Explaining life's injustices to my daughter has been one of the most challenging things I've had to deal with as a parent. From the time my daughter was in elementary school, her outbursts of "That's not fair!"continue to resonate to this day. I can only hope that I won't be around when any future grand children don't get into the college of his/her choice. In high school, my daughter, now 23, spent weekends studying for her AP classes, while baby sitting on Saturday nights, when she wasn't tutoring some of her friends and neighbors or making color coded flash cards. She put blood, sweat and tears into each of her applications and applied to half a dozen reach schools. After all, she was taking 4 AP classes, had a 4.0 average, and did a bunch of extra-curriculars- alas, she didn't do Habitat for Humanity in Kenya, or live by herself in the forest for a week, or lead an Upward Bound group by herself, or, or, whatever! To try and defend any of this is meaningless, because in the end, it wasn't fair.
The day came when she would hear from the private colleges she had applied to. She spent the two previous days in Joshua Tree, so she wouldn't have to think about her impending fate. Upon returning home with several of her friends, she sat down at her laptop, and started to open her email. The first rejection put her on the waiting list. Her face fell. The second rejection put her again on another waiting list. He face fell even more. One by one, 6 of them in all, placed her on the waiting list. By the time #6 came around, she was in tears, though I knew she was desperately trying to keep it together in front of her friends. Though it didn't matter; they had all known her since childhood, and of all her friends, she had reached the highest.
Finding out which of her other friends go into those same colleges was sheer torture. "What? I get way better grades than he does. That's so unfair!" How did I explain to her?
White girls, unless they're loaded, and did do Habitat for Humanity in Kenya had a way better chance of getting into Brown. Boys also had a better chance of getting into those colleges because, well, there are just not as many white boys applying to college. That's what it came down to, essentially. That was the only truth I could come up with, though she figured it out herself. And on and on. There are a million stories like this, and in the end, she ended up at Berkeley, which turned out to be the amazing college experience anyone could ask for. Has she figured out that life isn't fair, yet? I hope so.