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Help! I Think I’m Privileged!

By Mireya Sánchez-Maes, Contributing Opinion Writer
Mireya Sánchez-Maes ’24 is a joint concentrator in English and Theater, Dance, and Media in Currier House. Her column “Insect Insights” appears on alternate Wednesdays.

DEAR ABEE: I am writing today with a startling and troublesome revelation – I think that “privilege” may exist. Mostly, because everyone keeps telling me I have it.

For context, I am a European Paper Wasp who has recently inherited a top producing nest in an incredibly lucrative foraging district. While this technically makes me a “Queen,” I’m far too down to earth for such a title. “CEO” will do just fine. Because of this intergenerational wealth, I am guaranteed a prosperous life of feasting and socializing while my subordinates are forced to clean, prepare food, and perform dangerous manual labor.

This wealth also means I am the only Paper Wasp in my colony guaranteed reproductive success. Now, if you’re thinking, “Wait a minute. Wealth shouldn’t have any effect on your dating prospects!” Then clearly, you’ve never been to Harvard Business School. But don’t worry, once my children are born, I will leave the menial task of raising them to the peasants who work for me.

Still, despite my high status, the wasps in my colony find ways to chastise me for my position. They claim I “have it easier” than they do. They say my position as Queen has “nothing to do with my skills and abilities.” And most importantly, none of them live long enough to come to my soirees!

So my question is, does being the recipient of a long-line of intergenerational wealth really make you privileged?” – A SKEPTICAL “POLISTES DOMINULA”

DEAR SKEPTICAL “POLISTES DOMINULA”: I regret to inform you that inheriting a real-estate empire does, in fact, make you privileged. But despair not, for there are several actionable steps you can take to run a better colony! For example, don’t call your neighbors “peasants.” It’s very rude and makes you seem stuck up. I also recommend you take immediate action to improve the working conditions of your fellow wasps. If their life span is shorter than your soirees, then you’ve probably committed some intense human rights violations, or, whatever the equivalent is for European Paper Wasps.

I am also mildly concerned that you have transformed your colony into an oppressive oligarchical regime. You own the entire nest, correct? And unless you die, there are no opportunities for any of those wasps to earn their own status or wealth, right? Which means your peers are forever doomed to toil in egregious living conditions while all the power is concentrated in your sticky appendages? Yikes. Very bad public relations. I highly recommend you redistribute your wealth and abolish that noxious social hierarchy. – ABEE

DEAR ABEE: Wow! I had no idea that benefiting from the wealth of previous generations was enough to make you privileged. Thank you for that helpful feedback. But, if you really think about it, don’t privileged people have it the hardest right now? For example, anytime I accomplish something, I only get partial credit for it because all the other wasps think I was helped by “unearned advantages.” And I can’t talk about my real-estate empire, high social status, significantly longer life span, or upcoming spring break plans in Cancún without all the other wasps getting annoyed at me!

Being a recipient of multi-generational power also means that insects are constantly trying to criticize you for arbitrary things like “not paying living wages,” “committing tax evasion,” or “signing open letters questioning the results of sexual assault investigations.”

But most of all, there’s the issue of college applications. If I, a so-called “privileged European Paper Wasp,” decide to apply to Harvard, won’t it be way harder for me to get in? Now, it’s true that my wealth has given me access to private tutors, and admissions counselors, and test prep, and private school, and college visits, and music lessons, and sailing lessons, and Europe. And yes, my Dad is John Harvard. But does any of that really make a difference? – A SKEPTICAL “POLISTES DOMINULA”

DEAR SKEPTICAL “POLISTES DOMINULA”: Judging by the overwhelming amount of rich European Pottery Wasps at Harvard – yes. Your privilege does, in fact, give you a significant advantage in college admissions. And definitionally, this privilege makes your life easier, not harder.

Here’s what I recommend. Stop committing tax evasion. Pay your workers fairly. Support their unions. Stop bragging about your longer life span and reinvest your wealth in projects that will help your fellow wasps. – ABEE

DEAR ABEE: Hmm. “Pay your workers fairly?” Sounds like leftist propaganda to me. And I do support my workers’ right to unionize! You know, just as long as they don’t ask for anything. – A SKEPTICAL “POLISTES DOMINULA”

DEAR SKEPTICAL “POLISTES DOMINULA”: You scare me. — ABEE



Mireya Sánchez-Maes ’24 is a joint concentrator in English and Theater, Dance, and Media in Currier House. Her column “Insect Insights” appears on alternate Wednesdays.

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