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What Privilege Looks Like

Dear Editor: 

The word “privilege” has been overused and abused in recent years. Thanks to Jussie Smollett, Lori Laughlin and others, we got to see what social privilege looks like in the real world. 

Everyone in Chicago’s law enforcement community believes Jussie Smollett is guilty of a bias-crime hoax. And yet, Mr. Smollett had all charges dropped after his high-powered lawyers brokered a sweetheart deal behind closed doors. Reportedly, a former Obama administration official intervened on Mr. Smollett’s behalf. The judge immediately sealed the case so the truth can be hidden from the public. Regardless if you are white, black or purple, no working class or middle class person could have escaped justice so cleanly. 

Meanwhile, other rich and famous types got caught in an absurd scheme to get their children into elite colleges via bribes and lies. Certainly few people can afford to cheat on this scale. To be fair, these sorts of over-the-top actions (or ‘legal bribes’ like donating a building) are not the most damaging examples of privilege when it comes to college admissions. The entire SAT/ACT system has been corrupted both by wealthier parents and entities that profit off testing. 

Life is never going to be perfectly fair or equal. Some people are richer than others. Some are smarter. Others more attractive, more athletic or more charismatic. We cannot change that but we can demand a level playing field…and demand that people who corrupt the system are either incarcerated or discredited. 

Paul King