Approximately two months ago, we began the process to change the name of our group to The Equity Coalition. We are the same group that has stood by you all at protests and rallies, labored with you on projects, and worked with you towards a more just society, but we have decided to change our name, and wish to present the rationale for that change.
The choice to change from Equality to Equity was inspired by this comic :
(Image source: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/94/b9/cf/94b9cff6e57f8bff9db127a2114ce404.jpg)
Within that image we saw the artist make a very powerful statement about both our society and the common mistake people make when pursuing justice. Though it is true that in an ideal and just society all people would have equal access to rights, resources, and opportunities, the nature of the unjust world as it is means that prematurely pushing the ethic of equality can do more to perpetuate injustice than fight it.
The most direct cause of this comes from the fact that different groups can be more at risk than others and therefore their needs can be greater. The overall suicide rate in the US, for instance, is 13.26 per 100,000 people, but the suicide rated for transgender individuals is 32%-50%. Where all suicide deserves attention, and there needs to be prevention efforts aimed at all groups, the increased rates among trans individuals necessitates extra attention, and a strict ethic of equality in application of time and resources would cost lives. When inequality exists, equity is the more effective solution.
In addition, there are times when adherence to equality can serve to promote inequality. When people claim that they don’t see race, for instance, the intent is to extol some high ideal of equality, but the effect is that they end up ignoring and invalidating the inequalities and injustice that actually exist in the current world. People who refuse to check their privilege in discussions of inequalities do so because they want their voices to be on an equal ground with those affected by the inequality, but the result is they often end up hijacking the discussion, putting their needs above the group they are claiming to want to help. More disturbing is when the concept of equality has been directly co-opted with the intent of perpetuating an injustice that serves them, such as when the cry of “All lives matter” is used to silence the very real and very important message of “Black Lives Matter.”
It is for these reasons we felt that “The Equity Coalition” better reflects who we are. We understand that those of greatest risk need to have the most attention. We understand that privilege is real, represented in varying levels among our varying members, and that we will need to check it to make sure everyone’s voices are heard. We understand that justice cannot be achieved by forcing equal responses onto a world where people are not allowed to start from a place of equality, but rather can only truly be achieved when people are given according to their need while accepting that those needs will differ.