Tonawanda News


June 26, 2013

DUVALL: High Court's split decision on race


Tonawanda News — Put my effort and results up against a fictional student who attended predominantly black Bennett High School in Buffalo. Bennett’s truancy rate is more than 20 percent so walking in the door puts you in select company. The graduation rate hovers around 50 percent.

To carry a B+ average there, that kid definitely had to overcome more obstacles than me. My school was better funded, with better (and more) teachers and extracurricular activities — an atmosphere more likely to promote success in every conceivable way.

The context is obvious: An inner-city black student who struggled to achieve decent grades is certainly more worthy of the last spot in a college than an under-performing, rather lazy suburban white student with the same grade point average.

Colleges interested in promoting diversity not just in percentages but in each student’s story would be better served picking the Bennett graduate, regardless of his race, over me.

As for the court’s decision on the Voting Rights Act, I see an ideological decision, not one based on fact.

Chief Justice John Roberts in writing for the conservative majority, praised the law’s role in ending segregation in the South but at the same time ignores the role it still plays today in preserving the legacy originally set forth in the 15th Amendment.

As opponents of the civil rights law point out, America has elected its first black president. Voter turnout in some areas is higher among blacks than whites. On the municipal level, many Southern cities have black mayors.

Yes, black people can and do get to the polls.

But, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted in the liberal bloc’s dissent, declaring a portion of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional opens the door to “second-generation barriers” like gerrymandering, polling location changes and photo identification laws that will ultimately serve to subvert minority influence in our political process.

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