I love being an ally for equality. As I was saying to someone the other day, equality for me is when everyone has the opportunity to be who they are without any concern that they will be disadvantaged in any way. It is not about all being the same but celebrating our diversity. Society seems to find this difficult as it is always simpler to stick with what you know. But let us focus on solutions.As a White African Male, I feel it is important for me to speak out and say that we need to have a society where our diversity can be celebrated. Society is still skewed in the favour of elites, whether that be white males in South Africa, politically connected people in the USA or social elite in place-country-name-here. We need people to be honest and acknowledge what is going on. It may mean really awkward conversations but who doesn’t love a bit of awkwardness 😝
The world that we live in is plagued with a history of awful events, beliefs and societies that have shaped the way that we all see the world, interact with each other and well…. exist. We cannot go back in time in order to change what has happened, we can only use the past as a tool to learn from and not fall into the same trap.
We do seem to be falling into an equality trap though that may not be the best way to redress the evils of the past. A drive for being equal is the wrong way to go in my opinion. None of us are equal, we are all individuals. Not a single person on this planet has the same DNA, brainwave pattern (jury is potentially still out on this one), gait (the way we walk) or gut microbiome (there is some super interesting research into how this affects us but that is a story for another day). We should therefore focus on ensuring that people on the planet have the freedom to be who they are.
Is the answer not that people learn more about themselves? If people understand what drives them, how they can be their best self and they give others the ability to know the same will this not result in a more just society? A society that allows people to shine the light that is within them. The 21st century gives us the ability to use data to make much better decisions and it is about time that we do this with ourselves and our society as a whole.
Making decisions based on putting people into large boxes of race, sex, gender, etc. is not the way to create a society that thrives. What is likely to happen in this situation is to actually create more divides as people feel that their group is being overlooked. We have all heard people saying a number of different versions of “they only got that job/contract/etc. because of X” or “I did not get it because I am Y”. This is a hard problem to solve because our society is setup to keep the status quo going so I completely understand equality programs and as I said in the opening I am a supporter because I have seen first hand people being discriminated against due to societal norms and that is bullshit!
Perhaps we need to be highlighting more success stories, where diverse teams are more successful. We need to start portraying this diversity more in popular culture whether that be movies, TV, Social Media. I do believe that it needs to start with complete honesty and a greater willingness by people to understand people that are different to them!
What are your thoughts? How do we achieve SDG 5 and 10?