Affirmative Action Opponents Aren’t Just Targeting Colleges and Universities. Now, They’re Trying to Break New Ground in the Military and Commercial Brands

With affirmative action virtually dead in the water for many higher education institutions, conservative groups have set their sights on eliminating race-conscious policies at other educational and corporate entities in recent months.

Since the Supreme Court declared certain affirmative action policies unconstitutional over the summer, that means that colleges and universities can no longer take race into consideration as a specific basis of admission.

Conservative Edward Blum attacks a venture capital fund
Conservative Edward Blum attacks a venture capital fund that provides grants to Black women. (Photo: MSNBC/ YouTube/screenshot)

The conservative activist group, Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), introduced the legal battle to end those college admission policies effectively. Now, they’re working to break new ground at both corporate entities and, more recently, other non-traditional higher education institutions.

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The group sued the U.S. Naval Academy this month over their race-based admissions practices. The suit spans 28 pages and alleges that the academy “has no justification for using race-based admissions.”

They filed a similar complaint against the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in September.

SFFA has run with its considerable win in the nation’s highest court since the summer ruling and started releasing suit after suit against corporations implementing DEI programs and even venture capital funds that help Black and underserved entrepreneurs access funding.

In August, the group sued two international firms for offering diversity scholarships, claiming they “are expressly refusing to contract with certain applicants based on their race and ethnicity.”

One of those firms released a statement asserting it would maintain its support for inclusion initiatives and fight the lawsuit “vigorously.”

The group also went after Fearless Fund, an Atlanta-based venture capital firm that works to connect Black women entrepreneurs with major capital investments for their businesses. In that suit, they alleged the firm ran a “racially discriminatory program.” The fund was founded by Arian Simone, Ayana Parsons, and “The Cosby Show” actress Keshia Knight Pulliam.

While SFFA may be getting a lot of credit and name recognition off of these efforts, they’re not exactly at the vanguard. The pioneer behind the student organization is a 71-year-old conservative legal strategist named Edward Blum, who oversees both the American Alliance for Equal Rights and The Project on Fair Representation.

Blum has been battling race-conscious policies on several fronts for decades. Because that battle reached its pivotal climax in the Supreme Court back in June, it emboldened other conservative operatives and signaled that the endeavors to take down diversity and inclusion efforts could make significant headway at this point in time.

“No one is suggesting diversity is a bad thing,” Blum told CNN last year, “but just treating people differently because of their race and ethnicity, that’s a different element in the quest for diversity.”

Now, other conservative organizations are taking aim at well-known corporate and commercial brands.

America First, an activist group run by former Trump administration speechwriter Stephen Miller, filed lawsuits against Nordstrom, Kellogg, and Amazon.

Nordstrom was targeted for its goal to increase representation of Black and Latino people in manager roles by at least 50 percent by the end of 2025. Kellogg was sued for its diversity programs, and the group sued Amazon on behalf of a Texas woman who alleged that the company discriminates against white entrepreneurs seeking start-up grants.

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