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Archive for the ‘equality’ Category

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2009

This is my post for Blogging Against Disablism Day, 1 May 2009. Go check out Diary of a Goldfish to see who else has posted.

Before I start, I’d like to apologise if I unintentionally plagiarise anyone. This is an issue I’ve been thinking about for some time, and it’s highly likely that I’ve drawn subconsciously on the work of others. If you notice some specific influence that I should be linking or citing, please let me know.

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I don’t think that making accommodations is, necessarily, enough to reach equality.

The concept of “accommodations” is most relevant to discussions of disability and accessibility. For that reason, and because this is Blogging Against Disablism Day, I’m focusing on accommodations for disabilities to provide equal access, even though there are other situations where the issue of accommodations may be relevant.

And, as I said, I don’t think that simply making accommodations is enough – not if you want to have an equal society, anyway.

Or, let’s say “more equal”, since it’s just about impossible to define what “equal” means. And also because I’m going to focus on the concept of choice.

I think that one of the things that makes people feel that they are being treated unequally or unfairly is when they don’t have an equivalent range of choices compared to other people.

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I was chatting to an indigenous uni student the other day. I’m going to call her Alice for the sake of this piece. Alice can (and sometimes does) “pass” as totally “white” and from what she told me, she grew up with a pretty similar set of privileges as many non-Aboriginal suburban Sydney kids (at least, on a superficial level).

Alice was telling me about some of her experiences in admitting to peers that she is, in fact, Aboriginal. One of the things she talked about was her receipt of certain scholarships and other support because of her Aboriginality. She said she sometimes feels guilty about this, because she is, functionally, little different from many of her non-Aboriginal peers.

The idea that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders get enormous amounts of money from the Government for which they do nothing and with which they do nothing – and part of that is the idea that the Government gives too much to indigenous Australians – is also a common trope. It’s a stance with which I disagree, but I sometimes find it difficult to put my reasoning into words. Sometimes, it all feels simply ideological.

Alice and I were talking about how injustice to a group over a period of time justifies what may look like preferential treatment to descendants of that group, and she said: “Yeah, whenever I say to my mum that I feel guilty, she points out that my grandfather wasn’t even allowed to go to school.”

And that’s when it clicked for me.

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… to numerical equality and happiness, uh-huh uh-huh…

Ok, that doesn’t quite scan.

But that’s fitting, since numerical equality isn’t everything.

Still. three out of seven isn’t too bad.

[Sorry for the .pdf link – also, for some reason, I couldn’t find a direct link to any media release from a government source. But I have no reason to doubt the verity of this. It has been very quick, but Kirby’s slightly early retirement was somewhat expected, and anyway, he’d have to retire in March in any case.]

Three out of seven. It’s almost half!

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The UK government has just announced plans for legislation which will completely legitimise affirmative action in certain places. In addition, organisations involved with the public sector (ie public organisations and private firms with public sector contracts) will be required to conduct equal pay audits.

Age discrimination will also be targeted.

It’s not clear whether the new bill will provide better protection against bosses asking questions they should not ask.

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