Skip to content

Brown vs. Board of Education Scholarship

July 6, 2011

This article is about Virginia’s Brown vs. Board of Education Scholarship.  Instead of desegregating in the ‘50s and ‘60s, Virginian schools closed.  The scholarship is awarded to students whose schooling was disrupted during this time, including white students, which obviously has some people upset.

I’m not sure where I stand on this.  At first, I thought the white students’ eligibility for the scholarship invalidated the intention of the scholarship to “right a racial wrong.”  Doesn’t it diminish the hell that the black students had to face?  Didn’t our education system fail these students?  It continues to do so!  How can the white students have any claim to the compensation when schooling was still available to them?  Perhaps in a different capacity, but still available.

But then I thought: should the white students be punished for the decision of the state?  These students weren’t necessarily against desegregation and probably had no say in whether the school districts closed.   I don’t know that the fear that a scholarship recipient was a supporter of segregation really justifies the ineligibility of white students to the scholarship.  After all, their education was disrupted too, granted probably to a lesser degree than that of the black students.

Then I realized that I was hesitating to side with the white students.  I don’t know if that’s just because I sympathize more with the black students or because subconsciously I think my fight for racial justice means I should always defend the direct victims of racism, and therefore, should not defend the whites.  Is this true?  Is it really that difficult to defend a white person in a race related issue?  And if the white person doesn’t own up to the fact that they are an oppressor, does it make them an enemy of racial justice?  Do we forget what racism is when we support the whites?

One quote in the article struck me: “The feeling was, ‘We didn’t do this, so why should we apologize?’”  My response would be, again, my favorite quote: “Some are guilty, all are responsible.”  To pretend like the past doesn’t influence the present is damning.  If we never acknowledge wrongdoing, we never change our ways and we continue to live with the same ideals and bias.  Apologizing for someone else’s wrong means we’re taking responsibility for the influence we have on one another.  In this case, doesn’t the fact that the scholarship is open to white students mean the state is recognizing the harm racism does on everyone in society, including the majority group whose interests they were trying to defend?  But because it’s open to white students as well, doesn’t that negate the apology?  Isn’t that similar to not recognizing the white man’s power at all?

One last thing: I’m not sure I agree with Brown University’s debate over whether they should offer monetary reparations for its use of slave labor.  For me, there isn’t any one the money should go to because none of us were once slaves.  We may be descendents of them, but that doesn’t give us any claim to the money.  It’s one thing to give it to living people who actually lived through the atrocity for which the money is intended to amend, but it’s completely different to give it to those who weren’t even alive during the event.  Yes, the effects of slavery and other racial wrongs still live on, but how long will we continue to live in the shadow of those wrongs?  When will we finally give up any claim to what happened to our ancestors?

There are so many questions!  I still have no idea how I feel about this, but there has been a fierce battle going on in my head for the last few days and I thought I’d share.


Countdown to GIV Day: 52 days


From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: