Under fire from the local NAACP, Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears stands for equal opportunity, not identity politics.
On May 10, Virginia’s newly elected Lt. Governor Winsome Sears released an amicus curiae brief siding with a fairer, merit-based admission system and limiting affirmative action programs.
Sears showed support for the Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) vs. Harvard and SFFA vs. University of North Carolina cases, in which SFFA sued both universities for unlawfully discriminating against Asian American applicants in violation of Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance (Harvard receives at least $500 million annually).
Under current precedent, universities are legally allowed to use racial preferences in admissions in order to ensure “diversity” on campus, an allowance that highly disadvantages qualified Asian applicants. Sears also argued the Supreme Court should overturn the case Grutter vs. Bollinger, which ruled that Michigan Law School’s use of racial preferences in admissions did not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Essentially, Sears filed to eliminate race as a factor in admissions evaluations. “The right to a good education doesn’t come at the expense of denying another the right as well… We are not about to deny educational rights to Asian children. Rather, we are to ensure that all children have access to educational opportunities,” Sears said in a press release.
Sears is very courageous to explicitly protect Asian Americans from being unfairly penalized in the admission process, as Asian students have been the ones most negatively affected by affirmative action. It’s a reasonable statement — students should be evaluated for their endeavors in and outside the classroom, instead of uncontrollable factors such as race.
However, the Virginia NAACP, the state’s “largest nonpartisan civil rights organization in the Commonwealth,” attacked Sears for advocating that merit should be valued over race. On May 14, the NAACP released a statement claiming that overturning Grutter vs. Bollinger will hinder minority access to education and that “mass incarceration” of minorities and “opportunity gaps” in K-12 education proves there is an ongoing racism problem in America. Amy Tillerson-Brown, chair of the Education Committee for the Virginia NAACP, stated in response to the Sears amicus curiae: “Any American who values racial equity or opportunity, should not allow themselves to be used as pawns in the larger game of White supremacy.”
Tillerson-Brown seems to be implying that Sears, a black woman, is in fact a “pawn” in the white supremacist agenda. This is, of course, a ludicrous idea in the sense that all Sears is really advocating for is to stop racism, particularly against qualified Asian and white candidates who just want to be judged in admissions based on their individual merit.
This is not the first time prominent liberal organizations like the NAACP have gone after black Americans who step out of line. Massachusetts Democrat Ayanna Pressley is one of the most notorious mind guards of her party. She says about black nonconformists: “We don’t need black faces that don’t want to be a black voice.” Of course, to Pressley, being a black voice means voting and advocating according to the way Pressley wants you to vote. This is not about black representation, but the raw power of the identity politics lobby.
Sears Says Affirmative Action Has Morphed
Sears pushes back against the idea that she is in any way endangering the interests of black Americans, saying that affirmative action was a policy first championed by a Republican, President Richard Nixon, and that its goal was “to give everyone an opportunity” to prove themselves on their merits, regardless of race. She maintains that the original intention was to facilitate equal opportunity: “don’t give the white candidate the better opportunity, don’t give the black candidate the better opportunity,” she said in an interview.
However, now affirmative action have morphed into something else. “It’s morphed now into a quota system,” Sears says.
In fact, so blatant is the quota system nature of affirmative action today that there have been multiple lawsuits filed by qualified candidates for being rejected from higher educational opportunities for their race in the name of “diversity.” Take the Harvard case, for example. The Asian Americans suing Harvard simply want the college to admit students based on applicants’ academic and extracurricular achievements, and not for uncontrollable factors, such as race. Yet Harvard argues that they should be able to cut Asians from the applicant pool for the sake of “diversity,” which one estimate shows has decreased the Asian population at Harvard by as much as 50 percent.
Do American admissions systems really advance white supremacy when they objectively disadvantage white and Asian applicants via affirmative action? The answer is no — valuing applicants’ past achievements and their endeavors is not white supremacy, and in fact, valuing individual merit advances true racial equality, which is judgment based on individual characteristics regardless of race.
The NAACP “remains committed to protesting any efforts to disable educational access for minority citizens who are guaranteed equal protection under the law.” However, where was the protest for SFFA vs. Harvard? Where was the outcry for qualified Asian students who may have lost their spots in the name of “diversity” to satisfy a racial quota? Sears courageously chose to side with Asian Americans to protect them from policies that penalize them in college admissions. The NAACP reacted by calling her a “pawn” in white supremacy.
Asian American students do not uphold white supremacy nor take away educational opportunities from other minority students. Affirmative action only causes students of different races to be put up against each other and be evaluated for factors they have no control over for a “diverse student body.” Advocating for policies that discriminate against Asian students is not going to help the cause of minority solidarity or minority rights. Instead, it will only create more unnecessary friction between the races in an America that could use as little of that as possible.
Read the full piece at the Federalist here.