What We're Reading: Artists Denounce Supreme Court’s Ruling on Affirmative Action

"The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) effectively struck down affirmative action last Thursday, June 29, therefore barring universities from considering an applicant’s racial background during college admissions," said Rhea Nayyar for Hyperallergic. "The decision didn’t come as a surprise to many across the nation, which had long foreseen the conservative-skewed court’s bias against policies meant to afford those of underrepresented and marginalized racial backgrounds equal opportunities and education."

"Online through social media posts and in real life via in-person protests, countless artists, activists, students, scholars, and others expressed that their commitments to racial equity will not be thwarted in light of this disappointing news. But many noted that this will be an uphill battle. Last week, SCOTUS also ruled that the United States government has no obligation to assist the Navajo Nation with access to potable water; blocked President Biden’s campaign promise to forgive between $10,000–$20,000 of student loan debt; and determined that businesses may refuse “expressive services” to same-sex couples or LGBTQ+ identifying individuals based on a hypothetical situation, subsequently impacting the lives of millions of American residents for the worse."

"The SCOTUS decision will have resounding impacts on higher arts education and careers — areas that have long been regarded as luxuries for the rich and White. After the ruling was announced, several art schools such as Pratt Institute and the Rhode Island School of Art and Design (RISD) alongside universities with competitive arts programs issued statements expressing disappointment regarding the decision, noting that they must comply with the law but will continue to uphold their commitments to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility as they review their current policies and practices."

"Some museum leaders also spoke up in response to the rulings. In Memphis, Tennessee, President Russell Wigginton of the National Civil Rights Museum said that the affirmative action decision is a 'poignant reminder that the critical work to correct the generational impacts of our country’s long history of systemic racism is not finished.' Over in Los Angeles, Japanese American National Museum President and CEO Ann Burroughs highlighted that in the affirmative action ruling, SCOTUS referenced the 1943 Hirabayashi v. United States case that found the implementation of curfews and other restrictions on Japanese and Japanese Americans to be constitutional after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. 'The World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans was rooted in the same discrimination and prejudice that drives anti-affirmative action,' Burroughs stated on behalf of the museum."

“While my acceptance and scholarship aren’t explicitly affirmative action, they stem from the same logic — the stated aims of the scholarship were to increase the number of art students from underrepresented demographics who faced more obstacles in getting to art school and staying in the art world with the hopes of producing a more diverse art world,” Barrera said. “The creation of the scholarship acknowledged something that this ruling from the Supreme Court denies (at least publicly) — that we don’t all come into life with the same resources and we’re not all on a level playing field.”

Read the full article here.