Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Operation Varsity Blue

There was a recent FBI busts for rich parents who were bribing to get their children into Ivy League schools. They were paying college advisors to rig the system. This FBI sting caused a massive backlash against not only the perpetrators but the kids of the aflluent.

I don't think it's fair to go after the kids of these parents arrested in Operation Varsity Blue. I can't judge their intelligence or aptitude. I only know that they come from wealth, which isn't their sin or salvation. In many cases, I have seen overambitious wealthy parents mess up their children's life by trying to nail down a job or college as if they are trying to say to the world 'See! I did it all. Got the perfect partner, job, home, AND my kids got into an Ivy League school. Tied up all the loose ends, I did it.'

I experienced things from the flip side of this reality. I was the one who was FREQUENTLY told that I got into Northwestern because of affirmative action. I heard this while I was in high school. I heard this at NU. The people who would tell me this was always white men from upper-middle-class or wealthy family. Now, these people didn't know that I was captain of the football team, wrestling team, and debate team. They didn't know that I was athlete of the year for my high school and in their Hall of Fame, that I was all-state and lettered, an NFL scholar for civic activism, a two-time wrestling champion for my district in my two years, that I had won almost every debate tournament I entered, that our congressional team won Harvard the year I was captain. These people didn't know that I was a reporter for 3 local newspapers and 2 online publications, that I took the SAT's one time without the aid of any tutors or books and that my score was high enough that a high school advisor said 'do not take it again' and that I fucked around on the ACT and still scored in the top 1%.

My parents warned me that ppl were going to say 'affirmative action' no matter what I did...and by people they meant white guys. My sister told me to never explain my bio to someone like this and that they weren't worth it. So, instead, I would just laugh in their face. This would unsettle them. They wanted me to get upset or justify my existence in their space. I would laugh and mutter 'you are so stupid' and then just walk off. Perhaps not the most mature way of handling things but I was a teenager and usually running off to a job or practice or studying. I didn't have time for haters.

Now I see that these were incredibly insecure. Their feelings are justified. The system was built for them so they have no excuse for not making it. When people of color succeed it is often a triumph of will or a case of overcoming obstacles. When white men succeed, it is often a case of just walking through the door.

I sarcastically told my friends that the scandal undermines the merit-based system of wealthy families paying exorbitant fees to send their children to elite private schools where they do drugs and fuck around for a few yrs until the secondary institutions pipeline them into Ivy League schools with the help of expensive tutors who teach them the tests they need to pass so they can drink and drug for another four years while their rich parents bribe the colleges in the 'correct way' by paying for a new athletic center or putting money into an endowment, or knowing a friend-of-a-friend who goes to the same country club as the college's dean. All of this is the completely legal and standard operating procedure. Why did you need to bribe middlemen when the entire college system was created and designed for the 'long bribe?' You out here looking like Boo-Boo the Fool for nothing. You didn't have to commit any crimes to win. Is this your first day being rich and white?

These parents are incredibly powerful and wealthy...but are also scared, weak, fragile people. They commit crimes, they rig the system, the write the rules. This is the group most likely to lash out if a person of color manages to scale the citadel wall of academia and make it inside. These days the only thing I have for them is compassion. They will never be happy. They are consumed by ego and live in a world without honest reflection. Attacking others is their only way of relating to different people. That is the saddest thing of all: to be wealthy in material and poor in spirit is a hell that many rich people live in every day.

No comments: