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How To Create Equity In An Inequitable World

inclusion Oct 09, 2021
 

The trend to become more inclusive is infiltrating our society. Schools, communities, and businesses are being called on to urgently develop plans and programs to increase diversity and inclusion.  The biggest issue we all face is how do you increase inclusion when you have a society that has so many systemic hierarchies and bureaucracies that promote segregation, inequity, and supremacy? 

Recognize the World Is Not Equitable

There is no doubt that it is beyond difficult to create equity when the world is filled with so much inequity.  That might be why Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. titled his most memorable speech. “I have a Dream.” That speech was made in 1963, and even with all the laws instituted to bring about equity, it has largely remained a dream. One of the first things we all have to recognize is that inequity is an inherent part of life. People have no control over the DNA they inherit. Add to that the external influences and environments we are born into that are beyond our control, and it is safe to say, that nobody will ever be totally equal nor is the life always fair. Think about it....is that a burden or a blessing?

What would it be like if we all were created equal? Can you imagine what the world would be like if 7 billion people were exactly like you? We need to be careful what we wish for!

Instead, of trying to create equity wouldn’t it be better if we focused more on celebrating differences? This may be a hard concept to follow but stay with me. Inequity has two sides.

 There Are Two Sides To Inequity

When I had my son with multiple disabilities, it blew my mind. How could this have happened? Like many parents, I tried to cure him to no avail. I wanted him to be like other children, and when that did not happen, I was angry and had grave difficulties accepting it. My son probably would not go to college, own a house, drive a car, or be able to live independently. I had a dream for my child, but I had an insurmountable problem...life is not always fair and equitable. How would he gain equal access and opportunity when he was not able to obtain the skill or cognitive levels that were even remotely similar to others? I was at a loss!

 Instead of going to college when he graduated from high school, I helped him apply for government aide. He was accepted and began receiving medicaid. It wasn't fair nor was it exactly a dream anyone has for their life to be on welfare.

Early on, I began to realize that there was something wrong with my thinking and it had nothing to do with my son or his disabilities. My job as his parent was not to help him achieve MY dreams or make him equal to others. My job was to guide him toward his own dreams and to help him reach his greatest potential whatever that may be. 

When I let go of the burden of trying to achieve equity in areas I had little or no control to change, we both were able to celebrate our differences and began to turn inequity into something that empowered both of us.  Instead of fighting inequity we began to overcome it.

Which Side Are You Standing On? 

Letting go of the burden of trying to achieve equity does not mean I stopped advocating for my son or teaching him to advocate for himself. The other side of inequity places emphasis on the negative that can cause grave harm to people. Rather than celebrating differences there are people that accentuate them for the wrong reasons and dehumanize those they do not see as equal to them. They seem to thrive when they can take advantage of inequity and use it more to destroy rather than to empower people.  Some of this is due ignorance and misguided perceptions that have been so engrained in people that it becomes almost impossible to change. Like the DNA we inherit, we also cannot control people who do not want to change. We can educate, train, and make every effort to help people make progress toward celebrating differences in others, but what do you do with those who refuse to change? 

We are often forced  to resort to legal and other means in an effort to curb the heartless acts they resort to that dehumanize and twist inequity for their own benefit. There is undoubtedly a negative side to inequity, but we have to remember inequity has two sides....it can either be used to overcome and empower people or destroy them.  

When you think of people’s differences and inequities, are you more apt to celebrate them or condemn them? We know there is an inherent inequity and that life is not always fair.  How have you turned inequity in your own life into something that has empowered you and/or those around you? Share your thoughts and experiences below!

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