Kymone Freeman, # Black Lives Matter DC, was on Thom Hartmann’s show this morning; he was talking about equality and equity and the difference between them. He mentioned a cartoon that was a great visual of the difference. I found the cartoon and it does explain the difference.
I had previously thought equality and equity meant basically the same thing.
Equality means “giving everyone the same thing,” but that “only works if everyone starts from the same place.” Equity means giving everyone “access to the same opportunities. We must ensure equity before we can enjoy equality.”
We need equity and equality to shift and change the many forms of injustice that are prevalent in America’s society, business and governmental institutions, and the criminal justice system. The way Paul Croft puts it: “…treating people “the same” or “equally”, when people are not “the same” can result in discrimination.”
“The first picture, for example, shows an example of what might be described as formal equality: everyone is being treated “the same” (equally) as they are all standing on the same sized box.
But as the children in the cartoon are different in terms of height, treating them the same (“equally”), as the cartoon illustrates, results in discrimination against the smallest! The law describes this form of discrimination as indirect discrimination: a provision, criteria or practice (in this case the size of the boxes they are standing on) which applies equally to all (it’s the same size box), but puts someone (the smallest) at a particular disadvantage because of a characteristic they do not share with others (in this case smaller height).
When indirect discrimination is identified (as the cartoon does) the solution to solving or eliminating the discrimination does not lie in treating everyone the same (this has actually created the discrimination), but rather treating different people in different situations differently. In the cartoon the solution is to give different sized boxes to differently sized children to put them in the same situation to see the match (an equitable outcome!).
Formal equality is thereby transformed into substantive equality or equity, where it’s the outcome that becomes important, not the process (of providing same-size boxes).”