Michelle Obama speaks about how affirmative action personally affected her college life

Politics/Current Events
“My heart breaks for any young person out there who’s wondering what their future holds,” the former first lady wrote.

Former first lady Michelle Obama spoke out about the Supreme Court’s Thursday ruling against affirmative action, recalling her own struggle to feel a sense of belonging as one of the few Black students at her university.

“So often, we just accept that money, power, and privilege are perfectly justifiable forms of affirmative action, while kids growing up like I did are expected to compete when the ground is anything but level,” Michelle Obama wrote in her statement. “So today, my heart breaks for any young person out there who’s wondering what their future holds and what kinds of chances will be open to them.”

On Thursday, href=”https://www.politico.com/news/2023/06/29/supreme-court-ends-affirmative-action-in-college-admissions-00104179″ target=”_blank” link-data=”{"cms.site.owner":{"_ref":"0000014b-3270-d4f3-a3cb-f3ffa8610000","_type":"0000014b-324d-d4f3-a3cb-f3ff4161000e"},"cms.content.publishDate":1688054485625,"cms.content.publishUser":{"_ref":"00000188-7c8d-dd46-a3cc-7f9f21510000","_type":"0000014b-324d-d4f3-a3cb-f3ff415b0002"},"cms.content.updateDate":1688054485625,"cms.content.updateUser":{"_ref":"00000188-7c8d-dd46-a3cc-7f9f21510000","_type":"0000014b-324d-d4f3-a3cb-f3ff415b0002"},"originalTemplate":false,"link":{"originalTemplate":false,"attributes":[],"target":"NEW","url":"https://www.politico.com/news/2023/06/29/supreme-court-ends-affirmative-action-in-college-admissions-00104179","_id":"00000189-07e3-d52c-a3d9-d7ff3f250001","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"linkText":"the court ruled that affirmative action programs","_id":"00000189-07e3-d52c-a3d9-d7ff3f250000","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>the court ruled that affirmative action programs at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina violate the Fourteenth Amendment, hindering the ability of public and private institutions to consider race in their admissions policies. In a joint press release hours after the decision, former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama emphasized their support for affirmative action, while former President Donald Trump celebrated the court’s decision.

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The former first lady recalled her experience as one of the few Black students on campus during her undergraduate years at Princeton University, explaining that she sometimes questioned if people assumed she had only been accepted because of affirmative action policies. But over time, she said, she and other students of color showed that they, too, belonged in elite academic environments. While the policy of affirmative action “wasn’t perfect,” she wrote, it helped provide “new ladders of opportunity for those who, throughout our history, have too often been denied a chance to show how fast they can climb.”

The court’s gutting of affirmative action programs, Michelle Obama wrote, was a reminder of not only the importance of policies that reflect principles of equity and fairness, but also the importance of making “those values real in all of our schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods.”

Barack Obama echoed this sentiment in a briefer statement, writing that while the policy of affirmative action had its flaws, “it allowed generations of students like Michelle and me to prove we belonged.”

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“Now it’s up to all of us to give young people the opportunities they deserve   and help students everywhere benefit from new perspectives,” the former president wrote.

By contrast, Obama’s successor, Trump, expressed his support for the conservative-majority court’s decision to overturn affirmative action, calling Thursday “a great day for America.”

“This is the ruling everyone was waiting and hoping for and the result was amazing,” Trump wrote in a Thursday statement. “It will also keep us competitive with the rest of the world. Our greatest minds must be cherished and that’s what this wonderful day has brought. We’re going back to all merit-based—and that’s the way it should be!”

With one day left in the Supreme Court’s 2022-2023 session, the court still has two major cases on student loan forgiveness and LGBTQ civil liberties remaining to announce decisions on.

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