What does equity mean?
Individuals often assume that it means being equal.
According to Merriam Webster's definition, equity means:
freedom from bias or favoritism; justice according to natural law or right.
Is treating everyone exactly the same fair? That seems right...But it is not.
Let's think about this in more detail...
By providing equal treatment we often erase differences and end up promoting privilege.
Both Equity and Equality are two strategies we can use in an effort to produce fairness among all.
Equity is giving everyone what they need to be successful.
Equality is treating everyone the same.
Privilege is when we make decisions that benefit enough people, but not all people.
Privilege is allowed to continue when we wrap it up with actions of equality. On the outside, everything appears fair, because how can we argue against equal treatment? When we unravel the equality blanket, we see that not everyone’s needs are met.
How do you think about privilege? Unpack your ideas about privilege....
Equality does not always elicit true fairness. We need to put in the extra work and give everyone what they need and that is Equity!
Take race or ethnicity for example.
Fairness between races or ethnicities doesn’t mean that everyone should become the same. The end goal is not for every race of ethnicity to reach a complete raceless state. It means that each race or ethnicity will be given the same opportunities to succeed despite their differences.
We need to recognize our differences as unique, rather than reach for one definition that will encompass all. Differences should not be divided into "norm" and "not the norm." As a society, it will be beneficial to pursue equity in all senses so as to ensure that everyone can meet their potential and be successful in society! That is Justice!
The first step to justice is being able to recognize it. Do you know the difference between equity and equality?
How did you do?
How can we achieve Equity and Justice?
Achieving equity involves an understanding that advantage or privilege exists alongside disadvantage. Both must be changed in the quest for social justice.
We don't always know how to move forward to achieve equity. The first step is having Awareness. Empower yourself and others to think about situations and people on a deeper level. What messages is the media sending about differences? How are people's differences treated around you? What biases may you hold? Don't be afraid to examine and feel these things.
Peggy McIntosh, a celebrated American feminist and anti-racist activist, wrote about male privilege in her influential essay White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack McIntosh talks about her own growing realization that as a White woman, she had “skin privilege and had been conditioned into oblivion about its existence.”
Watch the following short video of Peggy McIntosh:
Good luck in your development!