The second picture was similar, except the tall child had no box and still could see over the fence; the medium child still had one box and could see over the fence; and the small child now stood on a stack of two boxes so he could see over the fence. This depicts equity – each child receives what is needed to see over the fence.
The image made sense to me and offered a satisfactory demonstration of the difference between equality and equity.
Some weeks after being introduced to this image, I asked a friend of mine about it. This friend works for a group that advocates for racial equity. My friend huffed and said, “I hate that picture!”
“Tell me more,” I said.
“These people are ‘helped’ but they’re still left on the outside, looking in. I would prefer they set aside the boxes, turned to one another, and said, ‘Hi, my name is Thom. What’s yours?’”
As we continued to talk, we surfaced several additional observations and questions. When I left the conversation I thought how our experience shapes our perspective, how I would not have seen the other messages in the pictures without talking with my friend, and how there’s likely more to see that neither of us had yet perceived.
I left the conversation, forgiving myself for the arrogance of unthinkingly assuming I understood fully and committing myself to continually seek deeper understanding.
The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change. Carl Rogers
Here is a post in which a teacher discusses her struggle and approach to equity in the classroom. It also includes the picture described above (read post).