Authors Tenaj Moody, Isabelle Bisio, Myanna Johnson


Affirmative action policies were introduced with the noble intention of redressing historical and systemic discrimination against marginalized communities, including Black women. While the effects of affirmative action policies have been felt across various marginalized communities, the repeal of such measures can disproportionately impact Black women and exacerbate issues like domestic violence. More specifically, Black college women are an underrepresented group that will have limited access to opportunities in education and employment. In this op-ed, we will explore how the repeal of affirmative action could have far-reaching consequences for Black college women and the rates of domestic violence they face.

The significance of affirmative action for Black college women

Since 1965, affirmative action has ensured citizens of all origins, races and religions have equal employment opportunities. It has also supported and enabled equal education access for Black and Brown women. Affirmative action recognizes that past discrimination has had a lasting impact on these communities and aims to address these disparities. This policy has helped to promote diversity and level the playing field by allowing underrepresented groups such as Black college women to gain access to opportunities in education and employment that were previously denied to them. With the repeal of affirmative action, this can lead to increased rates of college campus victimization. According to a multitude of research, there is a positive correlation between lower education rates and higher rates of domestic violence. 

Affirmative action has been instrumental in mitigating these disparities by providing black women with a fair chance to overcome the barriers they face. Black college women face a unique set of challenges stemming from both gender and racial discrimination. Historically, they have been doubly marginalized, experiencing systemic disadvantages that hinder their access to education, employment and economic opportunities.The repeal of affirmative action threatens to reverse the progress made by Black college women in pursuit of higher education and professional success. With diminished access to quality education, Black college women may find it increasingly difficult to compete in the job market, perpetuating economic inequality. This, in turn, can lead to higher levels of financial stress, a known risk factor for domestic violence. Without affirmative action, Black college women may face significant challenges in gaining admission to top-tier universities and institutions. This can perpetuate cycles of limited access to resources and opportunities, reinforcing systemic inequalities.

The link to domestic violence

Due to the lack of social opportunities and our country’s history of institutional racism, domestic violence is a persistent problem for Black Women. According to the Black Burn Center, 1 in 3 women will experience domestic violence. The repeal of affirmative action could exacerbate this problem by perpetuating economic inequality and limiting the resources available to Black college women. Having access to education and resources will help to prevent and stop domestic violence on college campuses.

We agree with the precedents of holistic review as outlined in Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) by looking at each student as an individual, including their race – as race does play a prominent role in what shapes a student. Black college women historically have faced systematic barriers to quality secondary education and continue to in present day. Those secondary educational opportunities contribute to admission factors such as test scores, extracurriculars and prep courses. By reducing Black college women’s access to quality education, the repeal of affirmative action undermines their potential to escape abusive situations, break the cycle of violence, and secure a better future for themselves and their families.

Reimaging Equitable Solutions 

As we’ve seen with history, once a repeal has been made it usually cannot be overturned. So now what can be done to replace the support system that affirmative action was to Black women? In what ways can we mitigate the likely increase in domestic violence? 

For one, colleges and primary schools need to become more involved in prevention methods. According to Lundgren and Amin, school and community programs that work in educating young women on the risk factors and the warning signs of dating violence have proven successful in prevention. Universities have the potential to create inclusive and welcoming campus environments that prioritize diversity and foster a sense of belonging for all students. By implementing community based programs, such as Light To Life, universities can take much needed proactive steps to address issues like sexual violence and how the intersectionality of race impacts Black college women. Workshops and facilitated conversations can create a safe, supportive campus environment and potentially prevent growing incidents of domestic violence.

Secondly, policy initiatives must also address the root causes of domestic violence through educational campaigns, support services, and legal protections. To mitigate the adverse effects of repealing affirmative action, it is crucial to implement alternative strategies that promote diversity and equal representation. One approach involves comprehensive scholarship programs and targeted support services that aim to uplift and empower marginalized communities. For instance, institutions can create more scholarships, specifically for Black young women wanting to pursue higher education. Not only would that benefit the students, but it would increase career opportunities.

Thirdly, there needs to be more support and legal protection in terms of domestic violence for the women that are currently in college. Attending college and increasing education can lead to less incidents of domestic violence, but attending college can also lead to some of those cases of abuse. As previously stated, Black college women are at a higher risk of facing these issues of abuse as well as receiving less support within the legal system. Because of this, it is essential for campus security teams to receive training surrounding diversity, equality and inclusion and how to appropriately respond to the delicacy of domestic violence situations. By prioritizing intersectional approaches that consider race, gender, and socioeconomic factors, we can work towards a society that prevents violence and promotes equal opportunities for all.

Closing statement 

The repeal of affirmative action poses significant obstacles for Black college women, diminishing their access to education and heightening their risk of domestic violence. By limiting the educational opportunities available to Black college women and terminating the practice of affirmative action, we are, in effect, silencing their voices and contributing to the maintenance of a violent and unjust society. If we are to effectively confront and prevent domestic violence on college campuses, we must advocate for policies that promote equity, inclusivity and equal educational opportunities for Black college women who can thrive academically, economically and emotionally, free from the constraints of discrimination and violence.

For colleges and universities interested in learning more about their role in ending domestic and sexual violence on campus check out and email for more information. 

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