I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Today as the nation recognizes the positive changes that Martin Luther King Jr. worked so hard to achieve; we must reflect on where our nation currently sits on the spectrum of equity. Equality and equity are different concepts that many seem not to understand. Equality is being given an opportunity, but equity is recognizing that not everyone is starting at the same point. Institutional and structural racism are ingrained in policy and practices against certain groups and hinder their full development. Remember, when our nation was established women were considered property, Africans and their descendants (African Americans) were enslaved and the indigenous population was perceived to be savages with no culture or systems in place. We know that as a society we have seen an increase in opportunity for everyone, but it has been much slower for some. If we look at women in the workplace, we find a prime example of equality versus equity.
There are more women in the workforce than ever before, and they are highly educated but continue to earn less than their male peers. In 2016 the Huffpost reported that 73 million women participate in the workforce, which is more than half of the working population (Stalsburg, B. 2016). The American Association of University Women (AAUW) reports that Asian women make an average of 90¢ on the dollar, African American women earn 62¢, Caucasian women earn 79¢ and Hispanic women earn 54 ¢ when compared to the earnings of a Caucasian male $1.00 (Vagins, D. 2020). At the current rate we are going it won’t be until 2059 when women will be pay equally to their male counterparts. Not only do women work outside the home but we come home and do a second shift, which consist of cooking, cleaning, preparing the kids for school the next day, etc. We also find that women are currently experiencing being part of the sandwich generation, which are those that have children at home but also have elderly parents living with them that need care. The sandwich generation are women in the 40-60s, and many are still actively engaged in the workforce, outside of their home. One of Kings emphasis was on economic justice, but we see from the data provided above we are still struggling with the issue of equity regarding earnings. Let’s switch gears and see how minorities are faring in our current climate in America.
Did you know that 60% of Hate Crimes are motivated by race? Religious motivated crimes account for 20% and 16% for sexual orientation. In 2017 we experienced a 17% increase in hate crimes. The statistics are just for the cases that are reported many people opt not to report due to retribution or fear of not being believed. As Martin Luther King, Jr stated “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” As a nation I hope that we take today to not only serve others but find ways to address the continued inequality we see in our society. Diversity, equity and inclusion is advantageous to all of us as it makes us a greater nation. As Americans we have more things in common than differences, but we must interact with one another to discover our commonality. When is the last time you took a stand against inequality? What are you doing to address bias? How are you ensuring inclusion in your workplace?
What can we do about Bias? A Lot. Smithsonian Booklet
Stalsburg, Brittany L. (5/10/2016) Women Are Working More Than Ever-Inside The Home and Out. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/women-are-working-more-th_b_9878996
Vagins, Deborah J. (2020). The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap. https://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/