June 13th, 2012
01:13 PM ET

White teen returns black scholarship

by Donna Krache, CNN

(CNN) - If a person wins a scholarship intended for someone of a different race, should he or she give it back?

When Jeffrey Warren, a senior at Martin Luther King High School in Riverside, California, was looking for financial help to pay for college, he applied for several scholarships.  When he applied for one of those scholarships, he had no idea it was intended for an African-American student.  He says the application only said that African-Americans were encouraged to apply.

The scholarship awarding committee didn’t know that he was white – until he got up to receive the award.

"It was kind of funny at first, everyone was laughing. They announced it for an African-American, they saw me walk up," Warren said.

Warren decided to return the scholarship.  He says he could have really used the money but decided it was best to return it.

“I know that they were trying to a good deed for the African-American community, and I saw that too so I had no trouble giving it back to them at all,” Warren told KABC-TV.

What would you do if you won a scholarship that was intended for someone else?

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Filed under: High school • Practice
soundoff (281 Responses)
  1. Tanya

    I am African American and I think he should have kept the scholarship. My reason has nothing to do with race as that really should not be the strongest argument here despite it being the apparent deciding factor. He applied for it, and was awarded it, and that is that. The organization that released the application should have clearly stated it was for AA students rather than language that could be loosely interpreted "AA students strongly encouraged to apply." What is that? PC language in a scholarship application? Say what you mean. I work with AA-based organizations all the time and when we offer scholarships, while I hope to see young black boys and girls apply, if a student of another race is selected – based on their application – we certainly don't encourage that child to return the money. If anyone needs to step it up here, it's the organization that offered the scholarship which I saw no mention of in this article. Maybe it was in the video.

    June 20, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  2. Mathew

    Much respect young man.

    June 17, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • W J LaFrance

      Yes much respect young man. However , you should have taken the money you properly earned and needed. Then screamed reverse discrimination to the heavens themselves when anyone tried to deprive you of it. Color blindness needs to start working both ways.

      June 18, 2012 at 8:28 am |
  3. Brit

    Why all the hate about racism? Why not just take this opportunity to praise this young man for making a good, selfless decision. He may have lost out on this financial benefit now, but he is sure to reap the rewards later in life for having done the right thing.

    June 17, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • W J LaFrance

      For having done the right thing? Let's see. He applied for a scholorship in which african american students were "encouraged to apply", not having been previously informed that the scholorship was meant for AA students ONLY. He met all standards required of him for approval of the awarding of the scholorship. The scholarship committee didn’t know that he was white – until he got up to receive the award. At which time because he is white he felt it the right thing to decline much needed money he rightfully earned?

      Change the scenerio from white to AA and vice versa and see how fast the ACLU gets involved. Just sayin

      June 18, 2012 at 8:25 am |
  4. Al Bundy

    He should have kept it, he will be subsidizing the blacks for the rest of his life.

    June 17, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Stop hating!

      It's a good thing that your ignorance is not shared by this young man. And it's rather entertaining that you would chose the screen name "Al Bundy" – an uneducated, worthless man known for keeping his hand in his pants.

      The right thing to say here is the organization should have recognized him for what he did and offered him half if not the full value of the scholarship! It's not discrimination to set aside scholarships for particular races, religions, genders. If Kimberly Smith mistakenly won a scholarship meant for women and they found out he was a man, it would not be discrimination – it would be the RULES!

      Recognize this for what it was – a story meant to show that some people do what was right! Just because the applicant didn't see that it was intended for African Americans does not mean that the information was not there. I know from experience when you are filling out multiple scholarship applications, it's hard to read every minute detail of each one.

      June 18, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
  5. Jim

    Proof that racism is alive and well. The kid probably did the right thing, but we now know that the color of your skin still makes all the difference in the world.

    June 17, 2012 at 10:28 am |
  6. Byron

    Why does skin color continue to make a difference? What if it had been reversed?

    June 17, 2012 at 9:19 am |
  7. Fed Up

    "Encouraged to apply" should not mean that it is most certainly a scholarship that must go to a Black student. How awful that someone who deserves it feels guilt and gives it back... oh, that's right... we elected our president based on guilt.

    June 16, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • Maddad

      Really that's all it was you felt guilty; shame you did something so bad you had that much guilt to carry around. Oh and since he is half "white" why can't he be considered a "white" president. More of that guilt stuff i presume. Comments like yours only reinforce how much racisim still exists in this country. Note that the young man never said anyone asked him to return the scholarship.

      June 17, 2012 at 1:09 am |
  8. friend

    Just what criteria makes a person AA? The "old" rules were 1% of your blood was AA, or you looked AA such as had a wide nose only found in persons of west Africa roots. But history shows a vast majority of AAs in the US have mixed blood from many ethnic areas. So all this person would need to do is go through genetic testing to see if he had at least 1% of AA blood. Then he would qualify.

    June 16, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
  9. PaulC

    I think he should keep it. They did not ask his race and it appears they gave it to him without checking so he should keep it.

    June 16, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  10. gpamela

    Looking at the young man he could easily be from a multi family background.

    June 16, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
  11. gpamela

    As a parent of a multi child, is this a scholarship based on culture or race. If culture some Africans, and Puerto Ricans, etc need not apply either. If race, what is the color bar, drop of blood, or head measurements that distinguish an African American in the current makeup of families and cultures. Sometimes among my own children, others feel they must ask their race so as to classify them. I am confused!!

    June 16, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  12. Dan

    He should keep the scholarship. It would have been a much more interesting article if he kept the scholarship and seen if the foundation would have done anything to oppose the scholarship.

    June 16, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  13. BigJack

    Funny isn't it, the black community can say this is for African American only! yet not discrimination is noted, but had this been an White American scholarship, all hell would be busting loose claiming discrimination against the black americans! Looks like reverse discrimination doesn't

    June 16, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  14. Doc

    I applaud the young man for his integrity and I hope there is a wealthy person (1%) who will fund his education. The scholarship application needs to be clear that the scholarship is for AA.

    June 16, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • MeLinda

      Amen to that!

      June 16, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  15. Chris

    Most of these posts are ridiculous. Have any of you applied for a scholarship before? There are thousands out there and most of them are intended for a certain group of people. This isn't rascism or discrimination. I would bet a lot of money that the scholarship is given by an African-American(s) and the intent was to help out an African-American with his or her education. There's nothing wrong with that. I'm white and I would absolutely have given the scholarship back. I respect this kid's decison.

    June 15, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  16. skullnrose

    Next they should create one for Illegal immigrants only....Then they can not pay taxes on a better income when they graduate! Win-Win for them...Lose-Lose for the deserving (any race) American.

    June 15, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Wisdom

      This land doesn't belong to you. You are just a pond, speaking without any sense.
      Read a book!

      June 16, 2012 at 12:08 am |
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