🗯️ Equal Chance, Equal Footing

Yesterday, while writing my post on Trump’s meaning of the “American Way”, the phrase “Equal Chance, Equal Footing” when mentioning White privilege. Society has been pushing the “Equal Chance” notion for years — essentially, it is this notion of color-blind and other forms of supposed race / sex / gender / etc. blindness in academics, hiring, promotion, policing. But aside from the fact that it has never been truly and consistently implemented, it is also a meaningless notion unless everyone starts from the same place.

But this is where Equal Footing comes into play, and it is often the most important piece of the puzzle. You can’t have equal chance if your starting point isn’t equal. Equal footing means, for example:

  • Equal risk of the police targeting you and your family
  • Equal opportunities for education in schools that provide the same learning experience
  • Equal economic comfort for families so that parents have time to spend with children
  • Equal access to job
  • Equal pay for equal work
  • Equal appraisals of home and people, independent of racial and economic factors

When we talk equality, often the focus in on the legal aspects. Do these groups have the same rights as others? Can a {woman, LGBT…, black, hispanic, asian, …} do the same thing as {white, male, straight) can do? But equality is more: It is equal chance, and most importantly, having an equal footing.

When you hear talk about “privilege”, it is often a reference to unequal footings. Being white in America gives you a better footing — less chance of bad police interactions, growing up in better neighborhoods, more opportunities in school, more opportunities in jobs, etc. Being male in America gives similar advantages due to societal biases. Similar if you are in the predominant religion – some form of Christianity.

If we are to achieve true equality, we have to work for more than just being equal under the law. We need to be equal under societal customs; we need to provide equal footings. We then need to make sure that are our processes are also equally blind — and that means not only blind to the first level aspects (skin color, orientation, sex, gender, religion), but equally blinds to the second level aspects (what school you went to, where you live, what you wear, how you speak, etc.). True equality is a triad: level, footing, chance. Right now, we have a very wobbly 3 legged stool.