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Ethnography Reflections

After looking back at all of my reflections, I realized that these Ethnography entries helped me to point out my writing flaws. Of course no one is a perfect writer, and I never will be, but when you take a second to record where you are, what is happening, and how you feel in that exact situation, your future self can be proud of all the progress you have made. At least this is how I feel. 

My first set of entries talked about my weaknesses, such as run on sentences or choppy transitions. Although I still have improvement room for these two things, I do feel as if I have made progress in this department. My last three entries are composed much better and more readable. Looking back on all of these together, there is evidence that the second half of my work is better quality.

My work could have been better quality at the end because of improvement, or it also could have been impacted because I took more time doing the assignment, rather than just getting it done. Changing my mindset after meeting with you really helped me to see the value of the work you assigned, not only in ethnographies, but also in RWDs and Commonplace Books too.  The amount of time and energy you put into something really does matter.

Lastly, I learned from looking at my reflections from this semester that not only does energy and time have a large effect on your work, but so does the environment. I found that I worked better in a coffee shop or public setting. This may be due to the fact that it pushes me to work on the assignments I have and not procrastinate, but I am thankful I learned this early on. My reflections show proof of this, as the second set was written in the Starbucks closest to me. 

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Commonplace Book 10

“When the flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” – a random quote from my Pinterest board.

I found this to be very interesting, especially because I have not considered this perspective before. My interpretation of this means that when there is an issue, you change the things that are causing the problem, not yourself as a person. I do not know if I agree with this 100%, because what if one of the factors causing the conflict is your mindset or you as a whole? I believe that the only reason people do not do things is because they come up with an excuse to justify the conditions that are stopping them. 

You can do anything you set your mind to, the reasons in your head are excuses. Hard work does pay off, and everyone starts from somewhere. Regardless of whether or not I agree with this quote fully, I do think it is a good thing to keep in mind when coming across a problem. It shows that there is more to life you can change in order to be successful. In fact, the most successful people are the ones who fail multiple times, failure is their fuel to keep chugging. 

Do you believe that the way to see change is to alter the factors in your environment? Or, do you believe the reason for not being successful is derived directly from a person’s mindset and actions? Is it a combination of both? Are these answers to the question, or are they just phony statements to make a person feel better about not succeeding? I encourage you, the reader, to take a step back and think about this, maybe it will benefit you when your next conflict strikes.

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Commonplace Book 9; The Georgia Election

“The state has conducted two recounts, with the latest count showing Joe Biden winning by roughly 12,000 votes.” – The New York Times. 

The Georgia debate, which occurred last night, Sunday December 6th, was a very intriguing conversation, so I thought it would be adequate to discuss a quote from an article written this morning;  December 7, 2020. This statement, written by a journalist from the New York Times, is describing a very relevant controversial topic for both sides of the political spectrum. No matter what party you affiliate with, this debate affects you. (If, of course, you take part or have an interest in politics). 

Some may ask, “how does this affect me” or “isn’t the election already over?” Well yes, the election is indeed over, but the future of the United States senate depends on the outcome of the election on January 5th, 2021 in Georgia. The result of this election will determine who holds an effective majority in the upper chamber. If the democrats win, it will allow Joe Biden to govern easier during his term as the president. If the republicans win, it will make it more difficult for Biden to govern, because the views between parties will not align. This is the beauty of checks and balances. No matter what side the president is on, they will always be accompanied by congress with their own set of standards. 

As I am getting more into politics everyday, I have made a realization that this is what I want to do. I find it fascinating to follow the current policies and or issues. I am curious as to what the result will be on January 5th. To relate back to my quote in the beginning, I am going to ask you, the reader, what you believe. Do you think there was voter fraud this election? Or do you think Joe Biden won fairly? Regardless of your answer, I encourage you to take part and follow along with the upcoming Georgia election.

