Behold: The rare and elusive Hispanic racist!

The North Carolina General Assembly's only Latino member, soon to be retired Senator Tom Apodaca (R), says he finds that his rise from "former bail bondman with a Hispanic last name" to political power is "proof that anything is possible in America."  Not just any political power, but observers claim that his power is the true political power in North Carolina's legislature.

So one has to wonder why he would be so viciously attacked by black North Carolinians when he offers a bill to slash tuition costs at five public colleges that primarily educate blacks, American Indians, and Appalachia's poor whites.  The schools: Winston-Salem State; Elizabeth City State; Fayetteville State; the University of North Carolina, Pembroke; and Apodaca's alma mater, Western Carolina – from which he, his wife, and his two sons graduated.

The attacks were based in part on black-proffered theories that three of the five colleges affected (Winston-Salem State, Elizabeth City State, and Fayetteville State), those that traditionally cater to black students, could be bankrupted by the lower tuition revenue.

As thousands of black, American Indian, and poor Appalachian whites would benefit from the lower costs and be able to matriculate in college, one wonders how such an argument could be made by anyone desiring more college opportunities for the poor, the black, the white, and the American Indians.

The critics?  North Carolina's NAACP chapter.  Its members called the proposed tuition cut a back-door attempt to drive the three black colleges into bankruptcy.  What?

The Rev. William Barber, president of the NAACP's North Carolina chapter, charges that the proposed tuition cut is "trickery" calculated to "drain and bankrupt" the schools critics claim are underfunded deliberately.

The "bankruptcy" argument makes no sense, as any financial gaps created by lower tuitions can be made up with state general funds.  The goal of Senator Apodaca is to make college more affordable to people who might otherwise not be able to afford college at all.  Anything wrong with that?

So what do the critics do when their criticism makes no sense?  They chant R-A-C-I-S-T, R-A-C-I-S-T!

Figuratively throwing his hands into the air, Senator Apodaca said he is scaling back the bill and plans to drop the three historically black colleges from it.  The critics include administrators and students of the three black colleges, with their core opposition based on conservative Republican legislators' promises that the state will make up the projected $70 million in tuition revenue drop.  They don't believe the almost all white Republican-dominated legislature.

The most ridiculous charges are that lower tuition will "cheapen" degrees from the colleges involved.  Perhaps these critics should check the annual U.S. News and World Report ranking of public universities.  None of the colleges involved is listed in the top public colleges and universities.  So how could lower tuitions "cheapen" their degrees?  We are not speaking of the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill (ranked #5 nationally).

Nor are we speaking of other fine North Carolina public colleges.  They include nationally ranked campuses: North Carolina State, #37; UNC, Greensboro #105; or East Carolina and UNC Charlotte, both tied at #111.

Are the critics suggesting that more less wealthy, less middle-class students who would flood the lower-tuition schools would lower the academic level and reputation of Western Carolina and UNC-Pembroke?

Tuition at the five schools now runs between $1,400 and $1,900 a semester for residents and between $6,500 and $7,500 for non-residents.  Apodaca's cuts would lower these tuitions to $500 a semester for in-state students and $2,500 for out-of-state students.

Apodaca says, "I would do nothing to cheapen the degree.  And we're just trying to lower tuition costs and help some institutions.  But anyway, if they feel that way, that's fine."

Rob Tanner, a UNC-Pembroke black history student, says: "I don't mean to sound biased, but anything to help more African American young people get into college and educate themselves is always a great thing to do."

Full disclosure: This writer sacked supermarket groceries for a dollar an hour 20 hours a week, stood guard at night at a college administration parking lot for a $50-a-month athletic stipend, worked as a research assistant at his college 10 hours a week for $1.25 an hour, and occasionally hosted Spanish-speaking academics when they visited.  All that to pay my tuition and books at San Diego State University (ranked #79 nationally).

Senator Apodaca is my hero.  ¡Viva Apodaca!

