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Saturday, April 10, 2021

More money equals more problems…for Diddy anyway

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Should the children of wealthy parents be allowed to have college scholarships?

This is a question that has taken on a life of its own as of late.

When the public learned that Justin Combs, son of hip-hop music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs received a $54,000 athletic scholarship to UCLA, tongues began wagging as people questioned the fairness of a kid with rich parents even being considered for a scholarship.

I understand the sensitivity of the issue. After all, the cost of college tuition is the highest it has ever been, the interest rates on student loans are increasing and grants have decreased. In today’s society, a college education is almost mandatory to be competitive, yet actually attending college has become an unobtainable option for many Americans.

Times are indeed tough, so when a kid whose father has a net worth of around $475 million gets a scholarship, I can understand why someone may question the “fairness” of the scholarship.

It may be hard for some people to conceptualize why the child of an ultra rich person should even be considered for a scholarship. Besides, Diddy can afford tuition at UCLA so why not just pay for it, right?

Wrong.

Here’s when it pays to be educated on the process of scholarship distribution.

Justin received a merit-based athletic scholarship that does not factor in a student or their parents’ financial status. It is based on the student’s athletic and academic ability. When Justin received the scholarship it was because he “earned” it due to being a fierce football player and maintaining a respectable GPA (he graduated with a 3.75 GPA). Despite what many people think, being the recipient of the scholarship did not take away from a need-based student. As a matter of fact, the money that funds merit-based scholarships for most athletes comes from ticket sales, private donations and corporate partnerships – not from the state, which generally awards need-based scholarships.

With that said, people need to lighten up on all the questions regarding the fairness of Justin’s scholarship. Earning this scholarship is probably one of only a few things Justin has been able to do that completely sets himself apart from his dad’s money and influence. The younger Combs studied hard throughout high school and was a standout player on the football field. With all the things Diddy can buy, those are two that he can’t.

While I appreciate the dialogue regarding Justin’s scholarship, I question why it is even an issue, particularly since Justin is not the first child of a famous or ultra wealthy person who received a scholarship. He is however, one of very few Black famous and wealthy children who earned such recognition.

Could this all have something to do with race?

Maybe so. Particularly if you consider other privileged teens who received scholarships. Some names you may recognize right off are Peyton and Eli Manning. Both of them received scholarships and their former NFL father was wealthy and influential. I don’t remember such uproar when the Manning brothers earned awards.

Words are powerful and we have to be careful of the messages we portray through our words. The asinine remarks regarding Justin’s scholarship can have a negative effect on someone who may be insecure or weak-minded. Heck, it can even discourage a strong-minded person.

Responsible parents drill it in a child’s mind at an early age to study hard and make good grades. Diddy and his son’s mother, Misa Hylton were probably no different…constantly encouraging Justin to perform well in school. Like a good kid with the capacity to perform well would do, Justin took heed to the words of his parents and thrived in school. What type of message does the public send him for doing a good job academically?

The negative overtone of something that is actually positive certainly gives us something to think about.

Perhaps a good compromise to the debate would be for Diddy and other wealthy parents to form some sort of an endowment or scholarship fund to benefit need-based students. With Diddy’s mass appeal coupled with Justin’s proof that hard work pays off, the two have the ability to make a tremendous impact on the younger generation, who will hopefully be influenced to perform well academically.

In 1997, Diddy’s record label Bad Boy Entertainment released the single “Mo Money Mo Problems” from The Notorious B.I.G’s album “Life After Death.” Diddy was one of the writers of the song that went on to become a No. 1 hit. As with most artists, eventually art imitates life and things they write about or perform become a reality.

Diddy hit the target with that song: the more money you have, the more problems you get. Perhaps the next song Diddy writes should be titled, “Mo Money, Mo Problems and Mo Haters.”

You can email comments to Shannon Williams at shannonw@indyrecorder.com.

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