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The Need for “Scholarships” Marks the Class Separation

Whenever "scholarships" are required for anything, you can be guaranteed classism is present. Scholarships are a band-aid at best. As the classism that originally *caused* the need for a separate system for the poor to participate, remains.
The Need for "Scholarships" Marks the Class Separation
By Kirsten Anderberg (www.kirstenanderberg.com)

Whenever "scholarships" are required for anything, you can be guaranteed classism is present. A certain group is left out and no one notices. Then a member of the left out group speaks up, and says "Hey, how come I am left out?" Then the group who left them out in the first place, feels guilty, and tries to act like giving "scholarships" will even everything out. But that is a band-aid at best. As the classism that originally *caused* the need for a separate system for the poor to participate, remains.

The media convergence center at the Republican National Convention protests is an example of such problems. When the announcement was first made that a media convergence center, with online computers, for example, would be available to people on the street doing DIY media during the protests, no one had much to say but to encourage such efforts. Then the media convergence center began asking for money to use the convergence center. A $30 registration fee was required. Then when a few journalists acknowledged that the cost is prohibitive for the poorest journalists, the media convergence center began collecting money for "scholarships" for the poorer journalists. But that does not address the real issue of why the poor were an afterthought and why they required "special" means, "other" than the rest needed, to participate.

My problems with scholarships for the poor to participate in things is multifaceted. First of all, the poor must self-identify themselves as poor to receive the "inclusive" help, which is the first way the poor are prejudiced. Often not only do the poor have to identify themselves publicly as lower income to receive the help, which involves stigma, but often the poor are forced to *prove* their poverty to the elite for help, which is even more degrading than just identifying one's self as poor. For then, not only are you in poverty, but you are a suspected liar, who must prove you are "deserving" of such help aka inclusion. If you have money, you do not have to be "deserving" to participate. There is also the issue of who is making all the rules. If you are begging for help to even be allowed to participate, you were already separated out. To ask for the same people who left you out, to please allow you to play, by giving charity to you, is not dignified. And it does not address the real problem, which is why this "special" treatment is required for *some* to participate and not for others.

I was arguing with a socialist friend of mine about Bill Gates once. I was arguing that he was not all bad, as he outfitted our schools and libraries with computers, which has been very helpful in giving the poor access to computer literacy in the Seattle area. But then my socialist friend rightly pointed out, if Bill Gates paid taxes like everyone else, we could buy our own damned computers. We did not need his charity, she insisted, we just needed him to pay his share of his taxes. I knew she was right. That is often the case. We do not need the stinking charity, if the greed was not causing the need for it. People with money and power like to keep it. So, they would much rather control everything then dole out "special" privileges to the poor who jump through the right hoops and pretend to be kissing the elite's ass, as that way, they can still keep total control.

In the Seattle Times on August 2, 2004, is a story on page one about the Country Day School, which charges between $13,100 to $14,300 a year in tuition for grades Kindergarten through 8th grade. And then on page 6, there is an editorial that says, "Those who live north of the Ship Canal enjoy the best schools and educational resources, which include experienced teachers and staunch community support. It is sadly different for those in the South End. Those who cannot get assigned to North End schools, or the glaringly few good ones in South Seattle, make do with ill-equipped classrooms and resources that fall short in the face of significant needs." The issue is obviously not money. The issue is wealth distribution. Some kids in kindergarten are worth a $13,000 a year investment in Seattle if born to the right family. Some kids do not deserve books or enough teachers. Whose fault is it? I would like to suggest the ones who are taking more than their share are causing this problem, not the poor. Anyone spending $13,000 a year on a kindergartener's private education, when public classrooms in their own city do not have enough textbooks for each kid, should be very, very ashamed of themselves. As should every child attending such a school, a school that is draining the public schools with its class insulation. Imagine if those parents who want to put $13,000 a year into kindergarten invested that in a poor public kindergarten. But they don't. They keep that tuition privately isolated, so no one else benefits from it but the rich. And a few people they handpick to give "scholarships" to for "diversity," which is laughable. I bet some of the kids at Country Day School actually refer to themselves as "poor," when they do not get whatever they want.

Anytime a scholarship program is necessary, the problem really is classism. Scholarships are merely band-aids to cover the class chasm. If you really want to make an even playing field, the real analysis required is not how to fund scholarships, but how to eliminate their need altogether. One must only look at *why* such scholarships are needed, to figure out why something is classist. It is not rocket science. I think scholarships are merely guilt tools for the elite. If they really cared about equality, they would eliminate a playing field that requires some to request *special* status just to participate like everyone else. Many of us just do not want to participate in things, if we have to be singled out for scholarships to participate. It is lacking dignity. I wish people would get this basic concept.

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