State Sen. Lena Taylor

If you are African-American and ever received the “speech” from your parents, you can recite it with your eyes closed. No, not that speech, the other one.

Life is not always fair and therefore you will have to fight hard to be treated equal. In order to get into many of these colleges, you have to work twice a hard and be twice as good, to get half as much. The deck is stacked, so bring your own cards.

Those cards included an exceptional grade point average (GPA), international baccalaureate classes, the right high school and a near perfect college entrance exam score. If those cards didn’t come naturally to you, there were other options. Hard work, more hard work, and “haven’t slept in days” hard work.

I used the latter option. It wasn’t that school was a struggle, life just kept getting in the way. Like many children of color, there are many factors that determine our journey. Who your parents are, who their parents were, where you live, and what you’ve had access to as a student play a role in the trajectory of your life. Whether you succeed or fail, there is no denying that your experiences shape you and the decisions you make.

So, I can only imagine the frustration of many students, who are watching the recent college admissions scandal unfold. Affluence, access, and opportunity surrounded most of the students whose parents sought to cheat the system, to give their children and unfair edge in the application process. Students of lesser socioeconomic means understood that they were up against factors beyond their control. But they showed up and competed anyway. They sit in classrooms and respond politely to questions about “which affirmative action program did you use to get admitted?”.

But no one talks about the affirmative action programs for wealthy, connected teens seeking admission to the nation’s ivy league colleges and universities. Legacy admissions, “my parent built a library for the college” admissions, well-resourced high schools admissions, and others are just some of the ways that rich families can tip the scales in favor of their children. Yet, this admission scandal has a different sting. The lengths that these parents were willing to go, to snatch opportunities from students with significantly less, is just despicable. It’s greed, entitlement and privilege. More importantly, it’s wrong. Now the question is, what are we going to do about it?