I don’t deserve money to pay for my education just because I’m a racial minority in America.
I received an email from Christina Duncan, the assistant director of the multicultural and inclusion center, just before the start of the semester. In the email, she mentioned I had the potential to receive a scholarship. Since less student debt is what most students strive for, I contacted her about the opportunity.
While I didn’t meet the requirement of being either a freshman or a new transfer student, one of the other requirements I did meet stuck out to me: that I needed to be a racial or ethnic minority.
I felt weird about that.
I don’t come from a wealthy family. I’m the third eldest of 10, and I definitely met the “low index score” — in other words, I am poor — a requirement for receiving financial aid. However, I didn’t want to receive special consideration and money just because I was a poor minority.
I did accept the scholarship money offered by the Dixie Sun News for being the copy editor. But the scholarship is based on the work I perform and is something I can take pride in. As for receiving government aid to go to school in the form of financial aid loans—money that I will pay back—isn’t a free handout like I feel the race-based scholarship would be. The financial aid I have received from the federal government is an investment in the future of America.
Which is why being qualified for a scholarship just because I’m the right race for the scholarship sits so uncomfortably for me. It reminds me of when people want to date me because I’m “exotic.” Please, I’m fourth generation at least on my mother’s side and longer on my father’s side of the family, born and raised in Southern California. I am far from exotic or different.
That’s where the root of the problem lies with race relations in America. Most of us want things to be better between the majority and minority groups. But we keep defining each other by our labels—man, woman, black, white, gay and straight. There may be a time and a place for these labels, like at the doctor’s office, but we don’t need them when it comes to the allocation of scholarships.
Education is what will rid the world of poverty and many of poverty’s associated ills. In a study published by the U.S. Department of Labor, there was an obvious and significant decrease in unemployment with the increase of educational attainment. If we want to see a rise in educated people, we Americans may want to start with paying our public school teachers more, so that children in impoverished areas can still receive the quality education they need to make them competitive in college.
So instead of segregating people’s ability to get a scholarship based on race, let’s move more toward the American dream where you have the potential to achieve no matter your race, orientation or creed.