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Reading Summary 5

In David Foster Wallace’s written copy of the 2005 Commencement Address, he portrays the idea through multiple examples that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. To begin, the first example given features two fish swimming. When they pass another fish, who asks how the water is that day, the example ends with one fish turning to his partner and asking what the heck water is. This comparison evidently proves that humans are often oblivious to events happening in their everyday lives. While Wallace is delivering this speech in front of students graduating, he is asking them to twist the ways in which they think. “So let’s talk about the single most persuasive cliche in the commencement speech genre, which is that a liberal arts education is not so much about filling you up with knowledge as it is about quote teaching you how to think” (Wallace 1). He then proceeds to explain that this is not an easy topic to hear or follow.

In his second example, Wallace tells a story about two men at the bar discussing religion, one is an atheist and one is a believer. In which, the atheist tells the person of faith about his near death experience, and how God did not save him, two eskimos did. Although it is clear that at the end of this story, the eskimos could have been the very sign from above, the guy is dead set that his view is right even before telling the story. Wallace explains that he has a “blind certainty, a close mindedness that amounts to an imprisonment so total that the prisoner doesn’t even know he’s locked up” (Wallace 2). The key to being successful, is to be open minded and allow new ideas to challenge your views. 

Both of these examples relate to the message in the beginning; there are some things people are so oblivious to, without even realizing it. The fish did not know he was in water, and he swims in it everyday. The man at the bar did not consider the option that the eskimos were sent there at that time specifically from God to save him. As a result, both of these main characters missed the greater picture. Wallace’s advice to the graduating class is to dive into things with no preconceived notions. An open minded person will be rewarded, no matter how difficult it is. 

Works Cited

Transcription of the 2005 Kenyon Commencement Address … (n.d.). Retrieved December 7, 2020, from https://web.ics.purdue.edu/~drkelly/DFWKenyonAddress2005.pdf

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Commonplace Book 8: Opposing Political Views

“The polarized state of our politics, alas, means that people are so taken up with their political identities that they’re unable or unwilling to consider the views of those outside of their political tribe.”The New York Times

I came across this quote when I was reading an article from the New York Times, Should I Stop Speaking To My Trump Supporting Friends? In which, an unhappy writer wrote about the stress of pursuing a friendship with a friend on the opposite side of the political spectrum. Anonymously written, this person expressed how she did not share the same beliefs, so it became hard to see the friendship continuing.

The New York Times answered this question very well, and I would have similarly too. They said that people need to be more open minded with each other, and learn to listen to opposing opinions. It does not matter if you disagree about certain policies, breaking a friendship off because of this is not worth it. I believe that having a variety of views is actually beneficial. If you only surround yourself with people who think identically to you, it becomes a groupthink scenario, and allowing other viewpoints into your own beliefs will prevent political bubbles.

On the other hand, I do believe it is important to always stand for and by what you believe in. If the morals of the opposer do not align with yours, and it becomes a constant battle to continue the friendship, maybe it would be best to take a step back. But, overall, this should not be an issue. I am curious as to what you all think. Do you think politics are a part of someone’s identity? Is it okay to still be friends, even with significantly different viewpoints?  Where should the line be drawn? 

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An Unorganized Commonplace Book 7

“When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen.” -Drake.

I believe everyone struggles with what others think of them, so as a result, they allow the opinions of those people to dictate their actions and/or feelings. But, this should not be the case. When you are doing something, you should do it because you enjoy it, not because another person tells you to like it. In this day and age young adults are so concerned by pleasing others that they lose a sense of their identity. 

On the other hand, I do believe taking advice and learning from others is important as well. A person should grow and better themselves always, but only if the advice given is truly for your personal benefit. I also believe you should challenge yourself and never give up on your dreams.

Rhetorically speaking, someone is going to disagree with your actions no matter what you do, so shouldn’t you do what you want? Why do humans care so much about how others view them? This is a question I often ask myself, because I do not understand. Even I am guilty of this. Is it because humans were made to feel like this? Or is it the society in which we live in? Regardless of the reason, it is a prominent issue.

To look on the other side of things, again, I am curious as to whether or not caring about what others think of you is a bad thing. Obviously if you let it consume you it will not be healthy. But, if you did not care at all, what would be the point of doing things if you did them solely for yourself? Are humans not made to share connections with others? Or are things the way they are just because they are, not for any particular reason. Am I trying to find an answer to this question because it is human desire to? Or is there actually a cause as to why the words of other people matter to us. 

