How to Support a More Equal Society
With political division and the fight for racial and gender equality taking center stage, millions of people are starting to take a more active role in fighting for equality. There are protests in the streets and protests over police brutality. In addition, there are new educational resources on the fight for trans-inclusionary healthcare. Countless people are striving for a more diverse, inclusive, and equal society.
Since education is one of the biggest tools in the fight for equality, sometimes we must start at the beginning. We can all fight with our extended family about politics until the cows come home. However, truly changing people’s minds involves having a calm, clear dialogue about why these things are important to us and why they matter. Before we can convince people of the need for equality initiatives, sometimes we need to answer some basic questions. What does equality mean? Why is it important? What can we do today, in our day-to-day lives, to build the kind of world we want to live in?
What Does Equality Mean? Why Do We Need It?
Sometimes arguments arise because two people can’t agree on the basics. For example, to some people the concept of white privilege might mean that white people don’t have to worry about many of the things that black people do. This includes being more likely to be killed by the police or discriminated against when applying for a job. These folks may view white privilege as something that must be acknowledged in order to correct it and make our society more equal. Others, however, may think that white privilege means that white people should feel guilty for being white. Therefore, the word “white privilege” becomes a trigger word for some. This causes misunderstandings and prevents a constructive dialogue between the two groups.
Meaning and Misunderstandings
The word equality can have similar misunderstandings. Some people view it as an ideal that we should pursue for the betterment of our society. Others may view it as a more inflammatory idea that will lead to higher taxes and less personal freedom. We must answer the question of “what does equality mean” in a clear and honest way. We can then begin to build a dialogue.
So what does equality mean? Equality is about making sure that every individual has the same opportunity to live their life to the fullest. Certain factors outside of our control may present obstacles to the pursuance of our goals. This includes those with physical disability. It also includes those growing up in an area with less access to the resources needed to thrive in school. Equality seeks to clear these obstacles to give everyone a chance to succeed regardless of their race, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
Equality does not mean preventing one person from succeeding in order to help someone else. The idea that equality is a zero-sum game in which one person wins and another loses is a false narrative. The reality is that when we pursue the ideals of equality, diversity, and inclusivity, everyone wins. If life were a race, equality would not be about everyone crossing the finish line at exactly the same time. It would be about making sure that we all start from the same place.
What Does Equality Look Like?
Now that we’ve answered the question of what it means, it’s time to look at putting equality into action. Some examples of equality are obvious. Give all races and genders the equal right to vote. Pass an equal rights amendment that guarantees equal legal rights for all citizens regardless of sex. However, other examples of equality are less clear because they’re aimed at tackling the insidiousness of systemic racism and discrimination.
How do you give everyone an equal opportunity to go to college? There are so many factors that play into it that no single change can truly level the playing field. We must look at the statistics and examine the obstacles that are getting in the way of people pursuing higher education. You can begin to change the system to work for everyone. If access to public education is unequal based on where you live, funding our schools and providing every child with access to the resources they need are both excellent equality initiatives.
The high price tag of college often makes it impossible for low-income families to afford it. Why not establish affordable community colleges and funding scholarships for low-income students? This helps ensure that money does not get in the way of going to college. The answer to solving inequalities is something that we can debate and have different viewpoints on. However, agreeing that these inequalities exist and understanding the importance of fixing them is vital.
How Diversity And Equality Interact
When answering the question of “what does equality mean”, we must also look at the concept of diversity. Equality and diversity go hand in hand, building off of each other for a better, more productive society. Diversity is the practice of including people from a range of different backgrounds, races, genders, and viewpoints. When we promote equal rights initiatives and give everyone the same opportunity, then we end up with diverse groups, businesses, and governments that represent everyone.
Equality And Diversity In The Workplace And Community
Why are diversity and equality so important? There’s no shortage of reasons why these are two ideals that are vital to success, whether you’re looking at a think tank of a tech company or the United States Congress. We can only go off of our own experiences to make decisions. We must include people who belong to different communities than us. This allows us to begin to understand the experiences of those communities and the unique insight that they have.
For example, a group of all men might develop the employee benefits package for their company. They may miss out on things like adequate maternity leave or childcare benefits. When added, the business would likely attract more talented female candidates. Having more women in positions of power ensures that their needs are met and their voices are heard. It also furthers equality by clearing the path to success for future women.
Diversity is just as important in our community as it is in the workplace. We all want a community that not just tolerates us for who we are, but celebrates our unique qualities and encourages and validates us. Visibility is vital in the fight for equality. Something as small as seeing a couple of the same gender be visible members of the community can be enough to give a teenage boy the courage to come out. A little girl seeing the first female Vice President of the United States be inaugurated can show her that, if she puts her mind to it, there isn’t anything she can’t do. Sometimes a mindset of equality and inclusivity can play a huge role in overcoming the personal hurdles that tell us we won’t succeed.
Concrete Actions To Promote Equality And Diversity
What does equality mean to you? In your daily life, there are countless things you can do to promote equality and diversity. At home, you can ensure an equal split of household chores and childcare. You can educate yourself about microaggressions and unconscious bias, ensuring you treat everyone fairly and becoming comfortable calling out discrimination when you see it. You can watch movies and documentaries about different communities, learning about what it’s like to be someone you aren’t and teaching your children the importance of empathy.
At work, you can provide or request anti-bias training to ensure that discrimination has no place in your workplace. You can make an effort to interview diverse candidates and bring unique voices to your team. Providing your support for equal pay for your female coworkers can ensure that they’re not fighting alone. Even something as small as calling out sexual harassment when you see it or providing support for those affected by discriminatory attitudes can make a difference.
Small Steps Bring Success
Although it may seem tough to affect change at the highest level, small steps will get us there in the end. Give money to businesses that make it their mission to promote equality and withhold your support for businesses that act in opposition. Educate yourself about what candidates are doing to support equal rights initiatives and donate or use your vote to support them. Join protests, sign petitions, make posts on social media to educate your friends. Add your voice to causes that fight for a more diverse, inclusive, and equal world.
We can’t all be as influential as human rights activists such as Harvey Milk or Bayard Rustin. But we can each take small, concrete actions every day to promote equality and diversity within our lives. When we take the time to really ask ourselves, “what does equality mean and what am I willing to do to get it?”, then we’re taking the first steps towards change.