But is there a way to fix this – at least a better way than using race as a key part of the selection criteria? The US Supreme Court will to take up a version of that question itself when it hears a case that challenges the University of Texas's race-conscious admissions practices later this year. In 2003, the court ruled that public colleges could use race in a vague way as a criterion for college admissions. But now the court has agreed to look at a case involving admissions at the University of Texas. Observers predict that the more conservative bench today is likely to end any kind of race-based preference in higher education.
In my case, what I discovered in my hunt for the right interns was an obstacle that had less to do with racial factors and more to do with economic ones. When I started at Roll Call as features editor in charge of internships, we offered three unpaid internships each semester and in the summer. What that meant was that one of the main qualifications for the job was a set of parents who were able and willing to allow their child to work fulltime for free for several months, with the hope that it might lay the groundwork for future employment.
Meanwhile, besides my Facebook-stalking of candidates who had sent in resumes and published clips, I was systematically approaching groups such as the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association, and historically black colleges like Howard University. But as soon as I mentioned the fact that these were unpaid internships, the conversation was over.