When assessing people’s achievements or situations, it’s crucial to consider the unique challenges they’ve faced. This could be related to race, ethnicity, socio-economic background, gender, disability, and many other factors. By considering these barriers, we can form a more comprehensive and fair understanding of their experiences and achievements.
For example, in education, this might mean recognizing that students from disadvantaged backgrounds might not have had the same access to resources as their peers. In a professional setting, it could mean acknowledging that systemic biases may have made it more difficult for certain employees to advance.
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This concept is at the heart of equity, which is not about treating everyone exactly the same way, but rather about giving everyone what they need to succeed. This sometimes means offering more support to those who have faced greater challenges. It’s an essential consideration for policymakers, educators, employers, and others in positions of influence.
This way of thinking also promotes empathy and understanding, leading to a more inclusive society where everyone’s experiences and contributions are valued. It’s crucial in many areas of life, from social policy to workplace culture, education, and beyond.
In the grand theatre of life, not all roles are assigned fairly. For those who are marginalised, disadvantaged, or unwelcome migrants, the narrative can be particularly challenging. In these communities, the stage is often set against a backdrop of struggle, rendering the promise of equality moot.
Minorities, whether defined by race, ethnicity, religion, or immigration status, frequently face systemic hurdles. These barriers often stem from long-standing social norms, prejudices, and institutional biases, limiting opportunities and contributing to a cycle of poverty and disadvantage. As a result, their potential often remains untapped, their voices unheard, and their contributions unappreciated.
The concept of equity should not be mistaken for equality. While equality refers to treating everyone the same regardless of their individual circumstances, equity involves recognizing and acknowledging the unique challenges that different individuals face and providing them with the necessary support to level the playing field.
It is essential to understand that many individuals from these marginalised communities have to run the race of life with weights tied to their ankles. These weights could be a lack of access to quality education, socio-economic constraints, or discriminatory laws and policies that favour certain demographic groups over others. They are expected to keep pace with individuals who are not similarly burdened. When they inevitably fall behind, they are often wrongly labelled as ‘lazy,’ ‘incompetent,’ or ‘unwilling to integrate.’
This perspective ignores the systemic and individual barriers these individuals confront. It obscures the reality of their struggles and places the blame on the victims of an inherently unfair system. By focusing on the effect rather than the cause, we perpetuate these inequities and fail those who need our support the most.
Instead, society must strive for an equity-centric approach. This involves creating policies and environments that understand, acknowledge, and actively work to remove the barriers that these communities face. This may involve implementing policies that provide additional support to disadvantaged students, promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and advocating for immigration reforms that treat migrants with fairness and dignity.
To promote equity, we also need to value the lived experiences and voices of marginalised individuals. By listening to their stories, society can gain a fuller understanding of the challenges they face and work towards more effective solutions.
Every person, regardless of their background or circumstances, deserves the opportunity to fulfil their potential. By recognizing and addressing the unique challenges faced by marginalised communities, we can move towards a society that champions equity and justice for all.
By: EDWARD HOLLOWAY
Originally published at citi.io