One Woman's Tweet Dispelled A Huge Misconception About Affirmative Action

Apparently, a lot of people don't undertstand this controversial law.

A New York Times report revealed on Tuesday that the Justice Department (DOJ) is planning to investigate and potentially sue universities for affirmative action policies. 

The explosive news came after The Times got its hands on an internal memo to members of the civil rights division that said the DOJ was planning to redirect resources to investigate affirmative action policies. But their plans aren't what you'd expect: they allegedly want to investigate racism against white students, not minorities.

Of course, there are plenty of intricacies to consider around affirmative action, a college applicant policy that intentionally favors students from disadvantaged groups. Proof of that is in a recent lawsuit against Harvard University, which alleges that Asian-American students are being punished for higher achievement, a claim that there is plenty of evidence to support. 

But with the news breaking about the DOJ potentially investigating affirmative action policies, some long-held myths about what affirmative does came to the forefront. In one tweet, Ashley Ford — a writer at Refinery29 — reminded everyone that those beliefs were myths.


"Do you know how many white people truly and genuinely believe that black people get to go to college for free?," she wrote. Her tweet received 32,000 retweets — and a further 80,000 likes.

As Ford points out, affirmative action doesn't simply make college free for disadvantaged or minority groups. Instead, the program is meant to give more weight to a student's background, and increase the opportunity for admission to colleges. What can result is that non-minority students with the same credentials as an African American student might not get into the same schools — what it doesn't mean is that those African American students will attend college for free or that the accepted students weren't qualified to attend.

The DOJ hasn't confirmed or denied The New York Times reporting. For her part, Ford made it clear that she was speaking from personal experience, not just from what she read. In a series of follow up tweets, she explained that after graduating high school she was exposed to a ton of people who thought that because she was Black she would attend college for free.

According to her colleagues, they had heard this myth from friends, parents, and family members, and were a little bewildered at discovering it wasn't true.

Ford's tweets are an important reminder of a reality for college students everywhere: college is almost never free. Just 20,000 students received full rides in 2011 according to CBS Money, and ATTN reported that only 250 students received full rides that year for private colleges. 

There's no question that affirmative action is worthy of discussion, but hopefully more people like Ford will continue to speak out about the myths surrounding this policy.

Cover photo / Shutterstock /  Dean Drobot


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