• Jena Prystowsky

On Fairness



Ritapa Neogi/Temple News


A few weeks ago, I had an argument with someone on Reddit that was essentially about affirmative action and whether minorities receive unfair advantages due to our ethnicity. He reported that he had taken a DNA test, found out that he was 10 percent Hispanic, and was planning on using this information to try to get scholarships for Hispanic students. My argument against this ploy was that, as someone who hasn't lived the Hispanic experience and who seemed to only want to take on the mantle of the Hispanic ethnicity for financial gain, that he was being deceitful. He argued that he felt it was unfair that minorities could get scholarships specifically for their particular ethnicity but that he, as a white male, was at a disadvantage. (I wonder, however, if he would switch back into white male mode if he saw that being white man was beneficial in a certain situation. I also wonder what would have happened if he found out that he was 3 percent African as well- perhaps he would be able to cash in on scholarships for Black students.)


When you ignore the historical treatment of minorities and the disadvantages that people of color have faced and still face today, I suppose that scholarships and affirmative action could seem unfair. What surprises me is how obtuse people can be about the history of this country.


It's easy to zero in on minorities when speaking of unfairness. After all, why not kick the people who are already suffering the most? Anything they get is surely undeserved. Meanwhile, one of the top news stories today is about how several wealthy parents have been charged in a college entrance exam cheating scandal. These parents paid millions of dollars in bribes to get their kids into Ivy league schools. Felicity Huffman and fellow actress, Lori Loughlin are two of the parents who have been identified as part of the cheating scandal and will face charges. Interestingly enough, some of the students who cheated their way into their schools of choice actually identified as different ethnicities to try to take advantage of the affirmative action program.


The guy on Reddit ended his commentary by yearning for the past when "everyone had equal opportunities." Unfortunately, I don't remember a time when EVERYONE had equal opportunities- there was always some group that was being disadvantaged and it was women, minorities, the poor, and others. And when programs are implemented to attempt to level the playing field, those who have always benefitted from oppression and the unequal power structure feel cheated. As the quote says: "when you're accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression."


Instead of griping at minorities for the scholarships that are offered to us or affirmative action that helps people of color to have the opportunity to get into college, perhaps everyone should be more concerned that wealthy people are buying their kids' way into college (and have been doing so for many years.) Doesn't seem fair, does it? But I'm sure it's much easier to lash out at people who have been receiving the lash for a long time.


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