From hiring to DEI initiatives, affirmative action ruling could impact more than just colleges

Baraka, Menendez, Ruiz offer reasons why U.S. Supreme Court ruling will impact many aspects for communities of color

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka joined the chorus of dissent Thursday over the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down the ability of colleges to consider race as a factor in admissions — saying it could reverse decades of advances for inclusion and equality for people of color.

And not just pertaining to colleges.

Baraka, in a statement, said he is concerned people of color will be hurt in the hiring process,

“This decision will lay the groundwork for this court to eliminate affirmative action in corporate hiring processes, further hindering social justice and our trajectory toward realizing American ideals,” he said. “Instead of moving backwards, the nation should be moving forward, as we are in Newark, where we care for and support diversity.

“I call upon our federal legislators to enshrine affirmative action as law to counteract this decision.”

The ruling, which came in two cases — Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard, and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina — certainly brought a number of strong responses, many of which were concerned about how far a reach this ruling could have.

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said diversity, equity & inclusion in all aspects of life could be under fire.

“With a partisan decision to overturn more than five decades of legal precedent, six right-wing justices erected a roadblock in our nation’s painstaking march toward racial justice and inclusion,” he said. “Affirmative action has allowed Americans of all races to pursue their passions and contribute to our society, and, as evidenced by Justice (Sonia) Sotomayor in her powerful dissent — ‘Equal educational opportunity is a prerequisite to achieving racial equality in our nation.’

“By effectively stripping away one of the most important tools we have had to achieve some measure of equal educational opportunity, this court has undermined and eroded the American promise of equal opportunity itself.”

Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark) agreed. She said the impact of affirmative action is tremendous.

“Born out of a recognition that historical inequities continue to plague society, affirmative action emerged as a remedy for the deep-rooted biases that hindered the progress of marginalized communities in this nation,” she said. “Its purpose was not to perpetuate division, but to rectify the injustices of the past and dismantle deeply ingrained barriers, that challenged the status quo and paved the way towards a future where everyone has an equal chance to thrive.

“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court is profoundly disappointing and reminds us that the pursuit of equality is a complex struggle, requiring ongoing reflection and recalibration. I agree with Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s statement in her dissent, ‘If the colleges of this country are required to ignore a thing that matters, it will not just go away. It will take longer for racism to leave us. And, ultimately, ignoring race just makes it matter more.’ We have a collective responsibility to confront systematic barriers and empower those who have been marginalized.”

Menendez vowed to fight.

“We will never let a single, misguided decision halt our march toward a more equal and inclusive society,” he said.

“Diversity everywhere, from institutions of higher learning and corporate boardrooms to our justice system and the halls of power, is the source of America’s unmatched strength. This fact cannot be deterred or erased, even by some on the highest court in the land. And in the face of opposition, we will redouble our efforts to ensure that all institutions reflect the rich diversity of America.”