High School Kid Does the Right Thing, or Was It *gasp* REVERSE RACISM!?
So unless you’ve got an automatic jump shot, perfect SAT scores, or super-rich parents — finding a way to pay all those expensive college bills can be tricky — especially when Student Loan debt is fast becoming one of the country’s biggest financial issues.
Your other option, especially if you’re a hardworking student with good grades and plenty of extracurricular activities is to apply for scholarships. There are tons of them out there, and I’m sure I’m not the only one out there who spent far too much time during my junior and senior years writing and mailing off applications and essays to groups I’d never even heard of all in hope of being awarded like $500.
So when graduation time started getting close for 17 year-old King High School student Jeffrey Warren — he did what a lot of us did at that age, he started applying for every scholarship he could. And after 27 applications, essays, and letters — Jeffrey was fortunate enough to win four of them.
One of which was being offered by the Martin Luther King Senior Citizens Club in Riverside, California.
The only problem was when Jeffrey went on stage to accept the award, he was met with nervous laughter and odd stares from the audience in attendance.
The problem? Jeffrey Warren is white.
Here’s where the story gets interesting though. That night after receiving the $1000 scholarship, Warren and his parents had a talk. And a day later — Jeffrey Warren returned the money.
Warren checked the application rules to make sure he was eligible. The scholarship itself is intended (but not restricted) to African-American applicants — but the information on the website didn’t make this fact clear, and the phone interviewer that eventually said that it never even really occurred to him that the student might be white.
Etta Brown, the chairwoman of the MLK Senior Citizens Club’s scholarships committee, said she was shocked when she realized the winner of her group’s scholarship was a white student. Since the scholarship was created in 2005, it had never been awarded to a non-black student.
Warren’s decision to return the award was “generous,” she said. Since the application did not explicitly disqualify non-black students, she said the group would not have asked Warren to give it back, despite some internal debate.
In the future, the application will be worded more clearly, she said.
Warren’s scholarship has been given to an African-American student who will be attending Cornell University in the fall.
But here’s where things get weird. When the news got a hold of this story and it started making the rounds — all sorts of people got mad about it — calling it reverse racism that an organization would offer a scholarship to only one racial group — and that not only should Warren should have kept the money, but the scholarship rules should be changed to include all races.
The internet (as usual) has been less kind in it’s language, and anywhere you see what might otherwise be a story of a kid making a conscientious choice is then stained by comment threads that go from angry political speech to outright racial epithets.
I’ve always been of the mindset that Reverse Racism is a big old bowl of day-old bullsh*t, cooked up by people who have no idea at all what it really means to be oppressed or treated differently. And yet — it’s talk that seems to continue, as activists and political pundits call out “UNFAIR” and “Double standard.”
I think it’s important to note that Jeffrey Warren didn’t have to give this money back. While they obviously had egg on their faces, the MLK Senior Citizen’s Club had every intention of honoring the award. It was the kid who took the extra step of letting them have a do-over.
But beyond all of this — can I just talk to the reverse racism bellringers out there? Are you all gathered around? Do I have your attention?
Shut the fu*k up.
Reverse Racism doesn’t exist. It’s a fairy tale, like the tooth fairy or the idea that the Miami Heat will win 7 championships. It’s an kneejerk reaction conspiracy theory cooked up by scared old men who don’t understand that they don’t (and never did) control goddamned everything — and are terrified of what might happen if one day all the things they thought they had influence over suddenly all vanished in a puff of smoke called “freedom.”
And calling out a group of senior citizens who messed up a web page (because that NEVER happens) when they’re trying to help kids have an easier time paying for college as if they’re standing on your lawn in hoods holding burning crosses only points the mirror back at YOU for not having any idea of what oppression really is.
So here’s the question: If this was you — if you had won an scholarship to help you pay for college, only to realize that the group that gave it to you had in some sense “made a mistake” – what would you do?