Building Diversity Is Our Greatest Strength

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Generic image (Thinkstock)

In light of the recent Supreme Court decision on affirmative action, which kicked the case back to a lower court of appeals, America's educational institutions should recommit to fair and thoughtful ways to foster diversity, NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous blogs at the Huffington Post.

"For a country regarded as the paramount leader in a multicultural world, the United States has yet to embrace its own diversity; continuing failure to do so will have profound consequences for governance."

That quote came from a 1996 report by Allan E. Goodman, former executive dean at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service. For decades, American leaders in business, education and economics have lamented the wide racial and ethnic gaps in our education system. Last week's Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action reminded us that we have a long way to go.

In the case of Fisher v. Texas, the Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality of the University of Texas' admissions policy. The university currently allows admissions officers to consider an applicant's race among a number of other qualifying factors. The Court voted to send the case back to a lower court of appeals. In doing so, they reaffirmed the use of race in admissions, and the importance of educational diversity in the 21st century.

The decision in Fisher upheld an important precedent set in the 2003 case of Gruttinger v. Bollinger. In that case, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor refuted the idea that our society had advanced beyond affirmative action. She argued that the need for "cross-racial understanding" was still necessary to break down racial stereotypes, and that "student body diversity is a compelling state interest." 


Read Benjamin Todd Jealous' complete blog entry at the Huffington Post.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.