BY: OFONIME IDIONG
I was home watching TV with my mother, like many foreign parents the news is typically on. A 24/7 wave of information that allows foreign parents to somehow find a way to interact with a culture that they have never really been a part of. I usually don't pay attention because these days the news is filled with one hateful rhetoric after another, another police shooting, another gunman, the good news in the 24/7 cycle is sometimes hard to find.
However on Mar.12 when the news broke of Lori Loughlin bribing USC with allegedly half a million dollars guaranteeing her daughter Olivia Jade's admission to the university. There was a slow level of sadness that quickly turned into anger, because of the blatant display of privilege. I was yelling, cursing and angrily shaking my fist at the TV as my mother looked at me confused.
No, POC pain is no longer for sale. People know our struggles and the reality is that the system does not care. Instead we become martyrs who constantly re-trigger ourselves in hopes of changing a world that has already decided to be ignorant towards our everyday struggles.
I knew I wanted to write about this story, but not in the stereotypical way of selling pain. What I want to do instead is examine how many people are unaware of privilege.
There have been calls to punish Loughlin, but I call out the hypocrisy in trying to punish someone for doing something others have always done, when she just happened to get caught. She was not the first to do it, and she won't be the last. In a society that has told the rich that they can buy their way into or out of anything, the privileged flex their wealth to see how far it will really take them. In a country where our current president bought his presidency, I am stuck in the cycle of watching those who have more than me enjoy continuous advancements on top of the privilege they were already born with.
The public narrative circled around how shocked people were that "Aunt Becky" would do such a thing. I'm sorry to burst your bubble America, but "Aunt Becky" is a rich, white woman. And she is no different than any other "Becky" in America who decided their kids deserve better than they have earned. This isn't new.
What this represents is the level of entitlement that rich white people in this country have. It comes from the subconscious realization that being white gives them a pass in a nation that will always justify their actions no matter how wrong. Regardless of being the perpetrator, Loughlin will always get to play the victim. The helpless mother who just wanted the best for her children. Many say, "She just wanted the best for her daughter." Well, her daughter didn't qualify, so she bought it for her because she could. And the system they paid into will protect them both, just like it always has.
Look I'm not going to waste the readers time with a six-page dissertation of white privilege and how it manifests itself in different ways. What I am saying is that we need to look into the fabrics of a system in which there are students working 90 hours a week to acquire a bachelor's degree while others have their parents pay for it. A scam framed as the "American Dream" convinces you that all it takes to get ahead is hard work. However, the playing field is far from level.
The real slap in the face is the video of Loughlin's daughter, Olivia Jade Giannuli, who posted a video on her YouTube channel saying she really doesn't need college after she was accepted into USC. While she doesn't need college, the rest of us are not so lucky to have our parents bribe out top choice school with half a million dollars.
Education is framed as the most important thing in our society. It is presented as a ticket that grants you access to privileges usually granted only to a certain pocket of the population. Most students today spend four years digging ourselves into debt in hopes of a better life, and sometimes it doesn't pay off. The college admission scandal is what happens when some can buy that hope and others can't.