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Critics respond to affirmative action court case with humor and a hashtag

Abigail Fisher (right), who challenged the use of race in college admissions, walks with her lawyer, Bert Rein, outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., Dec. 9, 2015, following oral arguments in the Supreme Court in a case that could cut back or even eliminate affirmative action in higher education. AP/J. Scott Applewhite

A white student named Abigail Fisher brought a lawsuit against the University of Texas at Austin in 2008. She had applied to the school but did not get in. She thought the school rejected her because of her race. 

In the years since, Fisher's case has been heard by several courts. Last week, it went to the highest court in the country, the Supreme Court of the United States. 

The case is about something called affirmative action. Affirmative action is when schools consider the race of students when deciding who to accept into their programs. Schools make sure to accept groups that have been traditionally treated unfairly, like African-Americans and Latinos.

Student Lawsuit Argues She Has Been Treated Unfairly

When Fisher was rejected, she felt she had been treated unfairly. She thought there were students of color who got into the University of Texas at Austin even though they were less qualified than her. In other words, she thought she had been rejected because of affirmative action.

Fisher's lawsuit has sparked a lot of conversation. Some, like Fisher, believe affirmative action is unfair. They think it gives some people advantages because of their race. Others, however, believe there is still a lot of racism in America that makes life harder for people of color. Affirmative action does not give unfair advantages, they argue. Rather, it helps balance out the disadvantages people of color face. 

Much of the conversation about the case has taken place on websites like Twitter. Twitter lets people post short messages online. Users can add hashtags at the ends of their posts. Hashtags are words that link posts to popular ideas. 

Social Media Hashtag Unites Critics

Many African-Americans have posted comments on Twitter disagreeing with Fisher. They have been using the hashtag "#StayMadAbby."

For example, one woman posted a photo of African-American women celebrating after they finished college. Below the photo are the words: "Simply amazing, beautiful, intelligent BLACK WOMEN. '#StayMadAbby.'"

Another message reads, "How you gon' hate from outside the school? You can't even get in! '#StayMadAbby.'"

Why are some people telling Fisher to stay mad? African-Americans are using the hashtag to say they are not sorry for getting into good colleges and universities. They say Fisher is just angry because she did not get into her first-choice school.

Affirmative Action Isn't Why All African-Americans Get Into College

People on Twitter have also been making it clear that African-Americans do not get into college just because of affirmative action. Several African-Americans have posted their grades and degrees to show how successful they were in school.

Meanwhile, other people have questioned whether affirmative action was the real reason Fisher did not get in to the University of Texas at Austin. In Fisher's year, the school accepted 47 students with grades and test scores lower than hers. 42 of these students were white. There were also many students of color who had better grades than Fisher but got turned down.

Justice Scalia's Comment Offends Some

The case has caused strong feelings in people, as conversations about race in America often do. Antonin Scalia, one of the Supreme Court justices, offended some people on Wednesday. He suggested African-American students who benefit from affirmative action should instead go to "slower-track" schools. Some people said the comment was racist.

Overall, the judges appeared to be divided as they listened to the case. It was the first time the court considered affirmative action since 2003. That year, it ruled affirmative action did not break the law. 

No one knows how the court will rule this time. If Fisher wins, it could put an end to affirmative action in the United States.

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Anchor 1: What the Text Says

Which sentence from the article BEST supports the idea that Fisher did not get rejected from the school because of her race?


University of Texas accepts groups that have traditionally been treated unfairly, like African-Americans and Latinos.


Many African-Americans have been successful and have graduated from the school.


Students of color who had better grades than Fisher did not get accepted into the school.


The school accepted students of color with grades and test scores that were lower than Fisher's.

Anchor 4: Word Meaning & Choice

According to the article, which sentence below shows an example of "affirmative action"?


The university takes applicants' race into account when making admissions decisions.


Students are automatically rejected from some universities if they are not a person of color.


College is always less expensive for students of color versus students who are white.


Grade and degree requirements are different for students who have been accepted into a college because of their race.

Anchor 1: What the Text Says

Based on information in the article, which of these statements is TRUE?


It is obvious that the Supreme Court will rule against Fisher since there have been many critics on social media.


Many people of color believe affirmative action is unfair since they do not want to be judged by the color of their skin.


African-Americans are angry about the lawsuit because they believe they were accepted on the basis of their ability, not their race.


African-Americans are angry about the lawsuit because they do not want affirmative action to end for them.

Anchor 4: Word Meaning & Choice

Read this sentence from the section "Justice Scalia's Comment Offends Some."

He suggested African-American students who benefit from affirmative action should instead go to "slower-track" schools.

What does Justice Scalia mean by "slower-track"?


schools that have track available as a sport


schools that do not have track available as a sport


schools that value affirmative action


schools that are less challenging


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