The U.S. Supreme Court’s termination last week of affirmative action in college admissions is a devastating blow for Black immigrants pursuing the American dream. It undermines the need for a support system to aid Black and minority students who have hopes of reaching their highest education potential.

Having personally experienced education in both Maine and Massachusetts and as a proud graduate of Boston College, I am acutely aware of the challenges faced by Black immigrants in their educational journeys. To succeed it is critical that supports are in place.

Abdi Nor Iftin is a Somali-American writer, radio journalist and public speaker. He lives in Yarmouth and can be contacted at

When I applied to college without a U.S. high school diploma, I had to prove my proficiency in English by demonstrating my ability to speak, read and write the language. To gain admission, I had to pass several tests, including math, because any other educational background I brought from outside the United States was not considered as worthy.

I firmly believe that my acceptance was based on the unique qualities I brought to the table. My fluency in languages other than English and my diverse background contributed to the rich tapestry of experiences within the college. Almost every other Black immigrant has a similar experience. What all of us don’t have is financial support from our families or the advantage of alumni connections to the school.

Many of my college classmates had family members who had attended the same institution in the past. These students, who were predominantly white, undoubtedly benefited from their familial connections, gaining entry through legacy admission, which some of them openly admitted. This practice traces its origins back to the 1920s when prestigious colleges, historically associated with wealthy Protestants, were concerned about the rising numbers of Jewish and Catholic students. Unfortunately, even today, several schools in the United States continue to employ legacy admissions, providing advantages to students born in the country and those who have family members who can vouch for them during the application process. Black immigrants do not have this advantage, and now the Supreme Court’s ruling further closes the door of opportunity to them.

Many colleges across the country have been more inclusive in their admissions processes, admitting a higher percentage of Black students, whether they are U.S. citizens or from other countries. Yale University, for example, described its incoming class of 2025 as comprising of students from 48 states and 68 countries, with 51% identifying as students of color. Seeing such numbers would motivate any Black student to aspire to an Ivy League college and to high career goals, as does the representation of Black citizens in powerful positions in this country, including the Supreme Court.

In 2010, when I was still in Mogadishu, Somalia, a new government was established with a prime minister who attended Harvard School of Law. While my American dream was still distant at that time, the prime minister represented all our dreams for our futures. He fled Somalia in search of safety and education, and with the support of his school, he was able to finish law school. Anyone immigrating to the U.S. that I know of has a similar dream.

The termination of affirmative action in college admissions poses a significant challenge to that dream, and it also hurts this country. The unique experiences and perspectives these immigrant students bring to college campuses enrich them and contribute to a more inclusive society.

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