What is affirmative action, anyway? 4 essential reads

Race-conscious affirmative action in college admissions could soon be a thing of the past. At least that’s the impression many observers got after listening to oral arguments about the practice before the U.S Supreme Court.

Scholars writing for The Conversation U.S. have taken a closer look at affirmative action and how it has been seen and used in the realm of higher education.

1. Even some supporters don’t know how it works

When OiYan Poon, a race and education scholar at Colorado State University, traveled across the nation to ask Asian Americans what they knew about affirmative action, they found that even people who were part of organizations that publicly supported or opposed it didn’t quite understand how affirmative action works.

For instance, “30 out of 36 presented outdated myths” about affirmative action, she wrote. “These 30 included 13 affirmative action supporters and 17 opponents,” who talked about ideas such as “‘racial quotas,’ which were declared unconstitutional in [1978]. They also thought it involved ‘racial bonus points’ for Black and Latino applicants,” Poon found.

In fact, Poon wrote, “race-conscious admissions is now practiced through holistic review of individual applicants. Such individualized review is meant to recognize, in a limited way, how race and racism might have shaped each applicant’s perspectives and educational opportunities.”

Lire la suite: How do colleges use affirmative action? Even some activists don't understand

2. Banning affirmative action has clear effects