How do you judge what’s in another person’s heart?
My son and I were talking with a college representative about my son’s chances of earning a scholarship or grant money for college. The man talked about how tough the fight for scholarship dollars can be. In a nonchalant fashion, he continued, asking if we had an “ounce of diversity in our blood? Even a little?”
The comment was said quickly and I didn’t detect any malice in his tone. As I drove home from work the next day, however, I got to thinking about the conversation and a small part of me wished that I had probed for more information.
I told a friend a few days later that I wished that I had asked the man to be more clear in his statement. His comment was generally benign. He said it and moved on. His reaction and the look on his face, however, implied something altogether different, like he wanted to say more, but stopped himself.
Was he simply checking off a box? Was he looking to help my son get the most out of the system? Or was he trying to say that minority candidates were not up to par and getting an undeserved leg up on my son?
My son would love to earn the scholarship. He has strong grades and would seem to be good candidate, but he’s also realistic and recognizes that his chances for that particular scholarship are slim. He also wants to earn what’s his. When I brought it up to him, my son explained that he doesn’t want a handout. And he doesn’t want to take away opportunities from someone equally deserving.
I came away feeling great about my son. I also came away feeling more determined to respond to questionable comments in the future. My hope is that the man meant nothing by it. I suspect that’s the case, but to leave it unsaid is wrong too.
In the end, my son and I both learned a lesson.