Last week, Felicity Huffman was sentenced for her connection to the college admissions scandal which broke late last year. Huffman’s $30,000 fine and two weeks in quote, unquote jail, pails in comparison to the damage she has bought to the system. Not only is their loss in the institutions of governance and justice, but there is a human cost to the scandal.
To those of us aware of the human cost, the college admissions scandal is nothing new. It is the expected hypocrisy from those who preach the virtues of diversity but give and sacrifice nothing at its altar. At the slightest hint of having to give up something, they utilize their power and “privilege” to deprive the very people they claim to care about, of some power.
The admissions scandal does allow us to highlight a phenomenon known as celebrity privilege. I’ll give a definition of it. Well-off, affluent elites keeping those they claim to care about in proverbial chains. It’s not new to here the well-off and powerful preach to the rest of us. It’s been done since history. But, in recent years, with the increasing stratification of society along geographical, racial and income lines, this preaching has been used to justify their lavish lifestyles.
Bastions of this privilege can be seen all around us. They can be seen in San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and Detroit, some of the most segregated cities alone income lines. These cities have the most well-off Americans and the highest median incomes, but they also have the highest poverty and income inequality as well. Those well-off, must give little to call for brand new taxes, and changes in regulations and laws, to make America more equitable. Except when they do.
But those living in privilege have access to resources others do not. Those resources give access to power (read money) which allows them to send (read buy) their children into the most affluent colleges in America. They are immune to the new laws they advocate for which impact the rest of us. Of course, the irony is this hurt the poor the most.
One of the hidden costs now laid bare for Americans is this hurt the poor black kid, the rural white kid, the first-generation South Asian immigrant the most. They can work as hard as they want, score as well as possible, but they do not have access to the networks of power. Thus, they suffer the most under celebrity privilege.
Felicity Huffman and the college scandal is but one example. If you need another look no further than Jussie Smollet, of the show the Empire, and his claim he was attacked by two white guys wearing MAGA hats. The media, the elites, ate it up and claimed it showed the intolerance of America. Except, it didn’t happen. But, because of who Smollet was, he was given the benefit of the doubt. But the damage it did to those who do wear MAGA hats, to arguably of America, was clear. You are racist and we don’t care what you say.
I could go on with example after example. I won’t.
Rather, I’ll just say celebrity privilege has got to end. If nothing else but to help a more just and equal America where everybody has access to opportunity and the halls of power. I’m not holding my breath though.