The Relationship Between Equality and Justice


What is equality? Some seem to believe that equality is justice; equality is giving the elderly help across the street when they need it. However, some forget to respect others when they need help. When a person needs help, it’s assumed it’s their fault. People are in poverty from putting themselves there. What if they didn’t? What if there are obstacles? Something out of their control? Something that was getting in the way? If an individual is worse off it’s assumed that they didn’t persevere, but the past can affect their present life- including their family’s past-, and justice is so much more than just freedom.

Those who persevere can achieve anything. However, there is an element of luck and societal influences in everything. Some don’t work a day in their lives, but live with an excess of money and resources. There is another side to this, though; Some work constantly throughout their entire lives and earn nothing. No one else knows what anyone else is experiencing. No person should be ridiculed and be dehumanized for expressing themselves or for their profession. Without the people that are supposedly on the bottom, our society would crumble. What would you do without fast-food workers, cashiers, and cleaners? This pandemic has shown how important these low-paid essential workers are. 

On top of this, is a problem that The United States has been facing for centuries now, including today. Racism, but more than that is classism, specifically how citizens use classism to justify racism, is what is extremely problematic. ‘Black Americans are lazy, which is why they are poorer on average’- Is saying they didn’t work enough; therefore, they deserve to be poor. No. The United States, less than a lifetime ago, was not giving black Americans access to education as they were with white students. The US didn’t stop segregating schools until 1954. In the same way, -not a century before that- in 1865 The US wasn’t educating black Americans at all, and the south was enslaving black Americans to execute their work for them. Strenuous work that supposedly causes success. Without the same opportunity as others, and with several at the time not acknowledging black Americans’ individuality and humanity, comes systemic racism. Some pretend as if racism has completely vanished, as if everything is better now, however, they seem to forget that it has not even been a century since segregation was made illegal. Times have changed, yes, however you cannot erase history; what recent ancestors of modern black Americans dealt with continues to affect our citizens now; their expectations, knowledge, and how they are treated.

Equality differs from justice. Some treat it like Equality is enough- when it isn’t. Before segregation was made illegal a common phrase was “separate, but equal.” Black Americans were equal, but does that mean that segregation was okay? That they had justice? No, of course not, and The United States still lacks that justice that black Americans deserve. They are disproportionately brought into prisons, killed, and discriminated against. Why? Are the police being racist and drunk with power? Definitely. Is it a result of black citizens being told not to trust the police by their parents growing up, thus makes them uneasy around the police, consequently making them suspicious? Yes. Is it a cause of a society that encountered prejudice, had people who were poor and barely surviving, that were told to fend for themselves, couldn’t afford to help their children and give them food and education from a lack of resources, and all of this kept happening repeatedly in a continuous cycle until today? Absolutely. That is what systemic racism is. Nonetheless, people continue to say that black Americans are lazy. Someone’s past affects how likely they are to be successful. Having families that couldn’t benefit from proper education that were -and still are- treated like criminals, as if they weren’t and aren’t human, will not only result in the children being viewed that way but be expected to behave that way. That is no longer the fault of those people, but their society. 

People shouldn’t need to break their back working to be respected as a human. No matter the rights, without justice, black Americans will perpetually have a challenging time living comfortably in this society. The past affects the future. That’s why we need those obstacles taken away. That’s why we need to even the footing. That’s why we demand justice for black Americans. Justice is so much more than just freedom.

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