The U.S. Supreme Court didn't hand supporters of affirmative action an out-and-out victory when it ruled this week on two college admissions lawsuits. The court didn't toss them - or me - into a state of despair, either.
On one hand, the high court struck down the University of Michigan's blanket practice of assigning extra points to African-American and other applicants of certain underrepresented minority groups.
On the other hand, the court upheld the Michigan law school's practice of considering race with a host of other characteristics when evaluating potential students.
People like me - who believe that affirmative action is necessary to ensure that minorities have access to opportunities - can't help but grin over some parts of the Supreme Court decisions. Mainly because the courts again affirmed the inherent value of allowing colleges to pursue racial and ethnic diversity in their admissions practices.
All of which is in the best interest of college students because they learn how truly diverse the world really is.
When I went to school at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., nearly 20 years ago, I had expected to see only one or two black faces in a sea of white on campus. I and some of my friends called it being "the only raisin in the rice pudding."
But college wasn't like that. I saw dozens of students like me. I also knew dozens more who weren't like me, but the differences weren't all black and white. Some of my friends were Chinese, Jewish, Japanese, Italian, German, Kenyan, Lebanese and a variety of white Americans. They were rich and poor, sophisticated and not, smart and not so smart.
I learned more from interacting with this kaleidoscope of friends than I did from any book or college lecture.
The Supreme Court seemed to understand this with its dual rulings. And the justices' language shows they wanted to correct inequities without causing more - and much greater - inequities.
They didn't want to make things more fair to a few white students while making matters much less fair for many minority students and others. Even though these court cases were about college admissions, they also were part of a campaign to challenge scholarships, employment practices and other avenues of affirmative action.
So both court decisions - although reaching opposite, overall conclusions - were consistent in certain themes: It's OK to consider a person's race, along with other qualities, when making admissions decisions; racial and ethnic diversity can be compelling interests in academic settings; universities continue to have freedom of admissions but with scrutiny of diversity-influenced decisions.
From where I sit, colleges must maintain enough diversity on campus to teach students that there is no norm. We all are minorities sometimes, and yet we all belong.
College also should be a time when prejudice, ignorance, elitism and stereotypes are challenged and dispelled. And it's the mix that works this magic. And that's not a bad lesson to take into the working world.
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 768-8395
Area is lucrative for Bush and GOP
Going outside today? Just don't breathe in
UC raises tuition by 10 percent
Lawmakers shelve racetrack slots idea
IN THE TRISTATE
Apartment fire kills visitor
Colerain establishes curfew law
Fair beefs up with new facilities
Ex-UC hoops player Donald Little gets jail
Obituary: Jim Rockwell led surgical laser use
Tristate A.M. Report
BRONSON: City's law on pit bulls is a toothless Chihuahua
SMITH AMOS: Kaleidoscope of friends biggest lesson of college
HOWARD: Some good news
BUTLER, WARREN, CLERMONT
First on trial in prank gets jail
No tax, Monroe council is told
Board may hire political strategist
Ryland settles second lead suit
Fairfield citizens still can't vote on justice center
Board leader decries opposition
Sycamore assistant hired as Kings school superintendent
Chances of school funding appeal dim, analyst says
Boone County OKs 'bare bones' budget
Feds leave prosecution of Epling to state
Politicians hustling to fill war chests
Hebron student among $20K scholarship winners
Honoring Dr. King to be hearing topic
Wiedemann view lures N. Ky. home show again