Anything that excludes those of non-white descent is usually labeled “racist” in the blink of an eye, especially in academia. An exception seems to be a scholarship organization in Texas called the “Former Majority Association for Equality.” It’s an intriguing title to be sure, but what exactly is this organization promoting?
On the organization website’s mission page, it reads:
We have a very simple mission: to fill in the gap in the scholarships offered to prospective students. there are scholarships offered for almost any demographic imaginable. In a country that proclaims equality for all, we provide monetary aid to those that have found the scholarship process difficult because they do not fit into certain categories or any ethnic group.
Seems simple enough. There do indeed seem to be plentiful opportunities for those of non-white descent in way of scholarships and grants. The necessary attributes to qualify for these scholarships is often little more than an accident birth. Mexican-Americans don’t earn their ethnic title no more than Anglo-Americans earn their title. It’s widely understood that most scholarship organizations that reach out to ethnic groups do so to attempt to undo racial prejudice that has held sway over much of institutionalized America for many years. While the long-term affects of countless racist policies and blatant prejudice certainly haven’t disappeared in recent years, there have been great strides in the right direction.
This issue brings to mind a poignant and interesting work by well-known Chicano author Richard Rodriguez, Hunger of Memory. In this work, Rodriguez discusses his experiences as a young son of Mexican immigrants as he goes through the American education system. Rodriguez makes some very interesting and slightly controversial observations about the nature of affirmative action. He argues that affirmative action generally leads to the less-qualified candidate being accepted on the basis of ethnic descent, and that this poor choice is detrimental to both the university system and the student him/herself. Rodriguez shares experiences with some such scholarship students that are unable to complete even elementary exercises and are thus crippled academically. This is certainly a situation that should be avoided.
Affirmative action and ethnic scholarship organizations are not the plight of academia, nor do they seem to solve all the problems. There are certainly still many sore spots stemming from America’s racist past, which must be dealt with accordingly. With the academic playing field becoming more and more level ethnically, is it wrong for a group to cater to White male students much like a similar organization might cater to Black female students? What if White males are the minority in that area? What do you think?
The LA Times article on this issue can be found here: latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/
Richard Rodriguez influential academic autobiography can be found and purchased here: amazon.com