The Trump administration is determined to end affirmative action. In early July, Attorney General Sessions rescinded 24 guidance documents which advised colleges on ways to use their admissions processes to create a diverse student population. Sessions argued that by considering an applicant’s race, colleges give an unlawful advantage to black and Hispanic students. The Trump administration argues for solely merit-based college admissions, as the White House is staffed with the president’s unqualified family members.

With no prior government experience, the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, were able to secure high level positions in the White House. For a time, Jared Kushner was responsible for tackling the conflict between Israel and Palestine, criminal justice reform and finding a solution to the opioid crisis. Ivanka Trump serves as special advisor to the president. Before her job in the White House, Ivanka Trump worked for her dad’s company, The Trump Organization, and had a clothing line at Macy’s.

A November 2017 report by the Daily Beast found “there are at least 20 families, joined by either blood or marriage, in which multiple members hold some federal post or appointment.” It seems that the best way to ensure a position in the Trump administration is to be a member of the right family or a member of the president’s family.

The Trump administration’s efforts to destroy affirmative action, while it engages in hiring practices which favor the president’s family members, are hypocritical. Are the people most qualified to help run the country really related to Trump? In Trump’s America, nepotism is more tolerable than assisting historically marginalized racial minorities enter elite schools.

The rich white men, who currently run the government, preach meritocracy for black students while engaging in nepotism and political patronage. Trump’s nomination of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court will likely cement Trump’s legacy of meritocracy for the masses and nepotism for the few. There is currently a lawsuit filed against Harvard college for its affirmative action program. Advocates and opponents believe the Harvard case may be the case which definitively determines the fate of race-conscious college admissions.

Even without the final court decision, conservatives have already won the public debate on whether race should be used as a factor in the college admissions process. In 2016, Gallup conducted a survey which found 65 percent of Americans opposed colleges considering race in admissions. The same Gallup poll found that 50 percent of blacks opposed colleges considering race in admissions.

A 2016 poll by PBS and Marist found that 58 percent of blacks supported reparations for African-American descendants of slaves. Assuming both polls are accurate, in 2016, more black people supported reparations than supported affirmative action. These disparate findings are the result of the savvy conservative talking points which frame discussions about affirmative action around the ideas of “merit” and “discrimination” against overrepresented groups.  

Conservatives have managed to shame black people into opposing a policy which is intended to benefit them (the descendants of slaves, grandchildren of Jim Crow survivors and current victims of institutional racism). Another irony of the public’s strong opposition to affirmative action is that there has not been a massive increase in black students at elite schools.

In 2017, The New York Times reported that “even with affirmative action, blacks and Hispanics are more underrepresented at top colleges than 35 years ago.” As usual, conservatives have been able to exaggerate the benefits black people are being afforded and convince white voters that their self-interests are being threatened.

Affirmative action has not produced all that advocates would have hoped it would. Still, the existence of affirmative action has been an acknowledgement that the United States is not a meritocracy. Unfortunately, affirmative action is about to be killed by people whose lives are an amalgamation of whiteness, lucky breaks and the right connections. These folks will continue to pretend that their power and wealth was earned through hard work and merit, as they deny having any responsibility to help the historically disenfranchised.