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Ethnography Field Notes 4-6

Ethnography Entry 4

I have started to realize big changes in my essay writings. I used to write sentences that sounded a lot like the demos we now correct in class. I believe that the result of my growth is from the many activities we are required to do. Along with sentence structure, I have learned the importance of organization and accessibility to the reader. One good example of easy access would be linking. I used to not link because I did not know where to put it, but after taking the time to understand, I realized how helpful links can be to the audience the passage is intended for. 

Writing an essay used to be a task that I dreaded, but now I feel as if I have so many more useful things I can apply in order to achieve the point I am trying to convey. Although exercises have most definitely contributed to my success, I also feel as if my work environment had an impact too. I recently moved home for the holidays (I used to be in D.C., and now I am in Nebraska) and I have noticed my ambition drive is up. This could be the result of my parents driving me crazy, or the absence of my new college friends. Either way, the background in which I sit down to write an essay for sure has an effect on my outcome. In fact, I prefer to be in my living room at the desk, with no distractions. 

Ethnography Entry 5

Recently, this weekend in fact, I had to prepare a slideshow to present to my French class. I started fairly early on it, because I was nervous about speaking in front of my peers. I am in beginning French, so this was our first independent talking time alone. To prepare, I made a slideshow filled with pictures and aesthetically pleasing transitions to the eye. I noticed while creating this slideshow that I was aiming my sentences for the professor, with the intention that he would enjoy what I was talking about.This seems to be a common issue when completing homework, considering your grade is at stake.

My slideshow aimed to show off the beautiful Switzerland. Talking about its culture, habits, and food, this was not easy information to type in a different language. This reminds me of Anne Curzan’s writings, in which she made her opinion, English is not the superior language and should have rules that can be challenged,  evident through many of her personal experiences and writings. After beginning to learn a new language, I have found a new appreciation for it and all others as well. 

The response I was wishing for did indeed happen, as I think (fingers crossed) that I aced my presentation! Everyone in my class was nice and no one made fun of me. This gave me the confidence I needed in order to continue speaking and writing French. In any language that you write in, it is important to be confident, this gives you the power to write in your voice and to your best ability. 

Ethnography Entry 6

For my government class, we are required to write posts on a community app called “Yellowdig.” The goal is that you reach a certain amount of points each week while discussing current politics and engaging with your fellow peers. I wish to evaluate this process for my last observational piece.  

To begin, the intended audience is for my professor, classmates, and TA’s. These posts cannot just be nonsense, because then you will be embarrassed. I actually believe this is a great way to stay involved with what is happening, and it also allows students to learn to work together in groups better. The responses you get on each paragraph challenge you to rethink your ideas, as well as persuade others to think how you think.

The purpose of posting these is clearly to stay updated on the current politics happening. It is also relevant to see new perspectives and things you did not know of prior. I have found recently that I have been applying many different forms of writing I have learned in this class to my postings. By being clear and to the point, more people will want to read what I have to say, which is the purpose of writing it in the first place. I have also applied hyperlinks to my postings so others can view the articles I am referring to. By staying organized and giving the audience what they want (easier ways to understand the point I am trying to make) it is beneficial for everyone. 

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Commonbook 5

“That First Sip Feeling”– The side of my Starbucks cup

While this may be possibly the most pointless quote ever to evaluate, it was the only one on my mind when I sat down to write this. For some context, I am on the corner of Wisconsin on the outside porch at Starbucks. The weather is nice, but fairly hot for my liking. The person to my left is repetitively speaking French terms outloud to themself, and I am sitting in a rather uncomfortable chair next to them trying my best to tune it out.

“That first sip feeling.” Hmmm, could this be a true factor that many people believe, implying that the first taste of the drink is the best? Or is it just simply a corny advertisement Starbucks chose for their plastic cup design of the month. I suppose the only way to know this answer, is to test it out for myself.

