Since its inception the Nisei Student Relocation Commemorative Fund has been proud to join with others committed to extending the benefits of higher education to all Americans. The decisions by the Supreme Court in the University of North Carolina and Harvard admissions cases have dealt a major blow to those dedicated to advancing that goal.
The NSRC Fund condemns the efforts of anyone – Supreme Court Justices, political leaders, and fellow citizens – who would stand in the way of programs and policies that take into account the totality of a college applicant’s life and experience, including their race. Japanese Americans are fully aware of how racism has historically led to their exclusion from their country. We recognize as well that access to higher education is critical to fighting the oppression that they and others burdened by racism have suffered.
The foundation of the Nisei Student Relocation Commemorative Fund goes back to World War II when Japanese Americans were imprisoned due to their race and thus were prevented from attending college. A group of private citizens organized under the banner of the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council (NJASRC) were able to convince the U.S. government that internees who were interested in attending colleges outside of the West Coast could with the Council’s assistance go to college. The NSRCF recognizes that when Japanese Americans were completely denied the opportunity to attend college, others stood up for them. Today, as people of color in the U.S. are denied equal opportunities to attend college, it is our responsibility to stand with them.
The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down President Biden’s program to ease the burden of student debt adds even more to the obstacles of those who wish to pursue higher education. It is precisely because of our recognition that the costs of college must be lessened that the NSRC Fund was established.
While policymakers, legal experts, and activists continue to consider the full implications of the Supreme Court’s decisions, there is no doubt that the path to full inclusion and equity regardless of race has been made more difficult through the attack on the use of race as a consideration in admissions decisions, and by the Court’s action to curtail efforts to respond to the debilitating costs of higher education. As Justice Jackson stated so clearly in her dissent in the UNC case, “deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life.”
We want to assure all those who support our efforts to fight against this latest attack on people of color that we will not abandon the struggle.