“Equal” Policies Are Not Always Fair
Equality is giving everyone a shoe. Equity is giving everyone a shoe that fits.
– Naheed Dosani
We often use the terms equality and equity interchangeably, and while they are related, they are not at all the same. The difference is critical to understanding how conversations about equality can lack inclusivity and disregard issues of fairness. For instance, consider recent discussions about the policing of black lives and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. The problem with the debate is that many folks have conflated equality and equity by claiming that the slogan should be changed to “All Lives Matter,” with the idea that under the rule of law, all people deserve security of the person and justice. Of course this is true. But to focus on “equality” takes the spotlight away from the Black community, a historically marginalized group that faces additional barriers to accessing justice. Emphasizing the significance of Black lives is crucial to acknowledging how Black people have not been treated equally under “the law” and in the criminal justice system.
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Unpacking Equity is a collaboration between the Public Policy and Governance Review and the Equity, Diversity and Public Policy Initiative at the School of Public Policy and Governance. This series aims to explain equity-related policy issues and break down complicated topics involving equity, diversity and inclusion. Policy professionals can gain a better understanding of these complex issues in order to incorporate an equity lens into their practice.