This week, the Supreme Court began its term and appears poised to weaken, or strike down altogether, several key protections of marginalized Americans. The conservative-majority Court is scheduled to hear cases that challenge race-conscious affirmative action; safeguard against racially discriminatory gerrymandering and preserve voter rights; and prevent the removal of Indigenous American children from their communities in welfare proceedings.
These cases are of personal significance. I was born in Alabama, a place where American Indian removal coincided with the expansion of slavery. I am of the first generation in my family to have unfettered access to voting rights since age 18, a hard-fought-for right that is under threat by this year’s SCOTUS docket. And I am a proud beneficiary of affirmative action. Conversations I’ve had with friends and colleagues this week suggest that I am not alone in being fearful that affirmative action as we know it will soon end, thus dramatically transforming the student bodies at the institutions where we work.