The world is filled with inequality. Many people work to decrease it.
Have you noticed that nearly everyone promoting equality is promoting it in a way that helps them?
It makes sense on a personal level, but doesn’t it seem to undermine them, suggesting that they are really helping themselves under the guise of helping everyone?
Many women promote women earning more money. What fraction of women work—really work, spending serious time and money—to make dangerous workplaces safer for men, who are injured on the job over 90%? What fraction of women work to create shelters for abused men, who are often jailed themselves when they call police when women abuse them?
Many men promote helping men in custody rights disfavoring men. What fraction of men work—really work, spending serious time and money—helping women overcome entrenched barriers to their promotion at work?
Many blacks promote blacks’ participation in golf, tennis, and other sports. How many blacks work to promote non-blacks’ participation in activities underrepresented by others, such as basketball and football.
How many liberals promote increasing conservative professors on campus, now about 12%?
How many conservatives promote reducing gerrymandering?
While opposing British imperialism in India, Gandhi supported the British during World War 2.
While imprisoned, Mandela learned Afrikaans, the language of his oppressors, and when President, promoted amnesty and reconciliation.
Malcolm X, about whites he once called devils, wrote
“You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to rearrange much of my thought-patterns previously held, and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions. This was not too difficult for me. Despite my firm convictions, I have always been a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds it. I have always kept an open mind, which is necessary to the flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of intelligent search for truth.”
“During the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept on the same rug – while praying to the same God – with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was the whitest of white. And in the words and in the deeds of the white Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan and Ghana.”
Can you imagine the personal risk he took? How much he must have challenged himself to say such things publicly, given his history?
Where are people selflessly promoting equality?
Actually, I see many more men helping women than the reverse, more whites helping non-whites, more heterosexual helping non-heterosexual. Maybe I’m missing the counterexamples. Can anyone point them out?
NYU’s students are 60% female. Is anyone promoting increasing male participation in college?
Gender Studies departments sometimes reach 100% female. Many men are working to increase female representation in STEM fields—generally trying to change the field to appeal to women and girls. Is anyone trying to change gender studies to appeal to men and boys?
What may work
I bet people working for equality would attract more support by working to help people outside their groups. They would still promote the equality they claim to espouse. They would also show others they weren’t just helping themselves.
I recommend trying it. Beyond helping someone other than yourself, publicly work for equality by helping groups you’re not in and see if it doesn’t attract more support.
Read my weekly newsletter
On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees