Diddy’s son Justin is feeling a lot of pressure these days and dealing with backlash that’s totally wrapped up in his race and his wealth, i.e., rich black people problems.
Everyone has an opinion on what the 18-year-old should do with the four-year, $54,000 merit-based (keyword) scholarship he accepted to attend UCLA which has people asking, should he have accepted it in the first place? Should he give it up? Should he donate it? Not to mention, who’s paying for it? But at the end of the day it comes down to one simple fact. Justin Combs, him, himself, and he, earned it all by hard work.
I admit, I was in the donation camp when I first heard the news about his scholarship. I’m pretty sure the ghost of Sallie Mae was haunting my thoughts and all I could think was that he doesn’t really need that money and how cool would it be for another student who will likely have to take out outrageous loans to pay for an education to now have a chance to go to school. Thankfully, looking at comments on the subject from a number of different sites opened my eyes enormously and now I can see I was full-blown trippin.’
The piece I totally missed in this entire discussion and celebration of this young man’s achievement, which has been overshadowed by this scholarship foolishness, is the awesome example Justin is setting for black males, rich and poor alike. If Diddy was our daddy how many of us would be thinking about college? Let along how many of us would have been focused enough to earn a 3.75 GPA while being a star on the football team? That’s not a common story that’s told, especially about black men and no one should try to take away his shine by making him appear to be at fault for working toward academic and athletic excellence and being rewarded for it accordingly. Sure Justin would have likely gone to school for free anyway on his father’s dime, but Diddy didn’t get Justin into school, Justin got himself into school—for free—and I think he’s an amazing example of self-determination and a young man who, as his mother said, “is his own man,” and who will “earn his way through life.” How many rich kids out there can say the same? Certainly not the ones we always talk about in media headlines.
Perhaps it’s the fact that the university had used more than $2 million from student fees to cover an athletic department funding gap the year before that has everyone in a tizzy, but what does that have to do with Justin? Why is this boy in some ways being punished for excelling simply because of who his father is? As many people have pointed out, is this type of fuss ever made over the children of white CEOs and businessmen who could easily afford to pay for their kid’s education but don’t because their children excelled in the classroom and earned free rides. Why is Justin any different?
With the taxpayer nonsense killed thanks to a statement from UCLA that reinforced the fact that this scholarship is merit- and not needs-based, people really need to let this go. I feel like this discussion has grown to the level of Obama’s birther debate and people won’t be satisfied until they find some sort of way to take away from the success of a black man and it’s just not fair. Justin needs to be allowed to have his moment and to say when all was said and done that he put himself through college. If he wants to donate his scholarship to someone else, I think that’s amazing. And if he doesn’t that’s amazing as well. We should demand nothing more from him then we do other men from wealthy backgrounds who earn scholarships the same as he did. And when we see a man exceed expectations like this, we should celebrate it without reservation.
What do you think about the Justin Combs scholarship debate? Is there any merit to it?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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