British rapper Stormzy recently announced that he would fund two black students to study at the University of Cambridge, one of the most prestigious institutions in the world and one that has received criticism for not admitting enough BAME students. This is a breath of fresh air and a wonderful initiative from the musician, and one that we should really be seeing more of. Yet, despite this, Stormzy’s offer hasn’t gone down too well with some on social media.
The general gist of the upset seems to stem from a perceived double-standard, whereby a hypothetical scholarship for white students from a hypothetical white celebrity would be set upon by a hypothetical social media wolf pack. This thread gives a pretty good impression of their concerns.
While there may be some truths to this concern, there’s really no reason to hate on Stormzy here. In fact, we should be welcoming his scholarship as the best solution to an issue that could very easily warrant unnecessary, and potentially harmful, intervention.
For instance, methods ‘positive’ discrimination such as quotas and affirmative action have frequently been employed in attempts to achieve better representation of minority groups.
Yet these methods are, in themselves, rather paradoxical. By definition, they must discriminate against students from other backgrounds, which doesn’t make much sense if the goal is to end discrimination in education.
Disadvantaging one group, regardless of their on-average more privileged status, is an inherently unjust method of advantaging another.
Stormzy’s scholarship offers a solution without this paradox. The support provides a way for the underprivileged to advance their academic careers and to achieve their potential, without the need to purposefully hold-back another, equally deserving student from a different socioeconomic background. Simply put, everybody wins.
This is the fault in the argumentation many are using against Stormzy; unlike other methods of levelling the playing field, his scholarship doesn’t disadvantage or discriminate against white students in the slightest. All he has done is provide a way-in for bright students who otherwise wouldn’t have the means. It’s difficult to see anything wrong with that.
Of course, this isn’t to say that the subtext is necessarily false. Having spent more than 10 minutes on the internet, I can wholly imagine that a white-only scholarship would indeed cause an uproar. In fact, this is pretty well evidenced by the fact that Stormzy’s black-only one also caused a hullabaloo.
Hypocrisy, thy name is twitter.
This must work both ways. We have to accept that scholarships based on private money can be given to whomever the provider decides. Whether or not we agree with their rationale, they must retain their right to use their money as they see fit.
In any case, there’s no reason to take issue with a wealthy benefactor helping the underprivileged reach university, regardless of race. At worst, it’s simply a transaction that occurs wholly outside of the public sphere.
Plus, it doesn’t look like Stormzy really cares what people have to say about his plans.