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Editorial: Equality is only our goal and still not our reality

Published: Thursday, September 5, 2013

Updated: Thursday, September 5, 2013 15:09

Last week, people gathered in Washington, D.C., to commemorate the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. On Aug. 28, 1963, 50 years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. famously delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The anniversary is, of course, cause for celebration. However, 50 years later, it is also appropriate that we examine why equality is still a goal — not a reality — in our country.

King’s speech became a uniting message for minority groups seeking equal rights and treatment. His dream for freedom to ring across the U.S. was inclusive, and the rest of the 1960s, in fact, consisted of victories in the fight for women’s, immigrants’ and LGBT equality. One year after the March on Washington, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed, protecting workers from discrimination based on race, religion and national origin. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibited discrimination among U.S. citizens in voting — though the Supreme Court deemed part of the act unconstitutional in June. In 1969, gay liberation groups in Philadelphia were allowed to establish the first gay pride week.

However, equality does not only come about with legislation. True equality only exists when we exercise fair treatment personally, in our own communities. King did not only speak about equality but also held that all people — people of different races, religions and personal experience — had to work together to make the goal of equality a reality.

We must first hold ourselves accountable. This means speaking up when we witness discrimination happening, like when we hear someone say, “That’s retarded.” or “That’s so gay.” This means examining how often we use the word “girl” to describe a woman as opposed to how often we use the word “boy” to describe a man. This means taking the time to get to know individual people as more than age-sex-race-religion-sexuality cutouts.

If King were alive today, 50 years after the March on Washington, he would see that discrimination still exists in our society. The space we leave between our goal of equality and our reality is unacceptable. It remains our responsibility to ensure a society in which all people, including minorities, have the rights we deserve. Equality is a premise upon which this country was founded, and it is supposed to be one of the qualities that sets us apart and makes us great.

We have the responsibility to educate ourselves about people outside our society and culture, and we have the opportunities and the resources to do so at Loyola, whether that means taking a class about a religion foreign to us, attending a Queer-Straight Student Alliance meeting on proper terminology for sexuality and gender identity or simply looking up how the equality and legal protection laws in our state compare to those of other states. We owe it to ourselves and to our country to remember the equal and connected society King envisioned and to continue to work toward making it a reality.


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5 comments Log in to Comment

Sun Sep 8 2013 16:29
Guy gets drunk, DUIs and gets arrested. Girl gets drunk, bangs a dude, claims rape. How are the similar and different? Well, they both made their decisions whilst under the influence but only a woman can escape the consequences. I thought feminists strove to create an equal society.... FAIL! We will never be equal.
Fri Sep 6 2013 14:54
There are a few situations where equal treatment is also equitable or fair treatment. For example, two people committing the exact same crime for the exact same reason(s) should be penalized the same. However, as pointed out in the first comment, it is usually true that equal treatment is not fair. For example, should everyone receive the same income, regardless of their productivity, or the same grade in a course, regardless of what they learned, or the same punishment for a crime committed, regardless of the crime? Any reasonable thinking person would respond "no" to these questions, arguing that equal treatment is unfair treatment.
Fri Sep 6 2013 12:21
That column that you are referring to is not an article and therefore it is not representative of The Maroon. That piece of writing merely reflects the opinion of that individual student who, like every other student on campus, was allowed to have their opinion published in the paper. And while we may not be born with equal opportunities we should be allowed our equal rights to allow us the freedom to fully seek the benefits if we have rightfully earned them.
Fri Sep 6 2013 00:35
I agree with Anonymous! Supposedly we are equal but why is their an article stating reverse racism isn't racism? Is that equality? It's still racism right? Whatever fits the socialist agenda.
Thu Sep 5 2013 17:54
One of the goals of American society is not and has never been "equality." Rather, the goal is "equity" or fairness. We are not born equal, we do not live as equals, and we do not die as equals. The notion that we are all equal is foolishness and ought be be abandoned from our discussions. We are not all equal and never will be.

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