Fed-up freshman’s ‘white privilege’ essay goes viral: ‘I apologize for nothing’

Tal Fortgang Princeton

Photo credit: The College Fix

A freshman at Princeton University wrote an epic rebuttal to the numerous occasions that he’s been told to “check your privilege.”

Tal Fortgang has been at the Ivy League school for only eight months, but has already grown weary of the social justice campaign that assumes he’s there because he’s a white male.

Fortgang posted his story on “The Princeton Tory,” a blogsite touted as “a journal of conservative and moderate thought,” where he explained that some opinions are disregarded merely because of the person voicing them.

“’Check your privilege,’ the saying goes, and I have been reprimanded by it several times this year,” he wrote. “’Check your privilege,’ they tell me in a command that teeters between an imposition to actually explore how I got where I am, and a reminder that I ought to feel personally apologetic because white males seem to pull most of the strings in the world.”

While the student says he does not accuse anyone of “overt racism,” he condemns the fact that everything he has accomplished is diminished because they judge him as having been raised in a privileged family.

Fortgang provides a lengthy explanation of the adversity that his “privileged” family had to endure to get to where he is now. Of his grandfather he wrote:

Perhaps it’s the privilege my grandfather and his brother had to flee their home as teenagers when the Nazis invaded Poland, leaving their mother and five younger siblings behind, running and running until they reached a Displaced Persons camp in Siberia, where they would do years of hard labor in the bitter cold until World War II ended. Maybe it was the privilege my grandfather had of taking on the local Rabbi’s work in that DP camp, telling him that the spiritual leader shouldn’t do hard work, but should save his energy to pass Jewish tradition along to those who might survive. Perhaps it was the privilege my great-grandmother and those five great-aunts and uncles I never knew had of being shot into an open grave outside their hometown. Maybe that’s my privilege.

He continued with his grandmother’s story:

Or maybe it’s the privilege my grandmother had of spending weeks upon weeks on a death march through Polish forests in subzero temperatures, one of just a handful to survive, only to be put in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where she would have died but for the Allied forces who liberated her and helped her regain her health when her weight dwindled to barely 80 pounds.

Fortgang said his privilege is derived from “those two resilient individuals came to America with no money and no English, obtained citizenship, learned the language and met each other.” They would raise four children, including his father, and send them to City College.

He wrote this of his father’s struggles:

Perhaps it was my privilege that my own father worked hard enough in City College to earn a spot at a top graduate school, got a good job, and for 25 years got up well before the crack of dawn, sacrificing precious time he wanted to spend with those he valued most—his wife and kids—to earn that living. I can say with certainty there was no legacy involved in any of his accomplishments. The wicker business just isn’t that influential. Now would you say that we’ve been really privileged? That our success has been gift-wrapped?

“I have checked my privilege. And I apologize for nothing,” Fortgang concluded.

Read the essay in its entirety here.

H/T: The College Fix

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Cheryl Carpenter Klimek

Cheryl Carpenter Klimek

Cheryl Carpenter Klimek has been a political consultant handling public affairs, political campaigns and PAC management for nearly 20 years.
Cheryl Carpenter Klimek


435 thoughts on “Fed-up freshman’s ‘white privilege’ essay goes viral: ‘I apologize for nothing’

  1. 1catfish says:

    No matter how much formal education you may have, your education will not start until you go to work. Most will have a rude awakening.

  2. Gloria Hayes says:

    A man plants an apple tree in the sunshine; he carries water to it everyday, he fertilizes and prunes it year after year, and another man watches him do it, lying in the shade. Years go by; the apple bears fruit, and the man reaps the rewards of his labor. He picks the apples and the other man lies in the shade and watches. He goes to his home he built with his own two hands, and bakes a pie, and notices the other man lying out in the yard under another shade tree while the pie bakes. When the pie is set on the windowsill to cool, the man finally gets up from the shade and comes over and says “I want some of your pie”. The man tells him ” I will give you some, even though you haven’t earned it”. The man’s wife and children enjoy the pie that night, while the other man complains because he didn’t get the first slice and is made to wait. After dinner, the man remembers his obligation he agreed to , and takes the other man what is left of the pie, which is a small slice. The other man starts yelling” WHAT IS THIS? You bring me what’s left, and you get the best? You are unfair, you despise me, you are selfish, looking out for your own and giving them the best ,instead of taking care of me!” SO… what should the man answer?” Because I am privileged to have an apple tree on my land, I enjoy the fruits thereof?” NO !!! The man should tell him ” If you waned big fat apple pies all for yourself, you should have been out there planting and caring for your own apple trees! Be glad I give you ANYTHING ”
    Now, if the man happens to be white and the other man black, is that racism? or white prejudice? NO ! If blacks want more of the pie, let them work for it, instead of standing around with their hand out !

  3. Bill says:

    I spent 20 years doing Power Station maintenance, got tired of hearing how I was making too much money. Other than my coworkers I truly have met not a single person who admitted that they would do my job. These people sat on their ass in a nice climate controlled office while I was in coal bunkers, or in 155 degree heat working next to a running boiler 200 ft high. Any idea how many pounds of steam it takes to generate 650 Mega Watts of electricity? It was very hot or very cold and extreme height, occasionally 550 ft in a one man staging hanging from a 1/4 in cable. I new work as an engineer not because of privilege but because after I put my daughter through the best schools I could afford to allow her to become a nurse that someday these sissified morons can berate her for arriving 5 minutes after the call button was pushed because she was holding the hand of the person in the next room while they were dying with no family to comfort them. I don’t apologize for paying my house off in 15 years either because I’m 61 now and I have had a real job paying real taxes since I was 14 and I earned every dime I have. The only legacy I have from my grandparents and parents is that you have to work for what you want. In addition to working everyday of his life my father also spent almost 4 years in the Pacific rolling back the Japanese invasion forces in the island hopping campaign that finally ended in August 6th and 9th. I make no apologies for those two bombs either, they saved millions of lives.

  4. Matt Cyprian says:

    Debunked in 3 words: Johnny Depp Tonto

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