Debunking the Equity Graphic


Saturday, November 6, 2021

This past October, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the suspension of the city’s gifted and talented education program. When the same policy was under consideration in 2019, Mayor de Blasio stressed the importance of “promot[ing] equity” in New York schools. 

White and Asian students are overrepresented in New York’s gifted classes, leading equity advocates to make Jim Crow comparisons and liken this disparity to modern-day segregation. Such language has permeated the highest levels of government, academia, and corporate America as the equity narrative is prioritized over group equality.

Proponents of advancing equity often make use of cartoon images to demonstrate what they perceive as the inherent unfairness of equality. According to the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance, equality falls short in that it “can intentionally disregard the needs of individuals.” 

Equity seeks to alleviate group disparities to achieve what its proponents consider true equality: the elimination of disparate outcomes. 

The most common form of the equity graphic shows three people of varying heights standing on wooden crates to see a baseball game over a fence. In one scenario, labeled “Equality,” each person stands on a box. The shortest of the three is unable to see over the fence. The other scenario labeled “Equity” depicts the crates as being redistributed based on height so that everyone can watch the game.

The equity graphic incorrectly depicts prosperity as a zero-sum game where one man’s success necessitates another man’s failure. Note that each side of the image has only three boxes to disperse. Someone must have their box taken for another to be uplifted.

While it makes sense in the context of the analogy that everyone should have what he needs to see properly, it is important to recognize that the people in the graphic are meant to be analogous to groups. It is reasonable for a doctor to treat patients differently based on the type of care that person needs or for the criminal justice system to punish people differently based on the severity of the crime. 

However, this logic of individual distinction does not apply in the context of group identity. The suggestion that various races should be treated differently under the law not only violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause but is also racist!

How to Be an Antiracist author Ibram X. Kendi claims that “racism… produces and normalizes racial inequities” and that the “only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination.” Kendi underscores a central tenet of the proponents of equity: the idea that all circumstances derive from external factors. No attention is given to individual choice.

The Left argues that without racially discriminating programs like affirmative action that remove opportunities from qualified white and Asian students, minority groups would not be able to succeed in the United States today. That world simply does not exist. 

In an era where all legal barriers to entry such as Jim Crow and redlining have been outlawed, the Brookings Institution finds that only three things are necessary to avoid living in permanent poverty. One must “at least finish high school, get a full-time job, and wait until age 21 to get married and have children.” 

The outcome of group disparities today largely derives from individual decision-making, not the vestiges of historic discrimination. Not only does the concept of equity demand legalized bigotry, but it also requires adherence to a false view of America.

Featured image courtesy of Interaction Institute for Social Change.

Russell Kitsis is a Jewish conservative student at Babson College. Russell is studying finance and hopes to work in investment banking upon graduation.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.

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About Russell Kitsis

Russell Kitsis is a Jewish conservative student at Babson College. Russell is studying finance and hopes to work in investment banking upon graduation.

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