew I wouldn’t be a dick about it. It hurt to be sure. Still, despite the personal cost I understood the big picture and have remained not only supportive of Affirmative Action but openly advocated for it.
Even if it doesn’t benefit everyone, it benefits enough people that things improve for those who come later. So that’s my answer to women who say I have no business getting into this topic and saying what I’ve said.
It’s a bad day for minorities, for all women and frankly the whole country because SCOTUS is determined to return us to a time that was never in reality the version in old black & white TV shows like Father Knows Best or Leave It To Beaver.
An equal chance. It’s what we all should have and our Constitution says we’re all created equal (even though the original carved out an exception) and it’s been amended to try and force those who think only property owning white males should have any say in things have to accept they aren’t as special as they think. But Roberts and his cronies, including his token black guy and token woman is determined to create a country in that fictional TV image and use the force of our nation’s highest court as a barrier to those who believe in equality. They are determined to be the protectors of those who Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman noted “would rather burn it all down than share.”
Today is another example of Roberts telling these powerful (and not powerful for that matter) “Don’t worry guys. I’ve got this. You’re NOT going to have to share.”