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Our Turn's Statement on the Supreme Court's Decision to Strike Down Affirmative Action

By Our Turn

We are children of men and women shipped here by force and greed. We are the children of those whose names were stolen, whose land was plundered, and whose freedom was ripped away. We are the children of sharecroppers who were free in title alone. We are the children of those who endured the Black Codes, Jim Crow, and lynchings — those who survived the Tulsa Race Massacre, the Rosewood, Florida, Massacre, and the Elaine Massacre. We are the children of those who marched in Selma, Washington, and Birmingham. We are the children of redline survivors, crack epidemic survivors, and industrial prison complex survivors. 

We are children of dream-chasers who demanded better and in doing so, gained access to an education that could achieve better. So today? We are students of color, rejecting the premise behind the Supreme Court’s decision to rule against affirmative action in college decisions. We believe that this decision totally neglects our history, our stories, our ancestors…and is a disregard for the present world we live in. We have chased our dreams to build a better society, and part of it has just been knocked down. But we won’t stand idly by. We as young people, the leaders of today, will continue to build a better society brick by brick, dismantling racism from the roots.

Racism has been embedded in our country for centuries, and in order to untangle its grasp from our nation, we have to recognize it and purposefully work to address it. We can't end discrimination by pretending it doesn't exist. This Supreme Court decision is a step backwards for our country, but we are unified in shaping a world where we talk openly about race and actively work to dismantle racism in our society. 

We reject a false premise of “fairness,” one that blatantly overlooks this nation’s history of oppressing communities of color. If we must acknowledge a lack of fairness, we must talk about our peers from Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities who are more likely to attend schools without access to high quality teachers, college counselors, after-school programs, and advanced courses. We must talk about the lack of fairness for students who excel in school, work part-time jobs, take care of siblings, and still cannot afford higher education. We must talk about the lack of fairness for students who cannot benefit from legacy admissions and other structures that disproportionately favor white and affluent students.

We reject a flawed and antiquated view of “measurable objectives,” which have been designed and perpetrated by a homogenous group of people who hold unjust power. If we must talk about measurements, we must talk about the countless studies that prove how affirmative action programs help to level the playing field for communities of color. We must talk about how Black, Latino, and Indigenous students and families prosper in every academic and economic metric when they receive equitable access to educational and financial resources. We must talk about the objective of liberty and justice for all, and the reality that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of only some.

We will demonstrate the courageous and perspicacious leadership that the Supreme Court did not. We will share our stories so every American is inspired by the remarkable heights that we attain, in spite of the inequitable playing field that presents obstacles at every turn. We will forge partnerships with leaders in every sector who still believe in the necessity of racial equity to advance collective prosperity. We will access every table of power and ensure the supports that are available in affluent communities are available to every community. We will change assessments and admissions systems to reflect the dynamic strengths of our communities. We will assume leadership positions across corporations, governments, educational institutions, and arts and culture, so everyone can embrace the diverse identities that represent the fabric and soul of the nation.

We will ensure that the Supreme Court’s decision is an anomaly. The leaders of now will be heard, and our history will be written with fortitude and purpose. We call on America  to join us in building a world free from racism, one where students of color and all students can thrive and achieve their dreams.

Our Turn, a 501(c)(3), is the nation's leading movement of young people fighting for educational justice. Our Turn activates the power of students – over 85% are students of color – to bring about real, transformative change in the education system. As opposed to a top-down approach that silences voices and leaves students out of decision-making forums, we build capabilities and platforms for students – in partnership with families and community leaders – to organize and mobilize.