The Time for Equity is Now

Image+from+shrm.org.

Image from shrm.org.

Myles Gulrajani-Brown, Journalist

Let’s say you took the time to search up the definition of equity and equality, like many people you will most likely walk away thinking that both words are interchangeable. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Merriam-Webster defines equal as “of the same measure, quantity, amount, or number as another,” and equitable as “dealing fairly and equally with all concerned.” But just like the words systematic and systemic which also deals with race and class, the two words are unable to be used for the same thing. 

Equality is the core principle that everyone is given the same where equity on the other hand is about distributing resources based on the needs of the recipient. The role of equity in society is to make sure everyone succeeds. It’s also a way to ensure that failure is almost attributed to the individual,says Michigan State student Kevin Nguyen 

What equality fails to consider is the personal needs of someone, not everyone needs the exact same resources in order to succeed. Sometimes people need a little bit more support or help compared to others while there are also people who don’t need as much. Equity does not mean equal at all which I’ve definitely learned so it really comes down to what someone needs and how do we best support them in differing ways. I don’t think there’s a one size fits all.says Olympia High School’s principal Matt Grant. Society is happier and more joyful when everyone has their basic needs met. 

Recognizing the difference between equity and equality is vital to just about every sphere of life whether that’s politics, schools, public health, racial justice, and mental health to name just a few. To Olympia School Senior, Noah Jensen, equality is a public library with stairs out front, equal access to the building, equity is putting in a ramp for those with mobility issues, making it so everyone can come inside.Equity aims to level out the playing field, it gives every person exactly what they need, whether that’s more or less than the last person is left up to where they are in their lives at that moment. A perfect example of this is, let’s say, that the school district decides to give out 150 laptops to each school. Now while being technically equal, that isn’t taking into consideration that some of these schools could be located in high-end neighborhoods where the kids might already own laptops. A great alternative is for the school district to allocate the computers based on what schools need them the most, that way they can minimize the chance of hundreds of laptops collecting dust while one school doesn’t even have enough for everybody. 

In the end, equality is all about dividing the resources that we have in matching amounts, whereas equity focuses more on dividing those said resources proportionally to achieve a fair outcome for all people that are involved. Our world for the longest time has focused solely on equality when equity is what was sorely lacking. Right now there has been such a tremendous push for equity that the boulder will never stop rolling because it is and will always be a key component of disparities among vulnerable populations.