Going beyond mere equal opportunity, this set of beliefs advocates equal rights and the fair distribution of wealth and resources. For all.
Equality is not just about letting some poor kid from an ethnic minority family take out a loan and go to university. It is this but also so much more. It’s the belief that people should be treated equally no matter what their social class, sexuality, skin colour, disability or gender. We are all human.
One video that went viral on the Internet really brings home the difference equality can make in someone’s life; it’s probably one of the most interesting things I have seen on the Internet in a long time. It’s called the $100 race.
Race for your life
Adam Donyes, a teacher, takes his class outside and asks the students to line up on a racetrack. Among the students are a variety of different people. The teacher then tells them that they are going to race for a $100 bill. He then asks a series of questions and says if it applies to you then please take two steps forward.
The first question is “Do you have married parents?”; the second is “Do you have a father figure in the house?” The line begins to break up. He then asks people to step forward “if you have never had to worry about your mobile phone being cut off” or if “you have never had to help your parents pay the bills”. More students step forward.
Remember this is in America, where you must pay for your college/university education. He then says step forward if you didn’t have to rely on athletic ability to pay for your education. Even more step forward. Eventually he asks people to step forward if they “never had to worry about where the next meal is coming from” By this point, the students are scattered far apart.
The students are then asked to turn around. When they do, they see that many people are still on the starting line and that quite a lot of people are already near the teacher waving the $100 bill. It reminded me of kids standing in the line during physical education in school, waiting to be picked for the football team. Unfortunately, in life, you must be more than cool and good at football. This shows how easy it is to get ahead or be left behind.
As we saw earlier [in the book], families with high incomes, and that can afford private education, are more likely to obtain better paying jobs. In recent research by Kimberley Noble, a Neuroscientist from Columbia University USA, explains that they have found correlations between family income and the cognitive ability of children. She specifically talks about children from poor income families, and about the lesser amount of grey matter around their cerebral cortex. This is the area of the brain that is
often associated with heavy cognitive duties.
No, poor people are not born with a smaller brain, the reason for this is “poverty tax”- the mental strain that is put on people due to poverty- which means parents spend more time thinking and dealing with the problems and issues associated with being
poor, rather than being able to spend time planning and thinking about their children. It also affects their personal relationship with their children. Noble goes on to say that recent research has shown 4,000 dollars a year extra, per family, can help improve a
children’s future outcomes.
Equality for all, no matter what our differences.
There have been a few videos and comments online critiquing this video and arguing that it only shows black children on the starting line. However, if you look at the clip, you can see white males and females still stood on – or near – the starting line.
Another criticism is that there are only white and black children in the video and no children of other races or disabled children. Whilst these are very valid points, that does not take away from the fact that some people have fewer barriers to overcome
than others – trying to reach milestones in life is different for everyone.
People are often discriminated against for their class, background, education, gender, sexuality, disability and ethnicity. We should fight together for equality for all, no matter what our differences.
In her book Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, Reni Eddo-Lodge explains that black children in the UK are more likely to be expelled from school and less likely to be accepted to a top university. Black and Asian applicants for
jobs are less likely to get an interview, and black women are more likely to have low-paid or minimum-wage care jobs than any other ethnic group. These facts, along with her descriptions of racism, show that despite the fact we have had a black president of the USA, we still have a long way to go until we have race equality.
Kristen R Ghodsee explores female inequality under capitalism in her book Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism. In her studies she finds that women were more likely to stay in bad relationships due to dependence on men for income and healthcare insurance. She compares women from East and West Germany before and after the Berlin Wall came down. She found women from communist East Germany had more confidence, were sexually satisfied, and were not easily persuaded by men
and their money. However, women in West Germany were not as confident and were easily swooned by men with greater economic means. Overall, the women from East Germany were not dependent on their husbands as they had economic independence and access to free services such as childcare and healthcare. On the other hand, women in West Germany were dependent on their husbands to provide payment
for these services as women were encouraged to stay at home and not work.
Whilst times have changed for women, they are still often the partner – in a heterosexual couple – that works part-time to look after children. They may
also have to take time off to look after a sick member of the family, as the caring role often falls to the women in society. They are also at a disadvantage when it comes to competing with their male peers for jobs. Women are often held to a higher standard than men and are also discriminated against because of pregnancy.
This goes to show that equality is about more than just having an equal say or chance. It’s also about equal access to services and the right to be economically independent. For all. So why shouldn’t we level the playing field for those who find it difficult to even get into the race? Everyone has the right to a humane life where they shouldn’t need to worry about food, a job or shelter.
As the British politician Tony Benn once said: “If we can find money to kill people, we can find money to help people.”
I emphasise the need to watch this video and explore equality. Equality puts our lives and our society into context. It is not fair, and day by day the gap between the haves and have-nots is getting bigger.
Whilst the world will always have some form of haves and have-nots, surely we can close the gap and help improve everybody’s quality of life – not just that of the people at the top
This is the second extract from my book (the first is here) “Basic Socialism: Why Socialism is Sexy Now“. They aim to explore and answer what a socialist is and what they want to achieve. If you enjoy it buy the book!
You can buy the book here