News Release

“The U.S. Says No to Affirmative Action — Until It’s Time for War”


KINJO KIEMA, via contact form, @captain_kinj
Kiema is a Kenyan-American organizer and writer based in Washington, D.C.

She just wrote the piece “The U.S. Says No to Affirmative Action — Until It’s Time for War” for In These Times.

She writes: “In late June, the Right won a decades-long fight to overturn affirmative action when the Supreme Court ruled, in Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College, that considering race in college admissions violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. The case that ultimately landed before the court’s 6-3 right-wing majority was brought by Students for Fair Admissions, a conservative group that for years has challenged the admissions policies of schools like Harvard and the University of North Carolina. Across the country, conservatives cheered.

“But buried in a seemingly small footnote in the decision was a caveat that is just as telling about race and opportunity in America. In Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion, the Supreme Court allowed race-based admissions to continue in one place – military academies, which the Court declared have ‘distinct’ and ‘compelling interests’ that warrant an exception. …

“It’s well established that military recruiters target low-income schools and youth of color. The U.S. invests exponentially more in its military than in education, and according to the New York Times, ‘majority-minority schools are nearly three times as likely as majority-white schools to have a JROTC [Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps] program.’ In some schools – particularly those that are underfunded – military instruction can even become embedded in the curriculum in surprising and troubling ways. Traditionally, high school students who enroll in JROTC take some of their academic classes, such as civics and government, with military instructors, who in some states require fewer qualifications than other teachers. JROTC instructors also teach a pretty different curriculum, with an emphasis on cultivating nationalism. While JROTC is supposed to be voluntary, a 2022 New York Times investigation found that thousands of students – over 80 percent of them in majority Black and Latinx neighborhoods – were automatically enrolled in JROTC-led courses, often without their knowledge. Some families who fought to remove their children from JROTC instruction were told that they wouldn’t graduate unless they completed the course, effectively making the programs mandatory.”