Equity Vs. Equality

Do you know the difference between equality and equity? It may seem like a little thing, but in our world today, the distinction is important. In simple terms, equality is when everyone receives the same thing. In the case of racial reconciliation, it can mean that either all People of Color receive the same services, or that all People of Color receive exactly what white people receive. That sounds like a good goal, right?

Here’s the problem: we’re all different. Which means, we all have different needs. Add to that those additional factors, including a lack of access to strong education and professional training, discrimination in housing, the abuse of non-white people in our healthcare system, and so many more, and we begin to see more clearly that we are not all starting from the same place. (If you have more questions about those factors, there are some great articles here and here that explain it in more detail.)

Equity is providing varying levels of support depending on specific needs or abilities, instead of just getting what everyone else got. Here’s a popular graphic that is often used to explain the differences:


In the image on the left, we see an example of equality – everyone is receiving the same exact assistance to watch the soccer game. It may seem fair at first, but did it really solve the problem for everyone? In the image on the right, we see a great example of equity – each person is receiving the specific assistance he or she needs to watch the game.

We often talk in our churches today about the topic of racism being a heart issue. That’s true – it is about sin and our fallen world and the inability to see others around us in their full Belovedness. There are so many consequences of racism, however, that could be addressed with concrete, tangible actions. Churches, and those of us who claim to follow Jesus, need to get involved in our communities, to begin to see how not everyone around us is living within an equitable system.

“Honor others above yourself.”

Romans 12:10

I encourage you today to think about how you can take one or two more steps to make your world a more equitable place for the marginalized people in your community. Maybe that looks like researching the issue of reparations (Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote an incredible article that you can read here), or maybe it’s running for your local school board, to help ensure all schools receive the funding they need, instead of just the schools located in wealthy districts (NPR explains that topic in more detail here).

Whatever you choose, may you follow the example of Jesus and love well.

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