Actress Lori Loughlin was recently arrested after allegedly committing bribery and falsifying test scores to get her two daughters into the University of Southern California. Meanwhile, two black women — Kelley Williams-Bolar and Tanya McDowell — used the addresses of loved ones to get their children a better education in a safer school district, and were sentenced to jail time. The parallel is quite obvious.
Poor people of color fight every day for a decent public primary and secondary education. Meanwhile, rich white kids are buying their way into the top colleges in the nation, taking spots away from people who have actually earned one. And yet, many still don’t believe white privilege exists.
These are the same people who call others who aren’t successful “lazy,” preaching the ideas of the “American Dream,” where we’re all afforded the same opportunities. These are the same people who will say, “All you need is an education.” These are the same people who, while buying and cheating their way into universities, complain about people of color getting “free” education for their race instead of merit.
History has given me no reason to believe that Loughlin and actress Felicity Huffman, another accused celebrity parent, will get as harsh a punishment as these black mothers did. Loughlin and Huffman deserve prison. Those black mothers were simply doing what they had to do to get their child an education.
The white mothers crippled their children by paying their way through school. They lied when they could have just been honest like everyone else and sent their children to a school where they would rightfully be accepted. They displayed their privilege in the most disgusting way.
Affirmative action is described as policies put in place at institutions to secure more opportunities for minorities, yet it’s criticized for being unfair and challenged all the time. Affirmative action is not the problem. The fact that colleges need policies to force them into giving minority students an equal opportunity is the problem. Privilege, racism and elitism are the problems.
White people continuously say that we, black and brown people, are taking their spots when, in actuality, they are paying to take ours. The fact that some white people feel so entitled to a spot at a top college rather than a school with admissions requirements that meet their mediocrity is the definition of privilege.
When my parents told me that, as a black woman, I would have to work twice or even three times as hard to get to what a white peer has, this is what they were talking about. In a YouTube video, Loughlin’s daughter admitted she rarely attended high school and was only going to college for the experience.
“I do want the experience of gamedays, partying … I don’t really care about school, as you guys all know,” Olivia Jade Giannulli, Loughlin’s daughter, said in a YouTube video posted in 2018. If you’re going to take away a spot from somebody who actually deserves one, could you at least be interested in academics or actually play the sport you got a scholarship for?
With the flick of a finger, her mom bought her daughter admission to one of the most “exclusive” universities in the nation, while black and brown students are fighting the charter school epidemic sweeping the nation. There are children fighting a system set up against them and students basically teaching themselves, and it’s still sometimes not enough. Still, white people who have hardly worked for anything in their entire lives are served a world class education on a platter.
White Americans would rather bash affirmative action and say that we only get into college because we’re poor little minorities when the only people getting handed an education because of their race and class is them. They are throwing millions of dollars to back door agents and coaches to get their children a spot in school while black and brown parents are breaking their backs to get their children through college or even get them an education at all.
Dear white people, instead of constantly trying to blame minorities, take a step back and check your privilege. Check your rich, white peers.
Parents and all those who made these occurrences possible should be accountable. There should not be a way to falsify SAT scores. College coaches should not be bought. Education is now a business, just like prisons have become. When you mix money with something that’s meant to be a fundamental right, you have a big problem on your hands.
Olivia James is a 19-year-old mass communication freshman from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.