Obamas, Nikole Hannah-Jones Blast Supreme Court Affirmative Action Decision: ‘My Heart Breaks for Any Young Person’

“I know the strength and grit that lies inside kids who have always had to sweat a little more to climb the same ladders,” Michelle Obama says

The U.S. Supreme Court is shown at dusk on June 28, 2023 in Washington, DC.
The U.S. Supreme Court (Credit: Getty Images)

Former president and first lady Barrack and Michelle Obama, “The 1619 Project” Pulitzer winner Nikole Hannah-Jones, “The Handmaid’s Tale” author Joyce Carol Oates and many more have weighed in on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning affirmative action programs Thursday, deeming them as unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court struck down race-conscious admissions programs at the University of North Carolina and Harvard University in its ruling, thereby striking down comparable programs nationwide. The ruling claimed that the programs violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, an amendment previously cited to lessen discrimination against Black Americans that affirms that no state can “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Former first lady Obama tweeted a lengthy statement about her experience with affirmative action at Princeton University, saying that her “heart breaks for any young person who’s wondering what their future holds.”

“It wasn’t just the kids of color who benefitted, either. Every student who heard a perspective they might not have encountered, who had an assumption challenged, who had their minds and their hearts opened gained a lot as well,” she wrote. “It wasn’t perfect, but there’s no doubt that it helped offer new ladders of opportunity for those who, throughout history, have too often been denied a chance to show how fast they can climb.”

Former president Obama quote tweeted his wife’s statement and shared thoughts of his own.

“Affirmative action was never a complete answer in the drive towards a more just society,” he wrote. “But for generations of students who had been systematically excluded from most of America’s key institutions — it gave us the chance to show we more than deserved a seat at the table.”

Hannah-Jones called it “the most American ruling ever.”

Oates pointed out the hypocrisy of legacy admissions in her response to the decision.

“It is rarely acknowledged that there is ubiquitous ‘affirmative action’ at colleges and universities when legacy students apply,” she wrote. “Not to mention relatives of generous donors, athletes and children of faculty and administrative staff. ‘Blind admissions’ is a chimera.”

TheRoot.com’s Michael Harriot also railed against legacy admissions, tweeting, “Before you begin your think piece, the Supreme Court did not strike down affirmative action. Admission preferences for legacies, donors, employee families and special recommendations are still allowed. The Court struck down affirmative action For everyone except white people.”

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