Friday, March 15, 2019

Stealing Harvard and other Hypocritical Isht

You know what is familiar about the Operation Varsity Blues cheating scandal that has people all fake mad and upset (because it is really envy)? The fact that this was more or less the plot of two movies made back in 2002 called Orange County and Stealing Harvard, and an episode of Desperate Housewives (and probably a lost episode of Full House). Life imitates art.

I won't even waste your time by reposting or linking to the long-ish FB vent I wrote the other day because being a Black woman expressing her pent up outrage over systematic inequality is literally just another day in the neighborhood. What else is new?

However, since I'm revisiting movies lately, there is a scene near the end of Bad Santa when Marcus the Elf is about to shoot Willie the Santa at the end of the big heist. Willie has just succeeded in opening the store safe, when he looks up to the barrel of Marcus's gun pointed in his face. Right before the heroic anticlimax, Willie poses the metaphorical question we are all asking with respect to this scandal:

Why do y'all need all this isht? Don't you already have enough? Or as applied in the current context: Why do people who already have every advantage in the world need to cheat to gain even more advantages? These are metaphorical and rhetorical questions for sure, because the answer is because (which isn't an answer, but in this case, you just need to take my word for it). Some people are just compelled to do whatever it takes to stay on top, even if it is the top of the trash heap.

The hypocrisy of this scandal is not merely the obvious comparison to the case of Kelly Williams-Bolar, the Black mother who went to jail for using a relative's address to enroll her children in school. Nor is it similarly invoked by the high-profile indictments of teachers and administrators who were accused of changing students' answers on standardized tests. Illegal immigration in the form of crossing the border without documentation has always been a misdemeanor, but now we suddenly need a wall. In each case, we are told that these transgressions undermine the integrity of the system.

The hypocrisy exists in our use of the word integrity. How can there be integrity in a corrupt system?

Where is the integrity in a system that tolerates inequity in the funding formulas for public school districts based on residency? Where is the integrity in a system that conditions a working professional's job security to student achievement on tests someone else can get paid to take? Where is the integrity in maintaining a hopelessly backlogged immigration process? How is there any integrity in a system where the rules only seem to apply when used against certain people (such as people of color, which we're not supposed to see because we're a nation that doesn't see color)?

We shouldn't consider race in college admissions because a handful of white applicants feel self-conscious about attending their second choice schools. But we can save a seat for the son of the lady who guest starred on a few episodes of  Law & Order because her check cleared and no one will notice if he quits the crew team after one practice. As long as his mom wears the sweatshirt on her perp walk the red carpet, we can call it product placement. No need to level the playing field if he isn't really on the field.

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