The latest attacks on affirmative action by the Trump administration and the Department of Justice aim to turn back the clock and heighten the divide among oppressed groups. While the current debate attempts to push through an agenda that purports an illusion of equal access for all, the facts reveal that institutionalized racism remains rampant across all areas of education and employment.
An Aug. 1 New York Times article reported an internal DOJ memo that could potentially redirect resources in the Civil Rights Division. The document doesn’t explicitly mention affirmative action but uses the phrase “intentional race-based discrimination.” This implies an attack on programs designed to recruit more students of color to university campuses.
To fully grasp the gravity of what’s at stake in this struggle, we must go behind the veil and follow the intersections of white supremacy, education, money and power. In the book, “Classroom and The Cell,” Mumia Abu-Jamal states: “Since the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, where the Supreme Court outlawed segregation in public education in America, powerful social forces have tried to defeat it. … Something insidious began with Brown and it ain’t never stopped.”
Enter Edward Blum, a former stockbroker, long known for his “Model Minority” attempts to dismantle affirmative action and voting rights for people of color. Mother Jones writer Stephanie Mencimer revealed that Blum started his crusade in the 1990s.
In a follow-up to the infamous 1978 Bakke case, when a U.S. Supreme Court ruling pushed back affirmative action, Blum was one of the driving forces behind the 2015 Fisher v. University of Texas lawsuit. Under Blum’s sponsorship, Abigail Fisher, a 23-year-old white woman, filed a lawsuit challenging the use of race in college admission. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the basis of the law in a narrow 4-3 decision.
Now, with the election of Trump and his appointment of racist Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general, the Department of Justice is being used by right-wing forces to dismantle hard-fought protections for access to education for students of color.
In addition, earlier this year, Republican Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue co-sponsored and introduced the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act, also inextricably linked to the attacks on affirmative action and migrant rights.
These attacks are alarming, but we have also seen the power in a united movement against imperialism, capitalism and all forms of racism.
We salute the recent Constituent Assembly in Venezuela. The 545 seats of the Constituent Assembly are representative of 173 sectors, including Indigenous people, students, persons with disabilities, communal councils, workers and others.
This is a revolutionary understanding of affirmative action in theory and practice.