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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"They Can't be of Asian, African, Latino or Native Descent"

A minority advocacy group in Oregon plans to offer college scholarships to white students only:

Oregon minority group to offer scholarships to white students, by Janie Har, The Oregonian: An Oregon group that represents minorities will start offering scholarships to white students -- and only white students -- in a bid to get people in the majority to champion issues important to minorities.

The stipends will be small, perhaps no more than $2,000 over five years, for students to study race relations in college. The idea is to get students to translate what they learn in school into action in life.

The Oregon League of Minority Voters has not figured out details for the awards, to be issued this spring, said Promise King, executive director of the statewide nonprofit organization. But recipients must live in Oregon. And they can't be of Asian, African, Latino or Native descent. ...

The idea of nudging white people to take up diversity and equity may be the way to go in a state and city where whites far outnumber people of color. But it also underlines a stark reality in Oregon: the stubborn lack of color in power.

"The minorities we have in Oregon are not in a position to effect changes," King said. "The ones in position to effect changes are white."

But not all minority leaders are comfortable ceding control to majority whites. Nichole Maher,  executive director of the Native American Youth Family Center in Portland, welcomes any move to get whites involved in matters usually relegated to minorities.

She rejects the idea that Oregon lacks qualified people of color to lead committees, serve in office or otherwise shape public policy. ...

"Promise's group should not just focus on whites being good allies but ensuring those people use their power and influence to give up their spot for a person of color," she said. "The most courageous thing a white ally can do is truly share power."

People of color make up about 20 percent of Oregon's population. In Portland, Latinos make up 9 percent, Asians 7 percent and African Americans 6 percent. Native Americans and mixed race people are at 4 percent. ...
[A] study by the Urban League of Portland last year that found blacks in Oregon rank near the bottom of nearly every quality-of-life indicator... Of the 90 members in the Oregon Legislature, only three are people of color.

King, a native of Nigeria, said he deliberately courted white leaders when he launched the group in 2007. ... He needed prominent policymakers to make progress on race and poverty, and in Oregon, that meant getting more whites on board. ...

Former state Rep. Jo Ann Bowman, who is African American, isn't sure how she feels about spending cash on whites. But, she readily agrees that diversity and equity matters shouldn't be limited to people of color. "It's certainly thought provoking," Bowman said.

Others are more effusive about the league's ideas to sign up more whites. "I love it," said Kendall Clawson, a self-described middle-class African American and executive director of Q Center,  a North Portland nonprofit group that serves the gay, lesbian, and transgendered communities. ...

If the goal is to get "prominent policymakers to make progress on race and poverty," I'd guess that there are much better ways to spend the money.

    Posted by on Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 01:53 AM in Economics, Oregon, Politics, Universities | Permalink  Comments (10)


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