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Post No.: 0819disparity


Furrywisepuppy says:


Racial discrimination and/or being born penurious may first lead to receiving sub-optimal nutrition as a child, and an increased risk of parental maltreatment due one’s parents’ own stresses as a result of the discrimination and/or poverty.


In school, it can lead to being bullied for one’s skin colour or poor parents, and educational disparities because you get passed over for elite university places or feel you cannot afford to go to university because your family needs you to be earning as soon as possible. Or even if you achieve equal or better qualifications than one’s peers, discrimination still leads to poorer job prospects, thus you cannot build up your work experience in the areas you want your career in, which then means you earn less in the less-exclusive jobs you can get, and you remain relatively poor and continue to live in deprived and crowded urban areas.


Racial segregation might mean certain deprived groups are further deprived for living in crowded urban spaces. Consequently, one cannot regularly afford more nutritious meals (except in terms of calories), green and safe spaces to exercise are limited where you live, you’re exposed to more air pollution because of the urban traffic, and this all leads to a greater risk of physical and mental health problems like stress (and all this entails, like sleep deprivation, and all that entails) and diseases like hypertension and diabetes. (And I know how, whenever I feel down, I don’t feel like looking after my physical health or meeting people, so when others say, “You should eat better” or, “You should go outside” – it’s easier said than done when in that state. So, from the viewpoint of privileged external observers, there can be a massive empathy gap, and a huge lack of understanding about the knock-on, vicious-cycle and compounding effects of the stresses borne from discrimination and/or poverty.)


You might end up becoming targets of criminals due to racism. And if you react violently to racists to defend yourself, your family or your property – then you’ll be the perpetrator, not the victim, according to the law. Or if you steal as a child because your parents couldn’t afford to buy you school equipment, and you get caught and obtain a juvenile criminal record, then that might affect your future prospects. Or you might get drawn into gang culture and sell drugs because of your destitution and desperation for respect as an adolescent in this world where one’s status is measured by displays of wealth.


You’re more likely to be a frontline worker and be exposed to more pathogens, yet you’re more likely to be ignored if you complain. You’ll receive poorer treatment due to stereotypes in healthcare, such as ‘black people don’t feel as much pain’ so don’t need as much medication. Identifying black people with medical problems is less understood too, like the colours of bruises. There’s evidently disparity in the criminal justice system and things like black women being far more likely to die when giving birth.


…So we can see that systemic disparity isn’t just about wealth disparity but health disparity too. And this vicious cycle of compounding disadvantages can continue from generation to generation all because of unequal starting points and the ongoing overt and covert prejudice against minorities. There are minority members who haven’t experienced such problems or to the same extent, or have broken out of this cycle despite their initial conditions – but the above is a very common picture, where the statistics don’t lie and shouldn’t be ignored at a public policy level.


However, the problem with the public policy level is that democratic political systems are set up to mostly serve the majority, not the minority, hence there’s political power disparity too.


Democracy – in terms of elections and referenda at least – can systemically neglect the interests of minorities in favour of the majority if these interests clash and people vote only to maximise their own ingroup’s interests. This can happen when voting for local representatives, or rural matters when most people in a country live in cities and don’t care about the countryside, for example.


It’s mutually reinforcing if there are insufficient representative women, disabled or ethnic minorities in parliament because then their voices won’t be directly heard (‘representative’ as in those who weren’t born privileged and well-connected), which can affect whether equality laws that pertain to their group are effectuated. Would it have taken quite so long for laws related to marriage rights, property rights, child custody and sexual harassment at work to be implemented if more women were in parliament sooner?


Based on what the controversial UK Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report of 2021 itself pointed out – if there’s no racial disparity in educational attainment yet there’s some racial disparity in economic terms, then doesn’t that therefore logically mean that ethnic minority members aren’t getting as financially rewarded as ethnic majority members with equivalent grades?! It basically said that every ethnicity attains equal qualifications but not equal pay on average. And most people would rather have a lower educational attainment but greater employment opportunity and pay too! (Post No.: 0753 explained white privilege.)


Many factors are linked due to compounding effects, so saying that social class is more impactful than race is to ignore the way that social class is partly due to the historical racial discrimination that ethnic minority parents, grandparents, etc. faced; because we inherit our parents’ social class as children. Or saying that geography matters more than racial discrimination is to ignore the way that geography is partly linked with social class; because different social classes tend to segregate.


Anyway, if it’s not racial disparity then it’s the economic disparity that can statistically affect certain children for the rest of their lives. And even ‘only’ a 2.3% pay difference is significant – it’s like a bank that discriminates its customers based on race by giving one group 0% interest on their savings and another 2.3%, and how this interest compounds over lifetimes. Racism being only one factor out of several still means it is one. And a small disparity is still a disparity.


