Currently, many people are talking about racial equality. I admit, that’s the term I’ve used when talking about racism and the hope of making substantial changes. However, I was wrong in thinking racial equality and equity were the same thing. There’s actually a tremendous difference between the two.
I’ve expounded upon an analogy (originally developed by Craig Froehle), which makes the difference crystal clear:
Picture the action at a major league baseball game, on a beautiful summer day. Outside the privacy fence, stand three boys. The tallest boy can easily see over the fence, and is enjoying watching the game. The boy of average height, can jump up and periodically catch a glimpse of the baseball action. However, the third boy is quite a bit shorter, and can’t see anything.
A neighbor sees the situation and decides to help – by giving them three step stools that are all the same height. However, there’s an obvious problem to this approach; they didn’t start with equal height.
The tallest boy already has what he needs. The other two boys appreciate the step stools, but they still can’t see over the fence. Even though they received equal provision, there’s still not equity; they don’t have the same view.
Equity would provide that all three boys had the same view of the game, regardless of where they started; their needs would be provided to the degree necessary for each one to enjoy the same view.
I still have a lot to learn, but I’m realizing how my well-meaning efforts for equality, could fall short of providing equity. I know that living wholeheartedly requires addressing one’s unmet needs, and gaining resources to see that they’re met. I now see that a better understanding of racial equity, is essential for addressing unmet needs – and living wholeheartedly.
(I’ll share more in my next blogs, as I continue to learn.)