Similar to inequity generally, how the term racial inequity is understood and used varies widely across the political spectrum.
On one hand, liberals/progressives see racial inequity as an objective reference to an imbalance that reflects underlying patterns in society that include, for instance: racial attitudes/bias and that act subtly to undermine and exclude; socio-economic systems that embed the legacy of slavery and legal discrimination (e.g. black families without the history/experience/opportunity of homeownership to build wealth); continued redlining in lending; drug laws resulting in over-incarceration of black males; differential law enforcement; embedded biases in education (images, language, school discipline); long term ramifications of poor health/healthcare; etc. From this perspective, inequity can only be overcome by working on changing these systems, and these are a public – governmental – responsibility.
From a more conservative perspective, the key issue is opportunity. Especially since legal barriers are now down, every person’s progress is a result of the intensity of their effort. Society does not owe people more than removing barriers. From this perspective, non-governmental and especially faith-based efforts at transforming self-destructive attitudes and behaviors are the way to address longstanding poverty, etc.
QUESTIONS TO PLAY WITH:
-What evidence have you seen in your own life that racial inequality exists, or doesn’t? How do you weigh that evidence against what you have heard from others and seen in the media?
-If you were given the chance to switch from the race you are to another one, how much would racial inequality (or the absence thereof) influence your answer?
-Have you ever disagreed with anyone about racial inequality? How do you think their experiences influenced their opinion about it?
Racial and Ethnic Tensions: What Should We Do? (NIF Issue Guide) National Issues Forums Institute.
Living Room Conversation Guide:The Opportunity Gap
Working Together to Remove Racial and Ethnic Barriers to Student Achievement (Facilitators Discussion Guide) (2009) 44-page guide, by Everyday Democracy
Separate and Unequal in 1963: How Can We Create A Fair Society? (DMC Issue Guide) (2014) David Mathews Center for Civic Life, Alabama Public Television (APT)
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