I’m writing in response to Quentin Kopp’s column in the May issue “Equity Does Not Mean Equality.” In it, Mr. Kopp refers to Webster’s Dictionary to define “equity” in a way that seems to be willfully misleading. A quick online search shows that he drew heavily on the third definition as a way to show that “equity” has nothing to do with the debate about equity vs. equality. By focusing on a tertiary definition related to historical English law, Mr. Kopp builds up a strawman that has nothing to do with the topic and uses it to decry the “language destroyers.”
By skipping straight to the third definition, Mr. Kopp ignored the primary definition of equity as “justice according to natural law or right, specifically freedom from bias or favoritism” and “something that is equitable.” Perhaps this definition was inconvenient for Mr. Kopp’s strawman argument?
Equity is an important theoretical development as we work towards building a better society. Under the framework of equality, it is assumed that everyone’s needs can be met by providing the same support. Let’s say we wanted to give everyone a bicycle so that everyone could ride a bike that wanted to. Under the model of “equality” this would mean giving the same sized bicycle to someone who is 6’3″, someone who is 5’4″, someone who has limited mobility, and a 5-year-old child. Everyone has a bike now! This is great, right? But, all these people can’t fit on the same sized bicycle. A child certainly couldn’t ride an adult’s bicycle, and someone who is 6’3″ certainly wouldn’t fit on a bike sized for a five year old.
What if, instead, we gave a large bike to the 6’3″ person, a smaller bike to the person who is 5’4″, a recumbent bike to the person with limited mobility, and a tricycle to the child? Now, truly, everyone can ride a bike! By recognizing that different people have different needs, and face different barriers to access, we can achieve “equity.”
Finally, I would love to see the Sunset Beacon, which does such a great job of conveying local news to follow the steps of the Chronicle. It became increasingly unclear why Willie Brown, who is no longer an elected official, continued to enjoy a weekly freeform column for years, and they have ceased to publish that column. I’m happy for this paper to present the voices of our current elected officials, but I remain unclear as to why we continue to give voice to someone who no one has voted for in over 20 years.
Categories: letter to the editor