A Texas nonprofit group has decided to give scholarships exclusively to white men because they are supposedly the victims of discrimination. The group, Former Majority Association for Equality (FMAE), believes that whites feel “excluded” and “left out” when they apply to college and for financial aid. Their goal is to award a $500 scholarship to five Caucasian male students with over a 3.0 grade point average.

On an extremely superficial level, I understand their motivation. In Texas — and someday soon in other parts of the United States, if not already — whites are a minority, a mere 45 percent of the population. Also, 85 percent of America’s population growth is due to ethnic and racial minorities, especially Latinos. And that scares some people. Whites-only scholarships are products of the anti-affirmative action, “reverse discrimination” claims that emanate from some political circles. And with the country becoming increasingly colorful, so to speak, some Americans have a fear of a black — or brown — planet.

According to the FMAE website, they are providing aid “to those that have found the scholarship application process difficult because they do not fit into certain categories or any ethnic group.” Applicants should be Caucasian males who “demonstrate a commitment to education” and “substantiate financial need.”

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Anticipating the backlash they will undoubtedly receive, and justifiably so, FMAE goes out of its way to claim it is not racist or racially motivated. “We do not advocate white supremacy, nor do we enable any individual that does. We do not accept donations from organizations affiliated with any sort of white supremacy or hate group,” they say on their website. “We have no hidden agenda to promote racial bigotry or segregation. FMAE’s existence is dedicated around one simple principle, to provide monetary aid for education to white males who need it.” Like the person who says that some of his best friends are black, why give such a disclaimer, unless they actually are racist?

This is not the first whites-only scholarship to draw attention in recent years. In 2004, a student Republican organization at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island offered a $250 whites-only scholarship. According to a spokesperson, “It all began… as a way for the college Republican groups to express their opposition and tell people they are against race-based scholarships and affirmative action.”

And in 2006, the president of Boston University’s College Republicans established a $250 scholarship for whites to protest affirmative action and so-called “racial preferences” for minority groups. Under the terms of the scholarship program, applicants needed a 3.2 GPA, had to write two essays, and had to be at least one-quarter Caucasian. On the application was written the following: “We believe that racial preferences in all their forms are perhaps the worst form of bigotry confronting America today.” Even the state Republican Party criticized the scholarship for its racist overtones.

The whites-only scholarship — and its equally tasteless first cousin, the affirmative action bake sale — are part of a conservative strategy to denounce programs that promote diversity and inclusion. An important part of this strategy is to perpetuate the myth of reverse racism, of the disadvantaged white male who is denied an equal shot in education and employment because he is besieged by unqualified applicants of color.
Back in the day, whites — particularly white men — had all of the jobs and all of the seats in college classrooms. Racial minorities were expressly excluded as a matter of policy. Attempts to level the playing fields and give blacks, Latinos, women and others a leg up are dismissed by conservatives as discriminatory, under the false presumption that white men are imminently qualified, yet they no longer have a monopoly on America. Why should progress by one group mean discrimination against another?

And while gains have been made since the civil rights era, people of color have not made it to the promised land. For example, the legal profession is 90 percent white, with only 20 percent of law school students, yet roughly 70 percent of America’s inmates as people of color. Similarly, African-Americans are 12 percent of the U.S. population, yet only 7 percent of the students enrolled in medical school, based on data from the Association of American Medical Colleges. Latinos are 16 percent of the population, but merely 8.2 percent of the medical students.

According to a recent report by United For a Fair Economy, the economic gap between whites and their black and Latino counterparts is wide and deep. For example, blacks earn 57 cents for every dollar of white median family income, and Latinos earn 59 cents. Blacks hold 10 cents and Latinos 12 cents of net wealth for every dollar held by whites.

Blacks are 2.7 times as likely as their white counterparts to have zero or negative net worth, while Latinos are twice as likely to have zero or negative net worth. In addition, blacks and Latinos only earn 13 cents and 8 cents, respectively, for each dollar of stock dividends that whites earn.

Whites are three times more likely than African-Americans to earn $250,000, and nearly five times more likely than Latinos. Further, the black and Latino unemployment rates are nearly double that of whites. If whites are losing out to minorities and not getting an equal chance to succeed, where is the evidence?

Yet at the same time, millions of poor, working class and middle class white folk out there are hurting. The problem is they are blaming those who are suffering just as much, if not more. Mother Jones recently reported that over the past thirty years, since the Reagan administration, a large chunk of the nation’s economic growth went to the top one-hundredth of one percent, who earn $27 million per household on average. Meanwhile, the bottom 90 percent of Americans earn a pathetic and paltry $31,244. The richest 10 percent in the country controls two-thirds of the nation’s net worth. These people are earning more and more income, while everyone else is losing ground. On average, a corporate CEO makes 185 times more than the average worker, but millionaires are paying less in taxes than any other time since the Great Depression.

A white-male-only scholarship is a tacky, demeaning and overly simplistic way to discuss issues of race, inequality and opportunity. It’s kind of ignorant, too — ignorant because they don’t know what they’re talking about, or whom to blame for their woes.