The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday June 29th

Column: Forget the 'race' card: Let’s talk about wealth

In Season 6 of "Full House," there is an episode entitled “Be True to Your Pre-School.” Lori Loughlin and John Stamos, playing characters Aunt Becky and Uncle Jesse, feel pressured to enroll their kids in a prestigious preschool to place them on the ‘right track’ for success. While Uncle Jesse is the mastermind behind a scheme to falsify their twins’ abilities, Aunt Becky ultimately exposes his actions to the school’s admissions director and rebukes him: “I know you want what’s best for them, but maybe the fast track isn’t it.”

This plot shouldn’t seem too far fetched — its essence is eerily similar to the college admissions scandal headlines plastering the news these past couple weeks. 

Oh, Lori. It’s particularly poetic that this statement has come back to rear its head in full fury, as she is implicated in the largest college admissions scam persecuted in the United States. Ever. It’s also laughably ironic that she played the ‘voice of reason’ in a plot that she is now equally guilty of, and all for a spoiled child that has clearly stated she does not want or care to be at college.

Some parents involved in this scheme paid between $200,000 to $6.5 million to falsify admissions materials and college athletic commitments. That’s more money than some minority students or their families will ever aggregate comparatively in their entire lives — in 2017, the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey placed Black families as holding $5.04 in wealth to every $100 of their white counterparts, and the Economic Policy Institute found more than one in four black households having zero or negative net worth. 

This is exactly what I meant when I talked about privilege in admissions previously. The wealthy, disproportionately white elite have the unilateral ability to spend millions of dollars to subsidize not only their students’ education, but ease the entire admissions process. They can literally throw money at barriers that have traditionally limited minority populations, and then have the audacity to play victim in federal court cases. 

How can we justify stereotyping minority students as unfit for college when their wealthy counterparts nonchalantly take higher education as a given? Moreover, how can we pretend that minority students manipulate the system when we have tangible evidence that the privileged population do exactly that?

Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough before, so let me say this in no uncertain terms: affirmative action is the only current successful solution to cleaving the racial and gendered gap in income and wealth. If you don’t agree, I suggest you deeply investigate what advantages got you to where you are today.

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