Letter to the Editor: Equality unites us while equity divides us

Monday, January 17, 2022

To the Editor:

As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, we need to remember that he fought for equality of opportunity, not equity of outcome.

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs."

One of these ideas comes from Dr. King, the other from Karl Marx. Which is which?

Equality unites people by providing equal access to educational resources and empowering everyone with the tools to succeed, but achievement requires students to put in the work.

Equity divides people into oppressed or oppressor castes, adjusts standards up or down caste by caste, and allocates resources unequally in an attempt to engineer equivalent demographic outcomes -- irrespective of individual differences in aptitude or work ethic.

In the fake world of the baseball cartoon, there's unlimited potential for everyone to see the game over the wall if we hand out boxes only to shorter statured people. In the real world, there are limited places for people in the ballpark and limited boxes to stand on. Having one's box taken and given to someone else could impede even an excellent student's potential.

Likewise, job openings, university admission slots, etc. are finite rather than infinite. An equity perspective postulates -- offensively -- that Black people cannot compete on an equal footing, and adjusts standards to where an Asian candidate's 3.5 GPA generates the same admission score as a Black candidate's 3.0 GPA.

Dr. King would bristle at the racist notion that Black people require lowered standards to succeed when they are just as capable as everyone else. We should bristle at the same notion.

Choose equality. Reject equity.

Dan Adams


Anonymous,  January 18, 2022 at 4:28 PM  

thoughtful argument - I err on the side of a little "equity" if needed in order to atone for the years of "black codes", "jim crow" etc and all the ways white society made sure blacks were always "lesser than". I had a pretty good education, but still had no idea the insidious ways that this population was kept down. I want the most qualified hired for the job, but I want the "old boy" network upended - check out how many supreme court justices came out of one prep school.

Unknown January 18, 2022 at 6:37 PM  

I don't think that "lowered standards" needed "to succeed" is the point of an equity perspective. It reflects the truth that "Black People" have not had an equal opportunity from birth on! Job openings, university admission slots, etc. ARE finite and it is time that those with less societal, political, and economic support/power up until adulthood be given a break to prove that "the content of their character" is equal to others with better opportunities from birth on. I am fine with my white children getting passed over in these situations since they have INFINITE opportunities to be accepted in educational and employment situations, whereas POC do not.

Dr A January 19, 2022 at 12:23 PM  

The same argument about “lowered standards” has been trotted out for decades. Some people are still nervous they’ll lose something if systemic injustices are dealt with through equitable treatment of different peoples' needs. Here is MLK Jr.'s own daughter, Dr. Bernice King, speaking about equity vs equality (7:20' in): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJKj1HB_ZxI

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