Michelle Obama says her heart is breaking.
But I’m not entirely sure why.
The former first lady’s statement after the Supreme Court effectively gutted affirmative action in colleges Thursday is confusing at best.
In response to the landmark ruling that colleges can no longer consider race in their decisions for accepting applicants, Obama — who graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School — issued a statement that began, “Back in college, I was one of the few Black students on my campus, and I was proud of getting into such a respected school. I knew I’d worked hard for it.
“But still, I sometimes wondered if people thought I got there because of affirmative action. It was a shadow that students like me couldn’t shake, whether those doubts came from outside or inside our own minds.”
She continued, “But the fact is this: I belonged. And semester after semester, decade after decade, for more than half a century, countless students like me showed they belonged, too.”
“Only that promise can allow us to look past our differing skin colors and identities and see each other for what we truly are: individuals with unique thoughts, perspectives, and goals, but with equal dignity and equal rights under the law.”
Even former President Barack Obama agreed that affirmative action was flawed.
“Like any policy, affirmative action wasn’t perfect. But it allowed generations of students like Michelle and me to prove we belonged. Now it’s up to all of us to give young people the opportunities they deserve — and help students everywhere benefit from new perspectives,” he said in a statement, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
But his wife’s heart is breaking about the fact that students will now be judged on their abilities and not the color of their skin.
“So today, my heart breaks for any young person out there who’s wondering what their future holds — and what kinds of chances will be open to them,” she wrote.
The same chances that every other American has, Michelle.
Striking down affirmative action not only will make college admissions fairer for Asians and others who have been unfairly denied but also will allow black Americans who have genuinely worked for the grades to be proud of their degrees without the public perception that they are less accomplished than their counterparts because they got in through affirmative action.
On a side note, if colleges truly cared about giving kids with fewer opportunities a chance, they might consider ending legacy admissions, which give preference to alumni’s family members. The move, which Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina called for Thursday, would make the process fairer and give everyone an equal chance.
But then, when was affirmative action or the equity agenda ever about fairness?