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  • Writer's pictureBen Finzel

COMMENT: Members of The Change Agencies React to Supreme Court ruling on Affirmative Action

As multicultural and/or LGBTQ business owners and communications counselors, we have the following perspectives on the Supreme Court decisions announced on June 29 and their impact on corporate, organizational, governmental and other DEI initiatives:

"Today's Supreme Court ruling, while alarming and disappointing, was not surprising," said LaTricia Woods, founder and president of Mahogany Xan Communications, a certified minority business enterprise in Chandler, Arizona. "As a Black woman, it is my view that this Court will continue to erode the decades of progress that we, as a nation, achieved to ensure that all citizens are seen and have equitable access to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is equally disappointing to see the comments from the legislators, elected by the people, openly celebrating today's decision. The work for those who believe in diversity, equity, equality, and inclusion for all communities has just become extremely difficult but never more important than now."

"As an Asian agency owner, I've been stereotyped as the "model-minority" all my life," explained Kristelle Siarza, owner and CEO of Siarza, an Asian- and woman-owned communications firm in Albuquerque, New Mexico. "I'm expected to be good at math, have the highest GPA in my class, excel in my studies, and fulfill the expectations of a preconceived notion of success. My story is similar to thousands of Asian, Pacific Islander, and Native Hawaiian (APINH) students, and we are not all a model minority. You don't hear about how we've been excluded from the National Merit Scholarship system and now, removing affirmative action - an admission process that consciously takes cultural competency into consideration - this decision will further expand stereotypes to our children. With over 40 countries representing the APINH community, the Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action hurts APINH communities that are not from educationally affluent ethnic groups. Decisions like this create larger disparities in our public relations industry, educational institutions and nationwide workforce."

"If the Supreme Court will uphold race based decisions for U.S. military service academy recruiting but not for U.S. colleges and universities the conservative majority has officially shown their true colors," added Audrey Ponzio, CEO and Founder of APC Collective, a woman- and Hispanic-owned communications firm in Austin, Texas. "We can make allowances for more ethnic minorities to join the armed forces but must be color blind in allowing entrance consideration to institutions of higher learning. This is a giant leap backwards."

“This Court has put a bullseye on the back of every marginalized community and is doing everything in its power to turn the clock back on the progress we have made toward equality and justice in this nation," said Zeke Stokes, president of ZS Strategies, an LGBT-owned communications firm in Nashville, Tennessee. "We will not be deterred on our march to a more perfect union by an activist, partisan, and out of touch Supreme Court majority and history will judge and them and our nation harshly for this backward movement.”

"The Supreme Court's ruling today will have the effect of legalizing discrimination and not just in academia," declared Ben Finzel, president of RENEWPR, a certified LGBT Business Enterprise in Washington, D.C. "While that's not what the ruling says, the real world impact of banning the consideration of race in college admissions will be to make it easier to dismiss broader diversity, equity and inclusion efforts not just in higher education, but across the board in corporate and organizational settings as well. This ruling politicizes equality and will encourage those who would rather talk about ideology than inequality to continue their efforts to divide us. Those of us who care about ensuring a more just and equitable society will have to redouble our communications, engagement and outreach efforts to explain why DEI matters and what each of us can do to advance equality, even without the equal protection of the law."

“This decision is a huge setback for all those who are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, including the 14 diverse communications firms that make up The Change Agencies,” said Cindi Creager, Co-Owner of CreagerCole Communications LLC, a member of The Change Agencies network. "As Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson said in her dissenting opinion, ‘The only way out of this morass—for all of us—is to stare at racial disparity unblinkingly, and then do what evidence and experts tell us is required to level the playing field and march forward together, collectively striving to achieve true equality for all Americans.’ While this ruling is a major blow to countless institutions, organizations and individuals who are dedicated to fairness, Justice Jackson’s words inspire us to redouble our efforts, expand DEI communications even further and continue striving for “true equality” for all.”

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