Exploring The Difference Between Equity And Equality In America

Mar 8, 2021

The Biden administration says racial justice is a top priority. But what does equity mean when it comes to government policy? We explore the overlap — and tensions — between equity and equality in America.


Robert Patterson, professor of African American studies at Georgetown University. He is working on a book titled “Black Equity, Black Equality.”

Mike Gonzalez, senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. (@Gundisalvus)

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Lynda Blackmon Lowery, Civil rights activist. Author of “Turning 15 On The Road To Freedom.”

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Vox: “The Biden administration’s early plans for racial equity, explained” — “Before taking office, President Joe Biden promised that racial justice would be one of the four ‘compounding crises’ he’d tackle in his first days on the job. And on day one, he dissolved the Trump administration’s 1776 Commission, an education advisory committee convened to downplay the role of slavery in American history, among other revisionist efforts.”

New Republic: “Why Biden and Harris Are Right About ‘Equity’” — “All Americans believe in equality, but they don’t believe in it equally—an awkward circumstance that politicians have always struggled to paper over.”

Heritage Foundation: “Opinion: Biden’s Embrace of ‘Equity’ Means He’s Abandoned the Quest for Equality” — “President Biden preaches unity but practices division. Witness his ‘Executive ­Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government,’ part of an unprecedented barrage of such orders.”

Wall Street Journal: “‘Equity’ Is a Mandate to Discriminate” — “On his first day as president, Joe Biden issued an ‘Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities.’ Mr. Biden’s cabinet nominees must now explain whether this commitment to ‘equity’ means they intend to abolish ‘equal treatment under law.’ Their answers are a confused mess.”

Wall Street Journal: “How Equality Lost to ‘Equity’” — “The first time Shelby Steele used the word ‘equity’ in one of his books—’White Guilt,’ published in 2006—he was referring to the value his father had accrued in restoring ‘three ramshackle homes to neat lower-middle-class acceptability.'”

Bloomberg: “What Presidents Mean When They Talk About ‘Equity’” — “Last month, at her confirmation hearing, U.S. secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development nominee Marcia Fudge was asked to define a term by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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