Date of Completion

Summer 5-9-2022

Thesis Advisor(s)

Professor Fred Lee; Professor Matthew Singer

Honors Major

Political Science


Affirmative Action in higher education seeks to increase equality of opportunities for students who belong to groups known to have been treated prejudicially against previously. Whether scholars support or oppose Affirmative Action, substantial literature on Affirmative Action has debated why this policy is perceived as biased and how these misperceptions have led to racial resentment. I think how whiteness ideology plays a role in Affirmative Action is overlooked in the conversation. In my research, I analyze how the legal privilege of whiteness permeates policymaking and perceptions of race by comparing and contrasting the Supreme Court opinions of Regents of the University of California v. Bakke and lower Court opinions of Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, two prominent “reverse discrimination” racially-based Affirmative Action cases. I also analyze the text of prominent news from the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on Bakke and SFFA. I find that all the resources I examine demonstrate the presence of whiteness ideology, whether explicitly or implicitly. I argue that whiteness ideology dominates discourse about higher education admissions.