Updated: Jul 24
Photo by Daniel Harden
Education is a fundamental right and a powerful tool for social mobility. It is essential for building a fair and just society. However, when we consider the devastating consequences of removing affirmative action, we must recognize the urgent need to promote equal opportunities for all.
Affirmative action has played a crucial role in addressing systemic discrimination and promoting inclusivity. By considering an individual's background and circumstances, it provides a fair chance to historically marginalized groups. Removing this policy can lead to a variety of negative consequences:
Widening the Opportunity Gap: Affirmative action helped rectify the legacy of systemic discrimination and promote equal opportunities for historically disadvantaged groups, such as racial and ethnic minorities, women, and individuals with disabilities. It acknowledged that past and present injustices have created barriers to access and opportunities, and aims to level the playing field. Eliminating affirmative action can exacerbate existing disparities in education by limiting access to higher education for underrepresented groups. This perpetuates a cycle of inequality and restricts social progress.
Diminishing Diversity: Affirmative action fosters diversity in educational institutions, allowing students from various backgrounds to come together, learn from one another, and challenge their preconceptions. It's been proven that a diverse environment enriches perspectives, encourages innovation, and promotes understanding among individuals from different backgrounds. When diversity is compromised, students and society miss out on the benefits of a multicultural environment.
Reinforcing Stereotypes: Removing affirmative action reinforces harmful stereotypes and biases by implying that certain groups are inherently less capable or deserving. It hampers efforts to break down barriers and create a society where all individuals can flourish based on their abilities and potential.
As a graduate of both Florida State University, a predominantly white university (PWI), and Florida A & M University, a historically black college and university (HBCU), I've had first hand experiences with the disparities that affirmative action addresses. While both institutions provided rigorous programs, FAMU equipped me with a more enriching education because it promoted diversity, equity, inclusion, and addressed the educational needs of African-American students.
HBCUs were created to address the severe racial discrimination and exclusion that blacks faced in higher education in America. As history seems to be want to repeat itself, I'd like to challenge HBCUS to step up their game to build sustainable alliances to support our community. They often have close-knit communities that provide extensive support networks for students. These networks include alumni, faculty, staff, and allies who can offer mentorship, guidance, and career opportunities. Such networks contribute to students' personal and professional development, helping them navigate challenges and achieve their goals. Instead of begging to have a seat at the table, it's time to create our own table, especially when it comes to sports. Since they don't want our scholars, our athletes should start taking their talents to colleges that celebrate and affirm their humanity, history, and experiences. We have the funds, resources, and education, we simply need to create a unified movement to change the tides.
Amidst the discussion on the impact of eliminating affirmative action, I'm set to release a book entitled, "The Education Formula: Maximizing the Village" that offers a compelling solution. It emphasizes the importance of unified support from various stakeholders to provide access to a better educational system. Here's what makes it a valuable resource:
"The Education Formula" recognizes that education has to be a holistic approach and is not solely the responsibility of schools or educators. It advocates for a collaborative effort involving parents, communities, business owners, policymakers, and educators to create an inclusive and effective learning environment.
By emphasizing the importance of unity and collective action, the book encourages stakeholders to work together, bridging the gaps in education. It underscores the impact of building bridges to create a sustainable movement. It promotes dialogue, collaboration, and shared responsibility to create positive change.
"The Education Formula" offers practical strategies to ensure equitable access to quality education for all students, regardless of their background or circumstances. It recognizes the power of tailored support systems, mentoring, and resources to empower students from marginalized communities.
Conclusion: While the removal of affirmative action threatens to exacerbate inequality and limit opportunities, "The Education Formula: Maximizing the Village" provides a timely and powerful call to action. It reminds us that education is a shared responsibility and encourages a unified effort to create an inclusive and effective educational system. By doing so, we can pave the way for a brighter and more equitable future. The book is set to be released in September 2023, but it is currently available for pre-order.
Berwick Augustin is the founder of Evoke180, a leading publishing company that also specializes in Haitian-Creole translations. He is an educational consultant and keynote speaker who embodies two decades of experience as a writer, teacher, and assistant principal. Berwick is the author, most recently, of bilingual books, Days, Months, and Seasons in Haitian-Creole, The Haitian-Creole Alphabet-and 1803 The Haitian Flag.