Lori Loughlin reignites my class prejudice

Charlie Lahud-Zahner


As a middle schooler, there were several ways for me to see what separated me from the privilege groups: a checklist of appearances, things for sale that I would not be able to buy and ideas that I knew I could not afford to hold.

One of the markers of relatively wealthy people was being able to think about college as a God-given right.

The recent college admission scandal that has famously implicated Lori Loughlin, more commonly known for her former “Full House” role as Aunt Becky, and Felicity Huffman, former star of “Desperate Housewives,” shows that college is truly seen as a right for those that can afford it.

Rich parents paying for fake SAT scores and fake athletic scholarships explicitly reveals that admission into college is not only about scholastic merit. The thousands of dollars Lori Loughlin paid to have her two daughters admitted to University of Southern California imply that college admission really is about money.

For me, the worst and most entertaining part of the scandal is that it reignites negative stereotypes I hold about “rich people” and the unequal balance of power between classes in American society.

Now I can say with the sweetest, rudest conviction that “oh my goodness, I knew it, rich people are as soft as pillows,” even if I know that stereotypes are always incomplete.

In the 6th grade, when I would complain to my dad about the splendor of my friend Michael’s house, how he had a garage, how he had a dishwasher, how appliances worked like they were supposed to. My father would infuse me with sentiments of class warfare so that I could survive my relative lack of privilege.

“You know you can’t compare yourself to them… you cannot win if you compare yourself to them… you must know you are a million times better than them.”

This enabled me to smile, laugh, and, most importantly, learn that people of privilege were financially superior but academically and morally inferior.

Of course, I also knew that stereotypes were an immature view of the whole class concept, but this mindset gave me real tools to combat the insecurity that my family was poor because we were lazy and stupid.

I have held this stereotypes and animosity close, because they have helped me stay confident.

However, despite any amount of confidence, I barely got into college.

I was only admitted to one school, Seattle Pacific University, (a school so Christian that I had reservations of even applying to) and, as told by my admissions advisor, most of the admissions officers didn’t want me.

But I got in.

My mom put the Seattle Pacific University sticker on her rear windshield and I now own several maroon and white “SPU Intramurals” shirts. I try to make it seem like I belong because I do not think that I even deserve to be here.

My grades are not only a reflection of the work and effort that I put into my classes, but also a reflection of feeling like an imposter in a space that clearly belongs to the children whose parents were able to give them a present upon being accepted to a university.

I cannot stifle a smile as I read about new developments surrounding the college admissions scandal. The worst that I think about privileged people seems to be proved with every new detail. The scandal brings truth to the narrative that rich people are morally bereft criminals who benefit from a capitalist system where they can buy everything from more legroom to a shorter prison sentence.

Pictures of Aunt Becky signing autographs before her court appearance remind me not to even think for a second that either Lori Loughlin or Felicity Huffman are going to jail. Just as Loughlin can afford to have her daughters admitted to college, she can afford to buy lawyers who will keep her out of prison.

The United States prison system has dictated, through the disproportionate incarceration of people of color, that imprisonment is not designed for rich white people. While an antagonistic war on drugs successfully demonized Brown and Black bodies, wealthy white folk such as Aunt Becky can afford not to pay the consequences of illegal activity.

Though some may argue that it is fair to compare the narratives I portray concerning wealthy, privileged Americans as equally damaging as the narratives those people construct for immigrants and the disenfranchised, they are not as powerful.

My stories, in their current iteration at least, do not count. That is, the lower class do not have the power to name anything, not even themselves.

While a white man in a white house has the authority to decide who an immigrant is and what his body means to America (rapist, criminal), the immigrant cannot call the white man a tyrant and have the name stick. Yes, he is a tyrant, but it is the immigrant’s children who die in detention centers.

So as I say “I knew it!,” as rich parents pay to rig the system and Lori Loughlin runs amok, I cannot name them as they can name me.