I ordered my classic; iced vanilla latte with almond milk and cream. Basic, I know. My first drink was in fact significantly good, but I wouldn’t go as to say superior to the ones to follow. I am now wondering whether or not the question I brought to light, “is the first sip truly the best?” better to be left as a rhetorical one, considering how dumb I feel typing this now. To answer my own question, which implies that in fact it does need an answer, making it non rhetorical,  is yes. It is truly up to the person drinking to decide how much they enjoy their first sip. Even if you believe the first drink of coffee trumps the rest following, why would you listen to my negative analysis saying it differs? Decide for yourself, don’t let anyone take away your coffee drinking joy. 

Thank you for listening to my opinionated coffee experience. In conclusion, I have decided that the last sip is actually by far the best, considering it has all of the residue of the drink mixed together in one beautiful sip.

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Ethnography 1-3

The conventions in which I write on social media and for my academics are significantly different. Take my Instagram account for example, this is where I post to the world to show them what I am currently doing. I caption my photos dumb things such as “on top of the world” or “cheers to my girls.” In contrast to the papers I write for my classes, if someone were to judge me based solely off of my social media, they would think I was incapable of forming an actual sentence.

The aim of my posts are purely just a flex of what I am doing. Social media is actually very pointless in my opinion, yet I still hypocritically use it often. I suppose in the end, it is a way to bond and communicate with other people in my generation. But to relate back to my original point, proper sentence structure simply does not exist when you are posing and smiling at your best angles.

I do not know if this is just a factor that I should merely accept, but it is something I often notice. I became more aware of this when I went to college. When you first meet a person, this is commonly one of the first things they ask for. It has become part of my age group’s language. The ways in which we communicate have drastically changed, and I am guilty of it too. 

I find that I feel better when I am writing about something I care about in an environment that is healthy. My habits of taking mental notes when I hear something important have increased significantly. The nature and beauty of writing should not be dumbed down when it comes to posting on social media. 

There are multiple different conventions in which I write, but I feel as if the one that differs most is my verbal communication  (assuming that speaking is also a type of language). For example, the way that I talk to my professor is significantly different from the way I speak to my friends. The things I discuss, the words I choose to use, and the context in which I talk are all immensely different. In fact, the way I am writing this paper is not how I would choose to regularly talk to my friends. This proves that the intended audience affects my writing.

The feedback I will receive from this will also affect not only my future pieces that I compose, but it will bend my writing voice too. This is because the reader enhancing my work is very respected and is aiming for my own personal growth. I became aware of this very drastic difference when I started to think about this assignment. I believe that highlighting and acknowledging this will allow me to think even more critically. 

Not only do the people that I am aiming to talk to matter, but the environment I surround myself with has a massive impact on the outcome of my writing. I have realized throughout completing these many RWD’s and reading summaries that who and what I surround myself with is very crucial to the quality of my work. For example, my beginning assignments were completed at a local Starbucks with friends, my second assignments were completed at my desk at home. The results were very different. When I am alone, I do much better work. 

I have found more recently that when I take notes during our classes, I can apply what we say better to our upcoming assignments and writings. In my previous endography, I mentioned that who you are writing towards makes a great impact on the outcome of your words. But, I thoroughly enjoy this class because I believe it pushes my creativity to the limits. I often find myself asking, “So what?” or “Why does this matter?” By questioning the importance of the text, it helps me to fully understand better. I now feel as if I can convey my messages more clearly and effectively. 

To further this idea, I would say that I write in two different ways. The first way is to write for myself and my personal knowledge. I find that when I enjoy what I write, it is much better. In contrast, when I try to write to complete the assignment, I am not gaining anything from it, therefore proving it to be a waste of time. Although I realize I am not going to always enjoy what I write, asking myself why I am doing what I am doing always helps me to advance further. 

Another way that helps me to improve is to be outside. The nature and fresh air helps to clear my mind and flow my creativity. When I started writing outside, I often found comparisons between the assigned pieces and everyday life. For example, I now look at things and question if other people see them the same way, this is from the writing Getting Rid of the Appearance- Reality Distinction by Richard Rorty. 

