The practice is outdated

When applying for college scholarships, there are inherent disadvantages to being inherently advantaged — and many who are inherently advantaged cry injustice.

Minorities in need of financial assistance have access to funds that are otherwise inaccessible to non-minorities, and many non-minorities find it unfair. While something like race-based scholarships might have made sense in the time when civil rights were first being achieved, many believe it now seems outdated and unjust. These days, there is a popular belief, largely among conservatives, that each person has an equal shot at success. Because all people supposedly have equal chances, to help one group but ignore another appears to be racism. At the same time, race-based scholarships are creating opportunities for many people whose histories likely would not have ever allowed them to go to college. Is the act of giving funds to an individual based in part on his or her race racism, or is it promoting equality?

The reason why scholarships based on race exist is because of affirmative action. Affirmative action is a controversial subject that, while mainly a liberal idea, has proponents as well as opponents from all walks of life. The definition of affirmative action is to change policies to ensure equal representation of groups that have been historically excluded. As affirmative action applies to the workforce, employers must be sure to hire minorities and women so as to equally represent all people. The problem with demanding equal representation is it sometimes creates tokenism, meaning a company or organization uses minimal effort and recruits small numbers of minorities or women in order to have a semblance of equality, which is still discrimination. The idea behind affirmative action is not that places of business hire employees specifically because they are minorities, but rather that companies hire employees based on merit instead of race or gender.

At the college level, affirmative action becomes admitting students regardless of race, ethnicity or gender. This form of affirmative action is perhaps even more important than affirmative action in the workforce because college opens doors that can forever break the cycle of poverty among minorities, which is what creates the need for scholarships in the first place. The fact is that minorities do have less money and opportunity than those who are born white, and it has been this way since the time when slavery was abolished. When minorities of one generation don’t have enough money to go to college, chances are they will work for less money than a college graduate would make, thus living forever in poverty. That generation’s children, then, would likely continue the cycle. The only way to stop the cycle is to ensure that the minorities are able to go to college. Then they will likely get a better job and break themselves, as well as their future descendants, out of poverty.

Minorities aren’t the only people who are affected by the cycle of poverty, though, so isn’t it important to help all people who are in need equally? First of all, the majority of scholarships in existence are there to help any person in financial distress. The reason it is so essential to specifically assist minorities with a little more is because helping minorities does more than just send them to college. Minorities, for a large part, have less money than white people. Most of the negative stereotypes regarding minorities exist as a reflection of their financial status, so race-based scholarships would go a long way in eliminating those as well. It is true that minorities are, for the most part, in a much better place than they were fifty years ago. The reason minorities have gained so much ground is partly because of affirmative action, and it is crucial that we continue to help until true equality exists.

Another reason why race-based scholarships are perfectly ethical is because they are granted by private individuals and companies that can spend their money as they please. Because anybody can create a scholarship for whatever reason, there are far stranger awards in existence than race-based ones. For instance, the famous Duck Tape brand duct tape awards scholarships to people for making their prom dresses entirely out of duct tape. Also, Tall Clubs International grants scholarships to only tall people. These companies maintain the right to give these scholarships, and companies that give money specifically to minorities have that same right.

It is important to remember that, while there are a few inherent disadvantages to being a member of the majority, it is still undoubtedly far more difficult to be born a minority. With the discrimination that exists, even minorities who have college degrees are at a disadvantage to white people with college degrees. Affirmative action exists to promote equality, but the long term goal is to eliminate the need for any action toward equality whatsoever. This will only occur when we are able to follow through with the claim that all people in the United States have an equal chance at success. The American dream, while perhaps seeming unattainable, is one that all people pursue. We must not rest until it is equally accessible to all people.


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