Liberation – Rather than Equality or Equity.

With the recent furor over #Black Lives Matter stopping the Toronto Pride Parade, while their demands for greater Black inclusivity were agreed to, and the consequent raising of awareness of inequalities in the ways that different racial groups are treated by authorities the issue of equality verses equity is an increased topic of conversation.


As this image demonstrates Equity is giving everyone what they need to be successful whereas Equality is treating everyone the same.

However, I think that we’re still missing the point.

We don’t all start in the same place.

So for me the conversation shouldn’t be about equality or equity but rather liberation.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “liberation” as:

  • the act or process of freeing someone or something from another’s control : the act of liberating someone or something
  • the removal of traditional social or sexual rules, attitudes, etc.

If we look at the picture, that I posted at the beginning of todays post, we can see that in the first image everybody is being treated equally. It is assumed that they will benefit from the same supports.

In the second image, people are given different supports depending on their needs. They are being treated equitably.

However, in the third image all three can see the game without any supports or accommodations because the cause of the inequality was addressed. This is liberation.

Now personally, I think that in this specific example a mesh fence should probably be provided to keep the spectators safe from flying balls, but it’s only a picture!

So let’s assume that we agree that liberation is what’s needed. How do we bring that about?

Well, this is where I struggle with some of what is happening today.

I understand that as a cisgender white English/Canadian female that I innately have white privilege. However, as an invisibly disabled immigrant I have also experienced a great deal of discrimination. So I think it’s fair to say that I have some small idea of what it’s like for some of the other groups, like #Black Lives Matter.

As a single example, every time I drive in the US I take my life in my hands. White privilege means nothing if I’m stopped by the police for even a routine traffic stop, because I’m deaf.

I have no idea if the police are telling me to stay in my vehicle, or to step outside of my vehicle, if they use the speaker system to instruct me.

If I reach for the communication cards that inform them that I’m deaf, that I need to see their faces, and that they need to face me – I’m likely to be shot.

This is my reality.

I address it by having magnets on my car that state “Not all disabilities are visible” and “Service Dog on Board” which hopefully would at least have them think first.

However, advertising that I’m deaf specifically would just make me a target, so I will not put that on my car – although I have seen bumper stickers that literally say “Please don’t shoot – I’m deaf”.

So given that I have some small idea of what these groups are fighting for my personal struggle is in the way that it’s being done.

An historical review of successful social change movements suggests that a non-violent approach is often more successful and sustainable than a violent approach, though it hasn’t been studies as much.

However, more importantly, the most successful movements appear to have always been those that have been participatory.

So while I applaud, and support, the non-violent approach of the #Black Lives Matter actions during the recent Toronto Pride Parade I have great difficulties with their specific demand to exclude the police from participating in future parades.

Especially as it was those very same police who prevented their actions from degenerating into a violent situation with their presence and participation during the time that the parade was halted.

Excluding people, to my mind, will never bring about true liberation for in exclusion we are still trying to control another; which is the very thing that we’re meant to be fighting against.

So yes, when people are posting things like “Us getting rights does not mean that your rights are being taken away” let’s make that have actual meaning rather than being nice rhetoric.

Let’s not take away the rights of anybody and promote true liberation through inclusion and participation of all.

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