Writing for The Nation, June Jennings looks at the psychology behind the backlash against Affirmative-Action and examines why Abigail Fisher thinks she’s a victim. As many of you know, he Supreme Court re-hears Abigail Fisher’s case against the University of Texas today. Jennings examines the pervasive myth of the unworthy applicant which negatively impacts all people, particularly people of color. Fisher believes she should have been admitted to UT Austin despite the fact that 168 applicants of color with higher scores than Fisher were also denied admission.
While a lot of rhetoric against affirmative-action is based on white supremacy and the idea that people of color are always unqualified regardless of selection criteria while whites are always more qualified feeds into nonsensical cases like Fisher. It is also white supremacy that allows this case to make it to the Supreme Court despite the facts surrounding it. Instead of rhetoric, here are some facts about the case that have not been widely discussed or even addressed in the court cases, like the 42 whites in the same applicant pool, with lower scores than hers, that were admitted to the school. Instead, Fisher chose to focus on the five black or Hispanic applicants with lower scores out of the 49 students with lower scores than hers.
Fisher applied to the University of Texas Austin twice, once through its fall 2008 cycle and again through a provisional summer program.
FACT: According to court documents, 49 students with lower scores and grades than Fisher were offered provisional admission to UT through the summer program. Only five of those arguably under-qualified students were black or Hispanic; the other 42 were white.
FACT: The original suit makes no mention of the 42 admitted and arguably under-qualified white students.
FACT: According to court documents, 168 applicants of color in the same applicant pool had higher scores than Fisher and were not admitted to UT.
In context, Fisher’s insistence that she is a victim because of preferential treatment given to blacks and Latinos is a misrepresentation of the facts. What she doesn’t say is that she and the conservatives supporting her believe that there could never be a black or Latino qualified enough to deserve being admitted to UT Austin over her regardless of qualifications because she thinks she’s entitled to go there because her family went there, not necessarily because she’s qualified. How else does she explain not mentioning or acknowledging the 168 blacks and Latinos with higher scores than her that were also not admitted to UT Austin? Why didn’t the black and Latino applicants bring lawsuits against the 42 whites who were admitted with lower scores?
Fisher and her supporters should take heed because the facts don’t line up with the case; however, white supremacy and dominant ideologies about race and education do. Pretending to be victimized by a system created for your success is disingenuous at best and racist at worst. While Fisher is playing victim, the actual victims of systematic racism, exclusion and discrimination will be victimized again if the conservative Supreme Court rules in Fisher’s favor. As evidenced by her case, even when 168 African American and Latino applicants have better scores than the one White person filing suit, we are still less likely to get the nod.
As this country continues its forward march into a future that looks more like the embarrassing past as it relates to matters of race and racism, Fisher’s frivolous lawsuit reflects a country with way too many people invested in a return to the good old days, which are actually the bad old days for many disenfranchised populations. Fisher crying wolf is more of a cry — the centuries old cry of empowered whites blaming the victim when actually being the perpetrator.
This post was written by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of the award-winning news blog The Burton Wire. Follow her on Twitter @Ntellectual.