Southwest Launches Racist Essay Contest

Southwest Airlines check-in | Image by RaksyBH / Shutterstock

A Southwest Airlines essay contest for college students requires genealogical proof of family origin in order for students to win flight credits.

The ¡Lánzate!, or Take Off!, Higher Education Travel Award Program offers eight flight credits to qualifying college students who live more than 200 miles away from their home, have at least a 2.5 GPA, submit a 300-500 word essay, and are Hispanic.

Presented in conjunction with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), 185 students will be chosen for the award flights.

In addition to the previously mentioned requirements, recipients must “be a legal U.S. resident & have a valid government-issued photo ID for air travel. If selected for the award, students will be required to complete and sign an IRS Form W-9 with the student’s full social security number.”

The award’s ethnic component, according to the HACU, stipulates that the program is “ONLY” for Hispanic students who “must identify direct or parental ties to a specific country to determine Hispanic origin.”

The Dallas Express reached out to both the HACU and Southwest Airlines for clarification on how an applicant’s Hispanic heritage is verified and whether the student had to submit supporting documentation to prove their genealogical background, but neither organization responded prior to publication.

However, despite being required to show family ties to a Hispanic country, flight credits may not be applied to foreign flights to visit family.

“Hometown locations must be within the continental 48 United States, and the college/university the student is enrolled in must be within the continental 48 United States,” HACU explained.

Erik Negrete, a 2022 recipient, explained that “it wasn’t until I was hundreds of miles away from home that I realized how important it was to be around the people you love.”

“This award doesn’t just benefit me or my family in one particular way, it allows me to worry less about finances and focus on what’s important to me — my family and education,” Negrete continued.

Southwest Airlines said in a company statement that it “believes educated communities are empowered communities and that every student should have the opportunity to pursue their educational dreams.”

When asked about other similar programs for students who are not Hispanic, Southwest failed to respond prior to publication.

Scholarships with a racial component have recently received increased scrutiny as colleges and universities have been sued for allegedly engaging in racial discrimination in admission and scholarship practices.

Although the ¡Lánzate! Travel Award Program is supported by private organizations and not government entities, some still suggest that such initiatives are unlawfully discriminatory.

Mission: DFW, a local group seeking to push back again the “woke-industrial complex,” denounced the program in a newsletter, noting, “Americans are sick of racist companies like Southwest Airlines dividing us through DEI-driven campaigns.”

The organization told The Dallas Express, “We at Mission: DFW believe that racism, in all forms, is wrong. That is why it was so disheartening to see Southwest Airlines hosting a program that’s sole purpose is to fuel racial division.”

“No student travel program should set one race or ethnicity above another,” the group continued. “If Southwest really cared about equality, their program would help struggling students of ALL backgrounds succeed, not just a single ethnic student group.”

“What’s more, the program criteria requests a short essay from all applicants with the given prompt, ‘What are your challenges in pursuing a college degree?'” they added. “Effectively asking students to detail their hardships and complaints in pursuing American higher education.”

Devon Westhill, the president and general counsel of the Center for the Equal Opportunity, explained to The Dallas Express, “Any of these sorts of programs, whether they be through a private employer, a nonprofit group, or a school, are always immoral when they divide people by their race or their color or their national origin.”

“Often times they’re illegal as well,” Westhill added. “There are a couple of different things that, legally speaking, could bring legal liability for this sort of program.”

“In any event, it is immoral to treat people differently based on their skin color or where their ancestors are from,” he said.

Westhill noted that while it certainly is important to help communities that might not have the same level of economic success, “what efforts are put forward to close those gaps cannot be efforts that divide or discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity.”

The Center for Equal Opportunity has previously spoken against the practice, with Vice President Roger Clegg saying that minority-exclusive scholarships may be against the law, it is “not right, or legal, in my opinion, to exclude because of the color of skin,” per The Tufts Daily.

While calling privately-funded scholarships that have racial limitations “unfair, divisive, silly and illegal,” Clegg continued by saying that “we’re not trying to limit any opportunities for anyone; we want the system changed that that [sic] all can participate.”

Supporters, however, argue that colleges, corporations, and society at large have a compelling interest to grant scholarships to increase the racial makeup of the student body.

In its 1994 final rule regarding racially targeted financial support, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights noted, “A college may award financial aid on the basis of race or national origin if the aid is necessary to overcome the effects of past discrimination.”

Additionally, the department ruled that federal law “does not prohibit an individual or an organization that is not a recipient of Federal financial assistance from directly giving scholarships or other forms of financial aid to students based on their race or national origin.”

Commenters also argued, according to the department, that “race-targeted financial aid is a minimally intrusive method to attain a diverse student body, far more limited in its impact on non-minority students, for example, than race-targeted admissions policies.”

“Under this view … a race-targeted financial aid award could be a narrowly tailored means of achieving the compelling interest in diversity,” the department continued.

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1 Comment

  1. ThisGuyisTom

    Who hires these corporate PR “innovators”?
    These “innovators” must spend countless high paid hours trying to think of creative ways to push an ESG narrative program.

    It is all about the narrative. Not common sense reality.


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