The Inequality in Equity

The Inequality in Equity

Words matter. Even more, as we’ve so often emphasized in this newsletter, in our daily online teaching time, our Bible studies, and our Sunday sermons, the meaning of words matters. We’ve compared words to filled donuts; it matters what’s inside. If it’s icing, we’re golden. If it’s mustard, we’re sunk. 
We will make that point again here. If you’ve been listening carefully to the current cultural conversation, you’ve noticed a sinister sleight of hand happening right below our noses with the word equality. Suddenly and surreptitiously, it has become equity.
And the change matters. A lot.
Listen attentively and you will hear it from woke[1] corporate ideologues, politicians, pundits, White House spokespersons, even from the highest office in our nation. What does it mean and why should Christians be concerned? Read on.
In brief, equality is concerned with equal opportunity, whereas, equity insists on equal results. The difference is chasmic.
Equality sees individuals and their inherent dignity and their shared humanity and seeks to treat every person accordingly, giving each individual the same opportunity to participate and succeed (or fail) and holding each person accountable for his or her individual actions. As Christians, we would emphasize our shared status as image bearing creatures of God. This reality demands equal opportunity and equal justice based on an individual’s actions. [2]  
Equity does not see individuals; it sees groups. Individuals are assigned to groups that are differentiated by race, sexual orientation, gender identity, wealth, power, privilege, etc.[3] Equity wants every group to experience the same outcomes in society, to have equitable/proportionate representation on boards, in schools, on committees, in departments, etc.
Baked into equity are assumptions about justice. Whereas, as mentioned above, equality seeks to ensure equal access for individuals and to hold each individual accountable for his or her actions under a moral code that applies equally to all, equity wants to level groups. Those emphasizing equity assume that the mere existence of disparity (difference) among groups demonstrates discrimination and injustice.
So, for instance, a corporate board or committee or private school, for instance, that doesn’t mirror the racial diversity of America or its community is assumed to be racist and guilty of inequity. A company that doesn’t have equitable/proportionate representation of transgender individuals or same-sex attracted individuals is identified as bigoted and guilty of inequity. For woke ideology, disparity of representation equals discrimination.  
For woke ideology, disparity of representation equals discrimination.  
This is not only utterly simplistic and spectacularly shortsighted, but it results in inequality (thus this article’s title!), as we will see. First, woke ideologues, insisting on equity, refuse to accept the multiplicity of reasons that may explain disparity in outcomes. For them, different outcomes among groups is the result of one thing and one thing only: social injustice (specifically racial or sexual/gender injustice). They have only one tool in their tool box – a social justice hammer – so everything they see is a socially unjust nail to be clobbered. So, they spend their energies hunting down and demonizing boards, schools, organizations, groups, etc. that have a disparate representation of the groups they’ve identified as unjustly underrepresented.
Is it possible that discrimination could explain disparity among group representation? Yes. Each situation would need to be considered individually. But it’s also possible, and far more likely, that different groups have different attainments because they have different aspirations. In other words, not every group has the same priorities and goals. This should be painfully obvious, but seems to be missed by equity advocates today who are more concerned about the world as they want to see it (through oppressive racial/sexual lenses), than the world as it really is (full of diverse individuals and groups driven by different priorities). 
You often see this in the way woke equity disciples frame gender wage disparities. They demonize wage disparity between men and women, concluding that such difference proves that corporations and/or political parties are sexist and discriminating against women. When you adjust for the more complex reality, however, other explanations start to emerge. Women get married and have babies. Many of them choose to exit the workforce for a time or to work part-time while they are raising children. These realities are included in their wage gap figures.
When you consider never-married women, women who have not exited the workforce or temporarily gone to part-time, the wage gap disappears, as does the narrative of injustice. As mentioned above, not every group has the same priorities and goals.