The North Carolina General Assembly's only Latino member, soon to be retired Senator Tom Apodaca (R), says he finds that his rise from "former bail bondman with a Hispanic last name" to political power is "proof that anything is possible in America."  Not just any political power, but observers claim that his power is the true political power in North Carolina's legislature.

So one has to wonder why he would be so viciously attacked by black North Carolinians when he offers a bill to slash tuition costs at five public colleges that primarily educate blacks, American Indians, and Appalachia's poor whites.  The schools: Winston-Salem State; Elizabeth City State; Fayetteville State; the University of North Carolina, Pembroke; and Apodaca's alma mater, Western Carolina – from which he, his wife, and his two sons graduated.

The attacks were based in part on black-proffered theories that three of the five colleges affected (Winston-Salem State, Elizabeth City State, and Fayetteville State), those that traditionally cater to black students, could be bankrupted by the lower tuition revenue.

As thousands of black, American Indian, and poor Appalachian whites would benefit from the lower costs and be able to matriculate in college, one wonders how such an argument could be made by anyone desiring more college opportunities for the poor, the black, the white, and the American Indians.

The critics?  North Carolina's NAACP chapter.  Its members called the proposed tuition cut a back-door attempt to drive the three black colleges into bankruptcy.  What?

The Rev. William Barber, president of the NAACP's North Carolina chapter, charges that the proposed tuition cut is "trickery" calculated to "drain and bankrupt" the schools critics claim are underfunded deliberately.

The "bankruptcy" argument makes no sense, as any financial gaps created by lower tuitions can be made up with state general funds.  The goal of Senator Apodaca is to make college more affordable to people who might otherwise not be able to afford college at all.  Anything wrong with that?

So what do the critics do when their criticism makes no sense?  They chant R-A-C-I-S-T, R-A-C-I-S-T!

Figuratively throwing his hands into the air, Senator Apodaca said he is scaling back the bill and plans to drop the three historically black colleges from it.  The critics include administrators and students of the three black colleges, with their core opposition based on conservative Republican legislators' promises that the state will make up the projected $70 million in tuition revenue drop.  They don't believe the almost all white Republican-dominated legislature.

The most ridiculous charges are that lower tuition will "cheapen" degrees from the colleges involved.  Perhaps these critics should check the annual U.S. News and World Report ranking of public universities.  None of the colleges involved is listed in the top public colleges and universities.  So how could lower tuitions "cheapen" their degrees?  We are not speaking of the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill (ranked #5 nationally).

Nor are we speaking of other fine North Carolina public colleges.  They include nationally ranked campuses: North Carolina State, #37; UNC, Greensboro #105; or East Carolina and UNC Charlotte, both tied at #111.

Are the critics suggesting that more less wealthy, less middle-class students who would flood the lower-tuition schools would lower the academic level and reputation of Western Carolina and UNC-Pembroke?

Tuition at the five schools now runs between $1,400 and $1,900 a semester for residents and between $6,500 and $7,500 for non-residents.  Apodaca's cuts would lower these tuitions to $500 a semester for in-state students and $2,500 for out-of-state students.

Apodaca says, "I would do nothing to cheapen the degree.  And we're just trying to lower tuition costs and help some institutions.  But anyway, if they feel that way, that's fine."

Rob Tanner, a UNC-Pembroke black history student, says: "I don't mean to sound biased, but anything to help more African American young people get into college and educate themselves is always a great thing to do."

Full disclosure: This writer sacked supermarket groceries for a dollar an hour 20 hours a week, stood guard at night at a college administration parking lot for a $50-a-month athletic stipend, worked as a research assistant at his college 10 hours a week for $1.25 an hour, and occasionally hosted Spanish-speaking academics when they visited.  All that to pay my tuition and books at San Diego State University (ranked #79 nationally).

Senator Apodaca is my hero.  ¡Viva Apodaca!