By now you’ve probably heard of the absolutely outlandish scandal that broke regarding multiple high profile celebrities/ professionals bribing their children’s way into college. As a black (almost) college graduate, I was glad to see how this event opened the door to a more pointed discussion about affirmative action.
If you ask any black student at a PWI campus if they’ve ever been asked if they play sports or told, by their classmates, that they were just here due to affirmative action, I bet you $50 99.9% of them will say yes. This notion that black and other minority students are inherently unqualified for whatever institution they are at and only got into that University due to the benevolence of white lawmakers forcing schools to allow hoards of under-performing minorities taint the value of the diploma from said institution is a common, and uniting factor in the university experience of every minority. people can only get into college due to affirmative action letting. Personally, I remember a group of white students changing the topic to affirmative action once I sat down near them in the lecture hall and how unfair it was. I brushed it off as “conservative” talk, but seeing the hundreds of tweets about similar experiences from other minority students, and talking with other minority students on campus, I realized that wasn’t an isolated event. It’s psychologically draining to constantly feel forced to defend your place in society, especially when it’s a position in close proximity to an overwhelming majority of white people. It takes a mental and physical toll on you when nothing you do is good enough, and you have to be 10 times better to get 50% less recognition.
Not only were Lori Loughlin and others able to get away with this blatant fraud for a period of time, this incident serves as a painful reminder about how the laws allow wealthy people (who are overwhelmingly white) miles of wiggle room. Parents that try to gain access to better public schools for their kids are charged with “school enrollment fraud” while other rich parents are allowed to bribe SAT officials, Bribe sports coordinators, and exploit accommodations meant for children that actually need them. I won’t bore you with the technicalities of the accusations because there are a plethora of sources that have those covered.
However, for many kids, especially those that come from disadvantaged neighborhoods, gaining a position on a University Sports team so they can get a full ride to college is what they dedicate their lives to. Because otherwise, college is basically out of their reach. So many underprivileged children, have family relying on them to go to college so they can help break the familial cycle of poverty, and those rich kids, especially one that has no interest in going to college, are literally taking spots that could have gone to other children that actually had the merit but were turned away due to corruption. Unlike those parents that face fines for “enrollment fraud” the wealthy families at the heart of this scandal are allowed to claim these donations (bribes) made to various universities as a deduction on their taxes.
Rich people love pandering the notion that “they worked hard for their money,” but they conveniently ignore the significant leg-up that they were provided by their parents, grandparents, or, if they’re white, society in general. For example, Felicity Huffman who is embroiled in this scandal, comes from a lineage of very old money, dating back to the 1800s. During that time, people that looked like me weren’t even considered people. The great- grandparents, grand parents, and even parents of black people were legally not allowed to participate in ventures that could amass such wealth and create generational wealth for their families. In a speech, Ivanka Trump basically said that the average American doesn’t want to get “hand-outs” (in reference to a guaranteed minimum wage). However, her very own husband was so graciously given, through Daddy’s money, the “hand-out” of admission into Harvard.
Wealthy people preach to and shame the average American by indoctrinating them with the false narrative that they are in the tough situation they are in because they didn’t “work hard enough” like them, and they should simply work harder. However, like this scandal re- illuminates, wealthy people take handouts, cut-corners, and engage in illegal activities to amass more wealth and more signals of “prosperity.” Instead, the average white American that has so easily bought into that notion (and the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” American-Way that is so ingrained in the societal fabric of this country), play into race politics and attack “affirmative action” while ignoring the real problem which is how easily and frequently wealthy people manipulate the system. It’s ironic that wealthy people want to pay less taxes and shame “hand-outs” while relying heavily on the government for subsidies, lax environmental laws, tax breaks and other things that allow their businesses to run and pockets to swell all while calling people that need a livable minimum wage a drain on society and the government. It reminds me of the whole “straw ban.” It’s great that we’re thinking about the ocean and the environment, but the straw ban cannot combat the institutional forces, such as the lax environmental regulations and huge corporations, that actively create and exacerbate this lax this macro-scale environmental problem.
There’s a piece of this fiasco that people are overlooking. Loughlin’s daughter, Olivia Jade, is a very popular You-tuber with lots of sponsorship deals and regular paychecks that, she’s making independent of her parents, are coming in. Sure, no one knows when the “end” of influencers is going to come, but Loughlin could have easily let her daughter continue her job as an influencer instead of engaging in fraud. Laughlin’s husband is a wealthy businessman, and with his business acumen, he could have taught his daughter how to invest and grow the money she’s making from being an influencer. College isn’t for everyone. I get it, having a diploma is an “economic signal of status,” but sometimes parents just need to believe in their children and let them be who they are. Especially since she’s not a minority, she doesn’t have to worry with the inherent inferiority that comes along with not only being a minority but with being an “uneducated” minority.
America, as a society, is unequal because it was designed that way. If we, as a society, don’t make drastic changes, scandals like this will only continue to happen. This isn’t meant to be an article dissuading you from becoming “wealthy,” however we as a society need to alter the privileges wealthy people are afforded. With so much wealth being held by so very few within this country, there is no reason why we can’t restructure society in a way that allows for more, basic equality.