ICYMI: 2017’s Lone Latinx Rhodes Scholar Criticizes Competition

By Sameer Rao Nov 22, 2016

Oscar De Los Santos is not happy with The Rhodes Trust. The young Latinx man was awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship on Sunday (November 20), but he is critical of the omission of other Latinx candidates on the list of 32 American scholars. 

"I would like to express my disappointment that I was the only Latino Rhodes Scholar selected this year," Oscar De Los Santos said in an email to ABC 15/The Associated Press. "I personally know hundreds of talented, deserving young Latinos around the country who would contribute to and benefit tremendously from the Rhodes. I’m disappointed that powerful institutions continue to underestimate and marginalize the talents of people of color."

Los Angeles native De Los Santos, the son of formerly undocumented immigrants, graduated last year from the University of Southern California and majored in political science. He said that he plans to pursue masters degrees in public policy and theology. "I’m the child of Mexican immigrants, an anti-hunger advocate and a former teacher and political organizer," he said. "My degree choices are a way for me to respond from a sense of moral urgency to help marginalized people," he said.

The Rhodes Scholarship was established in 1902 via the will of Cecil John Rhodes—an English diamond magnate and South African politician—with the expressed intent of promoting leadership in the British Empire. The program has been criticized for Rhodes’ White supremacist and colonialist intent, as well as the previous exclusion of women and Black Africans. The award funds recipients’ studies at the University of Oxford for two to four years. Past recipients include leaders across disciplines, as well as several American presidents.

(H/t The Associated Press, ReMezcla, BBC, The Guardian)