The hashtag responding to some of the offensive Supreme Court remarks made about black college students has sparked a powerful solidarity on social media and beyond.
Abigail “Abby” Fisher is mad, and she can stay that way.
The white student who was rejected from the University of Texas sued the school based on her claim that they violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth amendment. This is the 2008 landmark Supreme Court case Fisher v. University of Texas that is currently being revisited.
Since the court’s decision this summer to rehear the case, there have been very heated discussions and presumptions made about affirmative action on college campuses and the students of color who benefit from them.
Last Wednesday, according to the oral arguments transcript, Justice Antonin Scalia said, “There are those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a less — a slower-track school where they do well.”
I am a first-generation black graduate from the prestigious University of Pennsylvania — and Scalia is a damn lie. This entire case itself is a full-out affront to diversity efforts being made on college campuses, and affirmative action is a scapegoat for those whites that don’t get admitted.
Thus, #StayMadAbby was born — the hashtag created by Black Twitter to combat the negative and ignorant stereotypes of college students of color being perpetuated. There is no collective hard proof anywhere that supports Justice Scalia’s assertions — just a sign that once again white privilege feels entitled to belittle anything that threatens it.
When a student of color gets admitted to a university, that’s not someone taking the spot of a more deserving white student. If a white student isn’t accepted, it’s because that student wasn’t good enough to be accepted. Some are stuck on the idea that affirmative action is an unfair way of considering students — but it was created as a way to guarantee diversity on campuses.
Furthermore, if folks like Abby and Scalia really want to belabor a blame game based on supposed unfairness, why not call out nepotism — I mean alumni preferential treatment given to their offspring who apply? Why don’t they call out the athletes who don’t meet academic requirements but whose sports performance clinched the deal? And they must not forget about the students who live in state or nearby whose chances to get accepted go up a notch. But wait … there’s more — how come they don’t consider these institutions’ rich donors’ children, who stand to benefit from special consideration because money talks?
Nope, they would rather try to presume that the black or brown student in their class was the one who got in unfairly — because, to them, students of color can’t be exceptionally brilliant, talented, and deserving of a spot in America’s notable colleges and universities.
Their rationale assumes that President Barack Obama hasn’t had to really work hard a day in his life. It undercuts the exceptional intellect of W.E.B. Du Bois, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Justice Sotomayor, Justice Thurgood Marshall, Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., — and every other nameless, faceless student of color who has broken barriers and excelled with a college degree.
This is why, at the Pattison Leader Ball last Saturday, I joined a group of black lawyers, civic leaders, journalists, and innovators that banded together in a collective “dabbing” to let folks like Abby and Scalia know that downplaying our hard work, merit, and brilliance won’t be used to infuriate us, but to celebrate us.
I shared that photo on social media with the hashtag #StayMadAbby to join other accomplished fellow diverse students in solidarity. More often than not, much of the narrative attempts to discuss what we’re lacking — but not what we’re excelling in.
It’s my favorite hashtag of the year because it couldn’t have been timelier in the midst of discussions about being #BlackOnCampus and how those who don’t know what a black college experience is like are trying to pretend it’s a cakewalk for us.
But #StayMadAbby is more than just a showcase of black excellence and celebration; it’s an encouraging visual for people of color considering college to continue to pass on the legacy. It’s a cheer of “you can do it” to those who are often told in the media and in classrooms that they can’t.
Social media can do a lot of things — both petty and inspiring. In these moments, it is definitely the latter.