Arizona Congressman Ruben Gallego went to Harvard just like Jared Kushner did. As a Hispanic Latino, his path looked very different.
In an interview with Fox News last week, Senior Advisor to President Donald Trump Jared Kushner claimed that the President could not want Black people to "be more successful than they want to be successful." Of course, this ignited a fierce debate online about privilege, access, and racism. One Twitter thread, in particular, went viral for its clear dissection of White, upper-class privilege. Ruben Gallego, a Member of Congress for Arizona's 7th Congressional District, compared his path to Harvard with Kushner's. As a Hispanic Latino, he had several more hurdles to overcome than his White counterpart. His original tweet now has over 87,500 likes and has been shared more than 32,000 times.
WATCH: Jared Kushner implies many Black Americans do not “want to be successful.” pic.twitter.com/QolVpNFxPP— DNC War Room (@DNCWarRoom) October 26, 2020
Gallego's journey began during his freshman year of high school. "I realized that the only way college was gonna happen was I [first] had to do well on my exams," he wrote on the social media platform. "So I started buying used prep exam books and copying exams from the library." For this reason, he shared he was still close friends with his school librarian, Mrs. Conley. He also spoke about his part-time job "flipping burgers." During his breaks, he would take practice tests. Furthermore, he used the money he earned to pay for extracurriculars "that would look good on a college resume." He stated, "[I] even went to Greece on exchange."
The Congressman also pointed out how even just knowing someone who previously went to Harvard made a big difference in the application process. Given his situation, Gallego did what he could with the resources he had: "I looked up students in the student directory. I called anyone that had a Latino-sounding name and left messages. A few returned my calls and helped guide me to get ready to apply for college." He even gave a shout out to Gus, who helped him with his application. He spent the next year intensifying his practice exams, added more AP exams and extracurriculars to his schedule, and became Student Council President—all while continuing his after-school job.
Then, during his final year, it was finally time to send his application. Gallego used money orders to do it, and he thought he might have been the only one to do so. "[I used] a friend's computer to apply—thank you, Kobelt family—(and) figure out how to do estimated taxes [and] the FAFSA," he shared, further highlighting the various ways in which poor and non-White students experience discrimination. The interview process was just as difficult. The Congressman wrote, "[My] first interview was on the Northside of Chicago at 6: 30pm. My mom [worked until] 5 pm downtown [so] she [wouldn't have made] it back in time to drive [me]. I [left] school early take the bus to the CTA, [took the] blue line out, [then] another bus, [then walked] the last mile."
The biggest kicker was that his interviewer hadn’t ever had an applicant take public transportation to see her. She was surprised but kind enough to drop him off at the bus stop after the interview. Gallego's second interview wanted to meet in an area that had no access to public transportation, so his school gave him permission to meet the interviewer downtown in his office. Then, finally, he made it. "I also was lucky to have a supportive mom and sisters [who] encouraged me the whole way," he stated. "They did countless things to make it happen. Thank you, familia!" In contrast, Kushner literally just had to be White and rich. The Congressman affirmed, "His parents paid millions of dollars to get him there. So I won’t take lectures about who wants to succeed more from a man who couldn’t do it without money from his parents."
This how the 1% look at minorities. I was a classmate of Kushner let me tell you what I did to get into Harvard compared to what he did. Yes a thread. https://t.co/efjtTuhdbW— Ruben Gallego (@RubenGallego) October 26, 2020