A recent study by the Ford Foundation is stirring controversy over its claims that thousands of albinos are taking advantage of white privilege, resulting in undeserved wealth, status and influence for individuals lacking in melanin.
The study followed nearly 1000 people with low levels of natural pigment, and compared them to non-albino peers. In almost every case, those with albinism report having better jobs and a higher level of satisfaction with their life. Many also report being giving promotions and huge pay raises without even having to put in more time and effort at work.
In one typical case, “Carlos,” an albino immigrant from El Salvador, reported sneaking into the U.S. and getting hired as a dishwasher at a Texas diner. The next day, he was promoted to general manager, and he was given a company car, leaving the other 30 employees furious.
“Sad as it is, we’re not surprised,” said Ruth Palmer, a Yale professor of race studies. “For a long time, we’ve known that white people have fun, easy lives full of privilege, so it’s no wonder that albinos get extra-special treatment at the expense of everyone else.”
One melanin-deficient woman called “Rose” said that in high school, she was surprised to find herself named valedictorian, considering that she spent her entire senior year skipping classes to smoke pot. Still, she graduated with honors and was accepted to Stanford Law School even though she had never applied, nor obtained an undergraduate degree. Weeks later, she was hired at Anderson & Ampersand, a top Washington law firm, where she is expected to be named partner — despite the fact she’s become addicted to Oxycontin and is living 1500 miles away at a homeless shelter in Wyoming.
In another case, a 24-year-old Vietnamese albino named “Michael” drunkenly crashed into a Boston police station, injuring three officers and causing $100,000 of damage. But rather than face charges, Michael was honored by the police chief for remaining conscious long enough to tell paramedics his name. A year later, Michael was again in the news after being arrested for trying to use a stolen credit card. But upon seeing the whiteness of Michael’s face, the district attorney declined to prosecute, saying there was “just something so innocent about that ivory-skinned youth.”
Albinos taking advantage of white privilege can also be found in politics. Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, an albino of Native American origin, has been given many opportunities in life thanks to her light skin, critics say, and many observers predict that she will be elected as president in 2020 even if she chooses not to run.
The only places where white privilege works against individuals with albinism are colleges and universities, according to the study. The University of California at Berkeley, for example, has an unofficial policy that albino professors must be credited with twice as many publications to be offered tenure. Albino students at Oberlin regularly face harsh censure from student groups, being blamed for global problems such such as changing weather patterns and conflict in the Middle East. And Notre Dame has recently announced it will be offering a course called “Inequality and Violence: Shall We Just Go Ahead and Blame Albinos?”