Jim Crow Scholarship?


            African Americans have them.  So do, Hispanics, Asians and women.  Therefore the thought of a White scholarship for White male college students should come as no surprise and should not create any controversy.

            However, we know that anything pertaining to race in a country that has long struggled with racial equality will be highly controversial, but the controversy over the White scholarship is coming from unexpected places, not necessarily the minority community.

            Many African Americans, including myself and award-winning columnist Leonard Pitts, find nothing wrong with Former Majority Association for Equality at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas assisting needy students earn their college degree.

            “When we decided to start this scholarship, the conversation was primarily along the lines of ‘There is something out there for almost any and every demographic, but we don’t see anything for this demographic.’ So we decided to go ahead and at least contribute toward a solution,” said Texas State business major William Lake concerning the White scholarship.

            Qualified applicants for the White scholarship must be 25 percent Caucasian and male, have a 3.0 grade point average, demonstrate financial need and contribute positively to their community. 

On the surface, the White scholarship looks identical to scholarships that the NAACP and United Negro College Fund give out every semester but the problem is minority communities have faced extreme oppression and discrimination in this country and Whites have not.

“I’m not claiming that it’s a disadvantage to be a White male; I’m just recognizing that there is a subset of White and male that cannot afford the money for school,” said Colby Bohannon, former president of the Former Majority for Equality about the White scholarship.  “We do not promote any kind of racial bigotry or White supremacy, and we don’t take money from people who do.”

            Nevertheless, despite not being the victims of slavery and Jim Crow laws many White students struggle from the same financial burden as poor Blacks and Hispanics, but do not qualify for certain scholarships because of the color of their skin.  However, they need the financial assistance just as bad as their minority counterparts.

            The problem with the White scholarship might come if the Former Majority Association for Equality begins to think that White Americans have experienced the same oppressive treatment that African Americans, Asians, Hispanics and Native Americans have, which is a slap in the face to every person of color in this country.

            While all groups of people, including Whites, have experienced discrimination, people can only oppress other people if they have power over other people and minorities simply have not had that power. 

Contrarily, unlike many minorities, I do strongly believe that minorities can be racist without having power; I simply do not believe you can oppress an entire group of people if your people are less powerful.

            Despite the claims of the organization promoting the White scholarship, Mark Potok (who is White) of the Southern Poverty Law Center from Montgomery, Ala., which monitors hate groups believes that the White scholarship is racist at heart and members of the Texas organization have fallen victim to the mentality that Whites are oppressed, like Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke once preached to his followers.

            But if we truly believe what we are preaching in America about racial equality, the White scholarship will be accepted with open arms.  And hopefully, they will respect what African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities had to go through just to deserve our own scholarships.

Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.

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