All posts by Noliwe M. Rooks


This Is What Racial Inequality Looks Like

Recently two black male high-school students made news when they each earned impressive numbers of acceptances to Ivy League Universities. Kwasi Enin is a first-generation American from Long Island, whose parents, who are nurses, emigrated from Ghana. He was accepted into all eight Ivy League colleges: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, and Penn.

The other student, Avery Coffey, from Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, grew up in the impoverished 8th Ward of Washi…


For Black Students, College Degrees Are Separate and Unequal

Amid the loudly conflicting and competing claims of victory last month when the U.S. Supreme Court punted its affirmative-action decision in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin back to the lower courts, I heard at least three main positions: applause because affirmative action remains unchanged for now; calls to replace race-based affirmative action with a class-based version; and, finally, a soothing message about how black students are already succeeding in higher education, followed by a …


When Too Few Minorities Are Too Many

As a nation, we have no shortage of opinions about race-based affirmative action. This spring The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by a high-school student wondering if she had been rejected by the Ivy League because “I offer about as much diversity as a saltine cracker.” More than 1,200 readers commented. By the end of the week, she had been invited to appear on the Today show.

As I write, we await the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, which could l…