Check Your Privilege: Griffin’s Story

Griffin Furlong lost his mother to leukemia when he was just 6 years old. Shortly after, he spent two years living in a homeless shelter with his father and brother. It wasn’t until the sixth grade that this family finally moved into a home, but money was scarce and they often went hungry.


Despite finding himself homeless again just a month ago, Griffin is graduating today as his high school’s valedictorian with an incredible 4.65 GPA. He plans to attend Florida State University to study civil engineering.


Griffin told reporters, “I try to accomplish everything I need to do. I know that I have everything to lose. So I just push myself. School is all I have, family is all I have. I am doing it all for me and what I have been through. I am doing it for my mom.”


What a remarkable example of a young person pushing himself to succeed in the face of tragedy and poverty! It is a reminder that skin color does not determine a person’s lot in life. We all have our own obstacles and opportunities that shape who we are as unique individuals.


Policies that sort based on skin color and treat people based on assumed need merely gloss over the surface and miss inspiring stories like this one.


No doubt this young man will one day hear that he is supposed to “check his privilege.” Hopefully his story will teach others about the pitfalls of making skin-deep judgments.


- Jennifer Gratz