The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to strike down race-based admissions at UNC and Harvard is a disheartening setback for equal opportunity and social progress.
This ruling strikes a chord with me as a Black student attending UNC under a scholarship designed to promote greater diversity and understanding on campus.
Reflecting on my journey, I was fortunate to attend a private high school. However, the disparity was evident – only 2 percent of my peers were Black. In an environment where my voice often felt marginalized, I found myself constantly speaking out to be heard, included and to make a difference in my community.
Yet, when I shared my perspective on issues of diversity, I was often met with hostility from members of the community— some even going so far as to take legal action after I and other students wrote a letter following the murder of George Floyd advocating for changes in our school.
Arriving on UNC's campus, I encountered people with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Some were descendants of families tied to southern slavery, others were first-generation college attendees and many hailed from economically disadvantaged communities.
Their presence alone enriched the classroom environment, offering unique perspectives that expanded my understanding and patience. Their stories became a bridge for those unfamiliar with their journeys.
When I stepped foot on campus, I immediately recognized the profound contrast from my high school environment. The difference showed me that the opportunities I was about to embrace owed their existence to practices like affirmative action, which have been instrumental in fostering diversity.
Reflecting on enrollment data from past decades, we are confronted with shockingly low percentages of Black student enrollment at UNC, a stark reminder of the institution's historical alignment with Jim Crow regulations.
With Black students only recently being granted more room in these institutions, policies like affirmative action allow for them to take up the space they deserve.