Rodeo scholarship unfairly dissolved

Hector A. Chavana Jr.

Guest Columnist

Yesterday, I picked up my dad's copy of the Houston Chronicle and found that the Go Tejano Scholarship of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo had been dissolved.

The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo is a group in town that organizes one of the largest rodeos in the world and offers scholarships to participating students. The Go Tejano Scholarship Committee was one of its committees that targeted Chicano and Latino high school students for scholarships. Last year, the Go Tejano Committee independently raised almost a quarter of a million dollars in scholarship money through fund-raisers and donations. I am one of the recipients. Although I was upset that the scholarship was dissolved, I can't say that I was shocked, for reasons I'll explain later.

It is a travesty that the Rodeo would even consider dissolving this scholarship, especially considering that many members of the committee weren't even notified. It seems obvious that some of the contacts and funds the Go Tejano Committee harnessed will go to the HLS&R general fund. With that in mind, part of this decision's result will be that HLS&R use committee members and their efforts for the benefit of the larger body and not for the purposes intended.

According to the HLS&R, there will be "opportunity scholarships," which will consider things like family income and the high school of the applicant. Most of us know, however, that this will ultimately lead to fewer scholarships for Chicano and Latino students. That's the bottom line. Moreover, there is an issue of autonomy to deal with. Why can't Latinos be given the right to decide where their own funds go in the HLS&R? After all, they raised the funds themselves.

As I said, however, I am not shocked at this turn of events. Mexican and Chicano history bear out the fact that coalitions between ourselves and whites have often ended in fiasco and even disaster. One can look back in history and find several significant events in which Mexicans worked with whites in good faith only to find that their dependence upon the whites created first vulnerability and ultimately destruction. Certain events (like the Indian/Spanish coalition to destroy the Aztecs, the Mexican/Anglo coalition for the Texas Revolution and the Chicano/Anglo coalition to elect Kennedy) illuminate the fact that we should not leave our status quo in the hands of others, and that is exactly what the Go Tejano Committee did. Lesson (hopefully) learned: Dependence is a very dangerous thing.

Now, I am not apologizing for my opinions, but before charges of racism arise, ask yourself if what I say is untrue. Ask yourself if I am anti-white or anti-dependence. I was not at the historical events that I listed, nor was I there when the HLS&R decided to dissolve Go Tejano Scholarships, but I am here now, and I think there are a few things that need to be done.

First and foremost: Boycott. I think a boycott of the HLS&R and its Go Tejano day is in order by attendees and artists. If they won't give us the committee, why should we give them our business and our talent?

Second: Build independently. What we should have done in the first place was build a scholarship committee and a rodeo that couldn't be taken away from us. We have the talent, wherewithal and the leadership to do it, so why not?

It must be remembered that this decision has come down at a time when many people still remember the HLS&R's decision to deny funds to legal residents and give scholarships only to citizens. This meant that people who were in this country legitimately in the eyes of the law could not get funds to go to school.

For a few people, that decision was enough to begin the boycott. I think this decision has the potential to prompt a great deal more this coming year.

Chavana is a senior

political science major.

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