Sometimes it takes a hard knock to wake us up.
Donald Trump, the man who is destined to go down as the most divisive president in history, is good at delivering hard knocks.
On Wednesday, he announced his endorsement of a plan to reduce legal immigration by snubbing low-wage workers with family ties to the U.S. The proposed bill would also cut the number of refugees in half.
His senior adviser, Stephen Miller, pointed out several times that the current immigration system harmed African-Americans, in particular, because low-wage and blue-collar jobs are going to immigrants.
But apparently Trump’s compassion doesn’t extend to high-wage jobs that require a college degree.
According to a document obtained by The New York Times, the Trump administration is preparing to “redirect resources of the Justice Department’s civil rights division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants.”
While the media is busy tracking down every rumor relating to Russia’s alleged interference in the U.S. presidential election, Trump is about to reverse decades of civil rights gains that allowed black families to send their children to top-tier universities.
Many of these college graduates, like former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, went on to make history.
They are the black lawyers, doctors, elected officials and business leaders in cities across America that propelled so many black families into the upper middle-class.
Even so, a racial gap still exists when it comes to college graduation, and a recent study showed that “just five percent of students at the nation’s flagship public universities are black.”
I consider myself blessed that in a couple of weeks, my eldest granddaughters will be off to college.
The first-born, Naomi, opted to attend a two-year college first, and will be starting at Loyola in the fall. Her younger sister, Imani, will be going to Ohio University in Athens.
For the next four years, their parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts will be digging deep to help pay tuition and other costs associated with higher education.
For my granddaughters, the choice for college was simple. They grew up in an ethnically diverse suburb and wanted to go to an ethnically diverse university.
It is, after all, what the real world looks like.
But that reality is lost on an administration that is playing to the racial fears that has kept America divided.
The civil rights division is actually looking for lawyers interested in working for a new project “on investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions,” the New York Times reported Tuesday.
I give Trump credit for one thing.
He plays to his base.
There are a lot of angry white people who still believe they are being discriminated against when it comes to the application process many colleges use to achieve diversity on college campuses.
Having gone to the best public or private schools — schools that, for the most part, lack ethnic diversity — some white people are outraged that they aren’t able to go to the university of their choosing.
While these whites want to be judged by the SAT, ACT and grade point average, they are noticeably silent when it comes to the inequities that still exist in public education.
As far as they are concerned, some unworthy black person is sitting in their seat.
It is insulting that the Trump administration would seek to use the very laws that were written to protect non-whites from discrimination to give whites back the edge they have historically had when it comes to higher education.
Even worse, Trump could also make it more difficult for people who attend a historically black college and university, HBCU.
In May, Trump suggested that a key aid program for HBCU’s might be unconstitutional. Although Trump quickly backtracked, and later met with heads of the HBCU’s, the administration’s interest in ferreting out affirmative action in college admissions doesn’t bode well for the future of historically black colleges.
For instance, “Inside Higher Education” recently reported that Trump has yet to name a leader of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, an office launched by President Jimmy Carter.
Although the office has no real power, Trump’s failure to act shows a disregard for the important role HBCU’s play in educating African-Americans.
This latest knock by Trump shows historically black colleges and universities are as needed today as they have ever been.