Less equality leads to less social mobility. And social mobility is arguably a key indicator of a well-functioning democracy. Things have generally improved since decades ago but that was an incredibly low benchmark. Recognising how much there’s still to go to reach zero racial discrimination doesn’t reduce the motivation to work or strive – it increases the indignance and motivation to continue to fight against injustice so that everyone can work and strive on a level playing field. Work smart as well as hard – or in this case, work from a foundation of absolute fairness as well as work hard, because it’s demotivating in the employment sphere to play a game that’s stacked against oneself.


External observers might lack the empathy to understand why some people carry knives to defend themselves, or steal, join gangs or deal drugs. We’re in effect self-deceiving and judging others harshly for their unfortunate backgrounds and circumstances – as if we definitely would’ve done better had we been born with the same history and other factors. Reacting with fuzzy horror does little to solve such issues. We should think of those worse off than us and count ourselves lucky to not have had the exact same upbringings and present environments as them.


It’s not inevitable but it’s easier to preach ‘love and peace’ and not wish to assault someone in retaliation when you’re not a victim of abuse, bullying or harassment like racism. It’s easier to reduce one’s stress levels when one doesn’t need to spend one’s spare time fighting against discrimination like gender inequality. It’s easier to tell people to not carry knives or other weapons to protect themselves if one is never a victim of racism when just innocently walking down a street, or doesn’t live in a neighbourhood with violent gang rivalries and doesn’t know whether others are carrying weapons too (which is a prisoner’s dilemma-type situation – what’s best for everyone i.e. not carrying a weapon, can be what’s foolish for oneself).


Not all but many of those belonging to the middle and upper classes judge and look down upon those who join gangs and sell drugs on the street, when they should be doing more to help tackle the root causes of those problems – which is poverty and social deprivation; perhaps via a better redistribution of wealth in society to curb gross levels of disparity.


It’s easier to respect others when you’re respected rather than negatively prejudged and stereotyped by others. It’s easier to tell others to ignore bad comments aimed at them than to ignore bad comments aimed at us! It’s likewise easier to say it’s ‘constructive criticism’ when it’s aimed at others than towards us. It’s easier to be forgiving, easygoing, less anxious or less pessimistic when things are going well for us.


But the disadvantaged are frequently instead told to work hard and not focus on their disadvantages. Someone who’s been punched in the eye by a mugger can be told that gritting their teeth and not focusing on their eye will lessen their pain. Yet we shouldn’t deny that the person got punched and has a bruise when not everyone equally gets punched in that way in the world(!) We shouldn’t promote self-helplessness – yet we shouldn’t victim-blame either.


The latter promotes a culture that believes that sexism can be overcome if you’re a female if only you desire to ‘have it all’, work hard and live just like an ‘idealised male’ does. The same for other discriminated groups. And for those individuals who are from discriminated groups and who, despite the odds, luckily make it to the top – they might think the system is fine and other people like them are just lazy, making excuses and assumed to be failing the country rather than vice-versa. People’s dispositions are automatically blamed rather than their situations.


A lower doesn’t necessarily mean a zero chance thus when we look at the population as a whole, we will find some who succeed despite the odds – but it needs to be an equal chance based on gender, ethnicity and background to be fair. Working even harder is often touted as the solution for discriminated groups, but no one should need to work harder to get the same result as someone else – the system should change to be fairer instead. A central idea in ‘system justification theory’ is that people can simultaneously be victims and supporters of a – in this case unfair – system. And most of us desire order and stability, even if this motivates us to justify (a reactionary return to) the status quo and any prevailing disparities.


People tend to be more socially generous when they understand another person’s blamelessness for their situation. Someone who truly knows how it is to suffer will know how outside forces can land one in deep despair through little fault of one’s own, like a loss of a loved one or accident caused by someone else. And the more adversity someone has experienced themselves, the more empathy and compassion they’ll tend to feel, and the more generous they’ll likely be. Therefore people who’ve had fortunate, privileged upbringings and lives, and attribute all this to their own desert rather than luck, can fail to empathise with true hardship and can fail to be generous enough.


When people feel that their donations will make a real positive difference, it helps elicit more monetary donations too – for example if they’ll potentially save at least 80% of all victims of a misfortune.


Woof! People were once led to believe that we should blame everyone for their own ‘choices’, which has in turn led to a denial of compassion for those in less fortunate situations. But nowadays we should be wiser to understand that when life’s unfair, we should do what we can to make it fairer.


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