From college admissions to “equal pay for equal work”, when does fairness become an issue that must be addressed and changed? Aren’t there recognizable signs that indicate “inequity”? And if so, what are they?
I read an article about Sean “P. Diddy” Combs’ son getting admitted to UCLA on a full football scholarship. Instead of joy that a young, black football star can aspire for greatness with a 3.75 GPA and gain admittance to a Division I school, there were a lot of cynical reader comments. Many said that he should give the scholarship back because his dad is rich, while others said that he shouldn’t have been admitted to UCLA because he was displacing white students with higher GPA’s. My thought was, “it’s OK for the media to lambast the low achievements of black students, particularly males, but when these individuals make significant accomplishments… something has to be wrong.”
On both sides of the debate is this nagging issue of fairness. However, it is not just in college admissions, but in the workplace also where women and moms are regularly stereotyped, passed up for promotions, and paid less. If you are a male and your wife’s salary was the only income, wouldn’t you want her paid equally for her work? Nonetheless, let’s not assume that men are the only people making compensation decisions…
Further, let’s research all of the kids from wealthy families who gained admittance to college or received scholarships based on their family’s connections. Guess what– there’s a lot of them. Not only did they displace a student with a higher GPA but they also didn’t give the scholarship money back.
(I’m being facetious here…) since working women and moms have such a lack of workplace savvy and commitment, let’s also research all of the female entrepreneurs who started businesses and managed a family—ultimately, making hundreds of millions of dollars.
These are just two examples of many. And maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I think the restraints and stereotypes that we impose on others are a little self-serving—especially if we see unfairness, ignore/justify it, and then make others feel guilty for using the same privileges that some people have benefited from for years. This also makes me believe that some of us acknowledge that “the system” is unfair only when it affects our own personal interests.
Here’s the solution: when we see unfairness (in education, criminal justice, housing, the media, our places of work, our campuses, etc.) we need to speak up. We all know what unfairness looks like; let’s not wait until it affects us before we decide to take action. Nevertheless, I caution you at the same time: be fair.