KROC - awesome post.
As for the NASP, way back when I was in this position, lo those six years ago, I was torn as to whether or not to fill in that bubble, considering I was, indeed, elligible for it. I decided not to based on the fact that I want my achievments to be associated with the fact that I'm an able individual, not that I happen to have been born biracial. Do I oppose the NASP? Not at all.
First of all, I believe you're overblowing the whole "chance that no one else has to become successful" angle. NASP, like the National Merit Scholarship Program, get awarded a single payment $2,500 scholarship. $2,500 is almost nothing when it comes to college costs these days. Mind you, I went to a fairly low-cost public school and it took 3 different scholarship sources and a part-time job to stay afloat.
Secondly, in terms of demographics, there are a lot more Caucasian students who take the PSAT than Black students. In 2002-2003, for instance, of roughly 1.3 million test-takers, only about 108,000 were Black. In choosing National Merit Scholars, then, there's a statistical bias towards Caucasian students. Having the National Achievement Scholarship Program and the National Hispanic Recognition Program (where there are even fewer numbers of Hispanics taking the test. Around 83,000 in '02-'03) levels out that playing field by lessening the chances of equally capable minority students fallING victim to that statistical bias.
South Carolina - too small to be its own country, too big to be a mental asylum.