President Obama’s eldest daughter, Malia, has landed her first job, and some people, despite the fact that it doesn’t affect them in any way whatsoever, aren’t happy about it.
According to news reports, the 15-year-old rising first daughter recently worked for a day as a production assistant on the CBS sci-fi series Extant. The show features award-winning actress Halle Berry, who plays an astronaut who returns home pregnant (!) after a yearlong solo mission in space. Extant is produced by veteran director Steven Spielberg, who is a known and avid Obama supporter.
Certainly this is a dream come true for Malia, who turns 16 on July 4, given that her father mentioned her interest in filmmaking in a recent New Yorker article. An on-set insider told Hollywood trade blog TheWrap that the younger Obama’s duties for the day included helping with computer-shop alignments—whatever that means—and slating a take. The source also quoted Malia exclaiming about her experience, “My first time. This is a big deal!”
A first job is. Most of us weren’t as fortunate to start our careers in our dream field, even if our dreams weren’t as lofty as a production set helmed by one of the greatest directors of our time. Surely Dad pulled a string or two to get his eldest baby girl the hookup for that one. Malia’s job sounds like nepotism or cronyism, and that has made some folks mad.
“I don’t think that this young lady should have this position,” wrote one blog commenter, who added that as a mother and a business owner, she would not get her own kid a hookup. She reflected the general sentiment of naysayers when she added, “Parents with means have made it too easy for their kids. Thus, we have a whole population of spoiled little rich kids who feel entitled to have and do whatever they want!”
It’s inaccurate to assume that all the offspring of parents with “means” are spoiled and entitled, just as it is wrong to assume that all kids with less are hard workers. There are motivated, entitled and straight-up lazy people in both groups.
That said, I still don’t get this argument. Like, did you really expect the first daughter to work at McDonald’s for her first job, like most teenagers? And for all the folks crying about this hookup, you do realize that nepotism—i.e., taking care of your family, friends and inner circle first—is what every other community of folks does, right? (See presidential daughter Chelsea Clinton’s $600,000 job at NBC.) It’s to create generational and community wealth as well as to gain access and power, a concept that black folks as a whole don’t always seem to grasp, even as, as one of my friends put it, black folks stay stuck with “this work-twice-as-hard-to-get-half-as-far struggle we be on … ”
Too many folks who struggled to get somewhere want their children to do the same, and that’s not how folks who get ahead and stay ahead play to win. Why not offer your kid an alley-oop in life if you can? You do realize that everyone who can’t do so would if they were in your shoes, right? Everyone else who can does so that their kids can get one up on your child, the competition. Even you would take advantage of a hookup for a better shot if you could.
I’m curious: If you’re not working to build a legacy or to make sure that your children are better off than you, then what are you putting in the hours and the effort for? Just to do it and say you did?
If you’re not working to build a legacy or to make sure that your children are better off than you, then what are you putting in the hours and the effort for?
The common response from the anti-nepotism folks is something about how struggle and making your own way in the world builds character. Um, so do team sports. Enroll your kids in something that makes them sweat with others. Make other things hard.
But make getting connections and money as easy as possible so that your kid can make more of both and get further than you did. Trying to play fair in a game that is rigged against you will not get you a payout, as history and current conditions have shown.
Or, you know, don’t. Do it your way and continue to watch everyone else’s kids get ahead of our own.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life and the upcoming Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love. Follow her on Twitter.