David Leonhardt argues for economic diversity rather than programs focused on race. It is tempting to use socioeconomic arguments to evade the painful racial history in the United States, but socioeconomic arguments like that advanced by Leonhardt only causes more pain.
The issue that Leohardt fails to address adequately is that the so-called top colleges are expensive to attend. Yes, the students can get scholarships, but they need pocket money to live daily on the campus. In addition, poor students will come with far fewer resources than many of their peers, much of which will be readily apparent. These reasons probably explain, in part, why low-income students with scores to possibly get into these schools do not apply.
In addition, attending these schools will likely give a degree, but these colleges cannot necessarily make a low-income graduate increase their socioeconomic status (unless, perhaps, the student is white).
In short, Leonhardt’s focus on economic diversity is not the panacea he seems to think that it is. The United States needs to continue to work on eradicating the legacy of race-based disadvantage against Black people while attending to socioeconomic inequality.