The very notion of quantifying racial bloodlines is socially offensive. And let’s face it; the U.S. is a multicultural milieu that defies definition. Minority scholarships are largely defined as those designated for students of Hispanic, African-American, Asian, or Native American ethnicity. But this still does not clear up the confusion.
Does an African American/Native American student qualify for the same scholarships? Do other types of funds exist? How about the Caucasian/Hispanic student; is he or she limited in the minority scholarship arena? And consider the cultural challenges of Arabic and Indian students—they do not technically fit the criteria for traditional minority scholarships in the U.S., but they do fit the multicultural scheme.
You may be ¼ Hispanic American and white, but the larger question is, with what background do you most identify? This is the intent behind scholarships that particularly invite students with mixed heritages, or multicultural scholarships.
General minority scholarships typically mention nothing about multi-racial or interracial applicants. So it’s possible that many more students than we realize may be left out. According to U.S. Census statistics individuals choose to “most closely” associate themselves racially in a number of different ways, indicated by census responses. Many individuals respond to questions of race with a write-in “interracial” response. But just as many others of interracial origins choose instead to check off multiple choices in the race category, indicating they associate themselves equally with more than one absolute racial identity. And still the concept of interracial remains muddy.
The real purpose of racially founded scholarships is to alleviate the oppression historically present in higher education. Racial inequality exists at all levels, social, political and educational. And colleges and universities rely on racial self-identification the same as does the Census. It’s not so much a student’s racial DNA that matters as much as the associated challenges, including social, political, economic, and educational.
There are a few scholarships that clearly are designed for multi-racial students, check these out for instance:
Multicultural scholarships are slowly but surely finding a larger audience. They don’t really mean the same as a general minority scholarship and the intent is to put culture and heritage before racial background.
Chances are likely that students from interracial backgrounds that are economically and/or socially impeded will be considered appropriate candidates for most minority-centric scholarships. But students from mixed heritage that face cultural barriers are often left out. Multicultural scholarships offer a fresh reminder of just how eclectic our social fabric really is. Scholarships may be called multicultural, multiracial, interracial, or multiethnic, so keep your eyes peeled.
Remember, colleges and universities have no scientific definition of minority, multicultural, or interracial. The associations are mostly based on self-identification. Don’t overlook related scholarship programs such as First-in-Family scholarships. The more open-minded you are, the more powerful your scholarship search.