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Wednesday 19 December 2018

Stormzy: Branding my scholarship racist is ridiculous

The grime star said he was taken aback by the backlash to the scholarship for black students.

Stormzy speaking about his scholarship (Cambridge University)
Stormzy speaking about his scholarship (Cambridge University)

By Laura Harding, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Grime star Stormzy has said it is “ridiculous” that the scholarship he is offering to help black Cambridge University students pay their tuition fees has been branded racist.

The scholarship aims to encourage the admission of more black students to top universities, after none got into some Cambridge University colleges between 2012 and 2016.

Two successful Cambridge applicants this year and two next year will have their fees paid for by the scholarship.

Addressing the negative responses to the initiative he told BBC Radio 1’s Life Hacks: “After I launched the scholarship and I said it’s a scholarship for young black kids, some people were going as far as to say ‘racist’.

“I didn’t feel the need to explain my stance of having a scholarship that’s only for young black students.

“But the more backlash that came, I started to understand that it’s a deeper rooted problem of that people don’t actually understand the imbalance.

“So If I’m trying to do something that bridges a gap, it’s a bit difficult when people don’t actually see a gap.

“It’s not everyone’s fault that they don’t understand that gap. I genuinely have to explain that there is a barrier for young black people.

“I always got to reiterate on that and say this isn’t bias, this isn’t discriminatory. It’s none of that. It’s literally trying to bridge the gap to make it an equal playing field.

“Anyone that thinks it’s racist or thinks it’s biased isn’t even worth an argument because that is so ridiculous.”

Oxford University has been forced to deny that it turned down an offer from Stormzy to fund a scholarship there.

The rapper, real name Michael Ebenazer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr, has previously revealed he harboured ambitions of studying at either Oxford or Cambridge when he was at school.

Life Hacks is on BBC Radio 1 on Sunday from 4pm.

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