top of page
  • Reverend James Squire

Part 2 Affirmative Action Overturned...

Affirmative action initially was around racial issues involving white and black people. But the most recent case presented by a white conservative tactician argued that race conscious admissions to elite universities discriminated against Asian Americans. Not many people realize this. My concern is that it would raise attacks against Asian Americans in an environment where we are seeing more and more of that kind of hate against them.

Joe Biden has come up with a solution to the recent overturning of affirmative action that I have been advocating for a long period of time. It is based in my experience when I was a working- class kid. The new standard is “that it should be the adversity a student had to overcome.” During the sixties working class people were ignored. Extremes and race became more central to admission to colleges and universities. During one admissions’ process I was turned down because I did not have enough real-world experience. Most know my story, my father had a sixth-grade education, had a serious stroke, I graduated first in my high school class, but labored in mills including a steel mill. When I asked what real-world experience I needed, the person in charge couldn’t answer that. Working class was not in! I had to choose a college that I could afford because the cost was on me. Penn was where I wanted to be.

When I finally attended Berkeley at Yale, I was a fish out of water as the 60(s) political movement was basically an upper-class phenomenon. You had to have “back up” to participate. I simply shifted gears higher and went with the advice given to me by one of my inspirations in life to “never let anyone outwork me.” I missed out on the whole protest movement! While my fellow students were out in the streets supported by checks from their parents, I was in the library doing what always worked for me.

So, when the student loan program bailout by our President was announced I was totally for it. Granted obviously I wished it was around for me, but my life has come full circle that is now based in giving others a chance and even as many chances as they need to have a better life.

I will forever believe that education is “your ticket to ride.” It is one of the reasons that I spent my life in that world. I get the biggest kick helping people to thrive no matter race, class, ethnicity or anyone such as those in the LBGTQ world. I also believe that racism is alive and well in 2023 in spite of one politico indicating that affirmative action was needed “50 years ago but not now.” Wrong.

It is human nature to assume that our experience is the experience of everyone. I just assumed that everyone had the same challenges as me. It sounds strange, but I thought everyone was one of the first in their family to attend college. The higher I went the more I realized with some shock that many people who I thought had a shared experience with me only to learn even their grandfathers had attended college.

Where you start counts! Where you start includes such things as race and class. Affirmative action is a threat to many white people. There is a simple exercise in diversity work that addresses this. Questions such as about your parents’ education, parents’ work, house you lived in, etc. are raised. If you have the right tickets, you can step forward with each question. If not, you continue where you are behind the curve. Barry Switzer, legendary coach of Oklahoma from 1947 to 1963, said it best, “Some people were born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple.”

We need to find a way to quantify a way for people to indicate what they have overcome. Essays are no longer read to provide equal access. I think a questionnaire identifying your start and how you have overcome that start would do it if there was substantiation. This will threaten white people, but could be a step forward for justice and equal access.

Coupled with this arrangement would mean a whole new approach to higher education. It needs to be affordable. No one talks about that because it too is threatening. It is the elephant in the room. But affirmative action will never work without a new structure for funding higher education and better public education. Independent schools will new help as well. It is an antiquated system! Texas has a system that if you are in the 10% of the top students in your high school class, you can attend the University of Texas. It can be done!

Congress has to invest more in education in theory and practice. It is the way for the American dream to be a reality. But we had a congressman for South Carolina rant and rave about the American taxpayer bailing out student debt. Somehow, he forgot that his business received over $300,000 in the government Payback Protection Program. $20,000 vs. $300,000! The Republicans are taking credit for all the government programs that Biden has begun to help our nation. When the people in Congress go home, they take credit for it. I love Biden’s counter. “I will see you there at the ground breaking.”

I have had a major change in my thinking. I use to think that the Maga people were against the government or the “swamp.” Maybe, but I think that something else is going on based on a recent experience that I had. The issue really has a have and have nots genesis. I have written about my new neighbor on the Chesapeake whose son started a fire on his property that could have taken out all the properties along a stretch referred to as “the gold coast.”

When I met with him and his son, it was a no holds barred tough conversation. He was 43 and now wealthy flipping houses with a construction business, worked hard all of his life as he grew up poor sometimes having to eat out of dumpsters, and was now ready to turn the business over to his son. His personal experience counts too. Everyone’s does which is my point.

He looked around and thought that I was someone born with a “silver spoon in my mouth.” It didn’t help that my Yale hat was on the table. There was a pause. I told him my story, my steel mill days, my brother working in the open hearth, and I built this home. The “tough conversation fairy flew in.” The son was first in when he said, “that work is harder than being in construction.” The whole conversation changed.

Maga people are frustrated by their start not on third place but swinging at a great pitcher, a strike out king, trying to get on base. What you overcome counts! Let’s get a way to measure it. Maga has never been invited to Trump’s home. They picked the worst person to follow. Part 3 will help you understand why.

7 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page