I am a 50 (almost 51) year old woman and I am passionate about a lot of things, my family, the beach, good food and therefore working out, and equity. Notice I didn’t say equality.
There is a common misconception that equity and equality mean the same thing — and that they can be used interchangeably, especially when talking about how people live. Yes, when talking about race. And gender, and class, but today I want to focus on race. But the truth is they do not — and cannot. Yes, the two words are similar, but the difference between them is crucial. So please, don’t talk about equality when you really mean equity.
I mean I can see how there is confusion about the words. They sound alike, they even mean similar things, but they are NOT the same.
1) Both words point towards treating people the same, with dignity and as people who have a voice, power and choice.
2) Both terms point towards a desire for every person to reach their full potential, not only to survive, but to thrive.
3) Both terms seek to reach a place where race, age, socioeconomic status, gender, mobility, sexual orientation, religion, or other differences do not determine access to education, resources, or decide one’s level of inclusion or well-being.
However, the difference comes from the fact that we do not have a level playing field and everyone doesn’t start at the same place.
Equality says that everyone has the same access to education and food and resources and housing and they all start at the same place as every one else and that just isn’t true. This is where equity comes in.
Equity realizes that the systems of education, politics, health care, economics and power have been created in such a way that discrimination lives within them. In order to achieve equity, this systemic discrimination must be eradicated from the systems themselves.
Equality says that the rules of the game are the same for everyone.
Equity says that even if the rules of the game are the same for everyone, the game is “rigged” to provide some with more privilege at the expense of others.
Equality says that everyone has the right to vote.
Equity says that everyone should have the same access to vote. (distance to vote, be able to vote in their language of choice, hours of availability of the voting stations, etc)
Equality says we can eradicate racism by “doing no harm” based on race.
Equity says we can only eradicate racism by doing no harm AS WELL AS actively working for justice by BOTH refusing to reproduce harms AND actively working to dismantle the causes of racial inequality.
So when I hear people say (particularly on social media) that the world is equal and that everyone has the same opportunities they may be correct in using that word, but equality isn’t enough. We need EQUITY.
and here is a nice picture to explain it easily:
In the United States we do NOT have equity. Black males are incarcerated more than white males. We have had TWO more instances of black men being shot this week. Even if we aren’t sure about the man in Charlotte whether there was a weapon or not, in the case of Terence Crutcher even the Police Chief of Tulsa is saying there was no weapon. This man had his hands in the air.
Equity would mean that if it is okay to shoot a terrorist suspect in the arm and leg to “take him down” then the same would hold for an unarmed black man be shot in the leg to “take him down” if the police think he is not complying and needs to be stopped.
Equity would mean that if terrorists can be taken alive to face a trial and jury then so can a black person.
We don’t need equality. We NEED equity!