Tonawanda News

Opinion

June 26, 2013

DUVALL: High Court's split decision on race

Tonawanda News — In issuing two major rulings on race relations and public policy in America, the Supreme Court seems more or less where most of us are in what was a naive declaration we’ve entered a post-racial America. The court is conflicted.

On Monday it issued a narrow opinion upholding a 2006 ruling that colleges can use an applicant’s race as part of its admissions decision, though race alone cannot be a determining factor.

Essentially, it upheld affirmative action in a 7-1 decision.

On Tuesday, the court struck down the linchpin provision in the landmark Voting Rights Act, permitting Southern states with a history of black voter suppression to alter voting laws without getting approval from the federal government.

Essentially, it ended the Civil Rights Era in America in a 5-4 decision along ideological lines.

So we’re admitting that blacks and other minorities still must overcome systemic bias in our nation’s schools but their political influence isn’t at risk if we put Southern conservative statehouses in charge of making voter laws?

The intricacies of the two cases should be given their due, but taken as a whole — and made for easy comparison by the timing of the whole thing — the court’s position on race relations in America is as muddled as ever.

Let’s start with affirmative action.

I was an average student in high school. I went to a decent public school (Sweet Home) that was far better funded than many schools kids my age who lived in Buffalo call their alma mater.

An honest accounting of my academic career requires me to admit I could have been a much better student if I tried harder. I carried a pedestrian B/B+ average through almost all of high school and college. I could have gotten As (and sometimes did) but goofing around was more fun than doing math homework so too frequently — and to my parents’ and teachers’ consternation — I simply didn’t do it.

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