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Applying Both Sides of Affirmative Action Rhetorically

by: Mia Dugan

Affirmative action by definition is a set of policies and practices within a government or organization seeking to include particular groups based on their gender, race, creed or nationality in areas in which they were excluded in the past such as education and employment.While many people today believe that affirmative action programs result in the acceptance of minority students with weaker credentials over arguably more qualified white students is inherently unfair, there are established opinions supporting both sides of this policy. I will apply Stanley Fish’s notion that all issues can be viewed rhetorically to question both sides of the argument in which each defines their own beliefs of what the fair and modern standards are for admission into college. With the rhetorical mindset, two major questions arise; “Should society give a helping hand to underrepresented students in America to atone for historical injustice and or discrimination?” As well as, “Is the sacrifice of losing educational spots for highly qualified white students overall benefitting society because of the unfair disadvantage minorities experience in the application process? In other words, does society benefit by favoring the minority student with weaker qualifications that experienced difficult economic conditions and social inequities over the white candidate with the better resume? 

This process is used in the college universities today so that people of all races have an opportunity of being admitted. According to 5 Reasons to Support Affirmative Action in College Admissions, “Affirmative action is one of the best tools colleges and universities have to promote diversity and and ensure that those who are otherwise shut out of the American postsecondary system have a chance to earn a quality degree” (Conner Maxwell and Sara Garcia 1). This is essentially explaining that affirmative action is needed for a fair process. 

Opponents of affirmative action maintain that this system takes away the slots from the “best” candidates and instead focuses on fulfillment of diversity goals. For example, in cases mentioned in the New York Times, white people have appealed their failure to be admitted to universities of their choosing to the U.S. Supreme Court. They maintained that their qualifications were greater than the person of color who was admitted. Notably, in the Gratz v. Bollinger case, a white male and female were both denied admission to the University of Michigan. They appealed their case to the U.S. Supreme Court contending that the point based merit system used by the admissions office was unconstitutional. “Students who were part of an underrepresented minority group automatically received 20 points in a system required 100 points for admittance, which meant that nearly every applicant of an underrepresented minority group was admitted” (Margaret Kramer 1). As such, these slots were not offered to the most meritorious individuals, but rather to students selected primarily because of their minority ethnicity. 

Opposers of affirmative action argue that this is an unfair advantage conferred to minorities in an effort to make up for the sins of the past. They disavow any societal need to help those that have been historically marginalized. The opponents support a system where the students with the most impressive record are admitted regardless of ethnic status.

Opponents argue further that affirmative actions result in blatantly unfair outcomes. One prime example of this would be standardized testing. With this policy intact, such results in controversial scenarios where a white student that has a perfect highschool record with an outstanding ACT or SAT score may not gain admission to a prestigious university because the slot is awarded to a minority with a weaker record. In a rhetorical sense, how is this fair to the rejected student, considering that their only drawback is the fact that they were born as a member of the white majority? 

To further even more, some against this policy would argue that affirmative action is reverse discrimination. “The past discrimination against certain miniority groups does not justify present discrimination against non-minorities. All people are equal under the laws of the United States of America and should be treated accordingly.”(www.mytholyoke.edu 1) In contrast to people in favor of this policy, opposers believe that everyone modernly should be treated fairly and equally. They also believe that affirmative action highlights certain qualities that otherwise should not be considered important for the spot. “Affirmative action destroys the idea of a meritocracy and instead puts race as the dominant factor in admissions and hiring procedures. The best people for the position should be put there, regardless of race’ (www.mytholyoke.edu 1). In a sense, the reason for the implementation of affirmative action was invented purely to prevent racist authority from upholding minorities to positions. But, would preventing the best candidate for the position not go against their underlying rule that race does not or should not define whether or not you succeed? Is this not hypocritical in a sense, or is this matter entirely inevitable, considering if it was not inact, measures would be a lot worse? 

On the other hand, allies of affirmative action see it as a beneficial function because it gives minorities a chance to graduate from a prestigious university and enjoy economic success that generally follows. They argue higher education is an effective tool to enable minorities to escape generational poverty. Realistically, without affirmative action, they would not have had such an opportunity to attend. They argue further that focusing on standardized test scores is unfair to minority students because the tests are written in a manner that favors white students. It is well known that affluent white families can afford expensive preparation classes and tutors.  Without this policy existing, people of color would be outnumbered compared to whites as well as held at an economic disadvantage. 

