This archived article was written by: Kelshaw Alexander Jr.
Throughout my life I have heard the word equality a few times. Whether it was from minorities in the community or workplace, children in the classroom or within sports. One day my friend sent me a picture and the caption stated “Equity vs Equality,” and it had two pictures side by side demonstrating what they meant.
On the side for equality, a man, a boy and toddler are trying to see over a tall fence to watch a baseball game, and they were all given the same size box to stand on. As you would expect, they were all different heights therefore only the man and the boy were able to see over the fence. Since they were given the same box, the toddler was left with the unfair view. On the other side of the picture, which demonstrated equity, the same man, boy and toddler were used. This time the man was not given a box because he was already taller than the fence and the boy was given one box. The toddle was given two boxes, for obvious reasons. Suddenly, everyone was able to view the game comfortably, providing fairness and impartiality.
After seeing this, I was blown away because for a long time all I heard was “we need equality, we need equality.” In reality, it was equity we needed all along. Not equity as in company shares as we would normally think, but equity in the sense of fairness and impartiality. Equity is seen as giving everyone what they need to be successful, while equality is about treating everyone the same. I strongly agree on the side of equity because it understands that everyone is different. For example, there are children with different learning styles and in the community everyone has different abilities. Equality is not necessarily a bad thing but it assumes that everyone is the same or started from the same place.
This is the disadvantage of using equality instead of equity when trying to level the playing field of society.
Keep in mind that this is just my opinion, and it is understandable if you were to disagree. But for me, it is a no brainer. For example, if you have a group of students with different learning styles, your aim is to help everyone fulfil their maximum potential. Would you just prepare lecture material for the entire class assuming that everyone has the same learning style? How would you react if you found out that some students are falling behind? Or would you prepare for the differences in learning styles, therefore, providing materials for visual and kinesthetic learners to reach all students?
My guess is, you would prepare for differences in learning styles in order to reach each student. This cannot be done through equality because equality states that we give or treat everyone the same, which as we see is not the best option because everyone is at different levels. So that leaves equity! Which is what we should all strive for if we intend to see an improvement in our society. The government should tax workers who are working minimum wage jobs for next to nothing, and tax the wealthy based on their income to compensate for the minimum wage workers.
So given my argument above, here is my question to you, what would you like to see more of, Equality or Equity?