Or consider medical professions. According to a recent study, men account for 85% of residents in orthopedic surgery, 74% in diagnostic surgery, 68% in nuclear medicine, and 65% in anesthesiology. And women accounted for 83% of residents in obstetrics and gynecology, 73% in pediatrics, 64% in dermatology.
These are significant disparities. The distribution of men and women among medical fields is not equitable. Does that mean that some sort of systemic discrimination is in play, that women are systemically being excluded from orthopedic surgery or men from pediatrics? Maybe. Or, is it possible different groups have different priorities and goals? Is it possible men and women have different natural tendencies that affect their career paths?
Or consider an ironic example, one of woke ideology’s most ardent acolytes: Google. Google famously fired one of its engineers for suggesting what we’ve just demonstrated, that different groups have different aspirations and inclinations, and as a result, different representational outcomes. But Google’s own technological department demonstrates dramatic inequity: 41% are Asian, 21% are women, 3% are Hispanic, and just under 2% are black.
What are we to make of this? Is Google racist or sexist? Maybe. Or is it more likely that different groups of people, for a whole host of complicated reasons (historical, societal, geographical, and many, many more) have different aspirations?
This answer is unacceptable for equity advocates. Instead, they insist that equity must be forced. Ibram X. Kendi,[4] a very prominent woke disciple and author of How to be an Antiracist, writes,
If discrimination is creating equity, then it is antiracist. If discrimination is creating inequity, then it is racist… The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy is present discrimination is future discrimination. 
In other words, if discrimination is forcing equitable/proportionate representation on boards, committees, schools, departments, etc., then it is good. This is what pundits, politicians, board presidents, and woke CEOs mean by equity. Equity should be forced on boards, schools, departments, etc. They should be forced to have an equitable/proportionate representation of men and women, trans individuals, same-sex orientated individuals, ethnic groups, etc.
In order to do this, though, they would have to elevate group identity above individual qualifications. Consider the medical professionals mentioned above. If equity was enforced, hospitals would be required to hire, not based on qualifications and skill, but based on group identity (female, trans, black, etc.). The more qualified doctor may be discriminated against because he belonged to the wrong group, and the less qualified one could end up operating on you or your loved one. And the advocates of equity would consider this good. Equal opportunity evaporates beneath the blazing heat of equity’s sun.
Equal opportunity evaporates beneath the blazing heat of equity’s sun.
Should schools hire teachers based upon individual competence and ability or upon group identity? Equity says the latter. What about Google? Should they hire based upon skill or group identity? Equity says the latter. Equity says proportionate representation must be achieved even if it means discriminating against more qualified individuals. Equal opportunity gets pushed to the back of the bus when equity gets on.
Equal opportunity gets pushed to the back of the bus when equity gets on.
This is not just. Scripture calls this “showing partiality” and repeatedly condemns it: 
  • You shall not be partial in judgment (Deuteronomy 1:17).
  • To show partiality is not good… (Proverbs 28:21)
  • You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor” (Leviticus 19:15).
  • My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory (James 2:1).
In other words, an equal and just measure should be used for each individual. This is just. Equity is not. Equity extols partiality and produces inequality. We need to pay attention to words because words matter. Equity and Equality are not equal. Words matter. A lot. – Pastor Conner

[1] Woke is a neologism (new word) that means “awoken” or “enlightened.” It is specifically connected to critical race and critical gender theory, which insist the world must be interpreted through racial and sexual/gender lenses. Individuals must be identified by the “power and privilege” of their group, specifically their racial or sexual orientation or gender identity group.    

[2] This doesn’t mean we have achieved true equality as a culture. It means we should be constantly striving toward it.

[3] Scripture does not segregate people this way. Scripture acknowledges a person’s distinctive ethnicity and people group, but it grounds identity in our shared status as image-bearing creatures of God. This is primary. Further, Scripture does not ground identity in sexual orientation or gender identity (internal desires or beliefs); it grounds it in our sexed bodies as male or female. 

[4] Mr. Kendi is hugely influential among the intellectual elites and political elites in our culture.

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