I love Anderson Cooper. I really do. I feel I need to get that out first. Okay, now that I got it out…the other day I was looking at the news feed on my phone and came across an article similar to this one:
According to the article, Anderson Cooper’s mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, who is currently worth a cool $200 million, told her son from a very young age that she was not going to leave him any of her wealth. Instead she encouraged him, from a very early age, to have a very good work ethic. And, it seems that Anderson Cooper did exactly that. It appears that Anderson embraced his mother’s belief and did not have any resentment about the idea of not inheriting great wealth. In fact, in the interview, Anderson Cooper stated that he believed that trust funds were “initiative suckers” and he wasn’t so sure that he would have been so motivated if he felt that there was some pot of gold waiting for him growing up. And, he has gone on to be a very successful man, sans the Vanderbilt trust fund.
Because I come from a mother that has an incredible work ethic and constantly talked to me about the need to work hard and be self-sufficient (there was no trust fund to even consider in our conversations :-)), my initial reaction to the story was, “wow, that’s pretty cool!” Anderson Cooper decided to make his own way in the world, sans trust fund. If there was the potential for a trust fund in my life, I honestly would be trying to encourage my mother to think long and hard about excluding me. Oh, don’t judge me, you would too!!!
As cool as this story was to me, in the back of my mind I kept thinking, while his mother is not going to leave him a trust fund, she has paved a path for him simply by being his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt. I can’t help but wonder if some of the doors that were opened to Anderson Cooper would have been opened if he weren’t born a Vanderbilt. It seems that he, because of his mother’s wealth, received the benefit of a stellar education and experiences that the average child simply never receives. According to biography.com , he attended the The Dalton School, a private college preparatory school in New York City, before going on to study journalism at the prestigious Yale University. Tuition today for The Dalton School is approximately $46,000 a year. I would venture to say that children that are fortunate enough to be educated are receiving opportunities and exposure that many children in the United States will never receive. And, as much as we want to act like that doesn’t matter, it does. There are advantages to being given opportunities and exposure, that is why many parent’s damn near kill themselves trying to give their children these things. Opportunities such as the ones that Anderson Cooper received, being born the son of Gloria Vanderbilt, put him on a path that separated him from the average kid in our society. So, of course the lack of a trust fund is no big deal to him.
Taking this thought process a step further, what about the presumption in favor of giving “Anderson Cooper” a chance when he entered the work force simply because he was Gloria Vanderbilt’s son. When he walked into an interview did the fact that he was Gloria Vanderbilt’s son make folks listen a little more intently? I bet it did. Or, did he even have to go through the grueling interview process before beginning a job? I wonder.
Of course, once the door to opportunity was opened to him, I am sure he had to work hard to prove himself. And, I bet there were many times that he had to go above and beyond so that he didn’t feel as though people were applauding him because of who he was rather than recognizing his true talent. Which is why I say Anderson Cooper should be the “poster boy” for Affirmative Action. Affirmative Action is nothing more than laws put in place to give a group of people a chance to shine. It does not give you an advantage if you are unable to perform. It is simply meant to open doors and opportunities. It is up to the recipient to stay there. Isn’t that what growing up Gloria Vanderbilt’s son did for Anderson Cooper?
Oh, I forgot to mention that Anderson Cooper is worth a cool $100 million himself!