Listening to Terry Gross interview Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, I was struck by a statement that Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor made about affirmative action.
“Affirmative action, as it existed when I was in school, was an opportunity to bring kids into a race that they didn’t even know was being run.”
“Yes!” I thought. “That is what affirmative action is all about.” Kids from less advantaged backgrounds due to race, economics, and social class simply do not know about the opportunities that come as a matter of course to those of us in more privileged positions in the US. This privilege is due to money and power. Let’s face it, often both are linked to race. Whether we realize it or not.
The middle class has money and power that those not in the middle class do not have. Whether we realize it or not. They live lives that those not in the middle class cannot even imagine because they do not exist in the same world. Have the same experiences. See the same roads unfold before them.
How can we expect those not raised in environments of money and power to know how to raise themselves up by the proverbial bootstraps if they do not even know that these bootstraps exist? Affirmative action is meant to open a crack of light into their world, to tell them about the races and bring them into the race. And then it is up to them to run. Carpe diem!