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‘#StayMadAbby’: African American graduates respond to Supreme Court affirmative action case with humor, pride

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Current and former African American students at the University of Texas have taken to social media to offer their own opinion on the affirmative action case against the school after the Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday.

Abigail Fisher filed Fisher v. University of Texas Austin after she was denied college admission to UT’s flagship school, which considers race in a portion of its applicant decisions. Fisher, who is white, claims that she was rejected because of her race through a process that does not comply with the Supreme Court’s previously established principles for race-conscious admissions.

Her suit is the first time that the court has revisited affirmative action since its landmark ruling in the 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger case. If UT Austin’s race-conscious admissions policy is not upheld, the decision has the potential to end affirmative action at colleges and universities across the country.

Fisher has been lambasted by members of the African American community for suggesting that she deserved to attend UT Austin more than they do. And racial tensions surrounding the case increased Wednesday when, during oral argument, Justice Antonin Scalia cited a friend-of-court brief contending that African American students who benefit from affirmative action should instead opt for “slower-track” schools.

This only fed into the furor surrounding Fisher, who has now become the focus of a tongue-in-cheek hashtag: “#StayMadAbby.”

African American UT alumni flocked to social media under the hashtag, using it alongside photos of themselves wearing their graduation caps and gowns. The photos’ accompanying captions sought to counter the notion that black students allegedly struggle at top colleges and universities across the country.

Many approached the Supreme Court case with a dose of humor.

“Gotta say,” one tweet read, “screwing a white person out of an undergrad spot just got me so lit so I stole me a grad school spot TOO. #StayMadAbby.”

[Where Justice Scalia got the idea that African Americans might be better off at ‘slower-track’ universities]

Some of the commentary referenced an oft-repeated fact of the Fisher case used to cast doubt on Fisher’s assertion that she was denied admission because of her race and because of UT’s Austin’s affirmative action in favor of ethnic and racial minorities. According to a brief for UT Austin submitted to the court, of the 47 admitted applicants with grades and test scores lower than Fisher’s that year, 42 were white. What’s more, 168 African American and Hispanic applicants with academic credentials either equal to or higher than Fisher’s were also denied admission.

Edward Blum, a University of Texas graduate whose nonprofit organization is funding the lawsuit, acknowledged to ProPublica, “There are some Anglo students who had lower grades than Abby who were admitted also. Litigation like this is not a black and white paradigm.”

The Supreme Court appeared to be divided during this Wednesday’s argument.

African Americans make up 4 percent of UT Austin’s freshman class. Meanwhile, black alums of the university are wearing their tassels and mortarboards with pride — along with a bit of snark aimed at “Abby.”

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