I am perplexed by the Fisher vs. The University of Texas case that is being addressed in the Supreme Court. Call me pessimistic, but with the Rockefeller Laws leading to mass incarceration of African-Americans and the corrosive use of New York City’s Stop and Frisk laws, I would think the most prestigious court in our nation would be more concerned with the welfare of minority men that are being prejudicially targeted than Abigail Fisher’s academic woes. But seeing as the nine justices thought that affirmative action needed a prompt revisit, I am addressing my grievances directly to the cause.
Dear Abigail Fisher,
Here is an apt forewarning: I am using this platform as a vehicle to communicate disbelief and subliminal rage. So, this open letter will not be imbued with false pleasantries intended to appease or uplift. Don’t expect an epistle steeped with ersatz compliments; it is not being written from a positive space of peace, light or love.
I am penning this missive because the vitriol coursing through my veins is inescapable. Rather than continuing to engage in unproductive Twitter rants, I am redirecting that caustic energy and utilizing this space instead.
Let me begin with this direct concern: If your injudicious mission is successful, there will be dire ramifications for blacks seeking acceptance in academia. Your decision to fight this battle to the Supreme Court can potentially annihilate affirmative action, a mandate that has required federally funded institutions to promote inclusive diversity.
If affirmative action is gutted and substituted with “neutral-based admissions,” institutions will have the option to deny students access to the educational American Dream based on their ethnic background. Abigail, if the Supreme Court issues a verdict in your favor, you will be responsible for pushing this nation backward, into an era when blacks were met with venom at the steps of Ole Miss.
Now, I’m a firm believer in equal application of the Constitution. You are entitled to petition the courts just as the Lovings did in the 1960s and I would never refute that unalienable right. The actual decision to pursue this case doesn’t plague me as much as the motive does.
You are insisting that the University of Texas at Austin denied your application for undergraduate admission because they were required to fulfill a federal diversity quota, which subjected you to bias. In blaming affirmative action for that denial letter, you are disregarding your responsibility as a college applicant. It is much easier to fault affirmative action than to hold up a mirror and see that you just weren’t qualified.
You told The New York Times that attending UT had been your dream since the second grade, so before submitting an application, you had to be aware of the admissions requirements. You knew that the institution automatically accepts the top 10 percentile from every high school in Texas and that the average SAT score is in the 1200s. It is common knowledge that UT is one of the most prestigious institutions in the United States, so it is challenging to be gain admission.
Before securing those letters of recommendation and forking over that expensive application fee, you knew that despite your legacy as the child of UT graduates, a spot on the coveted honor roll and a lifelong affair with the cello that admission wasn’t guaranteed.
In blaming affirmative action for that denial letter, you have failed to mention that you graduated number 82 in a class of 674 with a 3.59 grade point average on a 4.0 scale, which alienated you from the automatic admissions bunch. You conveniently omit that you scored an 1180 on your SAT, which is way below UT’s average, so that automatically diminished your chances of being accepted.
You suffer from selective amnesia, Abigail. You are aware that the University of Texas at Austin uses two indexes, the Academic and the Personal Achievement, to determine admission for students. You know that the Academic Index combines grades and standardized test scores while the Personal Achievement Index considers the submitted essays along with extracurricular activities and special circumstance (which can include race). You have been told that these two scores are combined and plotted on a graph and that everyone above a certain combined score is admitted while everyone below is rejected.
You also know that you fell below that line, along with more than 100 students who were denied admission. You’ve also read this statement from Gregory Garre, the University of Texas at Austin’s attorney:
“Even if Abigail Fisher had received a perfect Personal Achievement Index score she would not have been admitted … because her Academic Index was simply not high enough. Fisher would not have been admitted, no matter what her race.”
This leads to one conclusion: Affirmative action is not the issue. Now, before you attempt to bash me as another black woman benefiting from federal mandates, let me clarify: I scored a 1680 on the SAT and I was accepted into every undergraduate institution that I applied to. I graduated from Bennett College Summa Cum Laude and valedictorian with a 4.0 grade point average and I’m on a full ride merit-based fellowship for graduate school.
From academic to academic, it’s time to wake up and smell the ashes Abigail. You were not accepted into the University of Texas at Austin because you’re white. You were not qualified. But of course because African-Americans students were chosen for admittance and you were not, it must be reverse racism in the form of affirmative action.
I’ve seen this time and time again. It is owed to the prevalence of white privilege, which leads to unwarranted entitlement. You do know what white privilege is, right?
It is a singular component of critical race theory that implies that whites view their social, economic, and cultural experiences as normative and universal rather than exclusive. White privilege was first addressed in W.E.B. DuBois’ 1935 classic, Black Reconstruction. You should indulge in it sometime.
You might not be aware of white privilege because it isn’t analyzed in grade school, but it appears subliminally in westernized culture. The errant thought that the University of Texas at Austin is obligated to grant you admission because you were underqualified, white and the spawn of alum is a manifestation of privilege. Unfortunately, that wasn’t an infallible plan.
I know this might be a difficult concept to grasp, but the African-Americans admitted into UT were simply more qualified and scored higher on the indexes. Your average GPA and SAT scores were enough to earn admission into Louisiana State University, but at UT, it wasn’t sufficient.
That is the lesson, Abigail. Whether or not the Supreme Court rules in your favor, you should still learn to check that privilege at the front door. Otherwise there will be further disappointments in the future … and it can’t always be blamed on affirmative action.
Your white skin is not an entitlement pass. Mediocrity wasn’t adequate at the University of Texas at Austin and it is not acceptable in life.
A Despiser of White Privilege