Diversity Is Not Equality
Although the two words are often used interchangeably, by definition and in practice they mean very different things. Here’s how the Oxford English dictionary defines the two:
- The state of being diverse
- "There was considerable diversity in the style of reports"
- a range of different things
- plural noun: diversities
- "newspapers were obliged to allow a diversity of views to be printed"
- variety, miscellany, assortment, mixture, mix, melange, range, array, medley, multiplicity;
A diverse society is simply a place where multiple cultures, ethnicities, religions and genders coexist in relative peace.
Diversity is a beautiful thing, especially when it’s accompanied by cooperation and peace. It so often leads to mutual understanding and appreciation between groups of people who historically, geographically and philosophically have been continents apart.
But diversity does not pay the rent or provide a better quality education. That’s where equality comes in:
- The state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities.
- "an organisation aiming to promote racial equality"
- fairness, justness, equitability, impartiality, even-handedness, egalitarianism, equal rights, equal opportunities, non-discrimination
An equal society does not yet exist but if or when it does it will be a place where discrimination in all its many forms (employment, education, legislation, protection, to name a few) is no longer culturally or legally possible.
Equality means true parity which is the state or condition of being equal, especially in terms of status or compensation. Every society since the beginning of time has been gender diverse and yet sexism and misogyny endure. Having neighbors of a different color does not mean that your experiences and opportunities within your community have been anything close to equal.
New York City has always been considered a diverse city but this has not translated into equality. Opportunities and protections are doled out based on socio economic, ethnic, gender, sexual and religious factors.
Worldwide, diversity has never protected the oppressed. Diversity doesn’t prevent ethnic cleansing among people who have coexisted side by side peacefully for generations. We need look no further than Myanmar, Rawanda or the holocaust for proof.
We must not assume or be lulled into thinking that diversity equals equality. This is dangerous and lazy. A diverse society is not an equal one.
Article by Anna Quick-Palmer