The Ineffability of Social Equity

When talking about social equity, these questions almost invariably come up: “What does it mean? What problem are you trying to solve?” More often than not my answer has evoked elevator speeches, uttering platitudes that may not necessarily answer the question in a succinct way. I tend to mention the words inclusiveness, equitable access to resources, and fair and just system. Some aren’t exactly satisfied with the lack of specificity I provide. In my mind, that’s ok.

There is a level of abstraction to this work given the scope and magnitude of problems, disparities, and other challenges we face as a community. The truth is, the issues to be addressed look different to a queer teen, an isolated senior, a person with a differing ability, or a low-income family. This is not a one-size-fits-all world, so there is not a one-size-fits-all approach. The ability to build a tent large enough, where most can see themselves represented, is a challenge we look forward to tackling.

Through this work, my friend Claustina Reynolds said something to me that has taken hold: “Be comfortable with non-closure.” The way I interpreted it is that we have to become better at being uncomfortable, as well as being able to accept uncertainty in some areas of this work. We have a direction and a plan in place to help us further define the work, but we don’t yet know where we might end up. Hopefully, a place where most of us have access to opportunities, and feel included and valued in this community.

I’m reassured by the words of E.L. Doctorow when referring to driving at night: “You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

2 Comments

Kristi Cumming

Love this Diego – I too am struggling with defining social equity but with the road map ahead we will get closer to closure. This will be another area where several non profits, already deep in this work, will have the opportunity to come together and strengthen our community.

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