Abigail Fisher and the Me Generation

Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

(The Root) — Abigail Fisher is a puppet, nothing more than the latest Pinocchio to Edward Blum's Geppetto. She may be the vessel, but it is Blum who is the driving force of Fisher v. University of Texas — the current Supreme Court case that may lend the fatal blow to affirmative action for which staunch conservatives have longed. He recruited her through his legal defense fund group, Project on Fair Representation, which he's used to fight race-focused legislation for two decades now. The legal fees are reportedly paid through support of DonorsTrust, a group that has directed millions of dollars to the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity Foundation.

Together they're dressing up her bitterness at being rejected from her first-choice college as the need to stop "discrimination" in college admissions. That's a cute little tale, but in actuality all of this boils down to someone operating under the unfortunate assumption that just because you work for something, it is owed to you. Working hard toward a goal doesn't automatically mean you deserve to achieve it.

Nonetheless, while we wait to see how the Supreme Court does rule, there's growing evidence that the court can't really do away with affirmative action altogether. Maybe so, but that won't stop the Abigail Fishers of the world from going above and beyond to essentially enact revenge on others over feelings that they were wronged.


I'm not convinced that future incarnations of Fisher will have solely white faces, either.

I initially thought to chalk up Fisher's sense of entitlement as "mighty white," though I've increasingly seen this perspective among people in their 20s — my age group — regardless of their hue. Yes, white privilege undoubtedly plays out throughout Fisher's case, and I'm irritated by her lawsuit's implication that students at UT who look more like me are less deserving of admission than those that look like her (though they are apparently smarter and more well-rounded than she was). However, the more I thought about it, the more familiar her "me, me, me" outlook on life appeared.

It could be something as simple as your cousin thinking he deserves to be famous just because he has more than seven followers on Twitter and figured out how to upload a YouTube clip. Ditto for the opinion of a random blogger who thinks belaboring your opinions is synonymous with holding informed ones. Or someone as famous as Chris Brown feeling entitled to the world's forgiveness because he figures enough time has passed since his assault on Rihanna. Each is fueled by a desire for fame, success or acceptance and bolstered by the belief that simply because they want it, they deserve it.

Jean Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University, revealed findings from a study she conducted of 16,000 university students across the United States in 2006 that showed 30 percent were narcissistic in psychological tests, compared with 15 percent in 1982. Twenge said, in a 2011 speech, of this statistic, ''They are all 18- and 19-year-olds, so this is clearly a generational shift."


The trend was attributed to "permissive parenting, celebrity culture and the Internet." The result? Narcissists with an "inflated sense of self, [who] lacked empathy, were vain and materialistic and had an overblown sense of entitlement." Other studies (pdf) have found that "millennials are more likely to value money, image and fame over community, affiliation and self-acceptance."

Perhaps Fisher was emboldened by people — her parents, fellow self-involved peers surrounding her — to think that her outlook is all that matters. No attempts to see other people's perspectives, including that of the admissions officers at the University of Texas at Austin, who said regardless of her race she wouldn't have gotten in. All that mattered to her was, "I wanted this, I didn't get it, now others must pay."


Her vanity is disgusting, but it's becoming a pastime within my age group. Anyone who carries that entitled attitude with them through life is already losing — regardless of whether or not a few Supreme Court justices agree with you.

On the meaning of her study, Twenge noted in 2011 that she was concerned about a growing culture ''that seems to not just accept narcissism but finds it laudatory." The college students she spoke to weren't surprised about her findings, telling her, "We have to be this way because the world is more competitive." Twenge countered that the problem with such a pro-narcissism stance is that it "doesn't help you compete" and "blows up in your face eventually.''


One hopes so, anyway.

Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer and blogger. And a millennial. You can read more of his work on his site, The Cynical Ones. Follow him on Twitter.


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Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.

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