Suzy Lee Weiss and her White Privilege

Suzy Lee Weiss is another White woman who doesn’t understand her White privilege. Though her article, featured in the Wall Street Journal, was well written, it was also very distasteful. Weiss is upset that she wasn’t accepted to any of the Ivy League institutions that she applied to, after having a high GPA, high SAT scores and extracurricular activities. Regarding ways to be considered diverse by colleges, Weiss writes, “had I known two years ago what I know now, I would have gladly worn a headdress to school. Show me to any closet, and I would’ve happily come out of it.” She automatically discredits anyone who has worn a headdress because of religious affiliation and who “come out” as homosexual, and worst of all she suggests that they’ve done these things for a leg up in college admissions. More sickening, on the Today Show, Weiss says, “diversity is a wonderful thing.” If she actually had an appreciation for diversity she wouldn’t have marginalized already marginalized and “different” groups and claim that she’s satirical. Weiss clearly doesn’t have respect for others’ differences.

Weiss states, “In this day and age, we’re being judged by things we can’t control…” implying that she had a rough life and one that she cannot control. Suzy Lee Weiss appears to be in a better position financially and academically, that is, compared to the majority of high school students in the country. What she fails to see, is that she is indeed in this better position because of “things that she couldn’t control.” Weiss couldn’t control what family she was born into, but she was born into privilege that she carries around every day and worse, without notice. She’s selfish because she’s not satisfied with her privilege, and she’s not grateful for the things that she does have. Rather, she is complaining about the little that she doesn’t.

As an educator, I can’t help but question how many teachers there are who don’t understand their (White) privilege, and who don’t respect or understand the differences of their students. I’m worried, especially, as an urban educator, that some of these teachers are teaching our urban students and are, too, exercising their White privilege, because frankly, one who does not step outside of their privileges cannot help others understand uncontrollable disadvantages of others. For example, White teachers who refuse to be innovative and do not use multicultural education to teach urban students are deemed ineffective and are not accepting or understanding of the differences of their students and in turn exercise their White privilege and dominance as teachers. I don’t blame Suzy Lee Weiss or White teachers for not understanding their White privilege, but I believe that it is their duty to try. to understand the differences of others, especially if they will be interacting with people who are different from them, which they most likely will.

Ultimately, Suzy Lee Weiss wins the battle because she was privileged enough to have a sister who was formerly employed at the Wall Street Journal. That connection—we can even go as far as saying, privilege—was the key factor in getting her op-ed piece published, not her GPA, not her SAT scores, not her extracurricular activities, not her talents. Weiss received the publicity that she wanted and at the same time, it seems like, she was recently accepted to colleges that once rejected her. The old cliché rings true—any publicity is good publicity. I just hope that one day Suzy Lee Weiss comes to the realization that there are other people out in this world who legitimately have different experiences than her, and that she doesn’t deserve or automatically earn everything that she wants simply because she’s privileged.

About Edmund Adjapong

Edmund Adjapong, a native of the Bronx, NY, is a student at Teachers College, Columbia University. He is currently pursuing a Masters of Science in Science Education and received a Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry with a minor in Africana Studies from The State University of New York at Plattsburgh. Edmund believes every student learns differently. He also believes that engaging young men with media–despite its unconventional method–is an effective way to educate. Edmund enjoys working with and mentoring youth, especially young men of color, as they are our future. He fell in love with Hip-Hop after memorizing Puff Daddy's song "All about the Benjamins," in the third grade. Following the completion of his masters degree, Edmund plans on teaching science in a New York City public school and pursuing his Doctorate of Philosophy in Science Education. His ultimate goal is to become a science educator and researcher. This blog is a reflection of Edmund’s thoughts during his journey toward a terminal degree. For more information about Edmund Adjapong please feel free to contact him at: E.adjapong@gmail.com
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