Affirmative action also helps increase the ratio of black to whites in college universities, which is modernly uneven. In reference to 5 Reasons to Support Affirmative Action in College Admissions, it quotes, “black students constituted 50 percent of 2016-2015 high school graduates in Mississippi, but were just 12.9 percent of University Of Mississippi graduates” (Conner Maxwell and Sara Garcia 1). This statistic shows that the numbers are significantly uneven. With affirmative action in place, these percentages increase, which overall benefits the well being of all people.

In addition to helping colored students succeed in opportunities they would not have been guaranteed as well as lifting the number of minorities, another advantage of affirmative action is that it benefits students of all races. According to 5 Reasons to Support Affirmative Action in College Admissions, “racially integrated classrooms can reduce students’ racial bias, improve satisfaction and intellectual self-confidence, and enhance leadership skills.These benefits may translate to better economic outcomes and, among other payoffs, prepare students to work in a diverse global economy, increasing the productivity, effectiveness, and creativity of teams” (Maxwell and Garcia 1). Therefore, supporters of affirmative action believe that this process not only benefits the chosen candidates, but also the members that are working with them. In order to have a successful background, people of all races and ethnicities need to be able to cooperate together, and this gives them the opportunity to.

The argument itself is a rhetorical fact of whether or not white students are at an unfair disadvantage because of affirmative action. If Stanley Fish were to apply his rhetorical thinking, the question asked would most likely be: Is the sacrifice of losing educational spots for qualified white people overall benefitting society because of the unfair disadvantage people of color were given in the first place? In other words, even though the candidate with the white background has a better resume, is it fair to begin with when the minority was not raised with the same economic status and materials needed to succeed at this advanced level? 

Both sides of this argument benefit significantly from applying rhetorical ways to rethink their individual stances with more of an open mind. Although it is inevitable to reach a 100% guaranteed conclusion, redefining the instances in which the basis for the separation of sides help to form a common ground in which affirmative action can be reached.  

Relating this concept to his Winning an Arguments, Stanley Fish discusses that arguments are inevitable and dependent on the context in which they are told. This is applicable to everything, including affirmative action. “Argument, the clash of opposing views, is unavoidable because the state of agreement that would render argument unnecessary–a universal agreement brought about by facts so clear that no rational being could deny them– is not something we mortals will ever achieve” (Fish 1). By tying Fish’s statement of the inevitable truth about argument, it is apparent that there will always be disagreement to each party of affirmative action. 

When drawing a conclusion, it is necessary to point out that there is no “correct answer” to either side mentioned, it is merely a matter of opinion. But, if people use the rhetorical sense in a way more often as opposed to the non rhetoric thinking standards, I believe the overall outcome will prove more successful as there is common ground to share. 

The need for an open mind is important when it comes to discussing any issue, for subjecting into a debate with a preconceived opinion will not benefit the person making a decision at all. By approaching the topic of affirmative action through a rhetorical sense, it helps the reader understand each side more and allows them to process more level- headedly. Stanley Fish does an excellent job demonstrating why this is necessary and how it is applicable to every conflict. 

To conclude, is it right for society to provide help to minorities when it comes to college  admissions? Or does it prove to be more unfair for one side over the other? Is this policy constitutional or unconstitutional? What implications can be made in order to keep both sides of the battle satisfied? 

Bibliography

Fish, Stanley Eugene. Winning Arguments: What Works and Doesn’t Work in Politics, the Bedroom, the Courtroom, and the Classroom. Harper Paperbacks, 2017. 

Garcia, Connor Maxwell and Sara. “5 Reasons to Support Affirmative Action in College Admissions.” Center for American Progress, 18 June 2020, www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/news/2019/10/01/471085/5-reasons-support-affirmative-action-college-admissions/. https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/news/2019/10/01/471085/5-reasons-support-affirmative-action-college-admissions/Kramer, Margaret. “A Timeline of Key Supreme Court Cases on Affirmative Action.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 30 Mar. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/03/30/us/affirmative-action-supreme-court.html. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/30/us/affirmative-action-supreme-court.html