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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: I belong at UNC

20230824_cox-opinion-affirmative-action-impostor-syndrome
Daily Tar Heel Assistant Opinion Editor Laney Crawley poses on the steps of Carroll Hall on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023.

For my whole life, I have felt the need to work harder than most of my white peers if I wanted to be given the same opportunities. I strained myself trying to be perfect so I could be considered by what I deemed to be the right universities. 

Regardless of how extensive my resume was when applying to schools, people still said I would not have to worry about rigorous admissions processes because my skin color would do all the work for me. Years of hard work that I thought would speak for itself would be diminished to my race. This wasn't uncommon – much of other people's perception of me always seemed to come back to my skin color. 

Despite those comments, I never really believed I could slack off and still achieve my goals. So, in high school, I became an overachiever. At a school like UNC, this isn't shocking. Everyone who has gotten here is an exceptional student and everyone has earned their spot. 

So, I hate that ever since June 29, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that affirmative action was an unlawful practice, I feel out of place. 

It could be because I had people from my high school — who I hadn't talked to in over a year — DM me on Instagram, asking me if I think I would have still gotten into UNC if I had applied after the court’s decision. 

It might be because of the sheer humility I feel at going to one of the two schools instrumental in the process. 

Everything I did to get to where I was suddenly felt inadequate. As hard as I tried, I could not shake the feeling that I only got into the schools I did to fit a quota. I was left walking around this campus with the academic insecurity I felt all my life, and a case of imposter syndrome that I can only assume comes with being a Black American. 

The Supreme Court's decision will undoubtedly set back progress that began to make up for the years of exclusive and discriminatory practices against minorities. I am lucky enough to be enrolled in college, but I know that this policy affects minorities in more than one way.

Those who were not accepted into this school, or Harvard or any school in this country have long blamed minorities for “getting accepted over them,” and now they may look at this recent ruling and feel they are validated. 

I know that there are plenty of people who think I don’t deserve to be where I am, and I hate that a part of me can’t say for sure that any of these people are wrong. 

The idea of race-blind admissions sounds nice in theory. I wish we lived in a country where we could truly be race-blind and still have high levels of diversity at rigorous universities. I wish we lived in a country where people could get the opportunities they deserved without policies like affirmative action. 

The unfortunate truth is that we have not reached that point, and now that we have gone race-blind, I’m not sure that we ever will.  

I would love for the Supreme Court to miraculously realize that this decision will do more harm than good for students, and reverse their decision as fast as possible. 

But I know that won't happen. 

In the meantime, I can only hope that students at these universities, particularly at Harvard and UNC, do not start feeling less than others. I hope that they remember they deserve to be where they are and remember how hard they worked to earn their spot. 

Every student of color I know attending UNC has done exceptional things in high school and continues to do exceptional things now that they are here, upsetting as it is that we must be extraordinary to prove ourselves when others are allowed to be just okay. 

@delcrawl

@dthopinion | opinion@dailytarheel.com

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